Trigger points in the trapezius muscle.

The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle located in your back. This muscle is often overloaded due to poor sitting posture or excessive exercise. When this occurs trigger points will form. These points can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain. Trigger points in the upper traps are a leading cause of headache.

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Trigger points in the gluteus Maximus muscle.

The gluteus Maximus muscle makes up your buttock. It’s is a powerful hip extensor and thus used heavily during activities such as walking, running, and climbing up stairs. Most atheletes abuse this muscle. When overworked trigger points will form, and these points will cause pain to be felt in the hip, sacrum and the as well as deep in the gluteal area. Litterally a pain in the butt!! Trigger points won’t release on their own and require interventions like trigger point massage.

What can I do for my Fibromyalgia pain?

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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common condition affecting approximately ten million Americans (2-4% of the population)—with a ratio of about four women to each man with the disease. Part of the diagnosis and treatment challenge is that many of the complaints associated with FM occur in ALL of us at some point, such as fatigue, generalized whole body aches/pains, non-restorative sleep, depression, anxiety, etc. So what is the difference between the FM sufferer and those without it? Let’s take a look!

The primary distinction between patients with FM and the “rest of us” has to do with the word “chronic.” This term means “…persisting for a long time or constantly recurring; long-standing, long-term.” In fact, the term “fibromyalgia” is described as a complex chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness that may present body wide or migrate around the body. It is also known to “wax and wane over time,” meaning it flares up and down, off and on.

The diagnosis of FM is typically made by eliminating every other possible cause. Hence, after blood tests and x-ray or other imaging, the ABSENCE of other problems helps nail down the diagnosis of “primary fibromyalgia.” Then there is “secondary fibromyalgia,” which is DUE TO a known disorder or condition such as after trauma (like a car accident), rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headache, irritable bowel syndrome, “GERD” (which is heart burn due to reflux), pelvic pain, overactive bladder, tempromandibular joint dysfunction (jaw pain, with or without ringing in the ears), or stress. It’s also often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and/or some other mental health condition.

It should be clearly understood that there is no “cure” for FM. It has also been widely reported in many studies that the BEST management approach for FM is through a TEAM of healthcare providers. This team is frequently made up of primary care doctors, doctors of chiropractic, massage therapists, mental / behavioral specialists, physical therapists, and perhaps others (acupuncturist, nutritionist, stress management specialists, and more).

The “general” treatment approach is typically done with medications, cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), gentle exercise, and manual therapies. Additionally, patients are encouraged to participate in the healing process via self-management strategies that focus on reducing stress and fatigue, optimizing diet, and developing a consistent sleep habit.

Think of the role of the chiropractor as a strong member of the team. A doctor of chiropractic can offer many of the known methods of managing FM described above, as their training includes diet and nutrition, stress management, exercise training, and ability to provide “whole person care.” Treatments delivered in the chiropractic setting like spinal manipulation, mobilization, and massage offer GREAT relief to FM patients! Again, coordinating care between various providers is the best approach, but you need someone willing and able to do that. A doctor of chiropractic is a great choice!

It is very difficult to manage FM on your own. Let a doctor of chiropractic tailor a treatment plan that is appealing to you and your specific interests. Managing FM is definitely NOT a “…one size fits all” approach like an inhaler is for asthma. Each individual’s situation is too highly unique!

MRI Truths & Myths

Arthritis

Low back pain is a very common complaint. In fact, it’s the #1 reason for doctor visits in the United States! The economic burden of LBP on the working class is astronomical. Most people can’t afford to be off work for one day, much less a week, month, or more! Because of the popularity of hospital-based TV dramas over the past two decades, many people think getting an MRI of their back can help their doctor fix their lower back problem. Is this a good idea? Let’s take a look!

Patients will often bring in a CD that has an MRI of their lower back to a doctor of chiropractic and ask the ultimate question, “….can you fix me?” Or, worse, “…I think I need surgery.” Sure, it’s quite amazing how an MRI can “slice” through the spine and show bone, soft tissues, disks, muscles, nerves, the spinal cord, and more! Since the low back bears approximately 2/3 of our body’s weight, you can frequently find MANY ABNORMALITIES in a person over 40-50 years old. In fact, it would be quite odd NOT to see things like disk degeneration, disk bulges, joint arthritis, spur formation, etc.!

Hence, the “downside” of having ALL this information is the struggle to determine which finding on the MRI has clinical significance. In other words, where is the LBP coming from? Is it that degenerative disk, bulged disk, herniated disk, or the narrowed canal where the nerve travels? Interestingly, in a recent review of more than 3,200 cases of acute low back pain, those who had an MRI scan performed earlier in their care had a WORSE outcome, more surgery, and higher costs compared with those who didn’t succumb to the temptation of requesting an MRI!

This is not to say MRI, CT scans, and x-rays are not important, as they effectively show conditions like subtle fractures and dangerous conditions like cancer. But for LBP, MRI is often misleading. This is because the primary cause of LBP is “functional” NOT “structural,” so it’s EASY to get railroaded into thinking whatever shows up on that MRI has to be the problem.

Here is how we know this, when we take 1,000 people WITHOUT low back pain between ages 30 and 60 (male or female) and perform an MRI on their lower back, we will find up to 53% will have PAINLESS disk bulges in one or more lumbar disks. Moreover, we will find up to 30% will have partial disk herniations, and up to 18% will have an extruded disk (one that has herniated ALL the way out). Yet, these people are PAIN FREE and never knew they had disk “derangement” (since they have no LBP). When combining all of these possible disk problems together, several studies report that between 57% and 64% of the general population has some type of disk problem without ANY BACK PAIN!

Hence, when a patient with a simple sprain/strain and localized LBP presents with an MRI showing a disk problem, it usually ONLY CONFUSES the patient (and frequently the doctor), as that disk problem is usually not the problem causing the pain!  So DON’T have an MRI UNLESS a surgical treatment decision depends on its findings. That is weakness, numbness, and non-resolving LBP in spite of 4-6 weeks of non-surgical care or unless there is weakness in bowel or bladder control. Remember, the majority of back pain sufferers DO NOT need surgery!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.

What are some good exercises for Fibro?

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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common, chronic condition where the patient describes “widespread pain” not limited to one area of the body. Hence, when addressing exercises for FM, one must consider the whole body. Perhaps one of the most important to consider is the squat.

If you think about it, we must squat every time we sit down, stand up, get in/out of our car, and in/out of bed. Even climbing and descending steps results in a squat-lunge type of movement.

The problem with squatting is that we frequently lose (or misuse) the proper way to do this when we’re in pain as the pain forces us to compensate, which can cause us to develop faulty movement patterns that can irritate our ankles, knees, hips, and spine (particularly the low back). In fact, performing a squatting exercise properly will strengthen the hips, which will help protect the spine, and also strengthens the glutel muscles, which can help you perform all the daily activities mentioned above.

The “BEST” type of squat is the free-standing squat. This is done by bending the ankles, knees, and hips while keeping a curve in the low back. The latter is accomplished by “…sticking the butt out” during the squat.

Do NOT allow the knees to drift beyond your toes! If you notice sounds coming from your knees they can be ignored IF they are not accompanied by pain. If you do have pain, try moving the foot of the painful knee about six inches (~15 cm) ahead of the other and don’t squat as far down. Move within “reasonable boundaries of pain” by staying away from positions that reproduce sharp, lancinating pain that lingers upon completion.

There are MANY exercises that help FM, but this one is particularly important!

Trigger point massage

Session Description

 

A treatment with Bryan is very user friendly. And, no, you don’t have to remove any clothing. However, bringing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts or sweats is recommended.

 

The first time you come for a treatment you will be asked to fill out a Client History form. Bryan will go over the information you provide, asking for more detail and discussing the type of pain you are having and its location.

 

The treatment itself involves locating the Trigger Points in the muscle or soft tissue and applying a deep focused pressure to the Point. This will reproduce the pain and the referral pattern that is characteristic of that pain.

 

The treatment will be uncomfortable at first, but as the Trigger Points release, the pain will decrease. The pressure will always be adjusted to your tolerance level. If, at any time, you feel too uncomfortable you can ask Bryan to ease off a bit.

 

Depending on your specific problem, Bryan may also use some stretching and / or range-of-motion techniques, as needed.

 

After treatment, it is usually recommended that the client apply moist heat to the area treated.

 

How can I make my neck pain less severe?

HA C Spine

Neck pain is very common! According to one study, between 10-21% of the population will experience an episode of neck pain each year with a higher incidence rate among office workers. Between 33-65% will recover within one year, but most cases become “chronic, recurrent” meaning neck pain will come and go indefinitely. The more we can learn WHAT to do to prevent these episodes, the better.

1.  SLEEP: Use a cervical pillow so the NECK is fully supported during sleep. This keeps your head in alignment with your spine. Also, if possible, sleep on your back!

2. OFFICE: Position the computer screen so that it’s at or slightly below eye level and straight in front of you. The “KEY” point is that you feel comfortable with the height of the monitor. Keep your chin “tucked in” so the 10-11 pound (4.5-5 kg) weight of your head stays back over your shoulders—this will place less of a load on your upper back and neck muscles to hold your head upright! Set a timer on your cell phone to remind you to get up and move around every 30-60 minutes.

3. TELEPHONE: If you are using the phone a lot during the day, GET A HEADSET! If you are pinching the phone between your shoulder and ear, you WILL have neck problems!

4.  EXERCISE: Studies show people who are more physically active are less likely to report neck pain.

5.  NUTRITION: Search for information on the “anti-inflammatory diet.” It’s basically fruits, veggies, and lean meat, with a few other twists. Also, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day.

6.  LIFT/CARRY: A heavy purse, brief case, or roller bag can really hurt your neck. Take ONLY what you need and put the rest in a secondary bag that stays in your car or where you can access it when needed. Switch to a backpack if possible vs. a heavy brief case.

7.  SELF-MASSAGE: Reach back and dig your fingers into your neck muscles and “work” the tight fibers back and forth until they loosen up. Roll your head over the top edge of a chair by sliding down until the top of the chair back rests in your neck. Search for the tight fibers and work them loose!

8.  WHIPLASH: If you are injured, DO NOT WAIT! Those who seek chiropractic care shortly after an accident have less long-term trouble!