How Long Will You Let Your Shoulder and Neck Be Painful and Stiff?

So, it started a few weeks or even months ago. At first it was BAD…so bad you couldn’t look all the way left or right. It got better, and eventually you were able to look all the way to the side. Or…is there some range of motion you didn’t quite recover? It’s sort of hard to tell, isn’t it? And you still have that constant aching knot in your shoulder, and that crappy feeling at the base of your skull behind your ear, don’t you?

Don't pout, figure it out.
Don’t pout, figure it out.

This is how it starts and ends for lots of people. They have a problem, they decide to just let it get better on it’s own.

After a while it definitely isn’t as bad as it was, and instead of waging some sort of active campaign to get over the injury you just sort of ignore it until it seems like it’s not such a hassle any more.

Eventually you really aren’t even sure if it is better, if you ever were able to look that far to the side in the first place, and if maybe you aren’t just “getting old”.

That is called surrendering. It’s called not even trying.

At Park Bench Chiropractic we don’t much care if you come see us or another chiropractor, or even some other type of healthcare provider. Sure, we’d prefer you come see us, but the more important thing is that you don’t just ignore a problem and learn to live with it. “Living with it” is a tiny example of surrendering, and making 1,000 tiny concessions to your pain is how people go from able-bodied and energetic to creaky and tired. Rather than shrugging those sore shoulders and shaking that stiff neck you should focus on resolving your physical injury and getting back to how you felt before things started going sideways.

Can we fix your neck? Sure, maybe, probably! We can only tell you that after we’ve met you and examined you, but if it’s the nasty sore, stiff neck thing lots of people get, then we can probably help resolve that. If you are in Frederick and you are interested in coming in to try chiropractic, then give us a call at (301) 378-0334.

Looking for a chiropractor in Frederick?

Well, that’s convenient, because that is what Park Bench Chiropractic is.

We are a down-to-Earth office, we focus on meeting your needs, we try to keep things light-hearted, and we know what it’s like to be living in pain.

If you are a first-timer, and have never been adjusted, then please feel comfortable coming in and seeing what we can do for you. If you are a person who has seen chiropractors before, we invite you to see how we operate here. We have a family-friendly atmosphere, we keep some good tunes on in our office, our office manager is a sweetheart and she gets things done for our clients, and we go out of our way to make everyone feel at home. We honestly think that we are your ideal chiropractors, and sincerely hope that you choose to trust us to be your chiropractors.

You’re encouraged to ask friends and family members about us, if any of them have been to see us. The Internet is also full of places you can read reviews about us, so please feel free to take that route. Have a great day!

About that Clenching Pain at Your Beltline…

That’s actually a relatively common place to have low back or hip pain. Some people call it hip pain, because it’s near the hips. Some people call it low back pain, because it’s near the low back. Some people say it’s butt pain, because it’s near the buttocks.

We’re going to call it gluteus medius pain, because it is pain in the gluteus medius muscles.

These are your glutes
Low back pain muscles

In the picture here, the big muscles on the left are the gluteus maximus muscles. They are the biggest. The medius muscles are moderately-sized, and the minimum muscles are the smallest of the group. If you put your hands on the back of your hips and put your fingertips just to the outside of the knobs of bone next to your tailbone, that’s the gluteus medius muscle.

While all three of these muscles can cause pain, it is the gluteus medius muscles that are located pretty much at the beltline, and which often generate pain in people who have instability in the lower back.

The gluteus medius muscles have as their main function to provide stability to the lowest part of the spine and the pelvis. When there is instability, such as from low back pain or spinal misalignment, these muscles have to work overtime to stabilize the spine on the pelvis. They will constantly be clenching and grabbing and a person may start to experience a burning ache from constant use of these stabilizing muscles. It will require conscious effort for your to tell your brain to tell your gluteus medius muscles to reeelaaaax as you stand.

Quite often a new client will come in and we will be talking about their symptoms and what kind of discomfort they are in. If they are someone who experiences occasional sharp or shooting lower back pain when they go to do something simple, like bend forward or reach for something, they quite often get that pain because the lower spine is not stable. Either a misalignment or a cranky disc or some other issue is causing the spine to malfunction and have poor biomechanics. That malfunction causes brief shooting pain. The person usually has to take a minute to make sure nothing is injured, and they can get back to their routine, but these tiny bouts of sharp pain will re-occur from time to time, usually when least expected.

It’s people like that who are likely to have gluteus medius pain. I have them lay face down on the table and palpate the muscles and, lo and behold, it is quite tender and feels tight. That’s an important clue I will factor in to my treatment of this person. While rarely the main cause of the pain the person is dealing with, getting the gluteus medius muscles to let go is a necessary part of the solution.

If this sounds like you, then give the office a call and come on in. We will do our best to treat you like family and get you feeling back to normal. Call us at (301) 378-0334.

So…you’re lower back hurts?

Your back hurts?

Frederick chiropractor for low back pain
Look like you?

Here’s a reasonable course of action:

Step 1. Wait. Does it just go away on it’s own within a few day? If so, great. If not…

Step 2. Home Care. Does stretching it or putting a heat pad or ice pack on it make the pain go away? If so, great. If not…

Step 3. Go to the chiropractor. If, after one to three sessions your pain is not significantly diminished and you are not armed with the knowledge of what is causing the pain and provided with a method to address the issue on your own, then perhaps try…

Step 4. Painkillers/Muscle Relaxers. These should “do the trick” if the trick you want done is for a drug to hide your pain and relax your muscles. Just understand that pain is a useful signal and your muscles may very well be tight as a way for your body to protect your back from further injury. But these pills may certainly make you feel better. If pain is your only concern and healthy bio-mechanics and spinal health is not something you care about, then by all means next time just start at Step 4. If drug use for your back pain becomes a chronic problem and your pain is severe enough to be debilitating, then perhaps consider…

Step 5. Orthopedic or Surgical Consult. Not much fun at all.

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The above steps are not terribly complicated. Most people do not follow that logical path. Most people do something like this:

1. Hurt themselves via injury or via laziness and de-conditioning.

2. Ignore the pain and continue to hurt or de-conditional themselves.

3. Try drugs to make the pain “go away”.

4. If drugs do not work well enough, skip all non-invasive or conservative methods and go straight to your Primary Care Provider who will probably have no clue what to do and whom will then refer you to a PT (a reasonable thing to do) or an orthopedist. If a course of physical therapy doesn’t make the pain “go away” then surgery is on the menu.

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The American Association of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, and numerous other organizations recognize chiropractic care as an appropriate and safe first-line conservative approach to effectively treat lower back pain (and neck pain). Still, less than 8% of people in the United States see a chiropractor. Most choose the “easy” route of drugs or denying a problem exists. They then mask the symptoms until they are so severe that surgery is the only option, or they just do nothing at all until it’s so bad there are very few options.

Do yourself a favor and if you are experiencing lower back pain, especially if it’s possibly disc or nerve related and is causing pain into the legs or buttocks, go to see a chiropractor (or even a PT or a massage therapist) and treat your very real and potentially very troubling pain in a responsible and conservative manner so that you preserve the useful life of your spine and don’t end up shuffling around when you’re 65 years old and unable to enjoy your retirement because you were too young and dumb or busy or whatever to make a better choice in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s.

Does Your Kid Have a Smartphone or Tablet?

Chances are they do. And while technology in an of itself is not bad, the way we adapt to technology CAN be bad.

Chiropractor in Frederick treats neck pain from phone use
Staring at that phone will cause problems

Let’s talk about physics very briefly. If your head weighs about 10 pounds, and it is sitting right on top of your shoulders, then your head is supported and your muscles don’t need to work hard to hold it in place. If your head is hanging forward then your neck and shoulder muscles have to work hard to hold it up, and your neck’s normal healthy curve is being reduced or reversed. That normal curve is designed to hold the head over the shoulders. If your kid has bad posture then that curve will suffer and neck pain and headaches will result.

I’m in my 30’s. I didn’t grow up with a phone. I used a computer a little bit, but not all day like today’s kids. This generation is going to be the first generation that has a degenerative spinal repetitive stress injury – a major postural nightmare – from technology. While all this tech is great and fun and we can all Twitter and Instagram and all that stuff, our physical reality is suffering. Sure, the virtual reality our kids live in may be tons of fun, but the real reality with physical consequences is still here and the phone/computer posture will need to be reckoned with at some point. The earlier the better! Not to sound apocalyptic or sensational, but there is no doubt that the long-term consequences of prolonged forward head posture will cause havoc in the head and neck, with headaches and shoulder pain becoming chronic and intractable.

Don't let your kid's head turn into Bieber posture
Justin Bieber’s head posture – don’t let this happen to your kid!

Educate your kid about proper posture, about not being on the phone or computer too much, and about corrective exercises and about the signs of a developing problem. Some signs include:

  • headaches
  • pain at the base of the skull
  • shoulder pain
  • pain around and behind the eyes
  • pain, numbness or tingling in the arms or hands
  • forward head posture

To check your kids posture, try one of two things:

  1. Have then stand with their back to the wall. Is the head against the wall? If it’s more than an inch off the wall, then it’s too far forward. Don’t explain what you are doing, just ask them to stand against the wall.
  2. Just observe them while on the phone or computer – if the hole in the ear is more than an inch or so forward of the bump at the tip of the shoulder, then it’s too far forward.

Questions or comments, just call the office!