Back pain can stop you from doing all kinds of things. It can keep you from playing sports, doing well at work, and doing everyday things like buying groceries and mowing the lawn.
Back spasms are often a protection mechanism that helps to stabilize an area of the spine that has been injured. When a joint anywhere in the body is injured, the muscles surrounding that area will tighten to prevent the joint from being compressed or stretched. While back spasms are painful and restrict your movement, there are things you can do to minimize your down time. Here are some options for you to try that will minimize your pain and discomfort from muscle spasms:
Rest is very important, but that doesn't mean that you should lay in bed for long periods of time. You just need to get a really good night's sleep and maybe lay down for a while to take the stress of your back once in a while during the day.
Walking can help to loosen up tight muscles in the back. However, if you decide to do that, make sure you don't over do it. Keep your posture good and walk at a moderate pace. Limit the distance and time that you walk. Also make sure you are not making impact with the ground with too much force and walk as smoothly as possible.
You could try to use an anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen which could offer you some temporary relief. Muscle relaxants can also make us feel better, but they are really masking the real problem. You should get to the root of the problem and treat that instead.
Periodically apply ice to the muscles that are in spasm for the first 48 to 72 hours that you feel pain. Apply the ice for about 15 to 20 minutes and remove it for around 45 minutes then reapply. Make sure you have a shirt or towel between your skin and the ice pack. Otherwise you could give yourself frostbite, and you don't want to make things worse. If you apply the ice too long, it can cause the area to get too cold and cause too much blood to flow into the area which could increase the inflammation. Ice can also help to reduce the use of pain killers because it will reduce the pain threshold.
Heat can also be beneficial by drawing in nutrients and flushing toxins, but it can also draw more fluid into the inflamed area which is not a good thing. If you find that heat is helping you, make sure you limit the time to about 15 minutes and follow up with ice.
Stretching the muscle fibers can help to relax and sooth the back spasm. You can use a variety of yoga poses or a foam roller and exercise ball.
Once you are feeling better, it is a very good idea to implement exercises into your workout routine that strengthen these back muscles. Doing the plank is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your core muscle group. Just make sure to start slow and don't expect to hold the position for more than 20 seconds at a time. Once you build up your strength, you can start to increase the time.
Have you stayed away from chiropractors because you are terrified that they will crack your neck or spine? If you said yes, you are not alone. That procedure strikes fear in the minds of most people and many will just stay away from chiropractors as a result. But is their fear based on scientific knowledge or just what they have seen on TV when someone is killed by getting their neck snapped?
The truth of the matter is that nothing is being broken or damaged when the chiropractor performs procedures that result in a cracking sound. So what is really happening? When you stretch a joint such as in the spine, a vacuum is created in the joint and pressure is released much like what happens when you release a suction cup. That is all that cracking, popping or snapping is.
The same thing is happening when someone cracks their knuckles - they are just creating little air pockets inside the joint that consist partially of nitrogen. Once they have cracked the knuckle, the air builds up again after about 20 minutes and they can again create the sound. The question is, does cracking your knuckles cause damage to your joints? This is a very common question and the answer is definitely yes. This is because damage can occur over time especially if the person habitually cracks their knuckles several times a day. Micro trauma can occur when you extend a joint beyond where it is supposed to go too many times.
Chiropractors only crack joints for very specific reasons. They are looking for joints that are not moving in a normal fashion and extend them to restore movement. Once it is back to it's normal function they will stop adjusting it. Some people are not even capable of creating the cracking sound because their joints are so tight, while others can pop their joints at will because their joints are so loose.
Here is an excellent video that uses props to explain what is happening when your practitioner adjusts your spine and creates a cracking sound. There is nothing to fear, although it still brings to mind those people losing their lives on TV as a result of a twist to the neck.
Thanks to Dr. Lee Pierce of the Pierce Family Chiropractic Wellness Center 17024 Magnolia St. Fountain Valley CA 92708
The rotator cuff is an incredibly important and complex part of the shoulder that often causes shoulder pain either from a new injury or even something that happened years ago. It is usually injured while playing sports, but can also be damaged from everyday life such as lifting a box awkwardly, or in an accident.
Since the rotator cuff is such an important part of the shoulder, it should be treated as soon as possible because your quality of life can be drastically affected by the lack of mobility and pain that you experience as a result of this serious shoulder injury. When you are thinking of getting treatment, the obvious choice is to see your chiropractor. In most cases, they will be able to rehabilitate the muscles that work with the rotator cuff and restore full mobility to the shoulder. In rare cases surgery may be required.
The 4 muscles of rotator cuff are:
Supraspinatus which initiates abduction
Infraspinatus which externally rotates
Teres Minor also externally rotates
Subscapularis and allows internal rotation
They can be remembered by the acronym SITS
Your chiropractor will use a combination of the Graston technique and Active release technique to treat your rotator cuff problems. The Graston technique uses a set of metal tools to increase blood flow to the muscles of the shoulder and warm it up. Then the chiropractor will use active release techniques to treat the muscle he suspects is causing the problem. He does this by putting pressure on the muscle while you move your arm with the motion that corresponds to that particular muscle. By doing this, the muscle will begin to heal and your mobility will be restored after several sessions. You can not expect to be healed overnight with just one session. It could take months before you regain full use and motion of your shoulder, so you need to be persistent.
The alternative to a chiropractor, is a medical doctor, who will almost certainly want to prescribe you some sort of drug so they can collect a fee. This is to be avoided at all costs, since drugs only seem to treat the pain you are feeling and do nothing to get at the root of the problem.
Here is a demonstration of how one chiropractor treats rotator cuff problems in his clinic. This is only a demonstration, so the treatment he shows you is a lot shorter than normal. You would expect your session to last at least a half an hour.
The Sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the hip and then through the Piriformis muscle which is in the buttocks, and down to the top part of the leg also known as the Femur. This nerve can cause a lot of pain down into the legs if there something wrong anywhere in the vicinity. There are three main causes of sciatic pain:
Piriformis Syndrome - If the Piriformis muscle is spasming or the muscle is weak, that can put pressure on the Sciatic nerve and cause a lot of pain.
Disk herniation - Also known as a disk bulge, this can be the most severe type of sciatic pain
Misalignment of the pelvis - The pelvis is made up of three bones, which are the llium, the Sacrum, and the Ischium. When you are walking these bones work in a figure 8 configuration and sometimes on side can get stuck and the then the other side can try and compensate and gets stuck in the other direction. This can put pressure on the surrounding muscles causing lower back pain and sciatic pain.
If you are suffering from this rather painful condition, go see your chiropractor and let them evaluate your condition. They will determine which of the three causes is afflicting you and explain how they will treat you. They may recommend adjustments to align your spine and pelvis, stretching and strengthening exercises, ice and heat, or ultrasound to help alleviate the spasm of the muscles. They may also evaluate your posture and see if they can determine how you can improve how you stand, walk, and sit, which can also have an effect on your spine, pelvis and associated muscles.
Here, Dr. Hans Delfo demonstrates some of his techniques for helping his patients with sciatic pain.
Here are some really good knee strengthening exercises that you can do whether you have had surgery or not. They will also help if you have osteoarthritis or knee dislocations. All you will need is some power bands and a platform or chair to lean on.
One legged squats where you squat down on one leg until your behind hits a bench. Sit down on the bench for a half a second or so to take the pressure off the leg and knee before getting back up again
Normal squats with a power band holding the legs together just above the knees. This helps to keep the knees from pushing out, which is what usually happens when you do squats.
Power band sidesteps are when you put a power band around your ankles and do sidesteps. This works muscles on the left knee when you go to your right and vice versa when you go in the other direction
Power band extensions are when you connect the power band to a solid object that will not move and wrap it around the thigh of the knee you want to work out. Then you flex your knee from a straight leg to a bent leg.
Hip abduction with the power band where you connect the power band to one ankle and pull from the side and release.
One legged knee bends are when your stand on one leg and move your other leg around behind you causing the the leg you are standing on to flex.
Box step ups are where you step onto a milk crate and back down again both from the front and from the side
Box assisted squat is where you are sitting on a bench and you get up and sit down repeatedly.
Try all these exercises and you will likely notice that you have less pain in your knees. Watch the video below to see exactly how to do these. If you don't feel better after a week or so consider seeing your chiropractor
I once had a patient that injured themselves while lifting weights - bench pressing to be exact. They had lowered the barbell too quickly and heard a crunching sound. They said that there wasn't much pain but they put the barbell down and walked around for a while. Then their shoulder felt pretty good so they continued to work out. This was a foolish thing to do because that decision would cause them a lot of pain over the years.
When they first came to see me it was at least six months after the initial injury and they now had a case of frozen shoulder. They couldn't lift there arm above their head and couldn't reach around to the back of themselves either. I proceeded to treat them and gave them some exercises to do at home. After two or three weeks that problem was resolved and their shoulder felt pretty good. Then slowly over the course of a few years, pain started to return to the injured shoulder. It was not debilitating pain, but more of a constant dull pain while sitting down. They said the shoulder did not bother them when they were sleeping, but mostly when they were seated at a desk typing on a computer.
With some simple tests I could tell that the problem was now in the shoulder blade area, and there were a lot of knots and tension in the muscles around the shoulder. I also noticed that their posture was not very good, especially when they sat down at their computer. Their head was leaning forward too much causing stress on all the supporting muscles. I told them that their head weighs at least 12 pounds and when they lean forward it weighs more like 40 pounds.
So, the first order of business was to get them to improve their posture. Next I treated their painful muscles and again gave them some exercises to do at home and told them to get in the habit of stretching periodically during the day. Here are some of the excersises I assigned them.
Most of us that are confined to an office for over 8 hours a day have developed a problem with poor posture. It is almost inevitable that we will sit at our desk in a way that can hurt our bodies later.
We have all heard that sitting for that long every day of your working life can take years off of your life. While that is debatable, what is for certain is that when you have poor posture while sitting at your desk, you will develop a sore neck, back, or shoulders. Sitting with your shoulders shrugged and head forward puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on your neck and you will start to feel the effects of that over time.
One possible solution is to get a standing desk for your office. There are several options here with many different price ranges. In the mid range of prices is a desk from Ikea that sells for around $600. It is totally automatic with an electric motor so you can stand for most of the time but when you start getting tired you can quickly lower the desk. It only takes about 10 seconds to go from sitting to standing and vice versa. There are other cheaper options with one costing just $25. That one is being offered by the people that run Hootsuite and is made of totally collapsible cardboard so you can easily carry it with you and set it up in seconds. If you are totally broke you can just set up some boxes on top of your normal desk to see if you really can stand for hours at a time.
The bottom line is that we all have to get up and move around a lot more than we do now. People were not made to sit a desk for hours at a time without moving. Besides the problems with pain caused by a sedentary lifestyle, we also have to worry about being overweight because we just don't get enough exercise.
Here is a very short video that shows how most of us used to watch TV when we were young - we need to do more of that when we are adults.
The issue of "neck cracking" as a form of treatment used by chiropractors can be a bit controversial. Many mainstream publications have highlighted the fact that there have been some adverse effects from the procedure. These range from the terrible like a stroke, to more subtle changes that are barely noticeable but still negative.
However, these really bad side effects are very rare so you need to realize that you stand a better chance of being hit by a bus when crossing the street, than you do of any serious consequences from a neck treatment. Here is an article that discusses the pros and cons of "neck cracking". http://lifechiropracticcentre.ca/truth-about-neck-cracking
Here is a video that shows the treatment being performed
Most people go to a medical doctor whenever they have any kind of ailment, but sometimes it just makes sense to go to a chiropractor. If you have numbness in your fingers or toes, it is a good idea to see your doctor, however they will usually just shrug it off and say you may have a repetitive strain injury. Here is a nice article about that subject from a chiropractor's perspective.
Are portions of your hand going numb? Do you feel hand numbness in certain fingers? Do your fingers tingle or do you get sharp shooting pains in to your hands?
Many people come to my office telling me that they have carpal tunnel. In 90% of those cases, and sadly even some they have been to the MD for, it is not the correct diagnosis.
What is carpal tunnel? You have an indentation within the many bones of your wrist that the muscles that control the flexion of your fingers and your median nerve passes through. It supplies the palm of your hand and first three fingers. When you are having carpal tunnel symptoms you are getting compression of the median nerve AT your carpal tunnel.
Many times, even though you have numb fingers, the compression is happening somewhere else. Often, I find the patient’s forearm to be full of trigger points (tiny painful adhesions between the muscles) that are causing hand numbness. You can also have hand numbness that is caused by problems with your neck. If the small holes between the bones of your spine where your nerves exit are causing compression or pressure to build up around your nerves, whatever they supply is not going to get the message.
With any of these issues, your first stop should be a chiropractor. We are trained to diagnose and treat these problems as well as many others. If you give chiropractic care a fair chance to work, listen to your doctors recommendations and still find after a couple weeks your symptoms aren’t improving, the chiropractor can refer you on for advanced imaging or diagnostics, physical therapy or even a neurologist consult.
When I had my chiropractic clinic we always had a good massage therapist on staff to compliment my services. Chiropractic care was the bread and butter of our practice and all our advertising was focused on getting more patients that needed the Graston technique or Active release therapy. When we did try to advertise for our massage therapist, we found we were sometimes in competition with the more exotic massage studios that offer more adult services, so we decided to stay away from that.
Anyway, a massage therapist is great for people that don't have strained ligaments or alignment issues. If you just have muscle pain or muscle spasms, a therapeutic massage can do wonders for you.
I was recently on vacation in New Brunswick and started getting a sore back. Maybe it was because of the long hours of driving, and my lack of exercise while on vacation. So while driving through the quaint little town of Memramcook, which is near Dieppe, I spotted a massage therapist right beside the highway. I went inside and luckily they had an opening and were able to take me right away. Bob the owner, did a fantastic job on my back and I felt like a million bucks after that.