Recurring Injuries & Pain
Recurring injuries are injuries to any location on the body that previously sustained the same injury. Sports injuries can often be recurrent with subsequent injuries being influenced by the first one. Most recurring injuries are actually worse than the initial injury and could have a severe impact on the health and future of the injured. When sustaining an injury, it is best to receive immediate medical attention in order to minimize the likelihood of recurring injury.
Some of the subsequent ailments that can develop with recurring injuries include sciatica, chronic lower back pain, disc herniations and fibromyalgia.
Chronic Lower Back Pain is exactly what it sounds like: a consistent, recurring and often severe pain in the lower back lasting more than 3 months. The lumbar spine, or low back, is a remarkably well-engineered structure of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles all working together to provide support, strength, and flexibility. However, this complex structure also leaves the low back susceptible to injury and pain.
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, symptoms can be experienced in a variety of ways:
- Pain that is dull or achy, contained to the low back
- Stinging, burning pain that moves from the low back to the backs of the thighs, sometimes into the lower legs or feet; can include numbness or tingling (sciatica)
- Muscle spasms and tightness in the low back, pelvis, and hips
- Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing
- Difficulty standing up straight, walking, or going from standing to sitting
Chronic Lower Back Pain can be caused by a wide variety of things, including:
- Strains that occur when a muscle is stretched too far and tears, damaging the muscle itself.
- Sprains that happen when over-stretching and tearing affects ligaments, which connect the bones together.
- Lifting a heavy object, or twisting the spine while lifting
- Sudden movements that place too much stress on the low back, such as a fall
- Poor posture over time
- Sports injuries, especially in sports that involve twisting or large forces of impact
Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself but it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Common lower back problems that can cause sciatica symptoms include a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis.
Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
- Pain that is worse when sitting
- Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling, or searing (versus a dull ache)
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
- A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk
- Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes (it rarely occurs only in the foot)
Sciatic pain can vary from infrequent and irritating to constant and incapacitating. Symptoms are usually based on the location of the pinched nerve.
Disc Herniations occur when the exterior of a disc becomes weak and torn which often happens with age. Certain motions such as a sharp twist or lifting heavy objects can also cause a herniated disc.
Discs are pads that serve as "cushions" between the vertebral bodies to minimize the impact of movement on the spinal column. Each disc is designed like a jelly donut with a soft center and an abnormal rupture of the central portion of a disc is referred to as a disc herniation.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. Symptoms include:
- Widespread pain
- Cognitive Difficulties
Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other painful conditions such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Migraine and other types of headaches
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
There is no set cause for Fibromyalgia, however, it is thought that the condition stems from genetics, infection and physical or emotional trauma.
How can a Brain-Based Approach help me?
The main problem we see in common? Postural imbalances that look like the picture below. Even if you have back problems, we must first look to the 'control center’ - where the brain sends all of it’s signals. It sounds complicated, but we promise it’s not.
The upper 1/3 of your neck is incredibly mobile and complex compared to the rest of your spine. It has major influence relating to brain communication, as it functions similar to a relay station. Your postural muscles are all controlled by an area of your brain nestled right at the base of your skull as well.
When you have any type of injury, even if it’s a minor fall or accident form years ago, it can cause damage to the ligaments (the ‘glue’) that support your neck alignment. If this occurs, your head and neck can become slightly misaligned, which sets off a cascade of problems:
- When your head and neck are imbalanced, you have a righting reflex that keeps your eyes level to the horizon. The rest of the body will torque and twist to keep your eyes as level as possible.
- Muscles become chronically imbalanced because the inflammation and irritation near the brainstem can interfere with the information signaling between your brain and body.
- These imbalances can cause chronic pain - from chronic back pain to knee or foot pain. They also are the reason many people suffer from recurring injuries or recurring pain. If the body isn’t functioning properly, small movements can cause big problems.
A specific exam from a NUCCA doctor can tell you if you have a misalignment affecting your chronic pain. A precise, gentle correction to the neck based on biomechanical calculations can restore head and neck alignment to:
- improve muscle balance throughout your entire body
- improve everyday biomechanics during activities as simple as walking
- prevent injuries and further damage caused from imbalances