Insult to Injury: Why You Haven’t Made A Full Recovery

Insult to Injury: Why You Haven’t Made A Full Recovery

Insult to Injury: Why You Haven’t Made A Full Recovery

 

        If you are a runner, fitness enthusiast, weekend warrior, or weightlifter then chances are that you have dealt with an injury at some point. You may very well be dealing with an injury right now and are unsure of how to overcome it. Unfortunately the sequence of events below is all too common and leaves you frustrated and concerned on whether or not you’ll be able to get back to your favorite routine. The typical sequence of events from injury to recovery looks like this:

  1. Injury Occurs
  2. Injury is rested for some time
  3. Athlete, runner, fitness enthusiast tries to return back but the pain is still there.
  4. Multiple doctor visits with frustration and no answers (or no plan on how to recover properly)
  5. Maybe even some Google or YouTube advice
  6. Frustration sets in even more with concern on how you will get back to your favorite activity whether it be running, exercising, weight lifting, or your favorite fitness class.

     Sound familiar at all? Whether you are on step 1 from above or step 3 the important thing to consider is WHY you haven’t made the full recovery yet. There are some very common reasons as to why the body has not fulled healed and the pain from injury remains which I will discuss below.

 1.Wrong Diagnosis

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              I’ve heard it a lot in my clinic. “I went to see a PT already but didn’t get better”, “I saw an orthopedist but I am still in pain”, “I already have been to see a Chiropractor but I only got minimal relief”. One common theme with these statements is that the person sought out help but was left disappointed when the treatment they received did not FIX their issue.  One question I always ask is ” What did they THINK the problem was” and unfortunately the answer I often get is “Well they weren’t really sure what the issue was” or “I was never given a clear diagnosis”.  That is MAJOR problem. Before fixing any injury (which essentially is providing the right healing environment for the body) you must figure out what is actually causing the issue to begin with (“the root cause”). Most injuries occur because of some sort of deficit or imbalance in the body. It is vital to go through a proper assessment to determine what the “cause” of the injury actually is. Once the true root cause of the condition is found proper treatment can be given. If treatment is given without this assessment and without identifying risk factors then you will not get the results that you desire.

2.Wrong Treatment

          Far too often I hear patients tell me stories about how they were given generic exercises (aka “cookie cutter approach”)  that did not work for them. They invested a good amount of time and money but weren’t given the tailored approach that their body needed for them to heal. Each person who deals with an injury should be treated according to their SPECIFIC needs. For instance not all knee pain should be treated with the same exercises and stretches. Treatment depends on #1 the diagnosis (see above). Even then after the correct diagnosis is given the treatment can vary depending on what stage of injury the person is currently at ( i.e very beginning, middle, end stage, chronic). Think about it this way. If you have a small leak in the roof then you get the roofing company to come out and diagnose the issue quickly right? They provide the immediate easy solution and the leak is fixed. However what if you let that leak linger and it becomes bigger? Does the issue become more complex? Maybe it starts to involve other parts of your home? The point is that the simple leak that is found quickly is treated much more differently than the  leak that has “been there for a while and is starting to cause more issues”. The same concept can be applied to an injury. Some key things to consider when resolving an injury is:

  1. What stage (early, middle, late) of healing are you currently at (your healthcare provider should be able to tell you this)
  2. What can you do to provide an optimal healing environment (i.e specific exercises, activity modification)

3.Wrong Healing Environment

          An optimal healing environment is CRUCIAL to overcoming injury. It is often one of the most overlooked factors that can help get you back to running, surfing, exercising, or playing your favorite sport.  Below are some of the factors that are involved in having the optimal healing environment for your injury:

Sleep

        Sleep is very important to allow for healing. During sleep our body takes the time to repair and remodel any damage that has occurred. In order for an injury to heal properly the appropriate amount of rest must take place. If you are waking up tired and find yourself needing that caffeine pick up in the early afternoon you likely are not getting the appropriate amount of sleep for optimal recovery.

Exercise

        Its likely that your injury has kept you from being able to exercise to the full extent. Yes, you may not be able to do a lot of your favorite exercises but it would be beneficial for you to find other avenues. For example if you love running but your knee hurts then try biking. If you have a hip injury that only hurts during squats and box jumps then skip those during your next workout (just do everything else that doesn’t cause your hip to hurt). Point being that its important to stay as ACTIVE as possible when dealing with any injury. It will help your mood and keep your moving towards your goal.

Diet

       This is another factor that is also overlooked. What kind of food have you been eating? The body relies on good nutrients to perform optimally. Take a good look at what you eat and drink then ask yourself if you think its beneficial or detrimental for you. Get your diet right so your body can make the best use of those nutrients it needs to heal.

Stress/Mood

       Keeping a positive mindset is crucial to recovery. There are so many psychological aspects that are overlooked when recovering from injury. People often fear the worst “What if this doesn’t work?”, “I guess I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life”, “Nothing seems to work for me”. All of these negative thoughts WILL affect recovery. If you don’t think something will work or you are constantly worried you are wasting your time then it’s likely that you won’t put the effort in to reach your goals.  The stress of life can also affect our ability to stay focused and that is why being in a supportive environment is very important.

       If you are dealing with an injury and have not recovered the way you expected then consider what has been mentioned above. The most common reasons runners, fitness, enthusiasts, and weekend warriors are kept from doing what they love is because of the issues discussed in this article. There’s so much confusion out there about what to do or who to see and that can make the whole situation even more frustrating!  Click Here For a Free Injury Phone Consult if you are struggling and are not sure what to do. We’ll have an open and honest conversation about what you are struggling with and what the best step for you to take is. Here’s to happy and healthy healing!

 

 

 

Degenerative Disc Disease Causes and Treatment

Degenerative Disc Disease Causes and Treatment

Degenerative Disc Disease        

    

A very common diagnosis among people with back pain is degenerative disc disease. This is usually a disorder related to the aging of the low back and is actually quite normal. As we get older the discs in our low back get a little more stiff and have less fluid in them. This is what ultimately causes some of the “stiffness” and “aches” in our low back.  Movement is often the key to fixing the pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Watch the video below to learn more.

Why does your low back pain keep coming back?

Why does your low back pain keep coming back?

Reoccurring Low Back Pain            

Low back pain will affect roughly 80% of the population at some point in their lives. A common problem that people have is that their back pain comes and goes. They go through periods of having no pain and then all of a sudden their back can “go out” causing a lot of pain and inability to move well.  Usually, these episodes of low back pain last for several weeks and the person gets better. However a few months later the SAME low back pain returns. This leaves people frustrated with low back pain that doesn’t ever seem to fully resolve. Watch the video to learn more about low back pain flare-ups and what to do about it.

How to Sit Longer WITHOUT Back Pain and Sciatica

How to Sit Longer WITHOUT Back Pain and Sciatica

How to Sit Longer WITHOUT Back Pain and Sciatica

Low back pain and sciatica can often keep you from sitting comfortably. It can cause pain during long car rides or while sitting at work. The different positions and postures we sit in during the day have a great effect on low back pain and sciatica. There are certain sitting positions that can help relieve your pain. However, there are also positions and postures that can aggravate your sciatica and low back pain. Learn how to fix sciatica and back pain in sitting below!

What is sciatica?

Sciatica” is the term used to refer to pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve happens to be the largest nerve in the body (It is actually a bundle of nerves). It is comprised of several different nerves that branches off the spinal cord in our low back. This nerve then travels down the back of our leg and splits into two nerves around the back of the knee and goes into the foot. This is why when people have “pain in their leg” it can be a bit confusing because while the pain is felt in the hip, leg, or foot region it can actually be coming from the back. For a little more information about nerves and what they do you can refer to this article here (Signs of a Pinched Nerve).

sciatica

What are the signs and symptoms of sciatica?

There are several signs and symptoms to be aware of when determining whether or not you have sciatica. Some of the more common include:

  1. Pain, numbness, or tingling that goes down your leg (it can be just in the upper leg or go all the way down into the foot)
  2. Pain in the back, hip or leg with long periods of sitting
  3. Pain in the back/leg when bending forward to pick up objections.
  4. Radiating or sharp pain into buttock/hip region

What can cause sciatica?

Sciatica can arise from several different causes. It is important to understand what is causing your sciatica and to understand that the majority of the time the pain is originating from your low back. Even if you just have some mild low back pain or stiffness it can still be the cause of your sciatica pain. Many people will get confused with this because often times the sciatica pain down the leg can be more severe than some of the back pain that they may be experiencing. A history of back pain before a bout of sciatica can also help indicate where the root cause of the pain is coming from.

Below are some of the common causes of sciatica.

  1. A Herniated or bulging disc is the most common cause of sciatica. This occurs in the age range typically 50 yrs and younger. Some of the common symptoms include pain down the leg when sitting in a slouched posture, pain when bending forward, and relief when getting up to walk around. If the sciatica is caused by a herniated disc it is very important to pay attention to sitting posture which I will discuss later in this article.
  2. Stenosis is a condition which affects the 50 yr and older population. This causes sciatica down the leg during standing and walking activities . Stenosis occurs when the holes where the nerve exit the spine encroach upon the nerve causing irritation. Typically sitting down will help relieve this condition.
  3. Degenerative disc disease. As we get older our discs loose some of the cushion that they naturally have in our younger years. This can lead to changes in the ability to move our back through natural motions. Once we have lost the ability to move through a natural arc of motion we can start to impose an effect on our back and it’s surrounding structures including the nerves. When a loss of motion occurs the sciatic nerve is unable to move a freely as before causing sciatica symptoms down the leg.

What steps need to be taken if back pain and sciatica is making it difficult to sit?

The first step that needs to be taken is to identify which sitting posture gives you the “most relief”. This is not to say that your pain will completely go away but you will need to find the “position of most relief” in order to take some of the bite off the pain. Here are three different sitting postures you can try out.

You will need to ask yourself several questions when you are sitting in these postures.

  1. A. Does my pain increase or decrease?
  2. B. Do the symptoms in my leg/hip become less noticeable or more?
  3. C. Does my back pain increase?

1.Sitting slouched. This posture typically brings about the most pain in sitting. HOWEVER in a rare occasion you may actually get relief from the sciatica when doing this which is why I am discussing it now. All you need to do is slumped down in your chair so that your low back presses against the back rest.

2.Sitting in an extended upright position. The majority of people will get relief when sitting in this position. From a slouched position you will rock your hips forward. This will cause your back to straighten and you will immediately sit up taller. Keep moving forward and stick your bottom out so that you now have a backward bend in your back. (Think sitting with an extreme lumbar support in your back). You may also roll up a towel and place it behind your back so that you can hold this position.
sciatica

3.Sitting in a neutral position. The first two sitting postures we went over are on the ends of extreme. One causes you to slouch to the extreme and the other to arch up to the extreme. The third posture involves sitting in a more “neutral position”. As you rock back and forth from a slouched posture to and upright posture stop mid way. You should feel your tummy tighten and have the sensation that you are “holding yourself in place”. This is the neutral spine position.

 

Watch this video that discusses the different sitting postures that you should be aware of and how to closely find the position of relief.

 

Aside from finding the position of most relief for you in sitting it is important to perform micro stretches. This allows for pressure to be taken off the nerve and can reduce the sciatic pain. If you have the option for a standing desk you may want to switch over to standing instead of sitting for the majority of your day at work. Taking a short “walking break” every 30 minutes to 1 hour from sitting can also be beneficial as it can help loosen up a stiff back or hips which is often accompanied by sciatica. More stretches and exercises are talked about in detail here.

Keep in mind that these are some of the beginning steps to ending your sciatica pain. It is not just about one magic exercise or stretch to fix the issue but also about changing your movement patterns and postures throughout the day. Being aware of how you sit and move during the day will be one of the first steps you need to take in order to allow for proper healing!

If you would like more information on Back Pain the get our Free Report on Back Pain ” 7 Simple Steps to Naturally End Your Back Pain (and Stiffness) Without Needing Medications, Injections, or Surgery!”

Click Here to Get This Free Report

 

Why does Sciatica treatment fail?

Why does Sciatica treatment fail?

Why Does Sciatica Treatment Fail?      

Sciatica is a painful condition that can affect the way we move and limit our ability to participate in our favorite activities. Sciatica pain can be difficult to treat because the nerve is often easily irritated. Treatment for sciatica often fails because several areas were not addressed. In order to get lasting pain relief the way we move around and sit during the day needs to be changed. Watch the video below to find out more.

Best Exercise for Bulging Disc and Sciatica

Best Exercise for Bulging Disc and Sciatica

Best Exercise For Bulging Disc

If you have had back pain with sciatica chances are you may have been diagnosed with a bulging disc or herniated disc. A bulging or herniated disc is a very common problem that can cause sciatica pain down the leg and pain in the low back. This sciatica pain is often caused by too much bending forward of the back during lifting and sitting slouched. In order to calm down the sciatic and low back pain, the OPPOSITE of bending forward can often give relief to the area. Many people will spend time doing various types of stretches that actually make the condition worse!

What is a disc?

The disc is a cushion in our low back that sits between each vertebrae. The purpose of the disc is to absorb shock and allow for greater movement in our spine. The disc also helps create space for the nerves in our low back to exit the spinal cord and go down into the legs. The disc is made up of two different portions. The outer ring which can be characterized as a “protective wall” encases the more fluid portion (think jelly like material). The makeup of the disc allows for shock abortion and mobility in our back and neck.

Bulging Disc and Sciatica

What can cause a bulging disc/herniated disc and sciatica?

Typically, an injury to the disc happens with either:

  1. Repetitive movements (this includes posture) or
  2. Sudden movement that usually involves lifting or transferring an object.

Many people who experience back pain or sciatica say “the pain came out of nowhere”and that it “was not caused by any particular movement”. In these cases, the likely cause of the sciatica and back pain is due to repetitive movements over time or poor posture. When we perform the same movements throughout the day (typically bending our spine forward) our body sounds the alarm (which is pain) to let us know that we need to change the way we move. The same can be applied for our postures in sitting and standing. We typically spend most of our days in a “slouched posture”. Over time our body becomes weary of this position as it can cause more pressure to be placed on the disc. One of the hallmark signs of a bulging or herniated disc is pain with sitting in a slouched posture. Once appropriate postural corrections are made then sitting can become less painful. You can read more how to fix sciatica here.

The second reason for pain with a bulging disc or herniated disc can come from the movement that occurs with lifting a heavier object or the combination of lifting and twisting at the same time. When a movement like this takes place an increase amount of pressure is placed on the disc all at once causing it to result in pain and discomfort. Again, this is another way of your body telling you that you need to be more aware and diligent about how you perform lifting tasks in order to prevent any further injury! Whatever the cause of the herniated and bulging disc might be it will still be important for you to understand the common signs and symptoms of his type of injury. You can read more Top 3 Signs of a Herniated Disc here.

Do you need an MRI or scan in order to diagnose a bulging disc?

MRI’s and other scans are not necessary for the typical low back pain or sciatica episode. There are many instances where the imaging “finds something wrong” in your low back and points to that as the reason for the pain but what researchers have recently found is that this may not always be the case.The condition can be diagnosed with an appropriate history taking and movement analysis. A good clinician will be able to assist you in understanding what is causing your pain and what you need to do about it without needing expensive unnecessary imaging. Do you need an MRI? You can learn about why spending more money for an MRI may not help your condition.

Can Bulging Disc Heal?

Yes! Discs can be healed. Movement is the key to healing and returning back to living a life pain free without relying on medications, injections or surgery. Understanding which movements make the pain worse and what movements help decrease the pain is important for healing in a timely manner. The time frame for which healing occurs depends on several factors including how long the pain has been going on for, severity of pain, nature of the injury, and work/exercise factors.

What is the best exercise for bulging disc/herniated disc and sciatica?

If the correct diagnosis has been made then appropriate exercises can be undertaken in order to begin healing and start moving pain free again. A commonly prescribed exercise is bringing your knees to chest in some form or variation

While this exercise may provide some short term relief it actually can make the condition worse because it applies more pressure on the disc. You will want to avoid any variation of exercise that involves bending your spine including the above mentioned stretch and child’s pose. (In some cases these exercises can be beneficial HOWEVER in the majority of cases they are incorrectly administered and are the opposite of what you will want to do!)Watch this video below and try the exercise to help decrease your sciatica and low back pain.

What else can I do?

If you are experiencing bulging disc, herniated disc, or sciatica pain then first thing you MUST do is avoid panic and fear. Understand that back pain will occur in 80% of the population at some point in their life and will go away with appropriate treatment. Recent research suggests that in general you want to avoid bed rest and stay as active as possible (within pain limits). Taking the appropriate steps to change your movement patters, adjust your posture, and performing the right set of exercise can allow you to heal and return to pain free movements.