Could A Pinched Nerve Be Causing My Pain?

A pinched nerve is one of the more common reasons people experience back pain. Because your back is such a complex structure, it doesn’t take much for it to get out of whack. When there’s too much pressure on the nerve – be it from bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons – it can get compressed and cause pain. Although your back is one of the more common places for a pinched nerve to occur, compressed nerves aren’t isolated in your back. You can also suffer pinched nerves in your neck, legs and arms.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerve Pain

Common symptoms of a pinched nerve include:

  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the affected area.
  • Sharp, tingling or burning pain in the area.
  • A tingling or a “pins and needles sensation” in the area.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Shooting pain or sensation in the back, neck, arm or leg.
  • Worsening pain while sleeping.

Movement can exacerbate or alleviate symptoms, but exercise and activity is almost always recommended. Movement will usually help loosen the tissues that are pressing on the affected nerve. As we’ve mentioned before, exercise and physical activity is great for combating pain-related conditions.

Pinched Nerve

Treating Pinched Nerves

Unless pain is severely debilitating, most people try to let the condition heal on its own. As you might have guessed based on the above paragraph, physical therapy is one way people try to correct their pinched nerve. A PT can teach you specific exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles to relieve pressure on the nerve.

In additional to physical therapy/activity, a common treatment option for those suffering from a pinched nerve is anti-inflammatory medications. If inflammation is the root cause of the pressure, NSAIDs can be the perfect remedy. More often than not, though, anti-inflammatory medications need to be paired with other treatment options to fully fix the issue.

One final non-surgical treatment option for pinched nerves is a corticosteroid injection. The injection can minimize pain and discomfort as well as reduce inflammation in the area. If you have a fear of needles, the steroid can be taken orally as well.

Pinched Nerve Surgery

If your pinched nerve doesn’t improve after several weeks of conservative treatment, surgery may be your best bet. Surgery will free the nerve from its compressed state, and your doctor can remove scar tissue or problematic bones spurs that might be causing the condition.

As you might have guessed, the type of operation depends on where the nerve is located and what’s causing the compression. For example, a pinched nerve in the arm could be relieved by removing bone spurs, a compressed nerve in the back could be alleviated by removing a herniated disc, while a nerve issue in the wrist could be treated by cutting ligaments to give nerves more room to “breathe.”

If you have pain in your back, or you are experiencing similar symptoms in another part of your body, swing into a physical medicine specialist right away!

How to Deal With Pain After a Marathon

The Boston Marathon is underway, and although the winners have already crossed the finish line, thousands of other runners will soon complete their own 26.2 mile trek. Even if you’ve trained for months, running a marathon is sure to leave you feeling aches and pains in the coming days. To combat post-race pain, we’ve come up with a few tips to help prevent and alleviate pain after a long run.

Right After The Race

Although you’ll likely be looking for family and friends after you cross the finish line, there are also some steps you’ll want to take to within a few minutes of finishing. The first thing you’ll want to do is refuel, but it’s easier said than done. Your body isn’t going to be able to handle a big meal, but if you can get your hands on a banana, orange or energy bar, you’ll be able to help prevent post-race cramping. Once you’re back home, consider taking a cold bath to help destress your muscles. After that, you’re due for some much needed R and R, but try to get up and walk around a bit to keep your legs loose.

Marathon tips

The First Few Days After The Race

You’re going to be pretty sore in the first few days after your marathon. To keep your muscles loose, soak in a warm bath for 10-15 minutes every day, and do some light stretching once you’re out of the tub. Feel free to use a muscle roller to massage your muscles as well. As for nutrition, reach for fruits, proteins and a few carbs. The fruit will help boost your immune system, and the carbs and protein will help your muscles mend.

A Week After The Race

Now that you’re a week out, you’re probably itching to get back out there and go for a run. If you’ve followed the above tips, you’re probably feeling pretty good, but you’re not quite fully back. The first thing you’ll want to do a week after the race is to continue eating a healthy diet. Avoid a bunch of junk food and stick to fruits, veggies and a balanced diet. Get a lower body massage, pour yourself a warm bath, and soak for 15-20 minutes. Once that’s complete, do some stretches. If everything feels good, feel free to try a short 3-5 mile run.

Those are some good tips to follow, but if you know something is wrong after a race, swing on in to a doctor. A professional will be able to conduct a full examine and tailor a rehab plan to your exact injury.

Pain Care: The Benefits of Pain Management

Pain Care BenefitsPain is a complex problem with physical and emotional components. It can affect all aspects of a person’s life. When pain is treated early and aggressively, often it can be cured. Sometimes the injury that has caused the pain cannot be completely reversed and the damage needs to be managed on a long-term basis. Medically, we are always looking to find a diagnosis and treatment for every problem. Pain Care is aimed at finding the individualized, comprehensive diagnosis and management plan for a patient’s symptoms and problems.

Pain Care

Pain Care has been developed to take the next step in managing a patient’s symptoms. A new patient will undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a Board Certified specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with a subspecialty in Pain Care. These physicians are medical doctors with extensive special training in the musculoskeletal, medical and neurologic systems, which allows them to better diagnose and treat almost any painful condition.  As Physical Medicine doctors, they are the “Family “ physicians coordinating and delivering care to those with pain.

Since pain often is a complex problem, Pain Care is designed to help the patient move forward with management. Every patient is unique with their own set of important problems. If all the answers were obvious, there would be no need for our services. Unfortunately, pain is the most common problem bringing a patient to the doctor’s office. When it does not resolve in short period of time, consulting a specialist is often extremely beneficial. There is not one solution, one medication, one shot, or one specific intervention that is right for every patient. Pain Care is designed to integrate and coordinate our skills into the community to treat these challenging patients with their current care team.

Pain management is not a new medical field, however there are not many providers with the Physical Medicine and Pain specialty skills. Pain is complex and Pain Care is designed to address these issues and bring a solution to the patient and community.

Diabetic Neuropathy: Types, Causes, & Pain Management Options

diabetesDiabetes can cause multiple problems in the body.  High blood sugars can cause damage to nerves.  Diabetic neuropathy occurs in up to 70% of diabetics, and is painful in up to 30%. There are four common types of diabetic neuropathy: 

  1. Peripheral polyneuropathy
  2. Autonomic neuropathy
  3. Amyotrophy mimicking a radiculopathy
  4. Mononeuropathy

The small sensory pain fibers are the most commonly affected, causing pain in the feet and slowly progressing to the legs and often developing in the hands.  Loss of sensation in the legs can lead to open wounds, infections, amputations, and sometimes even death.

Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy

The causes of diabetic neuropathies are all thought to start with high blood sugars.  This is known to cause damage directly to the nerve, the insulation covering the nerves, and the blood vessels that provide nutrition.  There is also thought to be an auto-immune factor that diabetes provokes our immune system to fight the body itself like a foreign organism and cause damage.  Smoking and alcohol can also increase the likeliness of damage.  Lastly, diabetes makes the nerves more sensitive to damage, thus injury can cause significant increase in overall damage to nerves.

Peripheral Polyneuropathy

Peripheral polyneuropathy is the most common type of damage seen in diabetes.  It is noticed first affecting sensory nerves, but motor nerves can be equally damaged.  People often first notice numbness in the feet and toes, and changes in temperature.  Tingling, and burning is common, as well as pain and sensitivity even to the lightest of touches.   Motor changes include weakness in the feet and legs and difficulty with walking and balance.

Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy is the next most common diabetic neuropathy.  The nerves that control the heart, bladder, stomach and intestines, sex organs, and eyes are from the autonomic nervous system.  Loss of control of the bladder may be from damage to these nerves.  In males, erectile dysfunction is a common issue.  Stomach problems include slow emptying, constipation, and sometimes diarrhea.  Heart problems include fluctuating blood pressures and heart rates.

Prevention & Treatment Options

Once diabetic neuropathies occur, they are often hard to manage and control, since the nerve damage is often permanent.  Good blood sugar control is the most important aspect in reducing the incidence and severity.  Painful neuropathies are best treated with neuropathic medications such as:

  • Gabapentin
  • Lyrica
  • Cymbalta

Narcotic/opioid medications are often only minimally helpful at best.  In the worst cases, implantable pain control devices such as spinal cord stimulation and intrathecal pain pumps are useful.  When pain is an ongoing problem, enlisting the help of an experience pain physician can be a lifesaver in symptom management.

4 Common Causes of Leg Pain

leg pain treatment st. cloudOur legs are one of the most used parts of the body. We utilize them regularly – walking to work or school, and (hopefully) exercising on a regular basis. This constant use often leads to painful conditions. As with any pain, the first step to treatment is determining the exact cause of pain. With that in mind, here are 5 of the most common causes of leg pain:

  1. Sciatica & Low Back Pain. Sciatica is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve. It can create pain that starts in the lower back and radiates down through the buttocks into one or both legs. Read more about symptoms and treatment of sciatica.
  2. Shin Splints. Often the result of overuse and excessive amounts of exercise, shin splints are marked by sharp pain in your lower leg (usually after running). Generally shin splints can be effectively treated with rest and icing the shins.
  3. Peripheral Artery Disease. This condition occurs when blood vessels in the leg narrow, decreasing the amount of blood supply to the leg. A person with this disease will most often feel an aching pain when walking or exercising.
  4. Blood Clot. A blood clot is similar to peripheral artery disease in that it restricts blood flow. However, a blood clot is more severe since it completely blocks off an artery or vein, thereby cutting off blood supply. Depending on the location of the blood clot, treatment can include medications or injections to thin the blood, or surgery (in the worst cases).

Leg pain is common in many adults. Depending on the cause of the pain, it may or may not be cause for concern. If your leg pain does not go away with conservative treatment methods, or becomes severe, it’s important to seek out a physician right away.