Four Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Four Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Do you experience pain or discomfort in your lower back? Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints for both men and women, especially as they get older. If you live with lower back pain, you understand how much it can impact your quality of life and your ability to perform certain tasks. Learn more about the most common causes of lower back pain.

1. Herniated Disc

Your lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae stacked on top of one another with a cushioned disc between each one. Each disc contains a thick inner gel. When one of these discs herniates, its inner gel slips past the outer rind and presses on surrounding nerves. This can result in pain and discomfort in the lower back. 

Herniated discs can occur suddenly due to trauma or injury. They can also develop gradually due to age-related strain.

2. Compression Fracture

Compression fractures are another common cause of lower back pain. A compression fracture occurs when a vertebra in your lower spine collapses in on itself. This can lead to severe pain and limited spinal mobility. 

Compression fractures happen most often in patients who have osteoporosis. They can also be caused by an injury.

3. Spondylolisthesis

One of the most frequent causes of lower back pain is spondylolisthesis. This happens when one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it. This leads to increased compression on the disc separating the two vertebrae. 

Over time, the disc will begin to deteriorate and cause chronic pain. Spondylolisthesis can occur with age or as the result of an injury.

4. Strains or Sprains

Most cases of lower back pain are caused by simple wear and tear and lead to degenerative disc disease. Throughout your day, you move in ways that put increased pressure on your lower spine. Exercise, heavy lifting, and other activities can all strain your lower back and eventually lead to pain or discomfort. This is why lower back pain is more prevalent with age.

Treating Lower Back Pain

There are many different ways to manage lower back pain, depending on the underlying cause. Certain issues require surgical intervention, while others can be relieved with medication. An innovative approach to lower back pain is regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy. Regenerative medicine may have benefits to help heal your spine and relieve many of your symptoms. If you have lower back pain, speak to your doctor about potential treatment options.

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation and How Does It Work?

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation and How Does It Work?

When the body experiences damage, pain signals the brain that an injury occurred, allowing the body to react and prevent further damage. However, in some cases, the body’s pain response to injury lasts longer than it should, leading to chronic pain that causes its own harm. One cause of chronic pain is when nerve signals become damaged, sending pain signals even when the body isn’t experiencing damage. In these cases, spinal cord stimulation may interrupt these pain signals, offering relief to people experiencing chronic pain. So what is spinal cord stimulation? Keep reading to find out!

What Is Spinal Cord Stimulation?

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a newer treatment for managing chronic pain that stops the pain signals coming from the spinal cord. It is specifically used in cases where the cause of the pain can’t be remedied.

Patients using SCS to manage their pain will have a spinal cord stimulation device surgically implanted in their spine. The device contains multiple components, including:

Neurostimulator Device

The neurostimulator device, also called a pulse generator, is surgically implanted below the skin of the upper buttock or abdomen and delivers mild electrical stimulations that the patient typically can’t feel.

Leads

Tiny stimulating medical wires, also known as electrodes, are attached to the neurostimulator device that sends the stimulation to the epidural space near the spine. When the leads send their signals over the spinal cord, pain signals can’t communicate, and pain is blocked. 

Physician Programmer

This is a computer at the physician’s office that your spinal specialist uses to set stimulation levels and appropriately adjust the neurostimulator device.

Handheld Programmer

This device resembles a remote control that patients can use to adjust their stimulation. The patient can change the stimulator’s function based on activities or varying pain levels. 

How Does Spinal Cord Stimulation Work?

SCS provides pain relief by modifying pain messages before they reach the brain. The neurotransmitter device sends electrical pulses through the leads that can get to the brain faster than the body’s pain signals. As a result, patients undergoing SCS should feel a tingling sensation instead of pain. 

Once implemented, patients can use their remote control or handheld programmer when they feel pain. The remote control can adjust the location and strength of the electrical stimulation. For example, patients can change their stimulation levels for different activities or days when they feel more or less pain.

Is Spinal Cord Stimulation Effective?

While SCS treatments continue to develop, they may already be an effective treatment method for many patients. For example, patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome failed back surgery, and other chronic pain conditions are finding relief through SCS. If you would like to learn more about Spinal Cord Stimulation and how it can help, contact us today at Stemedix!

What Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

What Is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

The human shoulder is not as simple as it looks from the outside. It’s made of multiple bones, tendons, and muscles that all work together to give you a full range of motion. The three bones in the shoulder are the scapula (shoulder blade), the humerus (upper arm bone), and the clavicle (collar bone). In this article with will discuss shoulder impingement syndrome.

A group of tightly packed muscles known as the rotator cuff stretches from your shoulder blade to the top of your humerus to keep the humerus sitting comfortably in the glenohumeral joint, or shoulder joint. The rotator cuff is what gives you the ability to rotate your arms and raise them above your head. 

However, with so many moving parts packed into such a small area, there are lots of opportunities for something to go wrong. Since the rotator cuff sits between two bones, it’s vulnerable to becoming pinched between them. This is known as shoulder impingement syndrome. 

What Causes Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?

Shoulder impingement syndrome can be caused by anatomical abnormalities, such as bone spurs, that limit the amount of room the humerus has to move within the shoulder joint. However, it’s more often caused by overuse of the shoulder or injury. 

When the rotator cuff is overused, injured, or irritated, the tendons begin to swell. You’ve probably experienced swelling in other parts of your body before. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s usually not a big deal and subsides within a few days. But since the rotator cuff is surrounded by bone, it doesn’t have room to swell without the tendons rubbing against bone. 

The more the tendons rub against bone, the more swollen they become. And the more swollen they become, the more they rub against the adjacent bones. It’s a vicious circle that can be hard to break. 

How To Manage The Pain

Shoulder impingement syndrome can limit your range of motion by causing weakness and stiffness in your arm and making it painful to lift, reach, and rotate your arm. But the pain can be managed using a few different methods. 

When the syndrome is caught early, physical therapy can be very effective at reducing inflammation, improving your range of motion, and strengthening your rotator cuff. NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can also be taken to temporarily reduce the pain caused by swelling and inflammation. For severe cases of shoulder impingement syndrome, surgical intervention may be required. 

However, an increasing number of people are looking into regenerative medicine as an alternative option to avoid surgery and, in some unavoidable cases, recover from surgery. Mesenchymal stem cells offer a potential therapeutic and restorative option to help manage pain, decrease inflammation, and repair damaged tissues. Their paracrine signaling through extracellular vesicles generates a regenerative microenvironment that helps to inhibit scar tissue formation, reduce inflammation, and promote angiogenesis. If you would like to learn more about the treatment options for shoulder impingement syndrome, contact a care coordinator today at Stemedix!

What Are Text Neck Symptoms?

What Are Text Neck Symptoms?

You may not have heard of “text neck,” even if you have it. Text neck isn’t a formal diagnosis but a slang term for a condition caused by the repetitive stress of excessive texting. Holding the neck in a constant downward position when using a mobile device can cause pain and inflammation in the neck and shoulders. A personalized pain management plan can be highly effective in relieving symptoms. Here we will talk about text neck symptoms and how you can help relieve the pain associated with it.

Common Text Neck Symptoms

The symptoms associated with mobile device overuse may be constant or intermittent and mild or severe.

1. Pain

Pain in the shoulders, upper back, or neck is the most common complaint associated with text neck. Those affected may feel a deep ache, stabbing or burning pain in a specific spot, or general achiness throughout the region. It is not unusual for pain to emanate from the base of the head into the upper back.

2. Poor Posture

A prolonged forward head posture may cause muscles to become imbalanced, potentially making it difficult to maintain good posture with the ears aligned directly over the shoulders. Muscle structures in the chest, neck and upper back can end up pulling the head forward, even when one is not engaged in texting or using a device.

3. Headache

Misalignment of the cervical spine, as well as tight, strained muscles at the base of the neck, can spasm or cause headache pain. Long periods of looking at a screen can increase the risk of headache and eyestrain.

4. Limited Mobility

When the muscles in the neck and upper back become tight, they may experience a loss of mobility. The normal range of motion of a person’s neck can become limited, and they may feel like their shoulders are “stuck” and don’t move as freely as they once did.

5. Unable to Flex the Neck

Once the symptoms of text neck progress, even holding the neck in the forward position may become uncomfortable. Looking downward to text or read may cause pain that worsens each time you try to use your mobile device.

6. Uncommon Symptoms

Feeling electrical shock pain or pins-and-needles sensations radiating down the neck into the arms and hands can also occur. Balance issues caused by prolonged periods of holding a forward posture and jaw pain may also indicate you’re spending too much time looking at a mobile device.

What Can Help with Text Neck?

First, limit your screen time. Be aware of your posture while texting or reading on a mobile device. If simple habit changes don’t improve the condition, it may be time to see a health care professional to explore natural, non-invasive treatments that may be able to reduce pain and inflammation and treat musculoskeletal conditions.
For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

Foods that Could Improve Joint Pain (and Ones to Avoid)

Foods that Could Improve Joint Pain (and Ones to Avoid)

People often overlook their diet when trying to prevent or manage physical pain. Most people understand that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the amount of stress their joints must endure every day, but did you know that some specific foods may help naturally decrease joint pain? Here we talk about the foods that could improve joint pain (and Ones to Avoid). 

Berries and Cherries

The anthocyanin in cherries and berries not only gives them a beautiful purple/red color, but it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is a major cause of joint pain and other osteoarthritis conditions. Eating red and purple fruits will help reduce inflammation and may also protect you from gout, another source of joint pain.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Brussel’s sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables contain the antioxidant sulforaphane, known to reduce inflammation throughout the body. These vegetables are also recommended for anyone living with autoimmune issues, as sulforaphane also supports a healthy immune system.

Fish

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna, both reduce joint inflammation and help joints stay lubricated. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just not a big fan of fish, you can incorporate more nuts, nut oils, and soy into your diet to obtain the same benefits.

Whole Grains

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker of inflammation, and whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and cereals help to reduce CRP levels in the body. High CRP levels are associated with several serious conditions such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and inflammation of the circulatory system.

Green Tea

Switch your cup of morning coffee to a cup of green tea to benefit from powerful anti-inflammatories known as polyphenols. Polyphenols ward off several diseases, among them rheumatoid arthritis.

Foods to Avoid

Don’t worry, preventing joint pain doesn’t require you to give up all of your favorite foods. However, reducing your intake of the following items will help:

  • Canned goods
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Pre-cooked frozen meals
  • Corn oil
  • Salt and salty foods

Processed foods typically contain the toxin known as “advanced glycation end product,” which causes inflammation. They also contain large amounts of salt, which increases inflammation levels.

If you’re already following an anti-inflammatory diet and have eliminated problematic foods but are still experiencing pain from degenerative disk disease or other joint issues, there is help.

Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, has been shown to improve many orthopedic conditions as well as neurodegenerative and autoimmune conditions. Stem cell therapy is not guaranteed to help everyone, and each person should consider the available information before making this important medical decision. If you would like to learn more about foods that could improve joint pain or any of the services we offer here at Stemedix, contact a care coordinator today!

How to Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Morning Stiffness and Start Your Day Off Right

How to Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Morning Stiffness and Start Your Day Off Right

Do you suffer from aches and pains due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? The stiffness caused by RA is a nuisance for many patients and it is especially prevalent in the morning. When you awake from even the most comfortable of sleep, your joints may feel painful and stiff for several hours. How can this be avoided?

4 Ways to Reduce Morning Stiffness for RA Patients

Most patients turn to over-the-counter pain medications to ease their RA morning stiffness, but there may be some other alternatives. The following are four ways to reduce rheumatoid arthritis stiffness and start your day off right.

1. Turn Up the Heat

Experts suggest turning your heat up about 30 minutes before you plan to start your day. This will allow time for your joints to warm up and feel less stiff while you take it easy and relax in bed or have your morning coffee. By the time you need to get ready and head out the door, your body will feel more relaxed, and stiffness may be decreased.

2. Take Medication as Soon as You Wake Up

While you’re turning up the heat, go ahead and take any of your rheumatoid arthritis medications. You want to give your medication time to kick in and take effect before you begin your morning routine. This will help ease most of the aches and pains that you may feel in your joints during morning activities.

3. Practice Gentle Movements

Once you are ready to get out of bed, practice gentle movements rather than jumping to your feet and rushing around the house. Simple range-of-motion exercises can help stretch your muscles and loosen joints in the hands, wrists, and feet.

4. Take A Hot Shower

While many people opt for nighttime showers, RA patients may benefit from taking a hot morning shower. Taking a warm shower upon waking in the morning will help loosen and relax the joints, decreasing any stiffness or aching.

If you suffer from chronic pain from your rheumatoid arthritis, you may want to explore how regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, may help manage symptoms. In addition, some patients are discovering help from peptides. These are chains of amino acids, and some may have the potential for those with chronic pain. Alternative medicine does not offer a cure, but for some, it may help improve quality of life.

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