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!

 

 

 

Signs of a Pinched Nerve: What You Need to Know

Signs of a Pinched Nerve: What You Need to Know

Signs of a Pinched Nerve: What Your Need To Know

A pinched nerve in the neck can be a very debilitating and irritating condition. The signs of a pinched nerve are pretty simple.  Often times it causes you to have pain in your neck with numbness and tingling down your arm.  This can limit your ability to move your neck pain-free and may even cause you to stop participating in some of your favorite activities. The key to treating a pinched nerve is determining where the nerve is being compressed upon and targeting the pain at its root cause. Once you’ve determined what is causing the pinched nerve you can alleviate the pain and start to move pain-free again.  In this article, I will explain what nerves are, the top signs of a pinched nerve, what can cause a pinched nerve and how long it can take to heal.

What is a nerve and what does it do? Nerves are like the electrical wiring in our bodies. The central command center is the spinal cord and at each level of our spine nerves branch off like little wires and bring the electrical current necessary for us to have the sensation to feel and the ability to move our muscles. Without our nerves, we would not be able to move our muscles properly or feel different sensations such as touch, heat, cold, or pinprick.  When these nerves get compressed or impinged upon by different structures in our neck then we begin to experience pain and loss of movement in our neck/arm. This can affect our ability to move pain-free and enjoy the activities that we love.

What can cause a pinched nerve? A pinched nerve occurs when there is too much “compression” on the affected nerve and this can be caused by several factors. This, in turn, can cause irritation of the nerve and symptoms that come along with it which will discuss later in this article.  Some of the most common causes of a pinched nerve include bulging disc, muscle tightness, joint restrictions and posture.  It is crucial to undergo a thorough assessment to determine what exactly is causing your nerve to be affected.

  1. When we sit with poor posture (our head and neck forward with shoulders rounded) we will start to change the way our neck muscles and joint function. This, in turn, can cause tightness and lack of mobility in the neck. If you turn your head to the right or left and you feel a pinch or tightness then that is a sign that there is a restriction in the neck that may be affecting your nerve. When mobility deficits appear, other areas begin to be affected including the nerves that leave the neck.
neck pain

Incorrect Posture

pinched nerve

Incorrect Posture

Correct Posture

2. Nerves run through our bodies like wiring. They pass through different muscle groups in order to get to their destination. Therefore, if certain muscles in the neck or shoulder area get into spasm or tighten up the nerve, in turn, will be affected. If you have tightness or stiffness in your neck muscles or shoulder region along with the symptoms of a pinched nerve then there is a good chance that the muscle spasm could be the culprit.

3. A bulging disc could be the cause of the nerve pain if you are experiencing pain when looking down for prolonged period of time. People that have occupations where they have to look down at a table or desk often tend to have nerve pain related to a bulging disc in the neck. The good news is that we know through research that if certain steps are taken then that this nerve pain from the bulging disc can be relieved. Often times the disc itself can be healed!

4. At each level of our spine in the neck there are holes through which the nerve exits. This is where the nerve branches off the spinal cord and leaves the spine to go to the different muscles in our body. If there is any stiffness or tightness at the joint level where the nerve exits than this can cause irritation upon the nerve. This typically occurs in people in age > 40. There is no need to worry because once the specific joint restriction is identified it can be loosened which relieves pressure off the nerve and restores pain-free movement. Now that we have covered some of the typical “causes” of a pinched nerve, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs of a pinched nerve:

1. Numbness and tingling down the shoulder, arm or hand

2. sharp pinch when turning our head to one side

3. Burning into our upper trap muscles

4. Radiating pain into the shoulder, arm, or hand
You can also watch this video below which discusses the top 3 signs of a pinched nerve to understand better.

Can a Pinch Nerve be healed? How long does it take to heal a pinched nerve? Yes! Recovery and healing from a pinched nerve is possible.  It’s important to read the signs of a pinched nerve before it gets even worse. This depends on several factors including how long you’ve had the pain, how bad the pain is, and how often the pain occurs throughout your typical day. It is important to be able to identify which movements and postures can bring about your pain. Does it occur when you look down for too long? Look to one side or look up? Once you are able to understand which movements or postures cause your pain then you can change how you move to avoid irritating the nerve that is affected. Have these signs of a pinched nerve ready when discussing with your Dr. Nick.

All of these factor matter in regards to healing the particular nerve that is irritated. If the nerve has been irritated for < 2-3 months then it can generally take anywhere from 4- 6 weeks to heal. If the problem has been around > 3 months then it may take longer than the 4-6 week time frame. The most important concept to understand when thinking about pinched nerves is to identify what activities, movements, and postures aggravate your condition. Once you have figured that out you are one step closer to natural healing and pain-free movement!

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3 Most Common Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain

3 Most Common Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain

3 Most Common Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain

        Shoulder blade pain is a common condition that affects office workers, manual laborers, athletes, and weight lifters. Many times pain in the shoulder blade can be caused by a problem with the muscles in your upper back which is also called the thoracic spine. Shoulder blade pain can also occur due to problem at with the spine itself. However, a little-known fact is that pain in the shoulder blade may be referred pain from the neck. Often times people fail treatment for their shoulder blade pain because the root cause of the pain (which can be the neck) was not treated. In this article we’ll cover the different possible causes of shoulder blade pain.

  1. Upper Back/Thoracic Spine

The upper back (which can also be referred to as the thoracic spine) is the part of the spine that runs down from our neck between the shoulder blades.  The upper back plays a roll in the ability to maintain good posture, move the neck, throw a ball, and lift objects at overhead. Good mobility in the thoracic spine is necessary in order to move the arms, upper back, and neck without difficulty. When there is a loss of mobility in the thoracic spine then pain can set it. Some of the common signs of pain related to the upper back include:

  1. Pain with prolonged sitting postures
  2. Pain with overhead lifting
  3. Pain with twisting your back side to side

  If the pain is caused by the upper back region it may feel tight, sharp or a dull ache.  Normally the pain can begin as stiffens and gradually worsen into a sharp sensation if left untreated. This type of pain is usually felt on one side between the spine and the shoulder blade. It can be hard to pinpoint on yourself where the pain is coming from as it may be coming from the muscles in that region or the spine itself. If you feel pain with moving that area of your upper back in certain ways then the pain may be due to a restriction at the thoracic spine.

  1. Referred Pain from the Neck

In order to determine the root cause of the shoulder blade pain sometimes areas AWAY from the site of the actual pain need to be considered. For instance, it has been well documented that the neck can actually refer pain down into the shoulder blade region.  There have been studies conducted that have shown that certain parts of the neck when pressed upon can refer pain into the shoulder blade region.  It is important for any case of shoulder blade pain that the neck be assessed as the possible root cause. Common signs of shoulder blade pain that comes from the neck includes:

  1. Pain reproduced with moving the neck
  2. Pain with prolonged looking down
  3. Multiple sites of pain including top of the shoulder, neck, and shoulder blade

Pain in the shoulder blade pain from the neck can be described as a burning or tingling sensation. Often time people will get a massage to the area because it feels as if the muscles in that region have been “pulled”. Unfortunately, the relief from the massage usually does not last long because it does not address the underlying root cause of the pain. A simple way to decipher whether or not your shoulder blade pain is to move to turn your head side to side and look up then down. If this reproduces some of the pain that you feel in shoulder blade region then there is a possibility that the pain you are experience could be coming from the neck.

  1. Poor Posture and Muscle Weakness

Modern desk jobs and increased use of technology have led to greater demands being placed on our upper back and shoulder blade region. Larger amounts of stress are placed on the shoulder blade muscles and upper back as sitting becomes the majority position during the day.  When muscles get overworked they then become “fatigued” and tighten up because they are no longer able to perform their job well.  This will give the sensation that your shoulder blade region feels “tight” causing you to “stretch” the area out. However typically the underlying root case of the pain is from a “weakness” in key shoulder blade muscles and not a true tightness. Some common signs of this pain include:

  1. Pain that increases with sitting as the day progresses.
  2. Pain that is relieved with laying down
  3. One sided pain that feels tight or dull ache.

People that experience shoulder blade pain associated with weak muscles typically report they do not notice their symptoms as much during their off days or on the weekend. If the shoulder blade pain occurs during certain lifting or sporting activities and not during rest periods then that can also be a sign indicating muscle weakness.  This is because during the “down time” or “off time” the muscles are not placed under as much stress and thus do not get “overworked”. Below is an exercise that can be worked on to improve muscle endurance in your shoulder blades. Start with your elbows and arms up against the table and then slide your arms up the wall. Then return back to start position. Perform in a slow and controlled manner until you feel fatigue in the upper back/shoulder blade region.

               Start                                                                                                                   End

     

 

 

How to Get Neck Pain Relief During the Day

How to Get Neck Pain Relief During the Day

How to Get Neck Pain Relief During the Day

 Part of the reason that neck pain is so common is the use of technology and desk jobs. The positions we hold our head/neck in during the day can have a direct effect on whether or not we develop neck pain. Proper posture alignment can often be difficult to determine. Watch this video below to understand the correct alignment that your neck should be in throughout the day. This will bring you the relief that you want!

Top Causes for a Stiff Neck

Top Causes for a Stiff Neck

Top Causes of a Stiff Neck

 A stiff neck is a very common condition. It can keep you from turning your head comfortably or cause a lot of pain when you are at work. Often times stiffness in the neck can lead to headaches in the back of the head. There are several causes of a stiff neck. It is important to find out what is causing the neck tightness so that you can address the issue at its source and get lasting relief. Watch this video below to find out what can cause a stiff neck.

3 Ways to Determine if Your Headaches are Coming from Your Neck

3 Ways to Determine if Your Headaches are Coming from Your Neck

Headache In Back of Head

Headaches can be caused by many different issues. An often overlooked cause of headaches is the neck. The reason that many treatments for headaches fail is because the root cause of the headaches has not been addressed. It is very common for people to go years and years with headaches before they see someone that is able to determine that their headaches are coming from their neck. The good news is that once the true source of the headaches is found then treatment can be administered with lasting relief to follow! Watch this video below to find out more.