BACK + NECK PAIN
Neck and back pain most frequently result from injury or wear and tear we all experience with aging. The discomfort you may experience in your back or neck may be an indication of what is going on in your spine.
Some common examples are burning, stabbing or electrical sensations down one leg or arm, which may indicate an irritated nerve. If your back or neck muscles feel stiff or tight you may have a structural imbalance due to a spinal problem.
At Spinal Health, our experienced staff can offer a specialized program to cater to your specific spinal condition.
Knee pain is common in the United States. Some reasons for knee pain are swollen or torn ligaments, meniscus (cartilage) tears, and runner’s knee. Because the knee is a complex joint, there are many causes and conditions associated with knee pain.
Conditions that cause knee pain include:
- Bursitis A bursa is a sac of fluid that cushions and protects your joints. There are several in different parts of your knee. Overuse, a fall, or repeated bending can irritate the bursa, causing pain and swelling. Two types of bursitis are called ”housemaid’s knee” and ”preacher’s knee,” since they are often caused by kneeling. A ”Baker’s cyst” — a swelling of one of the bursa in the back of the knee — can also result from injuries and from conditions like arthritis.
- Iliotibial band syndrome. The iliotibial band is a piece of tough tissue that runs from your hip down to your shin. If it’s irritated by overuse or other problems, it can get swollen and cause pain on the outer side of the knee.
- Medial plica syndrome. The plica is a fold of tissue in the knee joint. When it gets irritated from overuse, swelling and knee pain can result.
- Osgood-Schlatter Disease. This condition causes a painful bump below the knee, where a tendon from the knee cap connects to the shin. It’s usually caused by overuse and irritation of the tendon. The pain may come and go over time. It’s especially common in teenage boys and girls (13 and 14 years of age).
- Osteoarthritis. This condition is a frequent cause of knee pain in athletes and non-athletes over the age 60.
- Partially dislocated kneecap (or patellar subluxation). In this condition, the kneecap slides out of position, causing knee pain and swelling. It’s often the result of physical defect in your legs, rather than an injury. It’s particularly common in teenage girls.
- Tendinitis Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect your bones and muscles. Overuse can make the tendons inflamed and sore. One type of knee tendinitis is called ”jumper’s knee.”
If an old knee injury was not properly treated, it may keep causing occasional — or constant — knee pain.
Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
- Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting
- Burning or tingling down the leg
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A constant pain on one side of the rear
- A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
At Spinal Health Institute, our experienced clinicians can work with you to offer a unique approach that focuses on treating the symptoms of sciatica.
Some patients may spend years visiting doctors and undergoing tests, only to be diagnosed with different conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, or mononucleosis before a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is finally given.
The reason for this dilemma is that there is no single diagnostic test (blood test, x-ray/image finding, etc.) that verifies the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, leaving doctors in a position to rule out all other possible conditions first, before considering Fibromyalgia as the diagnosis. Another challenge is the fact that Fibromyalgia symptoms vary widely from one person to the next and even vary within the same person at different times of the year. There are a few guidelines doctors can use to help secure the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
Yet another challenge in pinning down the diagnosis is that the Fibromyalgia sufferer may experience signs and symptoms seemingly unrelated to this condition, such as stomach aches, digestive problems or headaches. This can lead the doctor down other paths before considering Fibromyalgia as a diagnosis.
At Spinal Health Institute, our experienced clinicians can work with you to offer a unique approach that focuses on treating the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
More than 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy, a problem caused by damage to the nerves in the arms and legs. If you are one of them, you know how devastating this condition can be.
Neuropathy is a collection of disorders that occurs when nerves of the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord) are damaged. The condition is generally referred to as peripheral neuropathy, and it is most commonly a result of damage to nerve axons.
Neuropathy usually causes pain and numbness in the hands and feet. It can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic disorders, and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes.
At Spinal Health Institute, our experienced clinicians can work with you to offer a unique approach that focuses on treating the symptoms of neuropathy.
Anytime you use your hips, a cushion of cartilage helps prevent friction as the hip bone moves in its socket.
Despite its durability, the hip joint isn’t indestructible. With age and use, the cartilage can wear down or become damaged. Muscles and tendons in the hip can get overused. The hip bone itself can be fractured during a fall or other injury. Any of these conditions can lead to hip pain.
Causes of Hip Pain
These are some of the conditions that are most likely to cause hip pain:
- Arthritis Arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are among the most common causes of hip pain, especially in older adults. Arthritis leads to inflammation of the hip joint and the breakdown of the cartilage that normally cushions your hip bones. The pain gradually gets worse as the arthritis progresses. People with arthritis also feel stiffness and have reduced range of motion in the hip.
- Hip fractures Fractures of the hip are a particular problem in elderly people. With age, the bones can become weak and brittle. Weakened bones are more likely to fracture during a fall.
- Bursitis Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that protect muscles and tendons is usually due to repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the hip joint.
- Tendonitis Tendons are the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons. It’s usually caused by repetitive stress from overuse.
- Muscle or tendon strain Repeated activities can put strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the hips. When these structures become inflamed from overuse, they can cause pain and prevent the hip from functioning normally.
- Cancers Tumors that start in the bone (bone cancer) or that spread to the bone can cause pain in the hips, as well as in other bones of the body.
- Avascular necrosis (also called osteonecrosis) This condition occurs when blood flow to the hip bone is reduced and the bone tissue dies as a result. Although it can affect other bones, avascular necrosis most often occurs in the hip. It can be caused by a hip fracture or dislocation, or from the long-term use of high-dose steroids (such as prednisone), among other causes.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a large range of movement. Because the joint is very mobile, it tends to be more susceptible to injury. Shoulder pain can stem from one or more of the following causes:
- Strains from overexertion
- Tendonitis from overuse
- Shoulder joint instability
- Frozen shoulder
- Pinched nerves (also called radiculopathy)
A history, exam and diagnostic tests including MRI or X-ray are necessary to determine the cause of pain so that proper treatment recommendations can be made.
The most common elbow condition is called tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. In tennis elbow, the point in the elbow area where the outer part of the shoulder bone is attached to the tendons becomes irritated. A group of muscles that flex the wrist toward the top of the hand is attached to this area.
The tendons in the elbow develop degeneration as we age, in the same way as other tendons. Continuous repetitions and overuse, such as hitting tennis balls or excessive computer mouse usage can lead to tiny tears in the forearm tendon attachment at the elbow. Over half of these injuries are caused by direct trauma, blows to the epicondyle, a sudden forceful pull, or forceful extension.
The pain may begin if an untrained person has repeatedly performed motions that require a lot of strength or in connection with overexertion. Typically this pain feels on the outside of the elbow, initially during exertion but later continuously and even at night. If the stress causing the irritation continues, the problem becomes worse.
There may be pain when lifting or extending arm. There is usually also pain during heavier exercises like lifting weights or throwing. Other symptoms include stiffness and a weak and painful grip.
Diagnosis is made by typical clinical signs, symptoms and findings. Often no further tests or imaging are needed, and treatment can be started immediately, though x-rays, ultrasound, MRI or ENMG may be used to exclude other possible causes for the pain.
To reduce pain, anti-inflammatory drugs and ointments and cold compresses are often used as treatment. The following stretching exercise after cold compresses is recommended: bend your elbow and hold the wrist bent towards the top of the hand with your other hand. Straighten the elbow while holding the wrist bent with the other hand, which helps stretch the muscles that attach to the elbow. Hold the hand in this position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the exercise several times a day.
A wrist splint can be used at the time of acute pain to prevent repeated wrist motion. This reduces the irritation at the point where the muscles attach to the elbow. A tennis elbow support may be useful later in an attempt to reduce stress at the muscle attachment site.
Work or hobbies that require repeated squeezing of the hand should be avoided. If you have been using a mouse with the sore arm, learn to use it with the other one.
Those working at computers should take short breaks several times a day. The sore arm can be lifted up, all muscles contracted and then relaxed. Shake the arm after the exercise. Make sure that there is enough space in front of your keyboard to place your hands. Try a wrist support and learn to rest your hands on it while you type.
As you age, your chance of developing osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, increases. The joint damage associated with osteoarthritis causes swelling, pain, and deformity. Here is information about how osteoarthritis affects the foot and ankle and information you can use to help you manage this debilitating condition.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term for a group of more than 100 diseases. The word “arthritis” means “joint inflammation.” Arthritis involves inflammation and swelling in and around the body’s joints and surrounding soft tissue. The inflammation can cause pain and stiffness.
In many kinds of arthritis, progressive joint deterioration occurs and the smooth “cushioning” cartilage in joints is gradually lost. As a result, the bones rub and wear against each other. Soft tissues in the joints also may begin to wear down. Arthritis can be painful and eventually result in limited motion, loss of joint function, and deformities in the joints affected.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis, osteoarthritis is more likely to develop as people age. Inflammation and injury to the joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissues, resulting in pain, swelling, and deformity. The changes in osteoarthritis usually occur slowly over many years, though there are occasional exceptions.
How Does Osteoarthritis Affect the Foot and Ankle?
Each foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints. The following are the most common foot joints affected by osteoarthritis:
- The joint where the ankle and shinbone meet
- The three joints of the foot that involve the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone
- The joint of the big toe and foot bone
What Are the Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis?
Symptoms of foot and ankle osteoarthritis often include:
- Tenderness or pain
- Reduced ability to move, walk, or bear weight
- Stiffness in the joint
- Swelling in the joint
How Is Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of foot and ankle osteoarthritis most likely will involve:
- A medical history in which the doctor asks questions about when and where the pain began
- Bone scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
How Is Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis Treated?
Foot and ankle osteoarthritis can be treated in many ways. Nonsurgical methods to treat foot and ankle arthritis include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the joints
- Pain relievers
- Pads or arch supports
- Canes or braces to support the joints
- Inserts that support the ankle and foot
- Custom shoes
- Weight control
Tips on Foot Care With Osteoarthritis
The most essential element of foot care for people with foot and ankle osteoarthritis is to wear shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable. The following are things to look for in finding a comfortable shoe:
- Shoes shaped like your foot
- Shoes that have support — for example, no slip-on shoes
- Rubber soles to provide more cushioning
- Proper fit — ask the salesperson to help you with this
- Exercise can help keep your feet pain-free, strong, and flexible. Exercises that can be good for your feet include:
- Achilles stretch. With your palms flat on a wall, lean against the wall and place one foot forward and one foot back. Lean forward, leaving your heels on the floor. You can feel the pull in your Achilles tendon and your calf. Repeat this exercise three times, holding for 10 seconds on each repeat.
- Big-toe stretch. Place a thick rubber band around your big toes. Pull the big toes away from each other and toward the other toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Toe pull. Place a rubber band around the toes of each foot, and then spread your toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Toe curl. Pick up marbles with your toes.
Symptoms most often occur in the parts of the hand supplied by the median nerve: the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. If your little finger is not affected, this may be a sign that the condition is carpal tunnel syndrome, because the little finger is usually controlled by a different nerve than the thumb and other fingers. See a picture of areas affected in the hand.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often occur in both hands, but symptoms are usually worse in one hand than the other. You may first notice symptoms at night. People with carpal tunnel syndrome can usually fall asleep, but pain or numbness may wake them up.
Mild carpal tunnel symptoms primarily affect the hand and sometimes the forearm, but they can radiate up to the shoulder. Symptoms include:
- Numbness or pain in your hand, forearm, or wrist that awakens you at night. (Shaking or moving your fingers may ease this numbness and pain.)
- Occasional tingling, numbness, “pins-and-needles” sensation, or pain. The feeling is similar to your hand “falling asleep.”
- Numbness or pain that gets worse while you are using your hand or wrist, especially when gripping an object with your hand or bending (flexing) your wrist.
- Occasional aching pain in your forearm between your elbow and wrist.
- Stiffness in your fingers when you get up in the morning.
With moderate or severe carpal tunnel symptoms, you may have numbness or reduced strength and grip in your fingers, thumb, or hand. It may be difficult to:
- Do simple hand movements, such as brushing your hair or holding a fork. You may accidentally drop objects.
- Pinch an object between your thumb and first finger (loss of pinch strength).
- Use your thumb while doing simple tasks such as opening a jar or using a screwdriver. With long-lasting carpal tunnel syndrome, the thumb muscles can get smaller and weaker (atrophy).
Not all pain in the wrist or hand is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. There are many other conditions with similar symptoms.