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.

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 Pain Management or a Chiropractor

If you’re thinking of going to a pain management clinic, then think about this:

First Visit

You will probably get a painkiller. Probably as in 90% positive.

You will probably get a muscle relaxer. Probably as in like 75%.

You will then feel better, but not actually be any better.

Following Visits

You will probably get epidural injections.

You will probably get your prescriptions for painkillers and muscle relaxers managed.

You may get referred to physical therapy.

Yo probably won’t get referred to a chiropractor, because the chiropractor would get the patient better and then the pain management clinic would lose business.

That being said, all pain management clinics aren’t the same. Some are great and aren’t just drug dispensaries. If you aren’t going to try chiropractic, then go to a physical therapist. And then if that doesn’t work try pain management.

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