CHIROPRACTIC NEWSLETTER june 2019
Degenerative Neck pain
Neck pain is one of the chief areas of concern for chiropractors. While sudden injuries to the neck are often painful, slowly developing conditions that cause chronic pain and fatigue are even more common. This month, we’re going to take a look at some of the common reasons for persistent soreness, conservative treatment options, and what lifestyle changes patients can make to manage or prevent symptoms.
Consequences of a Pinched Nerve
The nerves connect to the rest of our body from the spine through holes in the vertebra called foramina. A compression in the spinal cord or the branching nerves could cause pain, numbness, tingling, and dysfunction between where the nerve arises and the body part it connects to. Since so many nerves pass through the neck bones (cervical vertebrae), a pinch here could have especially serious implications for the body. A compression in some nerves that emerge from the middle cervical vertebrae could interrupt the diaphragm, while compression in nerves emerging from the lower part of the neck could compromise the arms and hands. Neck pain is always worthy of treatment, but severe pain that spreads to the rest of the body requires especially urgent attention.
Strains and Sprains
Not all dysfunction in the neck is directly related to nerve compression. An adult’s head usually weighs about ten to eleven pounds, and our neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments are working all the time to support it. It makes sense that when the neck is held in a certain position all day, such as when a person is looking at a computer, it will be sore afterward. Good posture and stretching can ameliorate this, but the best thing is to change positions frequently, so the soft tissues don’t become too tight.
Certain medical conditions can also cause nerve compression. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage that cushions and lubricates the joints, including the cervical spine’s facet joints, deteriorates over time. Keeping the neck flexible and strong can relieve pressure from cartilage. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition with uncertain origins, resulting in widespread inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation can irritate the spine and pinch the nerves. Lastly, if a person moves their neck in repetitive motions, or their muscles are often contorted due to stress, their muscles may tighten in areas known as trigger points, which can refer pain to elsewhere in connected muscles.
Recognizing Wear and Tear Issues
When a patient complains of neck pain, a chiropractic office will conduct imaging tests and ask about the patient’s history in an attempt to determine whether the pain has a biomechanical or other cause. (In rare cases, neck pain may result from tumor or infection.) A physical examination can help identify trigger points, which may be treated with heat. Pain from degenerative conditions responds well to spinal adjustments and traction, which relieve pressure from nerves. We may also use treatments designed to reduce inflammation and speed muscle healing, such as electric muscle stimulation and therapeutic massages.
At home, patients will be advised to rest when they’re not doing prescribed physical therapy or stretches. They are advised to adjust their chairs or desks to keep computer monitors at eye-level and to avoid doing things that could pull on their neck muscles by straining their shoulders. Patients may also be informed to avoid sleeping on their stomachs due to how that position leaves the lower spine unsupported and forces the head to rotate. Specially-shaped pillows can provide more neck support, and it’s a good idea to replace pillows that have collapsed under prolonged use over time.
Lakewood Chiropractic Newsletter April 2019
Back Pain and the Gluteal Region
When we think of lower back pain, we may think of problems in the spinal column itself. It is true that slipped lumbar discs, inflammation in the facet joints, and strains in the muscles attaching directly to the vertebrae are all common causes of back pain. But in many cases, pain radiates to the back from the pelvic region. Problems in this area can also cause pain, tingling, or numbness further down the leg, so it is important for patients to understand the importance of maintaining the health of the muscles in their gluteal region.
The Muscles of the Gluteal Region
The gluteus maximus is the largest and outermost muscle of the gluteal region. It stretches from the sacrum and coccyx, which are parts of the spinal column, down to the femur. Beneath it are the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus, which stretch from the ilium, or crest of the hip, to the femur. The gluteus medius and minimus allow us to move our thighs outward and rotate them medially. The gluteus maximus allows us to straighten our legs as we move and provides our strides with strength.
There is another layer of diagonal muscles beneath the gluteus minimus that attach to the femur. The uppermost of them is the piriformis, which also attaches to the sacrum. The sciatic nerve and major arteries run beneath it. The piriformis and other inner layer muscles work with the gluteus minimus to rotate our legs laterally.
Causes of Irritation
Tightening of muscles in the gluteal region can cause them to become sore. This can happen to runners if they don’t do sufficient warm-ups or overexert themselves. People are also vulnerable to muscle strain if they move with an unusual gait. As their muscles become stiff, a patient’s posture will get worse, putting additional strain on their back and hip muscles. Hip muscles are also attached to the pelvis, and tightness in them can pull on the gluteal muscles. Irritation of the sacroiliac joint can also put pressure on the piriformis, causing it to spasm, as can internal bleeding. Contractions in the piriformis muscle can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing the patient to experience impeded leg function and shooting pains. This symptom is called sciatica.
Diagnosis and Treatment
An examination will be necessary to diagnose whether a patient’s lower back pain is due to muscle inflammation. Pain from sciatica can reach as far as the foot. Problems at the hip-level involving the gluteus minimus and medius may be felt in the leg. As part of the examination, patients will be put through a range of motions involving different muscles. The location of the gluteal region makes it difficult for patients to massage on their own, although they may benefit from assistive devices. Common treatments include range of motion and strengthening exercises such as bridging and use of resistance bands. Patients may also benefit from deep tissue massages, use of heat or cold packs, manual manipulation, and electric muscle stimulation. Because other serious problems may feel like muscle strains, it is always advisable to seek professional help for persistent pain.
Chiropractic Newsletter March 2019
Workplace Habits and Poor Posture
If you work at a desk job, it is easy to get into bad habits that can cause worse pain than you ever imagined was possible from sitting wrong. Bad posture in the workplace can cause your joints to fall out of alignment and results in stress to your muscles and the tissues around them. When your posture is poor, your muscles weaken and your joints become less flexible. Chronic pain can occur as a result of the stress on your spine and lead to back pain and headaches.
Signs of Poor Posture
As we age, bad habits at the office such as slouching and lack of exercise during the day can cause muscle fatigue and tension. Some signs that you might have bad habits at work include rounded shoulders, a potbelly, your head leaning forward or backwards, back pain, muscle fatigue, headaches, and bent knees. With some lifestyle adjustments, you can improve your posture and spinal health.
Tips for Better Posture at Work
To improve your posture and back pain, you need to practice good habits at work.
1. Don’t slump or slouch at your desk; sit all the way back in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
2. Move your shoulders back and open your chest to alleviate tension and prevent slouching.
3. Make sure your eyes are at an equal level of your computer screen so your neck isn’t tilted up or down.
4. Stand up and stretch every 30 minutes to loosen your muscles.
5. Set reminders on your phone or computer to stretch and move around.
6. Exercise regularly to keep your muscles and joints loose.
Products that can improve your Back Pain at Work
To work more comfortably, you may want to consider using these products:
1. Lumbar support pillows for your chair
2. Footrests to keep your feet flat
3. Risers for your computer monitor
4. Adjustable standing desks
5. Alternatives for improving your posture and back pain
You can improve your posture and pain by seeing musculoskeletal specialists such as chiropractors. Physical therapy provides treatment and prevention of chronic conditions including back pain through different exercises. Chiropractors use different spinal manipulation techniques – including adjustments and massages, to relieve pressure on your joints, reduce inflammation, and improve nerve function. If you are still experiencing back pain with improved workplace habits, a chiropractor can conduct an examination and diagnose damage that has already occurred.
Is Your Bag Hurting Your Back?
Article by Marie Suszynski
In today’s society, many people are carrying around more and more things around in backpacks, briefcases, computer bags, and purses. The result — back pain.
"It's an epidemic," says Scott Bautch, DC, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Allied Health Chiropractic Centers in Wausau, Wisconsin. In fact, low back pain causes more global disability than any other condition, according to a study published in March 2014 in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
When Dr. Bautch talks to people about bags as a potential cause of back pain, he asks them to empty their own bags. And they pull out pounds and pounds of stuff — several water bottles, three or four books, sets of keys they thought were lost, $20 in coins.
People are also carrying much more technology than ever before, from smartphones to laptops. "They seem like little things, but they all add weight," Bautch says.
Strategies for a Back Pain-Friendly Bag
The next time you head out the door with a bag, try these ideas to lighten your load and spare your back:
- Pick the smallest bag you can. The bigger the bag, the more you put in it, Bautch says. Do yourself a favor and carry the smallest bag filled with only what you really need and leave the rest at home. Keep in mind that it's usually not one single item that leads to back pain symptoms, explains Bautch. More likely, it's the accumulation of smaller items, such as loads of loose change, that causes pain.
- Aim for symmetry. Putting extra weight on one side of your body is one of the biggest back pain causes. Any time you carry weight on one side of your body for an extended period of time, it causes your spine to curve, and that leads to back pain symptoms, Bautch says. With that in mind, it's better to choose a messenger bag that you wear diagonally across your body rather than a single-strap bag that rests on one shoulder.
- Switch sides. When you can't avoid using a single-strap bag, be conscious of changing the sides you use to carry it. If it's a short strap that you carry with your hand, regularly move it from your left hand to your right hand, Bautch suggests. If it's a shoulder strap, try changing it from your left shoulder to your right shoulder.
- Go for thick straps. A thin strap resting on your shoulder can cut into your muscles and lead to problems, Bautch cautions.
- Wear a backpack. Backpacks aren't just for school kids anymore. The dual straps of a backpack are the best at evenly distributing weight on your body, and that's leading more adults to use them, Bautch says. Frequent fliers are turning to carrying backpacks as a remedy for back pain. Edward Welch, president and founder of Horizonz Property Management in Atlanta, has been traveling for business about six times a year for the past eight years. After packing up books, a laptop, a work organizer, and more, he says his bag weighs at least 20 pounds when he heads for the airport, and carrying everything in a briefcase with a strap led to lower back pain. Recently, he started using a backpack, and that has helped. "I just came back from a trip and my back felt better with a backpack," he says. Keep in mind that the way you wear a backpack is key because it can change your gait, Bautch says. When you slide a backpack onto your shoulders, adjust the straps so that you carry it as high on your back as you can. The top of the backpack should be at the same level of the big bone you feel at the lowest part of your neck, Bautch says. Also, keep the straps tight so the bag is as close to your body as possible. Wearing it close means it will feel lighter, he adds.
- Pull a bag on wheels. Airline pilots and flight attendants used to carry single-strap bags and developed their own unique musculoskeletal problems, Bautch says. But today you see them using pull-cart bags or luggage on wheels, which helps them avoid back pain symptoms.
- Designate different bags for different uses. Rather than trying to carry everything in one bag, designate a briefcase for business, a gym bag for exercise clothes, another bag for your kids' items, and so on.
- Aim to carry less than 10 percent of your body weight. Ideally, you shouldn't carry around more than 10 percent of your body weight, so put your bag on a scale and see how it measures up. If it's too heavy, see if there's anything you can do without.
The best thing you can do for your back is to be a minimalist. Don't carry what you don't have to, but when you need to take a bag with you, choose the right one and wear it the proper way to eliminate back pain causes.
If you are experiencing back pain, call Lakewood Chiropractic to schedule a free, no obligation spinal exam and consultation to see if chiropractic care may help relieve your back pain. Call us at 816-373-3373 or click here to request an appointment online.
Relief From Neck Pain
Are You Experiencing Chronic Back Pain?
You may be a candidate for Decompression Therapy which can gently correct chronic back and neck pain caused by:
- Herniated Discs
- Protruding Discs
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Posterior Facet Syndrome
With a series of non-surgical treatments you will begin to enjoy the freedom from back pain and improve you life. Decompression Therapy combined with Light Therapy is fast, effective, drug-free, and safe. This exciting technology is cleared by the FDA and available to you today.
If you are experiencing pain, contact us today for a complimentary exam and consultation to determine if chiropractic care can help you. Call us at 816-373-3373 or request an appointment online. Lakewood Chiropractic is conveniently located 2 miles south of I-70 at the M-291 and Lakewood Blvd exit.
Hip Pain Causes and Treatments
The hips are some of the most common locations for people to feel pain. There are a number of ailments which could be responsible, but fortunately, most of them are treatable with minimally invasive chiropractic methods. Many of them also involve the soft tissues surrounding the hip socket and can be treated with stretching, electric muscle stimulation, cold laser therapy, and other treatments commonly available in chiropractic offices in addition to adjustments. However, patients should not minimalize their hip pain or think that it will not have consequences for the rest of the body. A problem in the hip can throw off the whole spine, and a problem in the spine may be felt in the hip.
Sciatica: Burning, Sharp Pain
When a patient complains of hip pain, a chiropractor will need to determine whether the problem is in the hip structure or the result of a pinched nerve in the spine. Pinched nerves in the lower back can result in sciatica, the compression of the nerve which runs from the spine to the foot. The patient may feel tingling or numbness in the hip and thigh as well as pain. It is often caused by a herniated disc and is treated with adjustments.
Wear and Tear
If sciatica can be ruled out, there may be something wrong with the hip’s soft tissues. Often, the problem is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition in which the cartilage in joints wears away. This causes the bones to rub uncomfortably against each other or other tissues, which become inflamed. While degenerative diseases cannot be reversed, they can be slowed through lifestyle and nutritional changes. Chiropractors commonly recommend that patients with wear-and-tear injuries switch to a low impact form of exercise, such as aquatics. However, it is also possible for the hips to simply be overused, which is more commonly the case with young athletes in high-impact sports. Athletes are advised to replace old shoes that are no longer properly cushioned and to do exercises which will strengthen other muscles, relieving some of the pressure on their joints.
Sometimes, there is an issue with the bones of the hips. In rare cases, children get Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, in which the femur head breaks from lack of blood supply and needs to be held in the socket until it heals. Older people are prone to breaking their hips more often due to their poorer sense of balance and high rates of osteoporosis. Chiropractors can assist these patients’ rehabilitation by stretching their soft tissues to keep them strong and limber, determining individual exercise regimens, and coordinating plans for therapeutic massages with other health practitioners.
This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.