Monthly Archives: April 2015

Take 2 aspirin & call me in the morning doesn’t cut it with chronic pain

5 Realities of Living with Chronic Pain
by Stephanie Burke  spine-health.com

Living with chronic pain is challenging enough because of the obvious reason—the pain—but there are other factors that go along with this condition that make life even more difficult.

If you live with chronic pain, consider sharing this blog with your loved ones so they can better understand what your daily life is like.

Chronic pain may persist even after a condition, such as spinal stenosis, is addressed through surgery.

  1. Pain is rarely “all in your head.”

People in pain are often treated as if their pain is actually made up or greatly exaggerated. While it is true that pain is subjective (people simply perceive pain differently) and some people may report pain because they have other agendas, for the vast majority the pain is real and present. It is not made up. The problem is that chronic pain is often caused by anatomical problems that are difficult or impossible to diagnose using standard medical tests, and pain cannot be diagnosed like other medical problems (such as a broken bone that can be seen on an X-ray).

Fortunately, most in the medical community are now trying to understand and appreciate that chronic pain is real and needs to be treated and managed differently.

  1. Pain is not the only problem—it breeds other health problems.

Thoughts and emotions related to chronic pain also can both aggravate and alleviate the pain. For example, depression, which is a serious disease, can worsen the pain. Sleep problems, again caused by the pain, can also make the pain worse. And increased pain usually leads to increased sleep problems.

Often all conditions related to the pain need to be treated concurrently in order for the patient to get any relief.

 

  1. Pain is deeply personal.

Everyone experiences and expresses pain differently. Any two people with the exact same health condition are likely to feel and express their pain in unique ways depending on a number of factors. Newer chronic pain theories now have physiological explanations for how and why people experience pain differently.

When it comes to back pain, this is especially true. Two people can have the same type of herniated disc, but one feels only slight discomfort and the other feels intense burning pain that is unresponsive to conventional treatment. It is also not uncommon that no anatomical cause of the pain can be detected.

Why is this point important? It means that chronic pain often needs to be treated as the primary problem, which is different than the conventional medical approach of identifying and treating the underlying problem causing the pain.

  1. Chronic pain is its own beast.

Unlike acute pain, which functions as a warning signal (e.g. I just stepped on a nail—better move my foot!), chronic pain does not have any useful function. It just is.

Often, chronic pain is caused by nerves that continue to send pain signals to the brain. When dealing with chronic pain, one of the most frustrating things is that there is nothing to “fix.” It just exists in your body.

  1. Chronic pain is LONELY.

After awhile, many people with chronic pain—especially pain that is caused by a condition that cannot be seen—begin to feel isolated. Here the Internet has done a world of good helping people in pain connect with others in similar situations and find a supportive peer group through online communities of people in similar situations.

Having a clearer understanding of how chronic pain works, as well as the central role that the mind plays in the experience of chronic pain, is becoming more mainstream in the medical community. Patients who start to gain more understanding of their own chronic pain may also benefit in terms of gaining increased emotional support, more effective and sustainable pain management, and even possibly harnessing the power of their minds to assist in coping with the pain.

 

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Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions. Both of our offices are equipped with in-office  radiology departments. Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it is also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified and fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton office at 540-347-9220 or our Gainesville office at 703-743-2814.

Texters Beware!

Take note texters, your spine is suffering

You’re 18, ready to start college, play sports, make it big and prepare for spinal surgery. Wait, what? Spinal surgery? But I don’t have back pain or injury you say. Go ahead and blame that sometimes 60 degree angle of your neck is at while you are texting friends and family. Our bodies aren’t designed to keep that kind of stress on the neck and will eventually lead to degeneration.

“Your spine is at its happiest when your ears fall on the same plane as your shoulders, and your shoulder blades are retracted. Without these adjustments, you put added stress on your spine, Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, spinal & orthopaedic surgeon.

When you are texting, you are actually doing damage to yourself. Okay, once in a while isn’t going to hurt you, unless you’re driving at the same time, but consistent posture like this will do damage. It’s like carrying 60 pounds of extra weight on your spine. That’s a second grader on your back all the time! Nobody wants that. Normal usage would be about 700 – 1,400 hours of pressure and the worst offenders are looking at about 6,000 hours of that intense pressure on their spine per year. Here’s an idea of the pressure you put on yourself when you text and hold that position for a while.

Image Courtesy of http://www.thetimes.co.uk/

Image Courtesy of http://www.thetimes.co.uk/

Your resting pressure when you hold your head up straight is about the weight of your head, or 11 pounds. At 15 degrees tilted, it’s about 27 pounds, 30 degrees is about 40 pounds and by the time you hit a 45 degree angle, you are looking at 60 pounds of pressure on the spine.

That is a lot of pressure to be putting on your spine. However, it’s almost impossible to avoid today’s technologies so what do you do to help combat it?

Make an effort to limit the tilt. Okay, that can be easier said than done so here comes the Mom card. Do as your mom always told you and stand up straight. Good posture is so important on so many levels, don’t let it fall aside for a text. Keep your phone, or electronic device, away from waist level when looking at it to ease of off the pressure. “Look down with your eyes, no need to bend your head.” advises Hansraj

Here at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center, we offer complete comprehensive care for the whole family, including Physical Therapy, which is an invaluable resource to getting you back to your daily activities after an injury or surgery and will work with you to reverse the detrimental effects of repetitive daily activities like this.

 

BRO-Logo-color

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions. Both of our offices are equipped with in-office  radiology departments. Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it is also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified and fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton office at 540-347-9220 or our Gainesville office at 703-743-2814.