Monthly Archives: October 2016

Spine-Chilling Effects of Untreated Back Pain

With Halloween right around the corner, we decided to touch on one of the most chilling aspects of our work. The nature of our work revolves around people being in pain, so that isn’t the scary part. The part that scares us most is what happens when people leave chronic pain untreated.

Being in pain is uncomfortable, and for good reason. Pain is usually an indicator of something not functioning correctly. Chronic pain, however, is downright unbearable and can have a profound impact on your day-to-day life. Chronic pain is described as any pain persisting longer than six weeks, and has the ability to affect you on both an emotional and physical level.

Emotional Effects

The emotional effects of chronic pain are by far the most noticeable. A person suffering from chronic pain often becomes irritable, short-tempered, and impatient.

Being in constant pain makes everything a little harder, meaning people with chronic pain often exhibit depression-like symptoms, including:

  • Limiting social interaction. People often do this in an attempt to alleviate the stress and decrease the amount of energy they spend reacting to their surroundings.
  • Difficulty concentrating, even on the simplest of tasks.
  • The desire to simplify life as much as possible.

Because of all of these symptoms, people suffering from chronic pain often end up in isolation. They regularly turn to sleep as a relief, as it makes the pain less intrusive and because they are exhausted from being in constant pain.

Physical Effects

What most people don’t realize is that chronic pain actually takes a physical toll on you. It has the ability to alter your brain chemistry and nervous system, resulting in the following:

  • Chronic pain causes your brain cells to deteriorate more quickly, essentially exacerbating all of the emotional symptoms listed above.
  • It becomes physically more difficult to process multiple things at once, limiting your focus even more.
  • The section of the brain that regulates sense-data also regulates the sleep cycle. From constantly reacting to pain, it becomes smaller, making it harder to fall asleep.
  • Recurring pain actually causes the brain to rewire itself to anticipate more pain, causing the person anxiety about the pain.

All of the emotional and physical effects chronic pain has on a person paints a bleak picture of what it would be like to live with untreated chronic pain. It’s no wonder that one-third of people with chronic pain also develop depression.
The life of a person living with untreated chronic pain is by far the most nightmarish horror story in our line of work. We implore you to seek help if you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain.

Good Posture: Easy As 123

Throughout your entire life, you have been taught that good posture is essential to your health. How many times have you had someone tell you to stand or sit up straight? Probably too many to count.

Good posture has many benefits to your overall health. It can help relieve, or even prevent, neck and back pain. Good posture also greatly minimizes the likelihood of needing spine surgery. In short, it enables you to live a happier, healthier life.

The problem is, the general population doesn’t know what good posture feels like. Often people are so stuck in their poor posture habits, they don’t even realize they are doing it. Admit it, you probably aren’t sitting properly as you read this blog post. You’re probably slouching or your shoulders are slumping. Did you realize it before it was mentioned?

By following the steps below, you will be able to experience what good posture really feels like.

  1. Stand up straight with your hands at your sides. Slowly begin to arch your back, causing your stomach muscles to elongate. Gently focus on drawing your belly button into your spine. You should feel like your lower back, upper torso, and shoulders are all in alignment over your heels.
  2. Now, rotate your shoulders so that your thumbs are facing away from your body while simultaneously drawing your shoulder blades together.
  3. Relax the muscles in your neck and look up until your ears align with your shoulders. It is important to be sure to relax your jaw and breathe deeply through your mouth and nose.

How do you feel? Let us boil down the feeling of good posture to a snippet you will be able to remember: With your stomach and lower back muscles elongated, you can feel the strong muscles between your shoulder blades and their supporting neck muscles.

If this feeling is familiar, congratulations you have been practicing great posture for a while now! If not, you may want to run through this exercise several times a day to try to make good posture a habit. You know what they say, it takes 21 days to form a habit. Just three weeks of practicing good posture and you will be well on your way to a healthier life.

While good posture cannot prevent all ailments, it can go a long way in keeping your spine happy. If you have any questions regarding good posture or any spinal condition, please feel free to contact us.

Five Ways Motion Can Cause Low Back Pain

You may be thinking, “How on earth can motion cause low back pain? Weren’t humans designed to be in motion?” Well, yes, humans are meant to be active. But like all well-built machines, sometimes normal use leads to wear and tear.

We’re not, by any means, telling you that in order to be free of low back pain you must remain motionless. In fact, that may cause more pain than excessive motion. We’re just trying to inform you about what may be causing that ache in your lower back.

1. Strained muscles from twisting motions

The first thing you should know about motion-caused low back pain is it rarely has anything to do with the bones in your spine. In most instances, the muscles and ligaments surrounding your spine are the perpetrators causing the pain.

Twisting your lower back leaves you at risk for overstretching or even tearing the muscles and ligaments surrounding your spine. This could cause the surrounding area to become inflamed and, in more severe cases, even cause back spasms.

2. Disc herniation

Because your lower back carries the entire weight of your torso, it is more prone to injury than other areas of your body. A herniated disk occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the exterior casing. Some liken this condition to the jelly escaping a jelly-filled donut.

The two lowest discs in your back (L4-L5) endure the most strain and are most likely to herniate. Herniated discs can lead to sciatic pain that radiates down your leg and foot.

3. Cartilage breakdown

The act of performing repetitive motions (such as those required of athletes) often lead to spinal osteoarthritis, or the breakdown of cartilage. Symptoms can include: more stiffness in your low back in the morning and at night, and low back pain radiating to your pelvis or thighs.

4. Formation of bone spurs

Over time, excessive motion can lead to joint instability, causing small, irregular growths to form on the bone. These bone spurs are considered a normal part of aging and can be entirely painless. However, pain begins to occur when the spurs become large enough to entrap nerves passing through the spinal structure.

5. Degenerative disc disease

When the discs between your vertebrae lose cushioning and begin to herniate, it leads to degenerative disc disease. It is a common occurrence, especially among older people. Symptoms of this ailment include: pain that worsens with sitting, lifting, bending, and twisting; and feeling the need to switch positions frequently.

 
As you can see, there are many different ways in which motion can cause low back pain. If you or a loved one is experiencing pain, it is important to pay a visit to your doctor.