Pain Management Tips for Lower Back Pain / Degenerative Disks

April 10th, 2012

Ninety percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point, and all but ten percent will resolve their back pain uneventfully. Out of the remaining five to ten percent whose pain becomes chronic, a significant amount have degeneration of one or multiple intervertebral discs.

First it must be understood that degenerative disk disease represents a quality of life issue. It is not a true disease in the sense of something like liver disease or cancer that may need life-saving surgery. Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition that is confined to a focal area and a person can live with it and skip surgery, although it may be debilitating.

Treatment options include:

1)Activity Modification and Weight Loss

2)Aerobic Exercise

3)Bracing

4)TENS

5)Medications

6)Physical Therapy

7)Chiropractic Treatment

8)Spinal Decompression Treatment

9)IDET

10)Interventional Pain Injections

11)Surgery - Fusion or Artificial Disc Replacement

Activity Modification is not a very exciting option. It simply means not performing painful activities. If jogging hurts the back, switch to swimming or a cross training activity that does not hurt. Weight loss may decrease the amount of pressure on the ruptured or degenerated disk, and could alleviate pain.

Aerobic exercise has been shown in studies to be very beneficial for the health of the lumbar disc.Whether it’s cycling or swimming the disc receives benefits from the activity.

Back bracing can be very helpful for pain relief. Studies have been equivocal on the benefits of bracing, however, it represents an inexpensive method of pain relief which anecdotally has been shown to provide excellent pain management relief for patients.

TENS units are a safe non-invasive drug free method of pain management that can help decrease the need for pain medication and also supplement treatment being received for pain control. A TENS unit is a device that transmits small square electrical pulses to the electrodes, which transmit this electrical pulse to the underlying soft tissues of the lumbar region.

Pain Medications include Tylenol (acetaminophen), NSAIDS, and narcotic pain medication in addition to muscle relaxers. There is a significant potential for narcotic abuse in the age group associated typically with DDD so caution should be exercised.

Physical Therapy including core stabilization and lumbar strengthening can help with pain relief for degenerative disc disease. Strengthening the paraspinal muscles around the problem disc(s) can help unload the disk and decrease pain.

Chiropractic Treatment has been shown in numerous studies to assist with back pain that is acute in nature. In conjunction with spinal decompression, the results can be quite impressive. Spinal Decompression Treatment is a revolutionary therapy which unloads the disc space and allows increased oxygen and nutrients to flow into the intervertebral disk. This can help repair an injured disc, thereby stopping back pain.

IDET stands for intervertebral discal electrothermal treatment. It was very popular for a few years then the results were shown to be less favorable than originally thought. A significant amount of insurance companies decided to stop reimbursing for it based on the questionable results so it has since fallen out of favor.

Interventional pain management injections by pain doctors can be extremely beneficial. If there is a radicular component to the DDD, epidural injections may help. If there is associated facet arthritis, facet injections can help. There is no intra-discal injection yet that has shown to assist with pain relief for DDD.

If all non-operative methods fail, as a quality of life decision surgery can electively be done. Options for surgery include spinal fusion or an artificial disc replacement. The results are between 50-70% good to excellent.Success does not necessarily mean the pain goes to zero. Usually it’s relieved by one half or so with the definition of success.

What Some Studies Say About Lower Back Pain

March 15th, 2012

I thought I would share some interesting news from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This organization is a division of the National Institute of Health and they said some really interesting things that I have been saying for years. If you have lower back pain, you are not alone. It has been said that nearly everyone in the US at some point in their life will have back pain that will interfere with work, our normal daily activities or recreation. Studies have shown that Americans spend at least $50 Billion (yes that is Billion with a B) each year to try and help with low back pain problems. Did you know that low back pain is the most common cause of job related disability and is the leading contributor to missed days at work? When looking at neurological ailments in the United States, back pain is the second most common finding. The only one to be more debilitating is headaches.

For years we have known that low back pain can be caused by different factors. As people age, their bone strength and muscle elasticity and tone will decrease. Then this leads to loss of fluid and flexibility in our discs and the vertebra become vulnerable because the cushioning is gone.

Most people first hurt their backs when they do something dumb like lifting things that are too heavy for them. Bending out and overstretching and lifting causing a sprain or strain type injury. If a spine becomes overly strained, a disc may rupture or bulge outward. This rupture may put pressure on one of the more than 50 nerves rooted to the spinal cord. When these nerve roots become compressed or irritated, back pain is the result.

Wilkey ET AL. reported in 2008 that the portion of the population that suffers from chronic low back pain (meaning for 3 or more months) is somewhere between 8% and 33%. They continued to report about 13% have pain that never goes away. Their studies continued and via a randomized trial comparing chiropractic care to medical care in a pain clinic. The treatments used by the pain clinic on the medical side of things consisted of standard drug therapies, facet joint injections, soft tissue injections as well as utilizing TENS units to aid with the pain. The chiropractic group used various chiropractic manipulation techniques, many similar to other manual therapy professions. The results were nothing but astounding. After 8 weeks of treatment, the raw score of improvement was 1.99 for medicine and 9.03 for chiropractic. This research indicates that chiropractic care is 457% more effective than medicine for Chronic Low Back Pain. To say that medicine doesn’t have a place in healthcare would be inaccurate and irresponsible, but based upon the evidence based outcome studies, research would conclude that the path is chiropractic first and then drugs as a second resort.

The Benefits Of Using TENS Units For Athletes

March 9th, 2012

Athletes put their bodies through incredible amounts of stress and strain, but they are usually able to recover quickly thanks to their high levels of conditioning. Sometimes, though, muscle pain and soreness will not subside. Although rest is the best solution for pain and soreness, many athletes do not have time to give their bodies a break. This is especially true in the midst of a competitive season, during which one missed day can mean the difference between winning and losing. Thankfully, TENS units for athletes are becoming more popular. These units can be used to ease the recovery from pain and soreness, plus they can help rebuild muscle tissue in the event of an injury like a pull or a tear. This keeps athletes from having to take valuable time away from their sports.

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. The units work by sending electrical pulses into the body which prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Additionally, TENS units can help with the body’s creation of endorphins, which can make the recovery process go more quickly. By using these units regularly when injuries or pains occur, athletes can also experience a decrease in the amount of time it takes to heal from common injuries and pains.

Because TENS units stimulate the body with small electrical shocks, they should not be used without the proper training and guidance from a physician. The machines are simply too dangerous to be used without supervision from a medical professional. Once a patient has been shown how to operate a TENS unit properly, he or she can use it as directed to help the recovery process.

One of the most appealing aspects of using TENS units for athletes is that the machines are highly portable. For this reason, the units can be used almost anywhere at any time. Athletes love this aspect since they often have very little time to devote to recovery in between workouts and jobs. In fact, an athlete could go to the gym in the morning and use his or her workday to recover by using the TENS unit. The machines are compact, quiet and effective when used properly.

Being an athlete today requires a significant commitment in terms of time and effort. When injuries happen, it can throw a training program or competitive schedule completely off track. Recovering from pain, soreness and injuries takes time, but by using TENS units for athletes, people can get back to training and playing in very little time. The machines are effective and very easy to use, plus they can be used virtually anywhere at any time. TENS units are truly revolutionary when it comes to athletic recovery.

Is Electrotherapy & TENS Therapy the Same Thing?

March 1st, 2012

Electrotherapy is a type of therapy making use of electrical energy straightly onto the recipient or a patient in order to quickly benefit recovery from any type of ailment or sickness. The electrotherapy equipment creates electric pulses within the specialized machine and then the appropriate kind of electric flow or present is passed throughout the chief power device into the particular affected portion of the body.

Electrotherapy gadget or equipment passes a small but effective pulsating current to the nerve and muscle endings. After moving repeated stimulations, the electrical current causes the actual muscles to agreement, relax and reinforce and thereby decreases pain. So for a number of holistic as well as medical reasons, you need to select a suitable electrotherapy equipment or machine to make use of electrotherapy.

A number of kinds of electrotherapy are being used today. There are various types of electrotherapy devices that are available in the market for providing electrotherapy. They are Electro-Acupuncture (EA), Interferential Present Therapy (IFC), Galvanic Stimulation (GS), Percutaneous Electric Stimulation or Writing instruments, Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), Pulsed Short-Wave Diathermy or PSWD and TENS device. The type of electrotherapy may differ, with respect to the illness or the condition of a person. Appropriately the type of frequency, influx length and current required are set within the electrotherapy equipment. Therefore to obtain healed effectively and accurately, you need to choose right electrotherapy accessories and equipments.

TENS device ( Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Excitement) is the most popular pain reliever electrotherapy machine that may be purchased for use in your own home to effectively cure muscular pain or even back pain according to your own convenience and comfort of your home. Moreover this electrotherapy gear allows patients to regulate the frequency of electric signal and also offers freedom to patients to decide on the strength and length of treatment and thereby provides long lasting significant effect within relieving pain.

Interferential current (IFC) is considered as more extreme kind of TENS treatment wherein with the help of IFC device, the electrical current penetrates more deeply and provides higher level of stimulation to the user with less discomfort. Galvanic Excitement (GS) is one another known electrotherapy to effectively treat acute injuries that are accompanied by swelling or bleeding. The GS devices directly apply current to the affected area and immediately stop inflammation and aid in speed healing.

Also there are some self electrotherapy machines available that are extremely secure and can be efficiently used at home. A multitude of electrotherapy accessories and equipments are available in online healthcare stores at inexpensive price points. Moreover the online medical stores offer various brands on one screen and at single click on you can compare and purchase right type of electrotherapy gear that is suitable to your ailment.

TENS & How They Help With Whiplash & Other Neck Injuries

February 11th, 2012


Lots of people experience some type of neck injuries and it is very painful. Frequently the injuries, whether it involves a vehicle crash from behind, is known to as whiplash. This kind injuries usually involves an abrupt jolt of motion forward and also the muscles immediately become inflamed and swell, protecting begins included in the inflammatory process. The very first 12 to 24 hrs commonly are not as seriously painful as the timeframe following a acute onset. It’s following the initial trauma the discomfort may become intolerable. Throughout the very first acute episode, following a trauma, its better to ice, awesome the neck area since the body has taken care of immediately the trauma and started a number of chemical responses to prevent the dangerous effects. The issue is inflammation, swelling, which started using the increase of recent chemical responses. Since the excess fluid is taken within the tissue area there’s an growth of cells and finally a rupture within the cell walls themselves that will later require repair to achieve full function. Following the swelling has stopped then warm moist warmth is an extremely wise decision to start coping with the inevitable discomfort that follows. Here are a few practical remedies in 3 easy steps…

Step One - Ice Lower/ Chill

Step one to become taken is ice, awesome lower the neck injuries area. You will have to do that since the muscles will begin swelling and you will see an accumulation of cellular liquids leading to cell/tissue destruction. A few of the destruction would be the consequence of the distressing injuries but you’ll also have additional damage because of the inflammatory response from the defense mechanisms. You will have to carefully avoid dealing with with warmth throughout the acute phase, because the warmth increases bloodstream flow and boost the swelling and injury..

You will have to perform the chill starting point quickly. Should you choose it quickly, then your swelling will subside and you will see less damage and fewer discomfort.

Step Two - Apply Warm Moist Warmth

Your next step will probably be following the first 12 - 24 hrs, once the swelling has gone away, then begin warm moist warmth for that discomfort. Without having a moist warmth pad then simply just use tepid to warm water on the towel and affect the neck area. If at all possible to be able to extend the warmth from the towel place the a bit of reflective aluminum foil outrageous to retain the warmth and never let it evaporate. Things you will want to avoid listed here are be cautious about using discomfort medicines that could leave you sleepy or groggy. To heal no need to essentially “drug yourself” from awareness. You need to avoid driving a vehicle or getting into any situation in which a quick movement, or the requirement for a fast movement reaction, may damage you. Many chronic injuries are basically acute injuries recurring again and again.

Step Three - Use Electrotherapy, ideally Interferential therapy, with moist warmth if at all possible.

The Next step is that if possible make use of a portable interferential pain machine with the moist warmth packs or maybe interferential isn’t available then make use of a standard TENS unit. This will be relevant because moist warmth provides carryover discomfort relief before the area treated manages to lose the warmth. Following the thermal warmth effects are lost, the discomfort frequently returns. The interferential treatment is called the treatment of preference for stretching the rest of the or carryover discomfort relief period of time, however TENS, transcutaneous electric nerve generators, could be worn continuously reducing discomfort. This will be significant if the carryover period is extended the muscles could be rehabilitated sooner, the discomfort upon stretching and doing the rehab. is reduced, and full flexibility is restored.

The precise steps layed out above should assist the whiplash patient experience less discomfort, gain mobility faster, and tissue repair conclude sooner. Just stay with the stages in order, for that reasons as described, while carefully staying away from the traps, problems and potential mistakes pointed out. Then pat your self on the rear and relish the benefits and rewards of getting lost the discomfort, restored the function and lessened the rehab time.