We've Got Your Back!
June 2022 Issue — Pink Prescriptions
"We've Got Your Back!"
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the country. It can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Whether it comes on suddenly from a fall or strain, or develops slowly because of age-related degenerative changes, it’s important to take care of your back and pay attention to what your pain may be trying to tell you. In some cases, serious medical conditions can cause back pain. Treatment will vary based on causes and symptoms, but there are steps you can take to lower your chance of chronic back pain.
Gregory R. Kelley, M.D.
Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery
My back has been aching for a week. When should I seek medical help?
You should seek treatment from a spine-focused physician if your back pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve, for issues that are:
• Preventing you from working or sleeping
• Associated with other worrisome symptoms, such as fever or chills,
• Urinary tract involvement or incontinence
• Radiating leg pain or weakness, as this may indicate nerve compression.
I often have shooting pains in my back and legs. Is it Sciatica? What are the signs, symptoms and treatments for Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition in which a spinal nerve in the lower back is being pinched or compressed. This can result in radiating pain—often described as tingling, burning, or “electric-like”—in the lower extremity. Treatment generally begins with a period of physical therapy centered on restoring range of motion and techniques to offload the involved nerve, a trial of anti-inflammatory or neuropathic medications, and occasionally an epidural steroid injection. Rarely does sciatic pain require a surgical intervention.
There’s a lot of terminology around disc injuries. Can you clarify the differences between bulging and herniated discs?
Disc bulging is a very common, often asymptomatic condition that is akin to a balloon being pushed down or compressed, resulting in an outward, circumferential protrusion. A “herniation” is when the inner, jelly-like contents of the disc focally rupture through the outer lining of the disc and is usually more disabling and painful.
Gregory R. Kelley, M.D. is a board-certified physiatrist specializing in physiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation. He practices at Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery, 3025 Shrine Rd, Ste 390 in Brunswick.
Thom Davis, Licensed Massage Therapist
Feelin’ Great Wellness Center
What can I do to help protect my back?
Good posture is a key component of maintaining back health. Standing or sitting upright is important. Take breaks if you have been sitting too long and move around. If you tend to stand for long periods, be sure to move around as often as possible, as well. The body thrives on movement, so make sure to move. Get with someone trained to help you work with core muscles. When lifting, keep your posture in play, and quit trying to prove yourself, as you will end up hurt. You’ll be safer if you warm up and use your leg muscles to lift. Carry less, distribute to both sides of the body and use common sense to save your back. Also, sleep with a pillow under your legs or between your knees to help relax your back muscles.
I woke up with a large knot in a muscle. What should I do? Should I seek medical attention?
Muscle knots are normally caused by overusing or injuring muscles, poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, dehydration, unhealthy eating habits, or stress and anxiety. First, rest the affected muscle, then try gentle stretching and hydrating. Apply a cool pack for 10 minutes, then heat for 15 minutes about three times per day. You may try rubbing creams in the affected area (there are many types of creams so ask if you are unsure which to use). I aways recommend seeking a massage therapist to work with you, especially if it’s a chronic condition. Good posture, rest, exercise, stretching and warm up all help keep your back strong, which may minimize the risk for back pain and knots.
Thom Davis is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Nutritionist at Feelin’ Great Wellness Center, 718 Mall Boulevard in Brunswick.