Hip or LB? Which is it?

back pain

Technically, the hip is the ball-and-socket joint between the long bone of the thigh and the pelvis; but more often than not, many people will point to a number of different places on their back or pelvis and say, “My hip is killing me” when it’s not really “the hip” at all!

Hip pain can be located in the front (groin area), the side, the back, or in the buttocks. The “classic sign” of hip pain is reproduced most consistently when you try to cross your legs—put your ankle on the far end of the thigh and then push down on your knee. This may feel tight and cause pain in the groin area. For many people, hip pain is also reproduced when they cross their legs and then pull their knee towards the opposite shoulder.

The hip is a VERY strong joint due to the deep receiving cup of the pelvis and the round ball that fits nicely into it. Because it’s a freely moving joint, there is a joint capsule. The capsule is lined with tissue that produces an oily substance that lubricates the joint (called synovial fluid), and when hip pain occurs, this can be caused by a capsulitis (inflammation of the capsule) with a buildup of synovial fluid (called synovitis).

When the smooth, shiny surface of the ball starts to wear thin (which can eventually wear away down to the bone), that’s a condition called “osteoarthritis.” This occurs over time for many and may eventually result in the need for a hip replacement. This usually isn’t needed until an individual is in their late 60s or older (if at all), but for those who injure a hip earlier in life, the “wearing out” process may accelerate and a hip replacement may be needed well before old age.

There are many studies that report low back and hip arthritis often occur together, and differentiating between the two can sometimes be a challenge. For example, pain can radiate from the hip to the knee, which many doctors will diagnose as “sciatic nerve.” But hip pain can present exactly the same, making it hard to determine if it’s low back-generated pain or hip-generated pain.

This is why it’s SO IMPORTANT that your doctor of chiropractic conduct a careful history and examination. There are specific tests that he or she will perform that help determine which of the two is causing the pain. There are times when they may find BOTH problems co-existing together, making it necessary to manage two problems, rather than just one.

There are many mobilization, manipulation, soft tissue therapies, modalities, and exercises available to patients with both hip and low back pain. So if you’re not sure what is bothering you and you don’t know what to do, visit your doctor of chiropractic and he or she will help you through this.

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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!

Can Chiropractic help with concussions?

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Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) is the appropriate terminology to use when addressing the myriad of symptoms that can occur as a result of a motor vehicle collision (MVC). In a recent publication in The Physician and Sports Medicine (Volume 43, Issue 3, 2015; 7/3/15 online:1-11), the article “The role of the cervical spine in post-concussive syndrome” takes a look at the neck when it’s injured in a car accident and how this relates to concussion.

It’s estimated about 3.8 million concussion injuries, also referred to as “mild traumatic brain injury” (mTBI), occur each year in the United States. Ironically, it’s one of the least understood injuries in the sports medicine and neuroscience communities. The GOOD NEWS is that concussion symptoms resolve within 7-10 days in the majority of cases; unfortunately, this isn’t the case with 10-15% of patients. Symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years in this group for which the term “post-concussive syndrome” (PCS) is used (defined as three or more symptoms lasting for four weeks as defined by the ICD-10) or three months following a minor head injury (as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

There have been significant advances in understanding what takes place in the acute phase of mTBI, but unfortunately, there is no clear physiological explanation for the chronic phase. Studies show the range of force to the head needed to cause concussion is between 60-160g (“g” = gravity) with 96.1g representing the highest predictive value in a football injury, whereas as little as 4.5g of neck acceleration can cause mild strain injury to the neck. In spite of this difference, the signs and symptoms reported by those injured in low-speed MVCs vs. football collisions are strikingly similar!

Research shows if an individual sustains an injury where the head is accelerated between 60-160g, it is HIGHLY likely that the tissues of the cervical spine (neck) have also reached their injury threshold of 4.5g. In a study that looked at hockey players, those who sustained a concussion also had WAD / neck injuries indicating that these injuries occur concurrently. Injuries to the neck in WAD include the same symptoms that occur in concussion including headache, dizziness/balance loss, nausea, visual and auditory problems, and cognitive dysfunction, just to name a few.

The paper concludes with five cases of PCS that responded well to a combination of active exercise/rehabilitation AND passive manual therapy (cervical spine manipulation). The favourable outcome supports the concept that the neck injury portion of WAD is a very important aspect to consider when treating patients with PCS!

This “link” between neck injury and concussion explains why chiropractic care is essential in the treatment of the concussion patient! This is especially true when the symptoms of concussion persist longer than one month!

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 Whiplash, we would be honoured to render our services.

Is a Labral Tear Causing My Hip Pain?

hip FAI

One of the structures that is frequently blamed for hip pain is called the labrum—the rubbery tissue that surrounds the socket helping to stabilize the hip joint. This tissue often wears and tears with age, but it can also be torn as a result of a trauma or sports-related injury.

The clinical significance of a labral tear of the hip is controversial, as these can be found in people who don’t have any pain at all. We know from studies of the intervertebral disks located in the lower back that disk herniation is often found in pain-free subjects—between 20-50% of the normal population.  In other words, the presence of abnormalities on an MRI is often poorly associated with patient symptoms, and the presence of a labral tear of the hip appears to be quite similar.

For instance, in a study of 45 volunteers (average age 38, range: 15–66 years old; 60% males) with no history of hip pain, symptoms, injury, or prior surgery, MRIs reviewed by three board-certified radiologists revealed a total of 73% of the hips had abnormalities, of which more than two-thirds were labral tears.

Another interesting study found an equal number of labral tears in a group of professional ballet dancers (both with and without hip pain) and in non-dancer control subjects of similar age and gender.

Another study showed that diagnostic blocks—a pain killer injected into the hip for diagnostic purposes to determine if it’s a pain generator—failed to offer relief for those with labral tears.

Doctors of chiropractic are trained to identify the origins of pain arising from the low back, pelvis, hip, and knee, all of which can mimic or produce hip symptoms.  Utilizing information derived from a careful history, examination, imaging (when appropriate), and functional tests, chiropractors can offer a nonsurgical, noninvasive, safe method of managing hip pain.

Low Back Pain In Young Athletes

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Some very interesting information from an article by our friends at physiology-pedia.com:

In the United Kingdom there are a large number of children and adolescents who are participating in sport. The government is currently spending over £450 million on improving the quality of the Physical Education and sport activities that pupils are offered [1]  leading to high numbers of participants in sport, not only inside of school but outside as well, 96.7% of children aged 11-16 and 84.1% of children aged 5-10 participated in sport outside of school [2].
The young person with athletic potential is likely to have enhanced physiological and physical attributes compared to their peers [3]and can therefore be defined as a young athlete.
Low back pain (LBP) occurs in approximately 10% to 15% of young athletes[4] . Schmidt et al (2014) found that competitive adolescent athletes compared to aged matched individuals have increased prevalence of back pain[5].
LBP  is defined as pain localised between the 12th rib and inferior gluteal folds, occuring with or without leg pain [6].

There are significant differences between the nature of LBP in adults and young athletes [7]. The most common causes of LBP in young athletes are spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, hyperlordosis syndrome (posterior element overuse syndrome) and discogenic pain[7].
The growing spine introduces certain variables that predisposes the back of the young to specific injuries such as pars interarticularis injury; reported to occur in up to 47% of young athletes [7].
It is of great importance for an athlete with persisting symptoms to undergo a thorough assessment [8].

The impact of the structural problems is considered alongside other aspects such as psychological, social and cultural issues [9]. This approach facilitates compliance with the rehabilitation process and promotes recovery [9], as there is evidence showing athletes with a prior back injury are 3 times more likely to develop LBP [10].

 

Young athletes are not immune to the injuries and conditions that plague adult athletes and need to be assessed and treated just as adults do. While the methods and techniques may vary depending on the age of the child, we need to be sure that we avoid the old tropes of “no pain, no gain” and “you’re a kid, you can’t be hurt”.

 

References
  1. Jump up Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Education. Getting more people playing sport, February 2013.
  2. Jump up Department for Culture Media and Sport. Taking Part 13/14 Annual Child Report. Statistic Release September 2014.
  3. Jump up to: 3.0 3.1 3.2 Armstrong N, Van Mechelen W. Paediatric Exercise Science and Medicine. Oxford University Press, 2008
  4. Jump up d’Hemecourt PA, Gerbino PG, Micheli LJ. Back injuries in the young athlete.Clin Sports Med. 2000 Oct;19(4):663-79.
  5. Jump up to: 5.0 5.1 5.2 Schmidt CP, Zwingenberger S, Walther A, Reuter U, Kasten P, Seifert J, Günther KP, Stiehler M. Prevalence of low back pain in adolescent athletes – an epidemiological investigation. Int J Sports Med. 2014; 35(8):684-9
  6. Jump up Krismer M, van Tulder M. Strategies for prevention and management of musculoskeletal conditions. Low back pain (non-specific). Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2007; Feb;21(1):77-91.
  7. Jump up to: 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Micheli LJ, WoodR. Back pain in young adults. Significant differences from adults in causes and patterns. Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine1995;Vol 149
  8. Jump up to: 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 Standaert C. Low Back Pain in the Adolescent Athlete.Phys Med RehabilClin N Am.2008; 19(2):287-304
  9. Jump up to: 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 Purcell L and Micheli L. Low back pain in young athletes. Sports Health. 2009;1(3): 212-222
  10. Jump up Greene HS, Cholewicki J, GallowayMT, Nguyen CV, Radebold A. A history of low back injury is a risk factor for recurrent back injuries in varsity athletes. Am J Sports Med.2001;29(6):795-800.

How can I make my WRD less severe?

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Whiplash is really a slang term for the rapid back and forth whipping of the head on the neck, usually associated with motor vehicle accidents. The title “Whiplash Associated Disorders”, or WAD, describes it best because it includes ALL of the MANY signs and symptoms of the disorder.

WAD basically comes in three sizes based on the degree of injury. A WAD I is present when there is pain but no physical examination findings; WAD II occurs when there are exam findings but no neurological loss (numbness or weakness); and WAD III includes loss of neurological function.  There is also a separate WAD level that includes fractures and dislocations (WAD IV).

There are many things that can be done by the patient to assist in the healing process for WAD. The first well-studied recommendation is to “continue with your usual activities.” Try to keep active and not change your routine. The good news is that WAD (especially types I and II) usually resolves without complication, and recovery is even more likely to occur if you don’t deviate much from your routine.

For those whose symptoms are more severe and/or not resolving, mobilization and manipulation of the neck and back are very effective treatment options. In addition to treatments you’d receive in a chiropractic office, there are MANY things you can do at home as “self-help strategies.” Some of these include (“PRICE”):

1)  PROTECT: Though it’s important to continue with your usual daily activities, this is dependent on both the degree of tissue injury and your pain tolerance. So do as many of your usual daily activities as possible, but AVOID those that result in a sharp, lancinating type of pain or those where recovery from the pain is delayed.  Therefore, this category may require modifying your ADLs (activities of daily living). A cervical collar (hard or

soft) should NOT to be used UNLESS you have an unstable injury (fracture or a grade III sprain).

2)  REST: Doing too much is like picking at a cut (which can delay healing) and doing too little can lead to a delayed healing response as well. Staying within reasonable pain boundaries is a good guide.

3) ICE > HEAT: Ice reduces swelling, and your doctor will typically recommend it over applying heat, especially on a recent injury. Heat draws fluids in, and while it may feel good, it can make your symptoms worse.

4)  COMPRESS: We can basically ignore this when referencing neck pain. This pertains better to wrapping an ankle, knee, wrist, or elbow with an elastic compression orthotic or brace.

5)  ELEVATE: This too is meant for the acute stages of an extremity injury like a foot or ankle.

Exercises unique for neck pain in the acute, subacute, and chronic stages of healing are perhaps the most important of the self-help approaches. In the ACUTE phase, try these…

1)  Range of Motion: Once again, stay within “reasonable pain boundaries” as you move your head forwards, backwards, side to side, and rotate left and right. These can be done either with or without LIGHT resistance applied using one or two fingers placed against your head. Limit the repetitions to three slow reps in each direction and emphasize the release of the movement.

2)  Chin/head Glides: Tuck in the chin (think of creating a double or triple chin) followed by poking the chin/head out.

In the SUBACUTE and CHRONIC phases of healing, the importance of strengthening the deep neck flexors cannot be over emphasized. Please refer to last month’s article for a description of this (see #3 of the 6 recommendations listed).

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.