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February 19th, 2009 No comments
Nishanth Reddy asked:

Lower back pain is one of the most common causes of job-related disability and why some people miss work. It is also the second most common neurological ailment in the United States, second only to headache. In fact, approximately 80% of adults in Western countries have, at some point, experienced lower back pain.

For some fortunate people, pain in the lower back may be resolved by itself or with the aid of medication within two to four weeks. However, there are some cases of lower back pain that may last for more than a few weeks, during which case the condition is termed as “chronic” and “progressive,” meaning it can only grow worse over time.

Moreover, 60-80% of those patients who suffer their first episode of lower back pain may experience recurring pain within one year.

According to current research, there are certain muscles in the back that work to stabilize the spine. When the spine or the back suffers an injury, these muscles are reflexively inhibited or shutdown. Worse still, these muscles do not spontaneously recover, and this is true even if patients do not feel pain and are able to return to normal activity levels.

As a result of the inhibition of these muscles, called lumbar multifidi and the transversus abdominus, lower back pain occurs. However, there are steps you can take to prevent the same thing from happening to you.

Lower Back Pain and Physical Therapy

One way to prevent the inhibition of the lumbar multifidi and transversus abdominus is through a series of physical therapy exercises.

Designed to strengthen the muscles of the lower back and keep the spine healthy, these physical therapy exercises may range from back stabilization exercises to muscle strength development and several wide variety of techniques.

In addition, a physical therapist may also recommend such methods as heat therapy, ultrasound, massage, mobilization, and education about posture and body mechanics in order to prevent lower back pain from recurring.

Some of these methods will be discussed later on. You will also find some practical self-help tips provided by experts to help you avoid lower back pain or prevent the condition from worsening.

However, before we head on to learning how lower back pain is treated through physical therapy, it is important that we first understand what causes lower back pain.

Lower Back Pain: CAUSES

There are actually many types of back pain, but the most common is pain in the lower back. Why? You might ask. The reason is simple: you carry most of your weight in the lower back. Thus, it is highly likely that a person would suffer pain in that area.

There is no definitive cause of lower back pain. Sometimes, the causes of the condition are so complex that it is difficult to pinpoint just a single one.

However, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals have observed that lower back pain is often a result of strained back muscles and ligaments due to any of the following activities:

Improper posture

Heavy lifting

Sudden awkward movement

Muscle spasm

Stress

We could all be guilty of the above activities. We may not suffer any back pains now, but it is likely that as we get older and the degree of inhibition of the back muscles as a result of these activities increases, back pain becomes a very distinct possibility.

In addition to these common activities, lower back pain may also result from specific conditions, such as:

Herniated disk (when the disk material presses on a nerve)

Sciatica (when a herniated disk presses on the sciatic nerve. The condition causes sharp, shooting pain through the buttocks and the back of the leg.)

Spinal stenosis (when the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots becomes narrow. This is caused by arthritis and bone overgrowth, the pain resulting from when a nerve gets pinched in the narrow space.)

Spondylosis (a type of arthritis affecting the spine due to degenerative changes brought on by aging)

Spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra in the spinal column slips forward over another)

Lower Back Pain: TREATMENT

The treatment of lower back pain depends on several factors, including the specific type of lower back pain (whether it is chronic or acute) and the purported cause.

For instance, acute lower back pain is commonly treated with pain relieving drugs, such as analgesics, or some forms of exercises that can help relax the muscles.

On the other hand, chronic back pain or one that lasts for more than two weeks and is progressive may be caused by some underlying condition, during which case the treatment plan may consist of resolving the underlying condition to treat the back pain.

Lower Back Pain and Physical Therapy Exercise

Physical therapy exercise is one of the most common methods of treating lower back pain. In fact, many home remedies for lower back pain consist of exercise, because the general theory is that if you remain active, you remain healthy. This is true in most cases.

However, for purposes of this article, the exercises featured here will be those that are practiced by physical therapists to treat patients with lower back pain.

Generally, in physical therapy exercises, the exercise program for back pain should encompass a set of stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and low impact aerobics. Read below for more on these exercises:

-Stretching

The back of a person is composed of the spinal column and contiguous muscles, ligaments and tendons. All these are designed to move in consonance with each other so that any limitation in the range of motion in any of these components of the back result in back pain.

Stretching for lower back pain specifically targets soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments and tendons, found in the back and around the spine. By stretching, the spine and soft tissues are mobilized, increasing motion and thus, relieving pain.

There are many kinds of stretching exercises employed by physical therapists. One is the Hamstring Stretching Exercise which works to relax tight hamstrings, a common symptom of lower back pain. This exercise is said to help decrease the intensity of lower back pain among sufferers.

-Strengthening

Physical therapists generally use two forms of strengthening and back pain relief exercises, usually depending on the specific condition of the patient. These are the McKenzie exercises and dynamic lumbar stabilization exercises. However, the two forms of strengthening exercises may also be combined should the therapist find it appropriate to do so.

-McKenzie Exercises

Named after a physical therapist in New Zealand, McKenzie exercises are primarily extension exercises that could help reduce pain generated from the disc space and also may help reduce the symptoms of herniated disc by reducing pressure on a nerve root.

For acute pain, the McKenzie exercises should be done frequently, at least once every two hours. In addition, patients are advised to avoid flexing their spine when exercising.

-Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization Exercises

Using this back exercise technique, the first thing that a physical therapist does is to look for the patient’s “neutral” spine. This refers to the position that allows the patient to feel the most comfortable.

Afterwards, when the patient is in that position, the back muscles are then exercised in order to “teach” the spine how to stay in this position.

Performing these exercises on a regular basis can help strengthen the back muscles and keep the spine well-positioned.

Low Impact Aerobic Exercises

The purpose of low impact aerobic exercise is to recondition the back. Patients who undergo reconditioning of the back thro
ugh low impact aerobic exercise will have fewer episodes of lower back pain.

In addition, whenever an episode of lower back pain does occur, the pain is less intense and lasts only for a short period.

Another benefit of low impact aerobic exercise is that patients tend to stay functional that is, they can continue with their regular work and carry on with recreational activities. In contrast, patients who do not undergo low impact aerobic exercises typically experience the gradual loss of their functional abilities.

For low impact aerobic exercises to achieve their desired results, they should be continuous. This will increase the heart rate and keep it elevated as well as increase the production of endorphins, which are pain fighting hormones released by the body.

Here are some examples of low impact aerobic exercises that you may want to try in order to lessen or reduce lower back pain:

-Walking

One of the simplest forms of aerobic exercises, walking is generally considered as very gentle on the back. To get the maximum benefit from walking as a form of low impact aerobic exercise, walk two to three miles three times per week.

-Stationary Bicycling

This form of aerobic exercise is less painful on the back since there is lower impact produced. This is beneficial for patients with lower back pain who may find walking too painful.

-Water Therapy

Sometimes referred to as aquatherapy, water therapy is simply doing exercise in the water. The buoyancy works to provide effective conditioning at the same time stress on the back is reduced.

VANNESA

February 6th, 2009 No comments
Anna Hart asked:

Is ongoing chest pain a sign of heart failure? Chest pains of any type can be frightening. You may think you are having a heart attack. The thought that it might be heart attack can increase chest pains. You should see a doctor immediately to be sure.

Supposing, though, that you have seen a doctor about your ongoing chest pain. You were not having a heart attack. Your doctor sent you home, but the chest pains continue to come and go.

Is ongoing chest pain a sign of heart failure that the doctor might miss?

Possible Reasons for Ongoing Chest Pains

Chest pains are often, but not always heart related. The nerves flowing from the spinal column can echo pain, making us think one part of the body hurts when the problem is actually in another part. Once we are convinced that chest pains relate to the heart, it can be difficult to find the true source of the problem. Physicians are frequently faced with this dilemma. The chest pain is not “all in your head”. It is real pain. It may not relate to the heart, however, no matter how much your head tells you it does.

We do not have space here to list every cause of chest pain, but we can give examples. Assuming you have already undergone physical examination for your chest pains, consider the following. You will want to discuss your chest pain with a qualified, licensed physician.

* Anxiety: Chest pains often are caused by anxiety. Your body responds to stressors by preparing for fight or flight. However, you do neither. Instead, you continue the anxious state of preparation. Your body continues to pour forth chemicals to help you fight or flee. This process can trigger ongoing chest pain. If this is true in your case, the ongoing chest pain is not a sign of heart failure. It is your body’s warning that you need to reduce anxiety.

* Angina pectoris: Chest pains may indicate blocked arteries. Do you get the chest pains when you engage in physical activities, try to handle emotional stress, or endure extreme temperatures? Do the chest pains feel like pressure under the breastbone? If so, ask your doctor to check for angina.

* Costochondritis: This cause of chest pains is really an inflammation of the joints in your chest. Inflammation where ribs and breastbone connect may cause chest pain along the edges of your breastbone. Your pain may get worse when you cough or take a deep breath. An anti-inflammatory medicine or heat may relieve the pain. This problem usually goes away on its own. Ask your doctor about it.

* Periconditis: Chest pains may also be caused by another type of inflammation – inflammation of the heart lining.

* Musculoskeletal: Ongoing chest pain may be a matter of muscle strain. Perhaps you twisted or lifted in such a way as to pull a chest muscle. This type of ongoing chest pain hurts when you touch the chest.

* Gall Bladder: A gall bladder attack can cause excruciating chest pain. This can stop and start many times. It is related to eating, however, and not to the heart.

* Acid reflux: A common cause of ongoing chest pain is acid reflux, GERD, or heartburn. This feels like the heart is in pain. It can come and go frequently. Ask your doctor if your ongoing chest pain may be related to your digestive system.

Make the Connection

Is your ongoing chest pain a sign of heart failure? It might be – if you have other symptoms of heart failure. Do you have trouble breathing? Do you become uncomfortable when lying flat because you feel short of breath? Are your legs and arms swollen with excess fluid? Have you gained weight from water retention? Do you feel like you have indigestion, and you would rather not eat because of it?

With your ongoing chest pain, do you feel tired, weak, and not able to do the physical things you usually do? Are you restless and confused? Does it seem that your attention span has grown shorter and your memory is failing?

These are some, but not all, of the symptoms that accompany chest pain if you are experiencing heart failure.

Helpful Tip

Your doctor will probably be able to make a tentative diagnosis of heart failure if you have swelling and are short of breath. He or she will listen to your chest, tap the chest, and even take a chest X-ray. If your doctor suspects heart failure, other tests will be ordered.

Many therapies can help ease your heart’s workload. If your chest pains are caused by heart failure, your physician can help.

CAUTION: The information presented here is for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. You should not rely on this information to make health decisions. Consult your family doctor about your personal condition.

ALONZO

February 4th, 2009 No comments
Steve A Madigan asked:

One thing in common we all have is that someday we all have some sort of lower back pain. Usually a bump, bruise or accident will cause the lower back pain. These are usually mild cases and only require treatment that is very easy to do.

Others will find they have back pain and don’t know what caused the pain and there is no way to control the occurrence of the pain. Spinal conditions are a reason for back pain and many are born with this condition. The sooner you can find the source of the pain, the sooner you and your doctor can treat that back pain and hopefully reduce or eliminate the back pain for good.

Consider these things if you are under 60 years old Age and lower back pain do play a role. Older people, usually those over 60, are categorized into a separate group. They often suffer from conditions such as arthritis and other degenerative conditions that are known to cause back pain.

For the people who are under sixty, there are really 3 main group or categories. These are characterized by some common symptoms:

Disc herniation – results in pain and numbness in the legs. Can get worse with long periods of sitting or standing. Degenerative disk disease – this is characterized with pain when making certain moves or specific positions. This can also become chronic and extremely painful. Stress fractures – pain when walking or standing and this can be very painful also. Information for the older people One common cause of pain for the elderly is osteoarthritis. This health condition leads to stiffness and usually is worse in morning or evening.

Another type or cause for the elderly is lumbar spinal stenosis. What happens is there is pressure put on the nerves of the spine and usually will cause pain in the legs. Low back pain by disc degeneration is also common.

Muscles around and supporting the discs go into a spasm causing chronic back pain. Mechanical pain is common because the disc that is degenerating is becoming inflamed. By replacing the bad disc with an artificial one you help relieve the pain associated with degenerative disc disease.

Less know conditions for low back pain Some of the lesser known conditions of low back pain make it more difficult to diagnose therefore making it more difficult to treat.

Causes of lower back pain:

Infection Spinal tumor Fibromygalia Sacroiliac joint syndrome Piriformis syndrome Sciatica Poly neuropathy All of these can be causes of low back pain, even though they are more uncommon. They still can be treated, when diagnosed correctly.

A reason to be happy By determining the cause of your low bac and hip pain, you can find relief and treatment to start toward recovery. Understanding how to prevent and treat the back pain can definitely make you happy.

Have you got lower back pain? Think how great it would feel to be back pain free. Download our FREE manuscript showing you how to rid yourself of back pain. Also, showing you ways to get rid of neck and upper thoracic pain too.

SAMATHA

January 30th, 2009 No comments
Anna Hart asked:

You have heard that chest pain can be serious. It can signal a heart attack. It might be a rare, life-threatening problem. But it could be quite the opposite. It could be not at all serious.

When is chest pain not serious?

It is wise to learn when chest pain is not serious. You will want to check your symptoms with a licensed professional, but here are 7 examples of chest pain that is probably not immediately serious.

1. Acid reflux or heartburn: Chest pain can seem to be heart pain when it is related to the digestive tract. When acid refluxes (flows back) into the esophagus, it can cause a burning sensation in the chest. This chest pain can be mistaken for heart pain – the reason it was named as it was, even though it has nothing to do with the heart. This chest pain is not serious if it is occasional. If it happens frequently, you may be developing GERD, a more serious condition. To determine if this chest pain is serious, consider whether it came soon after eating. Try using an antacid. If the discomfort is relieved, it is probably heartburn.

2. Bruising: Chest pain can occur due to bruising of the outer chest. Perhaps you were moving furniture or other large objects. At the time, you didn’t realize you had hurt yourself. Later, you experience chest pain, but it is not serious.

3. Nerves: When is chest pain not serious? The roots of every nerve in the body are in the spinal cord. Smaller nerves branch from them along the neck and upper back. Chest pain can occur if one of these nerves is pinched where it leaves the spine. Chest pains caused by pinched nerves are sharp “shooting” pains. They may be triggered by moving your neck or arms in certain ways. They may be felt in the left or right part of the chest. These are not immediately serious chest pains.

4. Rib Injury: Chest pain can be caused by a bruised or fractured rib. This chest pain will be localized, right or left side, near a rib. It will be a sharp pain, and may increase when the rib area is touched. This chest pain is likely to increase when coughing.

5. Strains/sprains: When it is a result of a strain or sprain to one of the many muscles, bones, tendons, and cartilages in the chest, chest pain is probably not serious. These chest pains last for only a few seconds. They may return frequently over a period of days, and may be brought on, or relieved, by moving into certain positions. They are non-cardiac symptoms.

6. Stress: When is chest pain not serious? When it is caused by stress, your chest pain is not serious. As you respond to unusual demands on your body, emotions, or mind, you may tighten the muscles of the chest. This causes chest pain. With the pain, you may experience intense fear. Your heartbeat may increase, your breathing become rapid. You may perspire profusely and feel shortness of breath. This could be an anxiety or panic attack.

7. Ulcers: Another form of chest pain that is triggered by a digestive tract problem is the pain of an ulcer in the stomach or duodenum. This chest pain, like the pain of acid reflux or heartburn, is often felt in the upper abdomen or lower chest. As above, ask whether it was triggered by eating. Try getting relief with antacids. Although ulcer chest pains are not immediately serious, you should seek medical advice.

The Other Side of the Coin

Asking, when is chest pain not serious, should be followed by asking the opposite question: when is chest pain serious?

Chest pain can be caused by heart attack, probably the most life-threatening condition. Other heart conditions can also cause chest pain, and should receive medical attention.

Pleurisy, with its sharp, localized chest pain, is made worse when you cough or breathe in. Pleurisy is caused by inflammation of the membrane lining the chest cavity and covering the lungs. A blood clot can lodge in a lung artery, blocking blood flow to the tissue of the lungs. This condition, a pulmonary embolism, is similar to pleurisy in that the localized chest pain is made worse by a cough or deep breath. Other lung conditions can also cause chest pain.

Shingles, a nerve infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, often causes chest pain. This is a sharp, burning pain. It may begin a few hours or a day before a band of blisters appears on your back and chest.

Err on the Side of Caution

If you cannot find an explanation for your chest pain, and it persists, take an aspirin and seek emergency medical care. If your pains feel like pressure or tightness in your chest, do you have these other symptoms?

1. shortness of breath

2. sweating

3. nausea

4. dizziness

5. pain radiating to one or both arms or neck

If your chest pain includes any of those symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately.

Do not worry about what people will think if your chest pain is not serious. Chest pain is one of the most frequent reasons people call for emergency medical help. Often that chest pain is not related to a heart problem. You may be embarrassed if that happens to you. Don’t be. Even if your chest pain is not serious, it is better to go to the emergency room for evaluation.

CAUTION: The author is not a medical professional, and offers the information in this article for educational purposes only. Please discuss it with your health care provider before relying on it in any way.

ETHAN