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Neck Pain

Pain located in the neck is a very common condition. Neck pain can come from a number of activities, disorders and diseases in the neck, such as degenerative disc disease, neck strain, whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve. It can also come from overuse, sports injuries, and everyday home and work related activities. Usually, there is an underlying instability or problem in the neck that is a precursor to the pain. Neck pain is also referred to as cervical pain.

Neck pain is commonly associated with dull aching. Sometimes pain in the neck is worsened with movement of the neck. Other symptoms associated with some forms of neck pain include numbness, tingling, tenderness, sharp shooting pain, fullness, difficulty swallowing, pulsations, swishing sounds in the head, dizziness or lightheadedness, and gland swelling.

Incredibly, the cervical spine supports the full weight of your head, which is on average about 12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck very susceptible to pain and injury.

The neck’s susceptibility to injury is due in part to biomechanics. Activities and events that affect cervical biomechanics include extended sitting, repetitive movement, accidents, falls and blows to the body or head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear.

Causes of Neck Pain:

Injury and Accidents:

A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the inter-vertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.

Growing Older:

Degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the spine.

Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.

– Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally.

– Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Herniated discs are NOT an effect of growing older and are a direct effect of trauma, but can also cause similar reduction in elasticity and height of the intervertebral disc, but have the potential to cause more serious problems.

Daily Life:

Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.

Treatment:

When considering solutions for neck pain, you must look at what will help you and how long it will take to get better. Like with any malady, the progression of treatment should be drugless first, involve drugs second and have surgery as a final option. Studies show that chiropractic care significantly improves cervical pain. A study done in 2008 showed that not only did chiropractic drastically improve people with acute (short term) neck pain, but also in those with musculoskeletal disorders (more long term).

Call today to schedule an appointment to relieve your neck pain!

Learn more here: Conditions We Treat: Upper Back/Neck Pain

References:

(MedicineNet.com, 2008, http://www.medicinenet. com/neck_pain/article.htm)

(American Chiropractic Association, n.d., http://www.acatoday.or/ content_css.cfm?CID=2430)

 

Backpack Safety

More than 40 million students carry backpacks in America today. Many of these same students carry their backpacks overloaded or fit improperly resulting in a variety of injuries including neck pain, muscle spasms, tingling hands, headaches and lower back pain. This very pain may result in the increasing possibility of damage on posture and development of the spine. In 2003 the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported nearly 21,000 children were seen in emergency rooms for backpack related injuries.

As parents there are a number of important issues you need to know in order to prevent backpack injury and promote spinal health. When choosing a new backpack, it’s recommended you select ergonomically designed features that enhance safety and comfort. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 15-20 percent of their own body weight.

7 Tips on Choosing the Best Backpack for your Child:

Healthy vs Unhealthy Backpack Posture
  • A padded back will minimize direct pressure on the back.
  • Get wide padded shoulder straps that will not hinder circulation to the arms (that may cause numbness and tingling)
  • Waist and chest belts help transfer some weight from the back and shoulders to the trunk and pelvis.
  • Multiple compartments help to better distribute the weight in the backpack.
  • Reflective material enhances visibility in early mornings or at night.
  • Lightweight backpack
  • Correct Size: selection of the pack is important as packs come in different sizes for different aged children

Loading the Backpack: Follow these simple rules:

  • 15 Percent Maximum Weight: This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back.
  • Arrange books and materials securely.
  • Pack only necessary items that you will need for the school day.
  • If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels.

Wearing the Backpack:

  • Wear both straps: By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed, and a well-aligned symmetrical posture is promoted.
  • Tighten the straps: Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back while still allowing the pack to be put on and taken off easily. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Put on and remove backpacks carefully. Keep the trunk of your body stable and avoid excessive twisting.
  • Wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles. Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on the back. It should rest evenly in the middle of the back near the child’s center of gravity, and should not extend below the belt for than a couple of inches.
  • Lift properly using your legs and both hands applying one strap and then the other.

Encourage activity:

Children who are active tend to have better muscle flexibility and strength, which makes it easier to carry a backpack.
Once you have taken the proper steps in choosing, packing and wearing the backpack the ongoing assessment of your effort begins. It is extremely important to encourage your child or teenager to tell you about pain or discomfort that may be caused by a heavy backpack. Don’t ignore any back pain. If necessary, talk to your child and teachers to ensure that what your child is hauling back and forth to school is truly what is necessary. It may also be necessary to explain to your child that the schedule usually allows students to stop at their lockers throughout the day. Thus, giving them time to unload and reload the necessary books and supplies. If all else fails, one may always consider buying a second set of textbooks for your student to keep at home. Although this may seem unrealistic, it is a very simple solution for a child with significant pain.

Posture:

We know that posture is impacted by a combination of factors including good muscle control, strength and flexibility. So, involve your children whenever possible in activities that promote good posture. Get your child moving: swimming, dance, karate, gymnastics, skating, etc. Becoming involved with sports activities helps develop muscular skills as well as self-confidence which is often a strong influence in posture.

Seating:

Seating is often a significant factor leading to slouching. Make sure your child sits in an appropriately sized child-size chair, or a pneumatically adjustable chair. Remember the “Rule of 90s”: Ears directly over the tips of your shoulders, hips flexed to 90 degrees, knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Be sure the computer screen is directly in front of your face. Also, try to maintain a slight arch in your back by rolling your hips slightly forward. Feel free to assist this by placing a towel roll in the arched area. You can also try having your child sit on a physioball when completing homework or working on the computer. The instability of the ball forces core stabilization and good postural maintenance.

Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic Care can help prevent your child from suffering from an injury. Chiropractic Care will ensure that your child’s spinal column is growing in alignment and is in good health. If your child suffers from pain, schedule an appointment today, and we can get him/her on the path to wellness!

Low Back Pain

As an adult, you probably have experienced low back pain, in fact the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons) states that 75-85% of adults will experience some form of back pain in their lifetime.  As you may know, low back pain can greatly affect your life and make daily activities very difficult. Before we dive into how to treat low back pain, let’s take a look at why you may be dealing with low back pain in the first place.

Causes

Because the low back is a main area of stabilization, support and rotation, many different factors can contribute to pain felt there. Some of the causes include strained muscles, sprained ligaments, nerve irritation, degeneration, overuse, intervertebral disc injury, spinal stenosis, scoliosis as well as an acute injury.

Overuse/acute injury is a very common cause of low back pain. A low back injury can occur by doing a lot of activity that our body isn’t prepared to do. This could be anything from repetitive lifting to being a weekend warrior.  Acute injuries can happen from activities you perform on a regular basis or an activity you have never done before.

As we age, our bodies slow down. The low back experiences a lot of wear and tear over the years which may result in damage.  One form of damage that can occur is in the form of disc degeneration (the wear and tear, shrinking, and collapse of intervertebral disc).  Another is spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space around the spinal cord).

When an intervertebral disc (the shock absorbers of the spine) is damaged the result can be a stretching known as an intervertebral disc bulge or a rupturing known as an intervertebral disc herniation.

Scoliosis may also be a cause of low back pain.  Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine.  A scoliosis can cause your back to be off balance and become strained, thereby causing pain and stiffness.

Symptoms

Low back pain symptoms can vary greatly from person to person in nature, frequency and intensity and are often different depending upon the cause. Your pain may be dull or sharp. It may constant or intermittent.  It may get worse with standing, sitting, bending, or walking. Pain may even extend into your buttock or down your leg.

Symptoms can vary a lot from person to person. Getting an examination with Dr. Boroditsky is the best way to assess what treatment plan is best for you.

Treatment

Prior to starting any type of treatment, it is always advisable to first see an appropriately trained spine specialist to develop an appropriate treatment program for your specific condition and medical history.

The main goals for managing back pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) usually include:

  • Providing enough pain relief to be able to actively participate with physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Preventing further injury or stress to the spine through improved ergonomics and posture
  • Maintaining an ability to function enough at home and at work

Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatments

There are a wide variety of non-surgical options for back pain treatment of the lumbar spine. The more common treatment approaches include:

Pain medication. Typical pain medications used to treat the lower back pain include acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants. Each type of medication has strengths, limitations, and risks, and the patient’s particular problem in the lower back and overall health will determine which pain reliever, if any, is indicated.

Heat or ice. Application of a cold pack or heating pad can help relieve low back pain. Some people find that alternating between the two works best.
Manual manipulation. This treatment maybe applied by a Dr. Boroditsky! He can improve your pain by manually and gently  manipulating the vertebrae away from the nerve, reducing pressure. This will greatly improve your pain.  Manipulations also increase flexibility, improving blood flow and reducing muscle tension.
Therapeutic massage. Massage therapy is thought to improve blood flow, reducing muscle stiffness, and decrease stiffness.
Exercise. A program of back exercises and physical therapy will usually include a combination of strengthening, stretching, and low-impact aerobic exercise.
Call 763.390.1323 today to schedule an appointment, we can help with your low back pain!

What is Pronation?

When a foot is severely “pronated,” it means its arches have fallen and the foot is flat. Flat feet are less shock-absorbent, and make for a less stable “base” for everything above—the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons of the entire body. They can also:

  • Shift the entire body out of alignment
  • Cause aches and pains in the feet, knees, hips, neck and/or spine
  • Lead to injury and problems like shin splints, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis
  • Women with flat feet are 50% more likely than those without to have low back pain
  • Up to 1/3 of people suffer from flat feet

 

Causes of Pronation

The connective tissue, called the plantar fascia, on the underside of the foot is critical to maintaining the foot’s healthy arched shape. Injury and certain health conditions can cause the fascia to stretch out and flatten, but so can everyday, ongoing stressors like walking and standing. Once the fascia stretches out, it is unable to “spring back.” With the foot structure flattened, the body’s very foundation is in trouble.

Treatment

  • Extremity adjusting to ensure proper positioning of bones and joints
  • Functional orthotics in every pair of shoes for pronation control, support and comfort
  • Rolling feet on a tennis ball to help soften foot musculature and connective tissue

How Your Feet Can Cause Leg & Back Pain

Problems with your feet can affect your entire body, from your legs to your back, your neck, and even your shoulders. The entire human body is connected, which is why one affliction can easily affect a seemingly unrelated part of the body.

Oftentimes, pain and discomfort don’t directly relate to flat feet, but rather to how they affect your gait (your stride or the way you walk). Some people have one leg that’s shorter than the other (usually because of scoliosis, an unusually curved spine); this would affect their gait and affect their feet and spine. That can affect their ribs, internal organ locations, and how their bones are structured all over their bodies.

Foot Movement

The way you walk is dependent on the shape of your feet and the shoes you wear. These factors can affect your entire body over the years. For example, if you wear unsupportive high heels every day, your feet become susceptible to hammertoes, bunions, calluses, and corns. The rest of your body may develop joint problems, back problems, stiffness, fatigue, and strain.

Wearing supportive shoes distributes weight evenly when you land and encourages a stable gait. People with flat feet often walk on the sides of their feet or have balance issues, so it’s essential to wear supportive shoes.

How Feet Affect The Legs

Your feet are connected to your legs by tendons and ligaments, some of which connect the arch of your foot to the back of your calf. Problems with your feet can affect your lower legs because of this, but the way you walk may also play a part.

The human body is pretty amazing and can be influenced or manipulated. The body has been bound and reshaped in a number of ways across cultures in history, including:

  • Binding the feet to make or keep them small.
  • Corsetry; using a corset to manipulate the body’s shape into an hourglass figure.
  • Elongating the forehead through binding, practiced most famously by the Mayans.
  • Lip stretching.

It’s a little scary because there could be a massive number of health issues that stem from things like these, but people do it anyway. Consistently wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight can cause other, less desired types of reshaping like hammertoes, claw toes, bunions, and corns, and the way a person walks can affect the way the feet, legs, and back function.

Some milder problems include:

  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Leg pain
  • Plantar fasciitis

Prolonged or continuous strain can cause permanent problems.

Foot and Back Pain

Everything is connected, which is why your feet can cause so many problems all over your body. If you have a foot deformity, you change the way you walk to avoid pain subconsciously. Have you ever noticed that if one of your toes hurts, you avoid hurting it more while you take each step by limping or walking differently on that foot? Usually this is temporary, but for someone with a foot deformity, this adjustment in gait can be permanent.

Having flat foot in particular can cause misalignment with the ankle, which causes joints to connect differently, which can cause misalignment in the knee joint. That can affect your hips, which also affects the way you walk. That affects the spine, especially your lower back. It makes sense that this could happen… our feet are actually pretty delicate and our bodies are complex.

The Easiest Solution: Orthotics (Custom Shoe Inserts)

Orthotics, or custom insoles can be customized to your feet, are affordable, and will fit into your shoes subtly. Though they won’t solve everyone’s foot pain problems, they are a great place to start for relieving foot pain, leg pain, and lower back pain caused by your feet.

Consult with a Shane Boroditsky, D.C., for  possible orthotics, which are usually custom-made. Though store-bought orthotics may work temporarily, custom orthotic inserts are built to last and customized to your feet, your specific foot problems, and your gait.

If you’d like to see whether custom orthotics are right for you, please give us a call today at Minnesota Chiropractic and Rehabilitation! 763.390.1323