Types of Pain Treated
- Low Back Pain
- Neck Pain (including whiplash)
- Hip Pain
- Peripheral Nerve Pain
- Radicular Pain/Sciatica
- Myofascial Pain Syndromes
- Complex Regional Pain Sydromes/RSD
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Pelvic Pain
- Cancer and Post-Radiation Pain
- Tietze syndrome
- Facial/Dental Pain/TMJ
What is low back pain, and what causes it?
The lower back is an elegant construction of bone, muscle, and ligament. Because the lower back is the hinge between the upper and lower body, it is especially vulnerable to injury when you are lifting, reaching, or twisting. When low back pain strikes, we become acutely aware of just how much we rely on a flexible, strong back. Ironically, most of us don't think of the importance of keeping our back and stomach muscles strong until we have back trouble.
Up to 85% of all people have low back pain at one time or another. Each year, about 2% of American workers are compensated for disability caused by back pain. Low back pain is often triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, or injury to the muscles and ligaments that support the spine. Less commonly, low back pain is caused by illness or spinal deformity.
Back pain can be:
Acute, lasting less than 3 months. Most people gain relief after 4 to 6 weeks of home treatment.
Recurrent, a repeat episode of acute symptoms. Most people have at least one episode of recurrent low back pain.
Chronic, lasting longer than 3 months.
What is neck pain?
Neck pain is pain that occurs anywhere from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. It may spread to the upper back or arms and may cause limited neck and head movement.
Neck pain is a common problem, especially in older adults. About 50% of people older than 50 have neck pain at some time.
What causes neck pain?
Most neck pain 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), sprain (injury to a ligament), spasm of the neck muscles, or inflammation of the neck joints. For example, painting a ceiling, sleeping with your neck twisted, slouching, or staying in one position for a long period of time can all cause neck pain.
Less frequently, neck pain is caused by injury, such as whiplash that occurs in a motor vehicle accident or a fall from a ladder, or by another medical condition, such as infection in the neck area, a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis), or rheumatoid arthritis.
Understanding How Hips Work
A joint is formed by the ends of 2 or more bones that are connected by thick bands of tissue called ligaments. The hip -- which, like the knee joint, must bear the full force of your weight -- consists of two main parts:
- A ball (femoral head) at the top of your thigh bone (femur).
- A rounded socket (acetabulum) in your pelvis.
What Causes Hip Joint Pain?
One of the most common causes of joint pain is arthritis. The most common types of arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis (OA) -- sometimes called degenerative arthritis because it is a "wearing out" condition involving the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. When cartilage wears away, the bones rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness. OA usually occurs in people aged 50 years and older, and frequently in individuals with a family history of osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) -- produces chemical changes in the joint space that cause it to become thickened and inflamed. In turn, the synovial fluid destroys cartilage. The end result is cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. RA affects women about 3 times more often than men, and may affect other organs of the body.
Post-traumatic Arthritis -- may develop after an injury to the joint in which the bone and cartilage do not heal properly. The joint is no longer smooth, and these irregularities lead to more wear on the joint surfaces.
Other causes of joint pain include avascular necrosis, which can result when bone is deprived of its normal blood supply (for example, after organ transplantation or long-term cortisone treatment), and deformity or direct injury to the joint. In some cases, joint pain is made worse by the fact that a person will avoid using a painful joint, weakening the muscles and making the joint even more difficult to move.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
The name of the condition tells you a bit about what it is:
Peripheral: Beyond (in this case, beyond the brain and the spinal cord.)
Neuro-: Related to the nerves
Put these concepts together and you'll find peripheral neuropathy refers to the variety of conditions that result when the nerves from the rest of the body that connect to the brain and spinal cord are damaged or diseased.
The peripheral nerves make up an intricate network that connects the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin and internal organs. Peripheral nerves come out of the spinal cord and are arranged along lines in the body called dermatomes. Typically, damage to a nerve will affect one or more dermatomes, which can be tracked to specific areas of the body. Damage to these nerves interrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body and can impair muscle movement, prevent normal sensation in the extremities, and cause pain.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness produced by an irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed by the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. Branches of the sciatic nerve extend through the buttocks and down the back of each leg to the ankle and foot.
What causes sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or ruptured disc (herniated disc) in the spine pressing against the sciatic nerve. However, sciatica also can be a symptom of other conditions that affect the spine, such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), bone spurs (small, bony growths that form along joints) caused by arthritis, or nerve root compression (pinched nerve) caused by injury. In rare cases, sciatica can also be caused by conditions that do not involve the spine, such as tumors or pregnancy.
An estimated 45 million Americans experience chronic headaches. For at least half of these people, the problem is severe and sometimes disabling. It can also be costly: headache sufferers make over 8 million visits a year to doctor's offices. Migraine victims alone lose over 157 million workdays because of headache pain.
What hurts when you have a headache? Several areas of the head can hurt, including a network of nerves which extends over the scalp and certain nerves in the face, mouth, and throat. Also sensitive to pain, because they contain delicate nerve fibers, are the muscles of the head and blood vessels found along the surface and at the base of the brain.
What is Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
Myofascial pain is a chronic condition that affects the fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles). Myofascial pain syndrome may involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. In some cases, the area where a person experiences the pain may not be where the myofascial pain generator is located. Experts believe that the actual site of the injury or the strain prompts the development of a trigger point that, in turn, causes pain in other areas. This situation is known as referred pain.
What Causes Myofascial Pain?
Myofascial pain may develop from a muscle injury or from excessive strain on a particular muscle or muscle group, ligament or tendon. Other causes include:
- Injury to intervertebral disc
- General fatigue
- Repetitive motions
- Medical conditions (including heart attack, stomach irritation)
- Lack of activity (such as a broken arm in a sling)
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, is a chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an affected site. Experts believe that CRPS occurs as a result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems.
CRPS is most common in people aged 20-35. The syndrome also can occur in children; it affects women more often than men.
What Causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
CRPS most likely does not have a single cause but rather results from multiple causes that produce similar symptoms. Some theories suggest that pain receptors in the affected part of the body become responsive to catecholamines, a group of nervous system messengers. In cases of injury-related CRPS, the syndrome may be caused by a triggering of the immune response which may lead to the inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area. For this reason, it is believed that CRPS may represent a disruption of the healing process.
What is degenerative disc disease?
Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes in your spinal discs as you age. Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine; however, it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the lower part of the neck (cervical region).
The changes in the discs can result in back or neck pain, as well as:
- Osteoarthritis, the breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that protects and cushions joints.
- Herniated disc, an abnormal bulge or breaking open of a spinal disc.
- Spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal, the open space in the spine that holds the spinal cord.
Although pelvic pain often refers to pain in the region of women's internal reproductive organs, pelvic pain can be present in either sex and can stem from multiple causes. Pelvic pain may be a symptom of infection or may arise from pain in the pelvic bone or in non-reproductive internal organs. In women, however, pelvic pain can very well be an indication that there may be a problem with one of the reproductive organs in the pelvic area (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, or vagina).
What Causes Pelvic Pain?
Possible causes of pelvic pain in both men and women may include:
- Bladder disorders
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Kidney infection or kidney stones
- Intestinal disorders
- Nerve conditions
- Pelvis disorder
- Broken pelvis
- Psychogenic pain
Possible causes of pelvic pain in both men and women may include:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Menstrual cramps
- Ovarian cysts or other ovarian disorders
- Uterine cancer
- Cervical cancer
Coccydynia is a medical condition characterized by pain in the coccyx or tailbone area. Coccydynia is often reported following a fall or after childbirth. Since sitting on the affected area may aggravate the condition, proper padding (or a donut cushion) is recommended. For prolonged cases, anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving drugs may be prescribed, and local nerve blocks are often beneficial. In rare cases, surgery to the coccyx may be required.
The majority of people with cancer will experience pain at some time or another. The pain can result from the cancer itself, or from the cancer's treatment. In addition, some people who have been cured of their cancer can continue to suffer from pain.
Cancer pain, or the discomfort that stems from cancer and its treatment, can be controlled most of the time. There are many different medicines and methods available to control cancer pain. People who have cancer and are feeling pain need to inform their doctor immediately. The earlier pain treatment is started, the more effective it is.
What Causes Cancer Pain?
There are many causes of cancer pain, but most cancer pain occurs when a tumor presses on nerves or body organs or when cancer cells invade bones or body organs. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery also may cause pain.
Tietze syndrome, also known as costochondral junction syndrome, is a rare, inflammatory disorder characterized by chest pain and swelling of the cartilage of one or more of the upper ribs (costochondral junction). Onset of pain may be gradual or sudden and may spread to affect the arms and/or shoulders. Tietze syndrome is considered a benign syndrome and, in some cases, may resolve itself without treatment. The exact cause of Tietze syndrome is not known.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. This joint is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side and enabling you to talk, chew, and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.
What Causes TMD?
The cause of TMD is not clear, but dentists believe that symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck such as from a heavy blow or whiplash can cause TMD. Other possible causes include:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
- Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth