When you think of low back pain, you may visualize a person half-bent over with their hand on the sore spot of their back. Since many of us have experienced low back pain during our lifetime, we can usually relate to a personal experience and recall how limited we were during the acute phase of our last LBP episode. However, when the symptoms associated with LBP are different, such as tingling or a shooting pain down one leg, it can be both confusing and worrisome – hence the content of this month’s article!
Let’s look at the anatomy of the low back to better understand where these symptoms originate. In the front of the spine (or the part more inside of the body), we have the big vertebral bodies and shock absorbing disks that support about 80% of our weight. At the back of each vertebrae you’ll find the spinous and transverse processes that connect to the muscles and ligaments in the back to the spine. Between the vertebral body and these processes are the tiny boney pieces called the pedicles. The length of the pedicle partially determines the size of the holes where the nerves exit the spine.
When the pedicles are short (commonly a genetic cause), the exiting nerves can be compressed due to the narrowed opening. This is called foraminal spinal stenosis. This compression usually occurs later in life when osteoarthritis and/or degenerative disk disease further crowds these “foramen” where the nerves exit the spine. Similarly, short pedicles can narrow the “central canal” where the spinal cord travels up and down the spine from the brain.
Later in life, the combined effects of the narrow canal plus disk bulging, osteoarthritic spurs, and/or thickening or calcification of ligaments can add up to “central spinal stenosis.” The symptoms associated with spinal stenosis (whether it’s foraminal or central) include difficulty walking due to a gradual increase in tingling, heavy, crampy, achy and/or sore feeling in one or both legs. The tingling in the legs associated with spinal stenosis is called “neurogenic claudication” and must be differentiated from “vascular claudication”, which feels similar but is
caused from lack of blood flow to the leg(s) as opposed to nerve flow.
At a younger age, tingling in the legs can be caused by either a bulging or herniated lumbar disk or it can be referred pain from a joint – usually a facet or sacroiliac joint. The main difference in symptoms between nerve vs. joint leg tingling symptoms is that nerve pinching from a deranged disk is located in a specific area in the leg such as the inside or outside of the foot.
In other words, the tingling can be traced fairly specifically in the leg. Tingling from a joint is often described as a deep, “inside the leg,” generalized achy-tingling that can affect the whole leg and/or foot or it may stop at the knee, but it’s more difficult to describe by the patient as it’s less geographic or specific in its location. Our chiropractic in Stuart, FL offers a non-invasive, effective form of non-surgical, non-drug care and is the recommended choice in LBP guidelines as an option when treating these conditions.
Content provided by Chiro-Trust.org
Neck pain is one of the most common complaints patients have when they come to our chiropractic office in Stuart, FL for the first time, second only to low back pain. Neck pain affects all of us at some point in life, and for some, it can become a chronic, permanent problem that can interfere with many desired activities and lower their quality of life. There are many different causes, and prompt evaluation and treatment is important is some cases.
Neck pain and stiffness are the two most common symptoms that present for evaluation and treatment. This can be located in the middle of the neck and/or on either side and can extend down to the shoulders and/or chest. It can contribute to or cause tension headaches that can travel up the back of the head and sometimes behind the eyes. Pain often increases with neck movement, such as when turning the head to check traffic while driving and/or it can hurt at rest while held in static positions, such as when reading a book. Neck pain can come on gradually or quickly and often cannot be traced to a specific injury or cause making it a challenge to figure out. While neck pain is often not serious or life-threatening, there are causes that should be evaluated promptly. If you wake up with acute neck pain associated with very limited range of motion, this may be due to torticollis, or wry neck, and prompt treatment helps it resolve more quickly than “waiting it out.” Torticollis can be caused by exposure to a draft, changes in weather, trauma, or after a cold or flu. When in doubt, come in for an evaluation and treatment, as anxiety associated with the “fear of the unknown” only adds to the stress associated with neck pain and it’s ALWAYS best to be “…safe than sorry!”
Numbness or tingling may accompany neck pain and can be located in the face, arms, hands, and/or fingers. This is one of those times to come in promptly, as these symptoms may indicate the pinching of a nerve root in the neck. There are MANY chiropractic treatment approaches that effectively treat nerve root pinching, and treatment should NOT be delayed. Other common symptoms may include clicking, crunching, or grinding noises, technically called crepitus, which may or may not be benign. If the noise is accompanied by pain, especially if it radiates down to the shoulder blades or arms (either side or both), it’s time to promptly come in. Any time symptoms occur acutely or come on fast, it’s best to get evaluated as soon as possible.
Dizziness is another common symptom that can result from neck problems and is often associated with movement such as rising from laying or sitting. Certain positions of the neck can also bring on dizziness. This is sometimes caused by the “stones” in the inner ear shifting out of position and is technically called BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. When this occurs, we can usually manage it very well with treatment and specific BPPV exercises. Other times, dizziness may be due to a restriction in blood flow reaching the brain. In which case, a prompt evaluation is VERY appropriate, especially if blackouts occur.
Sleep interruption or difficulty falling asleep are other good reasons to seek prompt evaluation and treatment. Sleep loss can lead to many problems such as excessive fatigue, tiredness, irritability, and just generally feeling poor! Remember, prompt care usually results in prompt resolution!
Content Courtesy of Chiro-Trust.org. All Rights Reserved.
Low back pain (LBP) can strike at any time or place, often when we least expect it. There are “self-help” approaches that can be of great benefit, but many of these approaches can fail, or worse, irritate the condition. Here are some “do’s and don’ts” when self-managing low back pain!
Ice vs. Heat? Typically, people are almost always confused about which is better, ice or heat? This decision can be significantly helpful or hurtful, depending on the case. Generally, “ice is nice,” as it vasoconstricts and pushes out inflammation or swelling, which usually feels relieving and helpful even though the initial “shock” of ice may not be too appealing to most of us! This is probably why MOST people will wrongly choose heat as their initial course of self-care.
This is usually wrong because heat vasodilates, which draws blood into the injured area that is already inflamed and swollen, thus adding more fluid to the injured area—sort of like throwing gas on a fire! Heat may feel good initially, but often soon after, increased pain intensity and frequency may occur. When LBP is chronic or NOT new/acute, heat can be very helpful, as it relaxes muscles and improves movement by reducing stiffness (but never use heat more than 20 minutes per hour).
The biggest mistake about the use of heat is leaving it on too long—some people even burn themselves with a heating pad they’ve left on for hours of continuous use—sometimes overnight (PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!). When using ice, there are MANY ways one can apply it. If you only have 5-10 minutes, that is better than nothing! However, an ideal approach is to apply the ice pack or bag as follows: On 15 min. / off 15 min. / on 15 min. / off 15 min. / on 15 minutes (total time: 1:15 hr). The “off 15 minutes” helps the area to warm up by allowing the blood to come back into the low back area, which avoids frost bite and sets up a pump-like action.
Even better is an approach called “CONTRAST THERAPY” where we start and end with ice and use heat in between as follows: ICE 10 minutes / HEAT 5 min. / ICE 10 min. / HEAT 5 min. / ICE 10 min. (total time: 40 minutes). This approach creates a stronger pump-like or “push-pull” action that pushes out fluids/inflammation (with ice) followed by pulling in fluids (with heat). Both approaches are effective! If you ever feel worse after icing, PLEASE STOP AND CONTACT YOUR LOCAL DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC in Stuart, FL, as you may have a unique case or situation.
How active should I be? Here too, most people usually try to do too much even after they feel “warning signs”. It’s human nature to want to “…get things done,” so sometimes we push ourselves beyond the limits of our tissue’s capacity, resulting in an injury. Once we’ve hurt our back, we STILL try to stay with our daily routine, ignoring our LBP the best we can. Generally, it’s BETTER to be a little active than it is to be too sedentary, but there is also a limit, as too much activity is like “…picking at a cut,” only prolonging healing and recovery.
If every time you bend over results in a sharp, dagger-like pain in your low back, PLEASE STOP and assess the situation! Position preference is the KEY to determining what type of stretches or other exercises may be best for you. So, if bending over REDUCES LBP, pull your knees to your chest (your local doctor of chiropractic in Stuart, FL can show you how)! If bending backwards feels better, our Coastal Medical and Wellness team can show you several extension exercises that can be done multiple times a day. Remember, too much sitting or lying down will weaken your low back muscles. Emphasize positions that feel good and avoid sharp, lancinating pain!
Have you ever had neck or back pain and considered Chiropractic but feared you’d be required to commit to a long term plan?
You are not alone.
Even though there is plenty of research backing up Chiropractic, some patients just can’t afford the time or expense of long-term, corrective care.
That is why we now offer “pay per visit” Chiropractic for your neck pain or back pain.
This means you can call and come in on the same day and provided that there are no contraindications, get exactly what you want; an adjustment without pressure to keep coming back over and over again.
As a matter of fact, this mainstream approach is featured on Chiro-Trust.org… one of the most visited online back pain information websites in the country.
So, if you, your spouse, or a friend is complaining of aches and pains, rest assured that you can come in and get the care you want and can afford.
Give us a call at 772-286-5277. We’ll take good care of you.
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.