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.

Frederick Chiropractors Show How Chiropractic Can Help Sciatica

Two chiropractors in Frederick that are practicing at Park Bench Chiropractic are known for helping their patients get rid of nagging sciatica, a type of pain caused by pressure or irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve that is found in the low back, buttocks, and leg can cause sharp pain, tingling and numbness, or other problems. Frederick chiropractors Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are trained in methods to reduce or eliminate back or leg pain or numbness due to sciatica.

Frederick Chiropractors offer treatment for Sciatica Pain

From a recent patient (N.R.):

At a recent visit to their warm and inviting office in Frederick, Dr. Romano showed how patients can get relief from low back or sciatic nerve pain. I was examined to make sure that the problem really is the sciatic nerve, and what exactly is causing the nerve pain, and then a treatment was recommended involving chiropractic adjustments. Sometimes the problem is caused by a muscle, sometimes by the disc, and sometimes just by the bones being misaligned and causing inflammation. I never knew it could be all those things! For me, it was the disc and this involved coming in to the office three times per week for a few weeks and being “adjusted”. The doctor places you on a padded table and adjusts your low back with his hands. Sometimes there is an audible “pop” and sometimes there isn’t.

It isn’t as scary as I thought it might be, and the relief is amazing. While chiropractic isn’t what everybody needs for their sciatic nerve pain, for me it sure did the trick. Both doctors are very similar in the way they treat patients, and they are very gentle – much more gentle than I thought this would be!

If you are suffering from sciatica or low back pain, stop by or call our office to set up a consultation. Park Bench Chiropractic is located in Frederick, Maryland at 1780 North Market St. Our office phone number is (301) 378-0334. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Beating Chronic Pain with Mind Over Matter

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I am saying you can just wish chronic pain away. It’s not that easy. But the right attitude can really help you cope with, or even move beyond, your pain.

Moving well helps you feel well. Feeling well helps you move well. Not feeling good and not moving well will perpetuate you not feeling well, and will make you in fact feel worse. All of that is downright depressing. All of this plays into a vicious cycle. Having a positive mental attitude is a conscious choice you make to be optimistic and to avoid anxiety. It is easier said that done some days, but it will pay dividends.

Can your mind overcome your pain?

2007 research from the University of Toronto showed that chronic back pain patients were more likely to recover more fully, and sooner, when their doctors appeared confident and reassured the patient that they would get better.

“Pain is always subjective and is defined by the person who experiences it”.

-The International Association for the Study of Pain

When you do feel pain, instead of letting your anxiety make your decisions, utilize a coping strategy like enjoying a glass of wine or spending a few moments in your favorite chair, or maybe both at the same time.

Pain, as a form of sensation, stands out from the other senses somewhat because it is subjective.That means that you can cut three people with the same razor in the same place on their arms, and they will describe the pain differently, and likely they will describe the level or pain differently. This means there is a mental component to pain. While that mental components is not well understood, it does exist, and we should all try to harness that to deal with our pain.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy it is a goal-oriented and systematic way of thinking. It can be used as a method to help out-think the pain with strategy:

  • When pain is chronic, your goal should either be to stop the pain or learn to manage living with it.
  • When you pain makes you want to avoid activity, instead be as active as the pain permits. Make the choice to stay active.
  • Make a plan on how to maintain a bright outlook on your situation, and remain optimistic about resolving it and enjoying your life. This plan should be a REAL PLAN, in writing, with a step-by-step process and it should include a reward system to reinforce progress in meeting your goals.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has an interest in the science of pain and it’s relationship to chiropractic. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are available to speak to groups about pain, the psychology of health, the importance of a healthy nervous system, and other health topics.

Beating Chronic Pain with Stress Reduction

There are 3 types of stress: physical, chemical, and emotional.

  • Physical stress can be from poor posture, hard labor, injuries, etc
  • Chemical stress is due to environmental toxins, unhealthy diet, etc
  • Emotional stress results from a bad time at work, unruly kids, deadlines, etc

When you are stressed your adrenal glands pump cortisol into your bloodstream. This causes increased blood pressure. Cortisol has different effects on the body when short term vs. long term.

Short periods of elevated cortisol: “fight or flight”, decreased pain, burst of energy. This is to help the body cope with emergency situations – the proverbial lion encountered in the wild.
Long periods of elevated cortisol: decreased cognition, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalance, decreased bone mineral density, decreased muscle mass, increased blood pressure, decreased immune function, increased abdominal fat deposition.

The body’s “fight or flight” response is the opposite of the “rest and digest”/”feed and breed” response. This is regulated by the nervous system – which is made of two separate parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. They act at each other’s expense so that the more of one response, the less of the other – there is only so much nervous system to go around and the body must choose between rest and digest or fight or flight. That means that you can’t rest your body and repair damage, or even properly digest your food, when you are in a stressful state.

And that is why we will now talk about stress reduction.

Physical relaxation – think about each of your body parts, from your toes to your head, relaxing one-by-one.
Mental relaxation – focus on calming thoughts, play relaxing music, and avoid stressful triggers.

Try not to let things you can’t control make you anxious. If you can’t change it, then worrying about it isn’t going to do any good.

You can relax in two ways: by doing something you enjoy doing and that puts your mind at ease or by doing absolutely nothing – turning the TV off, clearing your mind of troubling thoughts, and purposefully shifting your attention to something like your breathing rate or your heartbeat.

Breathing
Contrary to popular belief, breathing isn’t very simple. To be more precise, breathing efficiently isn’t very simple. To relax you need to take deep, slow breaths from the belly and not from the upper chest. Put your hands across your belly and feel your belly stick out as you breathe in nice and slowly. Breathe with your diaphragm, not your ribs. Many stressed out people, or people with poor posture, breathe with their neck muscles or upper chests.

Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Feel your lower lungs fill with air first, then your middle lungs, then your upper lungs. This will take 5-10 seconds. Once you have fully inhaled through your nose take a 1 or 3 second pause and then gently let the air out. Repeat until you’re relaxed or asleep. If you are getting dizzy, you’re overdoing it.

Imagery

Try to totally surround yourself with your own relaxing imaginary environment. Close your eyes. Imagine yourself at this place, maybe the beach. Feel the warm sand under your nice, clean towel. Feel your body relaxing on the sand, and it’s contouring to support you comfortably. Imagine the hot sun heating your skin with a gentle sea breeze keeping you cool. Hear the wind rustling through the trees in the distance, and hear the tide moving towards you on the beach then pulling back into the waves. Hear sea gulls somewhere far away. Focus on that for a few minutes and you have no choice but to be relaxed…unless you don’t like the beach!

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has an interest in the science of pain and it’s relationship to chiropractic. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are available to speak to groups about pain, stress, the importance of a healthy nervous system, and other health topics.