Posts Tagged ‘Ligaments’

January 19th, 2009 No comments
David Dunlap asked:

An estimated eight out of ten people in the United States will injure their back at some point during their lives. Few of these problems will require extended treatment, but persistent back problems and back pain can still be very uncomfortable and stressful for many of us.

Managing and relieving back pain is not a simple process. The experience of back pain is subjective; so it’s often difficult to easily measure the level of treatment necessary. In fact, many health providers who treat back pain find it challenging to obtain the measurable signs in order diagnose a patient’s symptoms. Additionally, everyone’s experience of back pain is different.

Back pain descriptions range from the slight — such as; dull, sharp, and throbbing, to the extreme such as; pulsating, stabbing and shock-like — just to name a few. People experience and describe back pain so differently partly due to its varied and complex origins. In fact, pain originates from numerous places in the body, such as muscles, bones, nerves, organs or blood vessels. It is for these reasons that it often is difficult to target the exact origin of someone’s back pain.

Back pain can also be described as acute or chronic. The word “acute” derives from the Latin word for needles and is usually described as a severe, sharp sensation. The initial stage of an injury is called the acute phase. The word “chronic”, on the other hand, originated from the Greek word for time. Chronic back pain is pain that persists after a length of time, often months to years. Many back injuries tend to become chronic, especially when not treated properly during the acute phase. Chronic back pain is often experienced as a dull ache or constant nagging irritant.

Acute and chronic back pain sensations also travel different nervous system pathways inside the body. When you injure muscles or ligaments in your back, nerve endings called pain receptors pick up the pain impulses and transmit them to the spinal cord. From here, the pain message ascends to the brain. This process takes place at varying rates of speed depending on the size of the nerve fiber involved. Acute back pain tends to travel on faster, larger diameter fibers, while chronic back pain prefers smaller, slower pain fibers. Experts suggest that chronic back pain affects the brain’s limbic system, which is associated with emotional states. Anyone who has ever had a long-term painful back injury or regular back pain knows that negative or distressing emotions may accompany or perpetuate the initial injury.

The best way to treat chronic back pain is to prevent it. Although proficient early treatment does not always prevent an acute back pain injury from turning into a chronic problem, it is a good insurance policy. Early treatment is especially important with back pain injuries to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) to prevent them from becoming weaker, less elastic and more pain-sensitive. One of the best ways to treat both acute and chronic soft tissue injuries is a hands-on approach that works to repair the injured tissues. Some examples are joint and soft tissue manipulation and mobilization, typically performed by a chiropractor or osteopath.

A good chiropractor can make a big difference for most individuals experiencing either chronic or acute back pain. A chiropractor may suggest stretching exercises and make regular adjustments to a patient’s back in order to relieve back pain. Other good options for back pain are massage and physical therapy. A formal rehabilitation program at a health club or therapy clinic may also help to strengthen weakened and damaged muscles, especially the core stabilizers of the back which often are the cause of chronic back pain. The healing power of the hands-on approach is a positive experience that many people enjoy through therapeutic massage or body work.

The effects of a good massage go much deeper than the skin’s surface. Massage and chiropractic therapy can:

1) Help improve circulation of the blood and lower blood pressure while alleviating back pain. 2) Act as a detoxification system by propelling toxic waste products through the lymphatic system. 3) Help to improve muscle tone and prevent muscular atrophy resulting from inactivity or illness. 4) Reduce emotional stress and promote a sense of well-being.

How can something as simple as this hands-on therapy have so many positive benefits? A tense or painful muscle is one which is often chronically contracted. In an acute situation such as recent injury, the muscle can be in actual spasm. This contraction or spasm decreases the flow of blood to the muscle, which leads to a decrease in the nutrient and oxygen supply to the cells of the muscle and related nerves. A chronically contracted muscle will build up lactic acid, a sign of fatigue. This oxygen shortage and lactic acid buildup irritates the nerve cells, which perpetuates the contracted muscles – often resulting in discomfort and back pain. Massage and chiropractic therapy can help remove the lactic acid and other metabolic waste products from the cells and reverse this process, interrupting the vicious cycle of pain-spasm-pain. This can do wonders for most sufferers of back pain and have a lasting impact for many patients.

There are a multitude of massage styles which are beneficial to helping back pain. These options depend upon the individual’s needs and preferences. They include:

Swedish Massage: this is the basic “relaxation” style of body work, which uses long strokes, squeezing and kneading. The Swedish practitioner helps to improve circulation and back pain by working to loosen or relax the superficial layers of muscle. This type of massage is particularly useful for muscles and back pain which are the result of stress or a tough workout, as it is often more gentle than other styles.

Sports Massage: this form of massage therapy works on a deeper level of musculature or connective tissue. This style fits more with the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. The therapist uses slow, hard strokes and deep, sustained finger pressure to work deeply into the contracted muscles, fascia and tendons to help alleviate back pain. This technique increases flexibility, encourages muscles to work at their fullest capacity, and speeds up the healing process by reducing swelling following an injury. It is especially indicated for athletes and “week-end warriors” who suffer from tight or sore muscles and can be another successful solution for back pain.

Shiatsu and Acupressure: rather than being simply relaxing, this form of body work tends to be invigorating. Fingers, thumbs, fists and elbows are used to apply pressure to points along acupuncture meridians, which are believed to be the energy pathways of the body and which can help alleviate a patient’s back pain. The focus of this type of therapy is on relieving blocks in the pathways and re balancing the flow of energy.

Reflexology and Zone Therapy: reflexology works on the assumption that parts of the feet (as well as parts of the ears and hands) correspond to other parts of the body’s anatomy. In other words, stress or illness in a certain part of the body may show up as a painful or sensitive area on a specific area of the foot. Reflexologists apply pressure to the side, top or bottom of the feet to help reduce dysfunction in other parts of the body which can be helpful for those suffering through chronic back pain.

Not all techniques work for everyone, so make sure to inquire about the philosophy and style of the massage therapist you call. If your massage isn’t as satisfying as you had hoped or your back pain doesn’t go away, don’t give up, try another therapist!

Massage therapy schools are a cost-effective way to test out different styles of massage; senior students generally work for lower fees while they complete their internship. There are a few conditions in which mas
sage would not be a good option for the treatment of back pain, such as inflammation, fever, significant swelling or very severe back pain. But for the garden variety aches and back pains that most of us experience, as well as for the general stresses of life, massage is an outstanding way to treat ourselves to a positive, revitalizing experience.


January 12th, 2009 No comments
P.Bhargav Kashyap asked:

Oh! Pain in the Neck?!

Neck pain, at times, can become pain in the neck’ quite literally. People who have experienced neck pain alone know how painful the neck pain can turnout to be.

Neck is one of the most flexible regions of the spine, which consists of vertebrae, seven shock absorbing discs, muscles, and vertebral ligaments to hold them in place. The uppermost cervical disc connects the top of the spinal column to the base of the skull. The spinal cord, which sends nerve impulses to every part of the body, runs through a canal in the cervical vertebrae and continues all the way down the spine.

What Causes neck pain?

Most people experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain can be acute, lasting for few hours or a few weeks, or it can be chronic. Neck pain that lasts several weeks or longer is considered chronic neck pain.

Neck pain can be caused by an activity or injury or by a medical condition. Your head and neck region is vulnerable to many different stresses. Bad posture can cause misalignment of your neck, head, and spine. Car accidents can cause whiplash. Age and wear and tear can cause arthritis. Even activities such as chewing gum and reading in bed and cause pain. How do we avoid these potential problems? And if we can’t avoid them, how can we recover as quickly as possible.

Non-specific neck pain

Many people develop a stiff and painful neck for no obvious reason. It may happen after a minor twisting injury, for example while gardening. Since the underlying cause for this type of neck pain is not fully understood hence it is called ‘non-specific neck pain’ Having non-specific neck pain does not mean that your neck is damaged. Often it happens in people whose necks would appear completely normal under an x-ray. It is the most common type of neck pain and disappears after a few days.

Activities that cause neck pain

Neck pain mostly is caused by activities that result in repeated or prolonged movements of the neck’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, or joints. This can result in a strain(an overstretched or overused muscle), a sprain (injury to a ligament), a spasm of the neck muscles, or inflammation of the neck joints.

           1. Holding your head in a forward or odd position for long periods of time

               while working, reading, watching TV, or talking on the telephone.

           2. Sleeping on a pillow that is too high or too flat or doesn’t adequately 

               support your head, or sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted

               or bent.

           3. Spending long periods of time resting your forehead on your upright fist

               or arm.

           4. Work that uses the upper body and arms, such as painting a ceiling or 

               other overhead work.

Injuries that cause neck pain

The Spine consists of interlocking bones(vertebrae) and discs that separate the vertebrae. The portion of the spine that runs through the neck is known as the cervical spine. Muscles and ligaments in the neck hold the cervical spine together. Injury to any of these structures may result in neck pain.

Minor injuries may occur from tripping or from excessive motion of the cervical spine. Severe neck injuries may occur from whiplash in an accident, falls from significant heights, direct blows to the face or the back or top of the head, sports-related injuries , a penetrating injury such as a stab wound, or pressure applied to the outside of the neck, such as strangulation.

Pain from an injury may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Sudden (acute) injuries can result in strain and pain in the neck, dislocation of the spin, or a ruptured disc.

Medical conditions that cause neck pain 

                  1. Neck pain may be caused by or related to medical conditions such as:

                  2. Cervical Spinal Stenosis

                  3. Cervical Spondylosis

                  4. Illnesses, such as meningitis, which cause inflammation around the

                      tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

                  5.Chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or

                     ankylosing spondylitis

Torticollis (wryneck): Torticollis is

caused by severe muscle tightness or a shortened muscle on

one side of the neck, causing the head to be tilted to one side.

Referred pain: Referred pain occurs when

a problem in one place in the body causes pain in another

place. For example, a problem with your jaw or your heart can

cause neck pain.

Infection or a tumor in the neck area.

Signs and Symptoms

Neck pain takes many forms. Signs and symptoms of neck pain may include:

           1. Pain in your neck that may be sharp or dull

           2. Stiffness in your neck

           3. Difficulty going about your daily tasks because of pain or stiffness in

               your neck

           4. Shoulder pain in addition to neck pain, in some cases

           5. Back pain in addition to neck pain, in some cases

Help yourself to prevent neck pain

Take frequent breaks: Don’t sit in one place for a long time, such as your car or at your desk.

Arrange some of the items in your office that cause inconvenience. This will force you to get up, stretch or walk around.

Maintain good neck posture:

Adjust the seat of your computer or desk chair so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees. Your head and neck will naturally follow in the correct position. While traveling in a car, airplane or train, place a small pillow or rolled towel between your neck and a head rest to keep the normal curve in your neck.

Avoid too many pillows:

Avoid sleeping with too many pillows or falling asleep in front of the television with your head on the arm of a couch.

Exercise: Treat your body to a consistent regimen of stretching and strengthening to balance your muscle groups. This protects your neck as well as helping your whole body. Walking at any pace is excellent exercise for your neck. The rotation of the spine provides a great natural workout for the neck muscles.

Eat smart and Drink water:

Good nutrition and staying well hydrated are not only important to stay healthy, but vital in the healing process.

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