The ‘Oh No!’ Face

Uh-oh. Now you did it.

That feeling when you just did something wrong – a sharp pain shot across your back or down your butt. You freeze in place. You feel like your next movement will cause the same pain to happen again. So you just freeze in place and wait for a minute, anticipating another shot of agony.

It’s hard to say with any certainty exactly what went wrong. It’s a different set of possibilities for every person and every circumstance. No matter what went wrong it is clear that you are on the edge of either your pain fading away into the background or exploding into the forefront. You have the unnerving feeling that this very pain can strike at any time.

It’s pain like this that leads a lot of otherwise healthy adults to engage in “activity avoidance”, which is the habitual non-enjoyment of life resulting from not doing the things you used to love to do because you are consumed with anxiety over possibly injuring yourself severely. To be fair, it is smart to want to avoid pain and injury. But you still need to remain active and use your body as fully as possible every day or else you are going to become more susceptible to having more and more back pain. It’s an unfortunate fact for you that exercising may cause injury but also that not exercising will cause de-conditioning and therefore eventual pain.

Check out this graphic:

Please note that this graphic says “Spinal Cord Injury” and “Muscle Paralysis”…you should substitute the words “Spine Injury” and “Muscle Weakness” into there to make it more appropriate to your probably level of injury. As you can appreciate the more you let your body deteriorate the more you will experience a deterioration in your general health.

Every week or month you spend in that lifestyle is just another shovel of dirt as you dig a hole into sickness and pain.

Wow, that sounded dire, didn’t it? Yeah, it did. And not to sound morose or fatalistic, but you truly should take your physical health very seriously. You only have one body. Surgery can help, sometimes, and doesn’t help other times. You can go get surgery and find out if you want to roll those dice. Probably not a great idea. Your body was issued to you with no warranty. Replacement parts aren’t anything like the originals.

Sheesh, this post is all DOOM and GLOOM, isn’t it? Not totally, because I’m about to type out the part where I offer hope and implore you to try chiropractic.

Here it goes:

We see patients walking in, or stumbling or shuffling in, all the time. We hear people relate the story of their injury on a daily basis, and this post and your pain is something we see all the time. Not every case ends with the patient pain-free and feeling 100%, but we have a decent enough success rate that you should definitely consider trying us out before moving on to more invasive or non-reversible methods. If you think you want to give us a call then do it now and we’ll take down your information and get you scheduled.

Your problem may take 1 visit to get you feeling almost normal again. Or it may take 10 or 20. There’s really no way to know other then to come in and get examined and get adjusted and found out. On the path to a solution you should generally go from least-invasive and least-medicated and then move on to more and more involved treatments and therapies. Chiropractic is a great place to start. If yours is a case we think we can help, we will try our hardest. If yours is one requiring an MRI or a referral to a different kind of provider, we will prescribe the MRI or send you to the other provider.

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.

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!

The Dreaded High Shoulder

Have you ever woken up in the morning with one of your shoulders sort of sticking up, unable to relax, and painful to move?

I haven’t, but plenty of my patients have.

I’ll be honest: I’m not sure why on Earth this happens to people most of the time. Even the person with the high shoulder usually doesn’t have any idea why they can’t relax their shoulder, and why it hurts so much. Most people shrug the good shoulder and say something like “Well, I guess I slept wrong”.

Which brings up a great question: How is sleeping so complicated that adults are still doing it wrong? Beats me!

Still, this dreaded high shoulder exists and it inflicts millions of Americans every year (that is a crude estimation based on nothing more than guesswork, by the way).

What I do know is that your nervous system controls and coordinates all the activity in your body, including your neck and shoulder muscles. And I also know that an adjustment to the area in question usually gets that shoulder to settle down and relax and become much more comfortable. So, if you are dealing with this problem, give us a call and maybe we can make that shoulder go back where it belongs.

First Very Cold Morning in Frederick

Well, it’s Monday, and if that isn’t bad enough it was 36 degrees when I walked outside.

Many of us are in a bit more discomfort in the colder months of the year for a few reasons.

  1. It’s just plain cold. Our muscles are tight and we tend to take on a fetal position to hold in body warmth. While this may feel warmer, it isn’t the best posture!
  2. We exercise less when it’s cold. Maybe this is because no one can see the flab when we have a sweater on, or because it’s just too darn cold to go running. Either way, we all tend to get less physical activity when it’s this cold out.
  3. The holidays means that even if we keep exercising we are probably going to be eating too much rich, fatty food and packing on some extra pounds. Any time we bulk up our frame with chunk rather than muscle, the body is not happy.

So, on this frosty Monday morning I encourage all of our patients to do their best to keep their activity levels up this Winter, to watch their diets and not give in to the desire to pig out, and to try to keep that Summer posture even though it feels nice to curl up into a tiny little warm ball.

And don’t be this guy…that’s not how a snow angel is supposed to look.

winter cold