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 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