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Sciatica

A few weeks back we ran a herniated/slipped disk article detailing it’s causes, symptoms and potential treatments. If you’ve missed that article, you can find it here.Today we’re going to discuss sciatica, a condition often associated with and caused by a herniated or slipped disk in the vertebrae.

Sciatica is a condition of the sciatic nerve in which the nerve is either damaged, irritated or compressed. As the sciatic nerve is the single longest and widest nerve in the human body, running from the lower back all the way down to the back of the foot, there is a fairly large area where the nerve may become irritated.

Sciatic Nerve, Close Up

Sciatic Nerve

The image above is a diagram of the sciatic nerve, courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Symptoms of Sciatica include but are not limited to

  • Pain in the legs that is at it’s worst when sitting down
  • Burning/Tingling of the legs particularly at the back of the leg
  • Loss/limited range of motion of one or both legs/feet
  • A shooting pain through the leg/rear, especially when standing up

If you experience one or many of these or similar symptoms, it is important to seek treatment. Sciatica, first and foremost, is a symptom or a group of symptoms of an underlying condition, not a standalone ailment. Because of this, it must be identified and diagnosed as early as possible in order to keep the underlying condition from worsening.

Please come by the Injury Clinic of Dallas office or  call us today for your FREE consultation!

 

Do I have Tendinitis?

Last week we talked about bursitis, a condition directly linked to the inflammation of the bursa, one that is both restrictive and painful. To keep with the inflammation discussion, this week we’re going to take a look at another similar condition that also occurs due to inflammation; tendinitis.

Tendinitis is the swelling, inflammation and irritation of the tendon. The tendon is a fibrous structure that connects the muscle to the bone, as can be seen in the following image:

A view of the Achilles Tendon, courtesy of wikipedia.org

Tendinitis may be caused by overuse of the tendon, usually due to repetitive motion (jumper’s or runner’s knee). It can also occur as a result of injury or aging (tendons loose elasticity with time as they are used).

Tendinitis is generally diagnosed by the area it affects (typically knee, elbow, shoulder, wrist) and may feature specific symptoms for the area in question. However, universal signs of the condition may be listed as follows

  • Pain/Tenderness along a tendon
  • Pain that worsens with activity
  • Pain next to a joint (may also be bursitis)

Untreated, tendinitis may become chronic or lead to further injury of the affected area. Thus, it is important to diagnose and treat tendinitis as soon as it occurs. Failure to do so may lead to loss of range of motion, stiffness, weakness and recurring pain. In some cases, loss of function may also occur.

If you believe that you may be experiencing a form of tendinitis, call or come by the Injury Clinic of Dallas office in Richardson.

 

 

Bursitis

Last month we have covered the basics of inflammation. If you missed that article or would like a refresher, here’s a link.

Today, we’re going to take inflammation a step further and talk a bit about a condition that inflammation may lead to, bursitis.

Picture of the Bursa, courtesy of Wikipedia.org

In the picture above, we can clearly see the bursa. The bursa is a small fluid-filled sack located in between your joints. The fluid in the bursa is very much like raw egg whites or oil. It serves to reduce friction between the joints and provides cushioning. The easiest way to simulate the bursa would be to fill a small ziplock bag with oil and rub that between your hands.  Typically, the bursa in the knee, hip, shoulder and elbow come under a lot of stress which may lead to inflammation.

The inflammation of the bursa is known as bursitis. The typical causes of bursitis include

  • Stress
  • Overuse
  • Injury
  • Repetitive motion
  • Age(As we age, the joints and tendons become less flexible and can’t tolerate as much stress)

In some cases, the cause of bursitis can’t be clearly identified and maybe a combination of factors.

No matter what the cause, bursitis is a painful condition with a lot of potential to become chronic if not properly treated. Bursitis may even lead to chronic inflammation.

  • Restricted/Lost Range of Motion, the joint becomes “frozen”
  • Pain
  • Unusual swelling at the site, sometimes accompanied by fever

If you experience any of the following symptoms in the shoulder, hip, knee, heel or elbow treatment should be considered in order to prevent re-injury and worsening of the condition. Come by the Injury Clinic of Dallas today and get your Free Consultation! Our doctors and staff would be happy to help and alleviate your pain.

Inflammation : A Burning Inside

Inflammation, from the Latin “inflammo”, literally means to “set alight” or “ignite”. We’ve all experienced different forms inflammation. Some of us may even have chronic inflammation.

Throughout our lives, we hardly bother with the nature of inflammation. In fact, the only thing we concern ourselves with is the fact that it is there and what the potential causes may be. After all, there is hardly any reason to dig deeper, is there?

Sort of. Inflammation is a key body process, the first line of defense our body has. In pathophysiology, it’s often referred to as a non-specific immune response; the body’s first response to loss of homeostasis.

Non-specific immunity? Homeostasis? Wait, what?

Shoulder Inflammation

Let me back up a tad. Non-specific immunity, also known as “innate” immunity is our body’s general response to a problem. In a way it is regimented and organized damage control. It is not guaranteed to work, does not necessarily address the problem or the cause fully, but it is better than doing nothing. If anything it buys our body the much needed time to develop more specific means to dealing with the problems at hand.

Now, next on our list is “homeostasis”. The principle of homeostasis is actually fairly simple. The body likes to maintain equilibrium. It doesn’t like drastic change and is designed to counteract the change, if it occurs.  In essence, if the external or the internal environment changes, the body responds.

Let’s return back to our discussion of inflammation. Now that we have established that inflammation is natural, let us further examine the causes as well the process by which it works.

Causes of Inflammation:

There is a wide range of causes for inflammation. From injury to disease, it would take forever to list them all. The most common causes of inflammation encountered in chiropractic usually involve muscle, tendon and joint inflammation, which have a fairly wide amount of causes. Some of the more prevalent ones, such as tendonitis and bursitis will be covered further in depth in follow up articles.

The Process: What happens during inflammation?

As inflammation is non-specific, it’s a pretty standard and general process among all, one that can be broken down into the following steps

  1. Inflammation inducing process occurs. For example, a nerve is pinched.
  2. The pinched nerve or an injured area releases histamines.  Histamines are chemical compounds that serve as markers/triggers for local immune responses.
  3. The release of histamines leads to the dilation of capillaries and the blood flow to the area is increased. The area typically becomes noticeably redder in color.
  4. Increased blood flow and dilation of the surrounding area leads to swelling.
  5. The area typically feels warm or hot to the touch.
  6. Damaged tissue releases proteins that attract white blood cells such as phagocytes whose primary job is to ingest and digest harmful foreign particles, bacteria and dying/dead cells.
  7. The build up of white cells and may lead to pus formation.
  8. Hopefully, the immune response succeeds and histamines are no longer released. Affected area returns to normal as the stimulus is removed

Inflammation: The Good and the Bad

The most common problem with inflammation is the fact that it’s nonspecific and thus may be a result of a false stimulus. It could also be an onset of a completely unrelated stimulus, such as allergies, thus creating more problems within the body than solving.

When dealing with inflammation, it’s important to remember that while some types of inflammation are welcome and necessary for body function, there are others that are not. For example, inflammation post-exercise or strenuous activity is natural and to be expected.  However, if such inflammation begins to persist past a fairly short period of time, it may become more harmful and needs to be dealt with as such.

Reducing Inflammation and its Negative Effects

  1. Hydrate. Or as my coach used to say, on the top of his lungs through a megaphone “HYDRATE,HYDRATE,HYDRATE!!!” Other than the commonly held benefits of hydration, it’s paramount when it comes to reducing swelling and inflammation.  Inflammation requires water for its reactions and if we want it to pass fast and smoothly, it is imperative we provide it with everything it needs to perform its job quickly.
  2. Use Cold Therapy. Applying things such as Ice, frozen peas or cool running water to an inflamed area may help control or reduce the inflammation if needed. Cool temperatures slow the blood flow to the local area and swelling as well as heat is reduced. However, do not overdo it. The recommended length for icing a swollen area is no more than 20 minutes at a time.

In our next blog post, I’ll go in more detail about bursitis, a specific type of inflammation that affects the hip, shoulders, knees and elbows.

If you are suffering from inflammation, contact our office to schedule an appointment to visit with one of our chiropractors. Call us at 972-644-5555.

 

Sprains And Strains: Just a Sports Injury?

How many of us have pulled a muscle while playing sports? Sprained an ankle or wrist? I would reckon that a lot of us have.

In fact, sprains and strains are some of the most common and prevalent injuries in any activity which may involve a sudden change of momentum. Running, powerlifting, football, basketball, helping a friend move or being involved in a car accident are just a few that come to mind. The reality is that there are simply too many activities to list.

 

Now, before we continue this discussion any further, let’s establish a clear definition for sprain and strain in order to avoid confusion.

  • A sprain is an injury of the ligament in which the ligament is over-stretched due to wrenching or twisting of the joint, often due to a sudden change of momentum.
  • A strain is an injury of the muscle in which the muscle is torn as a result of over-stretching, often due to a sudden change of momentum. Strains are often referred to as “pulled muscles”.

The sudden change of momentum is important to both of the definitions because without it, strains and sprains are unlikely to occur. It’s hard to overstretch a muscle or a ligament otherwise.

Now that we have established the definitions for sprains/strains let’s talk prevention.

  1. Properly stretch prior to exercise. Stretching is a great way to increase flexibility thus reducing the risk of acquiring a sprain/strain (It’s important to note that improper stretching can easily lead to injury).
  2. Fatigued muscles increase the risk of muscle strain as a study conducted by the Duke University Medical Center indicates. [View Study Here] Hence, if your muscles are well-rested prior, there’s less chance of acquiring a strain.
  3. Improve overall stability and muscle strength of the core muscles used by your activity/work/sport. This will drastically reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Be careful and don’t overdo it. This is much more prevalent for sports injuries than anything else but it can be as easily applied to daily life or work as well. Overdoing “it” can and most likely will lead to injury. One must know their limits and not to overextend. More isn’t always better.

While prevention in itself is great, it is of little help if injury has occurred. And some injuries can’t be prevented, no matter how many precautions we take. Hence, it’s important to know what to do if the injury has indeed occurred.

In the case of a sprain or a strain, the first thing one should do is known as P.R.I.C.E.

Protect the injury. Once the injury has occurred, it’s important to prevent any further injury from occurring. That means to stop the activity that led to the injury, take the weight off and use padding around the area if needed.

Rest the injured body part, especially in the first 48 hours since the injury has occurred.

Ice the injured body part, 20 minutes at a time every 3-4 hours for the first 24-48 hours. Do not however ice the injury for longer than 20 minutes.

Compress the injury. Apply a bandage or a wrap to the area without cutting off the circulation, while maintaining a snug fit.

Elevate the sprain as best as possible. This helps control swelling, along with the ice. Best works if the sprain is elevated higher than the heart.

Most sprains/strains are not severe and will be fine in just a few days after resting. However, if any of the following symptoms occur or do not subside after a few days of rest or you are not sure of the severity of the injury, professional treatment should be sought:

-Severe Pain

-Loss of function (i.e. limb can’t be used)

-Persistent/prolonged pain

-Area of the injury is noticeably tender

-Persistent Stiffness

-Parts of the injured area is numb

-The area has been injured before

-The swelling doesn’t subside within the first couple days

Failure to seek treatment may lead to further injury or development of an unwanted related condition such as arthritis, joint instability or reoccurring sprains/strains.

Thus, if you believe you have sustained a sprain or a strain come by the Injury Clinic of Dallas Office in Richardson today and let our professional staff treat your injury to assure a fast and proper recovery. We’d be happy to help.

 

 

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