Affected By Low Back Pain?

Staring at your computer screen, you realize you need to take a break.

Deciding to get a drink of water, you stand up from your desk and head to the water cooler. While getting up from your desk, the phone that previously sat on your lap drops to the floor.

You bend down to pick it up, when … bang!

Pain in your low back has frozen you in position and you fight to stand back up. You find yourself hunched forward and to the side. Your low back is in spasm and barely lets you do even the tiniest of movements.

After work, you go home, take a shower, and try to relax and get ready for bed. You can’t get comfortable and you sleep terrible. The next morning is even worse. Pain killers and muscle relaxers aren’t touching it. You go to work and move around a little more and things begin to finally loosen up. A week later you are almost back to normal with only a little bit of pain in the mornings that gets better with a little movement.

You dodged a bullet. Phew.

A couple months go by and things are going great. You go to hunch over a fellow co-workers computer screen and all of a sudden, low back pain strikes again. Same pain — maybe worse this time. You go through the same process and just over a week later things are almost back to normal. But now you’re worried. What is going on? Is it a sprain or is it a disc herniation?

While many people are familiar with low back pain and disc herniation, disc herniation or disc bulges account for only one to three percent of all low back pain cases. According to research, half of the patients similar to the one above will be diagnosed as having a sprain/strain – this is wrong!

Internal Disc Derangement, or IDD, is probably something you have never heard from your doctor. Shockingly, this accounts for almost 40 percent of all low back pain sufferers.  Far too many times this is misdiagnosed, and mistreated!

Symptoms of IDD include:

  • antalgia (forward, hunched posture) with severe pain
  • guarded movement with muscle spasm
  • worse pain in the morning or with rest
  • worsening, multiple previous episodes and relief from symptoms within one to two weeks.

Odds are if you have ever hurt your low back and continue to struggle with pain, even on the rare occasion, this is you.  It is important to note that the muscle spasm and guarding is a protective mechanism of the disc to try to prevent further damage to the disc.

If left untreated the right way, IDD can develop into bigger problems, like disc herniation.  The muscle spasm and pain is NOT a sprain, and your hips are NOT out of alignment!  These are two of the biggest misconceptions with this problem that I see.

So what can you do?  With any pain and injury like this, it is best to get evaluated by a doctor that specializes in treating musculoskeletal conditions sooner rather than later.  With Internal Disc Derangement, the disc is injured – nothing can reverse time and fix that.  Usually, with each incident of pain, symptoms will get worse!

Whether you have been suffering from this condition weeks or months, you will have soft tissue dysfunction, like adhesion, in structures that alter joint mechanics and ncreases stress on the disc. If you are unfamiliar with adhesion, click here for our most recent article discussing it.  Adhesion is one of the most common and misdiagnosed conditions in the body that restricts motion and causes pain.

Overuse Cycle

 

If you have IDD, you must get the surrounding soft tissues fixed to unload the disc to hopefully prevent and reduce future incidences of pain and progressing disc injury! In other words, adhesion must be corrected in order to reduce the likelihood of this problem from returning.

Not fixing this issue will only lead to more problems down the road.  As always when symptoms are present, you have two options — ignore it or fix it.

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are the only full body certified Integrative Diagnosis clinic in the state of Iowa.  The Integrative Diagnosis system is a diagnosis and treatment system to gain a clear picture and full diagnosis of what is causing your low back pain.  By obtaining a full diagnosis, then applying the correct treatment, resolution for your pain is possible!

Simply fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 to get to the bottom of your pain today!  Any questions can be sent to Dr. Cody at dr.cody@thrivespineandsport.com.

 Thanks for reading!

Fixing Adhesion

Let’s be honest, your problem isn’t going anywhere!  In fact it’s getting worse.

You’ve tried rest, ice, stretching, pain pills, adjustments, cortisone, braces, exercise, and the list goes on.  Still your problem persists.  What is going on?

Adhesion is a term you probably haven’t heard about.  Adhesion, or scar tissue, is one of the most common conditions in the human body, but also, BY  FAR, the most misdiagnosed.  Adhesion, when present, limits flexibility and decreases strength.  The good news is that adhesion is completely reversible if treated correctly!

Adhesion

Adhesion develops primarily in two different ways – overuse, from either repetitive movements or prolonged positions (think working out, running, or sitting at a desk all day), and from trauma (think sports injury or car accident).  Adhesion acts like glue on a muscle by sticking muscles and surrounding soft tissues together.  When this happens your body has to work harder than normal to move or function normally.  You may feel “tight” or weak at first, but eventually develop inflammation and pain.

Overuse Cycle

When adhesion is present, it has to be physically broken down by a provider certified to find and fix adhesion in order for it to go away.  Stretching and exercise wont help!  Neither will a foam roller or a lacrosse ball.  These may make you feel good for a few hours or even a few days, but they are not long term solutions!

Adhesion is at the root of many common problems like low back or neck pain, sciatica, most tendinitis cases, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even headaches!

Unfortunately, if left untreated long enough, adhesion can lead to other problems like disc herniation, stress fractures, labrum tears, muscle tears/sprains/strains, and early arthritic changes.  How can that be?

Adhesion makes muscles work harder.  When muscles work harder they become overworked sooner.  Instead of the muscles absorbing most of your day to day activities, the body transfers the load into the cartilage, bones, and joints instead.  This begins a very bad cycle of chronic pain.  The sooner you fix adhesion the better!

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are certified through the Integrative Diagnosis system for the diagnosis and treatment of adhesion.  Currently, Thrive Spine and Sport is the only full body certified Integrative Diagnosis office in the state of Iowa!  Integrative Diagnosis is the premiere system for diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems.

If you, or someone you know is continuing to struggle with pain, we invite you to call our office today at 319-423-0925!  Most patients have tried numerous providers before finding relief in our office.  If you have any questions, or not sure if we can help you or not, feel free to send an email to Dr. Cody at dr.cody@thrivespineandsport.com.

Thanks for reading!

Why Weak and Tight Doesn’t Mean Strengthen and Stretch

One of the most common misconceptions in health care is this principle – “weak and tight” means “strengthen and stretch.”  If there is one problem or complaint I hear the most it’s, “I’m always tight.”  Usually, in the same breath, the same person will report that they just need to stretch, or they don’t stretch as often as they should.  It usually comes as a surprise when I then tell this person that stretching won’t help them, and if you’re reading this and you always feel “stiff” it probably won’t help you either.

Stretching is the most overprescribed treatment in healthcare, and also the least beneficial.  Now, don’t get me wrong there is a time and a place for stretching – yoga is fantastic – but fixing your stiffness and pain, it’s not going to happen!

Allow me to explain.

Our bodies were not programmed to handle the modern day lifestyle. Whether you work in a 9-5 desk position or work in a factory doing manual labor 40+ hours a week, both will have the same thing in common.  Overuse.  Overuse happens when we sit in prolonged positions or do repetitive activities, if we are not taking care of ourselves.

When we overuse our bodies, and fail to take care of it with proper rest, recovery, nutrients, this will often create a phenomenon called protective tension.  Protective tension is created to help the body adapt to overuse.  The body will make muscles spasm and contract to help protect any overloaded structure from further injury.  Over a period of time, this gradually leads to adhesion formation.

Overuse Cycle

 

If you are unfamiliar with adhesion, adhesion is the most common problem in the human body, but also the most misdiagnosed.  Fortunately, it can be fixed easily with the right diagnosis and treatment.  When present, it acts like glue on soft tissue structures like muscles, ligaments, and nerves.  This glue then binds muscles and nerves together and decreases your flexibility and strength.  Overtime, adhesion leads to altered joint mechanics and pain.  Without the proper treatment, adhesion will eventually lead to chronic pain, chronic muscle sprain/strains, arthritis, and or spinal disc injuries (think herniation).

 

Adhesion

Check out this video below for a better demonstration and explanation.

We have been conditioned since elementary school days to think weak and tight means to strengthen and stretch.  In reality, weak and tight is often a result of a problem!  All of the stretches and strength exercises in the world will not help adhesion, in fact, it may make things worse.  The most important thing that you can do is figure out why a muscle is weak and tight!

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to get some answers!  At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are trained through the Integrative Diagnosis system to provide the most accurate and advanced diagnosis and treatment to chronic pain and overuse injuries.  Many patients of our office have tried numerous providers before finding relief in our office. 

Simply fill out the appointment request on this page, or call our office at 319-423-0925 to start feeling better today! 

Thanks for reading!

Tingling, Burning, Numbness? Here’s What You Need To Know!

If you are currently suffering from symptoms of tingling, burning, or numbness, there are some things you need to know.  “Pinched nerve” is a term thrown out all too often and over diagnosed.  Nerve entrapment is a term that is used far less, but much, MUCH more common.

A true “pinched nerve,” is when a nerve is compressed between 2 structures.  Most often, this happens in cases of disc derangement where the disc protrudes into the spinal cord compressing the nerve roots.

An example of a protruding disc creating a “true” pinched nerve.

This happens in less than 3% of patients.  When the nerve is compressed by a protruding disc, the pain is usually constant and severe – think pain levels above 8 out of 10. This problem persists for weeks without relief.

Nerve entrapment, as previously mentioned, is a less popular diagnosis but far more common. Nerve entrapment is a condition in which nerves get stuck to surrounding structures.  As nerves pass through our body, they floss and move between muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue.  Healthy nerves slide and glide between these structures without issue.

Through “wear and tear” and “use and abuse,” nerves can become entrapped and glued to the structures it moves along.  When this happens, this can lead to symptoms of tingling, burning, and numbness many people struggle with.  In cases of nerve entrapment, most people will note also feeling “tight” or the feeling of dull, achy pain.  Pain is often not constant.  Sometimes the dull, achy pain can be in other areas of the body as well.  In these cases, adhesion is most frequently the “glue” that binds the nerve to the surrounding soft tissue.

While you may not have heard of nerve entrapment, you are probably familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, piriformis syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, or thoracic outlet syndrome.  These are examples of nerve entrapment conditions.

These conditions are unfortunately labeled as such, without a complete diagnosis of what is causing the symptoms in the first place. Rest, ice, ultrasound, stim, kinisiotape, bracing among other treatments are often prescribed and used without finding much long term relief.  Far too often these conditions will lead to cortisone injections and surgery.

Adhesion, which is the most common cause of nerve entrapment and is also the most frequently missed when dealing with these conditions.  Adhesion can be fixed with specific manual therapy at the site of the entrapment.

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are certified in the diagnosis and treatment of adhesion which can cause nerve entrapment in 156 different areas of the body!  If you are starting to experience, or have been struggling with the above listed syndromes without relief, it’s time to get to the bottom of your pain. You deserve real solutions to your problem.  Fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 today!

Thanks for reading!

3 Reasons For Tight Hamstrings You Dont Know About

If your hamstrings are always “tight” there is a reason behind it – and it’s not because you’re not stretching.  In fact, if you are stretching, it may be making it worse!  While this may sound like crazy talk, allow me to explain.

The hamstrings are a group of 3 different muscles.  They originate on the pelvis and insert on the lower leg, just below the knee.  They are primarily responsible for extension of the hip and flexing the knee.  The hamstrings play a vital role in most of our daily activities, which include standing, walking, running, and jumping, but they also play a protective role for nerves and joints.

The Hamstrings

While there can be many different reasons for “tight” hamstrings, the 3 most common I see in my office are the following:

Nerve Entrapment.  The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down into the foot.  This nerve moves and flosses through many different structures on its route.  Often times this nerve will get glued down, and stick to some of the muscles it comes into contact with in the hip and upper thigh – this includes the hamstrings.  When this nerve is prevented from moving properly, and we try to stretch, the body will engage the hamstrings sooner than it would if the nerve wasn’t glued down to protect the nerve from potential harm. This is give off the feeling of “weak and tight.”

Hip Joint Dysfunction.  Place your hand on the outside of your hip. Do you feel the bone there? Now, more than ever with our modern day lifestyles, this joint can become compromised by adhesion and scar tissue.  The femur is held into the hip socket by a group of ligaments.  These ligaments will often form loads of scar tissue after performing repetitive activities or keeping it in place for prolonged periods of time.  This scar tissue will then restrict hip motion.  With this reduction in movement, the joint is more prone to future injury, the hamstrings help to protect this joint by activating earlier than normal and reduces the range of motion.

Hip Capsule

Disc Injury.  Unfortunately, far too many people are walking around with disc injuries, whether they know it or not.  When a disc becomes injured, many simple day to day tasks become more difficult, like trying to stand from a seated position, or bend forward.  Any flexion movement, places more stress on the injured disc.  Part of the job of the hamstrings is to extend the hip and keep you upright.   If we have an injured disc, the hamstrings will try to keep you upright to protect the disc and avoid any unwanted load.

A Few Common Disc Issues

So what can you do?

Often the answer to your problem is simpler than you think.  “Tight” hamstrings are a common problem, but can lead to bigger, chronic issues. Catch all solutions like stretching are rarely ever the answer.  Start by contacting a local expert to get the correct diagnosis for your problem.   Only with the right diagnosis can you finally fix your problem!

If you live in Cedar Rapids or surrounding areas and are constantly struggling with “tight” hamstrings, we invite you to check out our office.  The experts at Thrive Spine and Sport can easily diagnose and provide you with the right plan to fix your problem!  Call our office at 319-423-0925 or fill out an appointment request by clicking here

Thanks for reading!

Will Stretching Help My Pain?

If you have ever been in pain, chances are you were told to stretch.  For some of us it helped, others it didn’t.  Why did it work for some, while others stay in pain and are left thinking they just need to stretch more? Could stretching actually make the pain worse?

To understand this topic, we have to talk about some complicated subjects; anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology.  Please don’t run away, we will make it easy for you to understand.

To start lets agree, that as humans, we all have the same parts, and should, therefore, all move the same and respond similar when exposed to common environments.  Let’s also agree that our modern day lifestyle leaves us in poor postures for most of the day.  Be honest with yourself right now and assess your posture.  Is your head forward into your computer or flexed down to your phone trying to read this?  Is your low back rounded and flexed while at your desk right now or on your drive home?  Chances are it probably is, and you’re like this for most of the day without realizing it. These positions are already lengthened or stretched positions, so why isn’t it helping?

We walk a very fine line everyday balancing between what our body was designed to handle, and what we actually put our body through.  We must understand that when we overload or overwork our body either through training, work, or sitting at a desk all day, the body will have to create compensations to better accommodate the stress being placed on the body.  In the initial phases of compensation, the body will feel “weak and tight.”  This serves as a protective role on the body, and is commonly referred to as “protective tension.”

Protective tension serves a purpose to protect the body from injury by providing stability to an unstable area.  While it may feel good to stretch really all that is happening during this time is that a bunch of stretch receptors are getting fired off and overriding the current symptoms.  This is why you may feel better in the short term but relief never lasts more than a few hours. This is also why it can lead to long term pain, as stretching often leads to more cumulative damage in already lengthened tissue!

If we fail to recognize why the protective tension is occurring and continue with our regular activity without modifications, friction, pressure, and tension, will eventually lead to the development of dysfunction in the body.

Having already agreed that as humans we will mostly have the same parts and respond similar given the same situations, we know that in muscles, or where nerves come into contact with muscles, adhesion will ultimately form in structures with continuous overload from repetitive motions or prolonged positions!  Adhesion is the most common pathology found in muscles, but unfortunately, one of the most misdiagnosed conditions in the human body.  I am going to go out on a limb and guess you haven’t heard this term before.  Fortunately, it can be easily fixed!

Overuse Cycle

Adhesion, or scar tissue, when present, acts like glue on the muscle and nerves.  This further leads into the continuous cycle of feeling “tight” but will also start to cause pain and injury.  If left untreated, this relatively easy problem to fix only gets worse and leads to bigger complications down the road.  Weakness, pain, and even tingling, burning, and numbness, when present along a nerve, can all be caused by adhesion.

Adhesion

Stretching, unfortunately, will not fix adhesion.  In order to fix adhesion, adhesion must be broken down through manual therapy by a certified practitioner that is trained to diagnoses and treat adhesion.  When adhesion is removed, the “need” to stretch is removed.  By removing adhesion, the body can then move better, and function better on a day to day basis without the need to stretch!  Stretching can help to prevent adhesion from coming back in the future, and keep you healthier, but will not fix adhesion in the present.

At Thrive Spine and Sport, we are currently the only full body Integrative Diagnosis provider in the state of Iowa.  Integrative Diagnosis providers are trained to find faulty movement patterns, diagnose, and treat adhesion to fix your pain or movement problem! If you are constantly feeling “tight” or having pain, weakness, or numbness and have failed to find anything that has fixed the problem, I invite you to get to the bottom of your problem! Simply fill out the appointment request on this page or call our office at 319-423-0925 today!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

What’s Wrong With My Shoulder?

Raise your hand if you struggle with shoulder pain!  Well, at least, raise it as high as you can.

Shoulder pain is one of the most frequently hurt and injured extremities in the body.  If you were to survey 10 of your friends, how many of them would report a shoulder issue?  Seriously think about this for a minute.  While the research can vary greatly with incident rates of shoulder pain, you can expect on average 2-5 to report shoulder pain and problems!  That is an incredible stat right there!

When you look into the mechanics of the shoulder, it is no wonder why pain is so often found there.  The shoulder joint consists of 3 bones, creating 4 joints.  13 muscles are involved in the movement of the shoulder which is responsible for almost 360 degrees of motion.

While there are many different kinds of problems associated with the shoulder (dislocations, fractures, etc), most complications arise from overuse, or repetitive strain injuries over time.  Shoulder pain may start up overnight, but it took weeks, months, even years to get to the point of pain.  Manual labors and athletes alike are no stranger to shoulder pain.

In cases of shoulder pain where overuse, repetitive strain, or previous injuries are present, the shoulder pain is almost always due to a lengthening issue.  The joints have become stiff and the muscles have become tight.  The most frequent cause of this stiffness is from adhesion.

Adhesion is a build up of scar tissue through repetitive motion, prolonged position, or as a result of previous trauma or injury.  Think of adhesion as glue on a muscle.  It binds things together and prevents the muscles from moving correctly.  When the joints and muscle get stiff and tight, it creates friction, pressure, and tension in the area.  This then creates decreased blood flow and sometimes swelling, which promotes the body to lay down scar tissue, or adhesion, to help stabilize the problem area.  Adhesion is one of the most common problems in the human body and fortunately one of the most easily reversible with the right care!

To see if your shoulder pain could be caused from adhesion at-home, there is a very simple test you can do at home.

Stand upright, with your arms and hands to your side.  Raise your arms up to your ears by moving your shoulders in an arc similar to that of a jumping jack.  The bicep should be able to freely touch the ear without any increased tension or pain.  Anything short of this, adhesion is a strong possibility, and may be playing a large part of your shoulder pain.  Regardless of previous injuries, or even surgeries, adhesion needs to be removed.

Stretching and exercises do not correct adhesion unfortunately.  When adhesion is present, it only gets worse without proper treatment, and could lead to bigger issues down the road.

If you are struggling with shoulder pain, try the test right now.  Look in the mirror if you can’t get your arms up to your ears and see how restricted it is.  The further away from the ear you are the more likely you are to suffer a serious injury down the road.

If you are in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area and struggling with shoulder pain, call our office today at 319-423-0925 or fill out the appointment request on this page.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at dr.cody@thrivespineandsport.com.

Thanks for reading!