CERVICAL DISC PROTRUSION AND ARTHRITIS…

After the brilliant guest post from Neil Velleman on ‘All you need to know about a slipped discI found myself being diagnosed with yet another disc problem in my cervical spine.

For the last six months, I have been having constant pain going down my arm from my neck as well as pins and needles down to my little finger.  Initially, we thought it may have been my ulnar nerve again. I say ‘again’ as I had surgery last year for a trapped ulnar nerve which was a total success but they said it can come back even after surgery.

After a 2 hour consultation with a physiotherapist, it was decided that it could be one of two things. Either the ulnar nerve or a disc in my cervical spine so the first port of call was a nerve conduction test.

The nerve conduction test showed no problem with the ulnar nerve so I was then sent to have an MRI scan. Those results have shown that I have another disc bulge which is compressing a nerve and giving me the pins and needles and pain and it also showed that I have arthritis in that area.

Neil Velleman explained that ‘the spinal discs act as shock absorbers and through a variety of causes, including injury, poor posture and general “wear and tear” (meaning gradual deterioration), the walls of the disc can become weaker. If the centre of the disc pushes out, this can cause the disc wall to bulge and that can be when pain strikes!’

Mine is definitely in the ‘wear and tear’ category as I have had two previous surgeries on the C3/4 area of my spine which has meant the disc below it has had to do all the work. I have now been told I will need to see a consultant about the sort of treatment they can give me for the pain which could be IDD Therapy, Injections, Manual Therapy or Surgery.

Back in 1996 when I had my second surgery on the C3/4 discs they gave me traction first but IDD Therapy seems to have taken over from that method but I shall just have to wait and see what they suggest.

The worst pain is doing the simplest of things like cleaning my teeth or drying my hair so I am just hoping an appointment comes through sooner rather than later.

12 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA…

1. In the past, it has been called ‘Rheumatism’ and ‘Fibrositis’.

2. It is now firmly established that a central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction is primarily responsible for the increased pain and sensitivity of Fibromyalgia.

3. The tendency to develop Fibromyalgia Syndrome may be inherited. Many mothers with Fibromyalgia have children with it as well.

4. It is the central nervous system that is disturbed.

5. You cannot have Fibromyalgia only in your back or in your hands. You either have it all over or you don’t have it at all.

6. Fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusivity. You may have co-existing conditions, such as MS, arthritis, and/or myofascial pain, and still, have Fibromyalgia pain.

7. It is not a disease but a syndrome, which means a specific set of signs and symptoms that occur together. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and many other serious conditions are also classified as syndromes.

8. Fibromyalgia is not the same as chronic myofascial pain, there is no such a thing as a Fibromyalgia trigger point. Trigger points are part of myofascial pain and not Fibromyalgia.

9. Fibromyalgia is not the same as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.

10. Fibromyalgia is not just widespread pain or achy muscles.

11. Fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune condition.

12. Fibromyalgia can often be triggered off by an event that activates biochemical changes, causing a cascade of symptoms.

HOW YOUR FOOTWEAR MAY BE CAUSING YOUR BACK PAIN…

How your footwear may be causing your back pain is explained well in this article from Start Standing.

Have you ever wondered how your footwear may be affecting your body mechanics, possibly a culprit to your back pain frustrations?

You, of course, have a standing desk, exercise, take the stairs, and so on, all for a healthier, active lifestyle. But you may be proverbially shooting yourself in the foot with your footwear selection, pun specifically intended.

Each of our feet is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The foot is an engineering marvel made this way for a reason: to create and control movement.

Before concrete and flattened, man-made surfaces, our feet were constantly challenged by undulating surfaces keeping them strong, healthy, and functional. In the modern world, it’s not practical to walk around barefoot nor socially accepted in most places. However, modern doesn’t have to compromise natural.

Simply stated, when we cram our feet into tight and narrow footwear, we paralyze our feet from its natural movement, altering the way we function.

Reference the pictures below. When we toe off in our walk, the foot turns into a rigid lever to propel forward (left). When we step forward and land with the other foot into heel strike, the rigid lever then turns into a shock absorber by splaying outward to dissipate force (right).

When your footwear doesn’t allow this occur naturally, those ground ‘n pound forces are transmitted up to the knees, hips, and the low back.

Take a look at the footwear comparison below.

Notice how the shoes on the left have a wider toe box whereas the shoes on the right-side of the pictures have a steep and narrow toe box. The shoes on the left side allow the foot to do its job, where the shoes on the right side are holding the little piggies back. So, what can we do about it? You’ve come to right place.

1. Walk outside

Not to mention all the health benefits of being active, walk around the Earth in your bare feet to feel the ground below you. Squeeze the sand between your toes. Spread your toes in the grass and sink them into the sod. Don’t be surprised when your feet are sore from all those little muscles in your feet waking up, having to do some work!

2. Get yourself some barefoot shoes

To be fair, there aren’t a lot of options regarding stylish “bare” footwear (and not exactly the most affordable), and fashion is always changing. However, companies like VivobarefootTrue LinkswearMerrell, and Xero Shoes are making a push for form, function, and style.

If your feet are accustomed to the cushy, cosy shod-life, it’s important to test the waters before diving in. Your feet will need some time to get used to the new environment. Also, note barefoot shoes aren’t for everyone. For some individuals, orthotics or a specific type of supportive shoe may be your best bet.

3. Exercise your feet

The best thing you can do for your feet is to use them naturally. Although as mentioned, most of us have sheltered our feet in cushy shoes. A great way to wake up your feet and train them for functional activities and sport is self-mobilization of the foot followed by foot intrinsics exercises below.

Nestle your fingertips between your toes (don’t be surprised if you struggle with this!). Then, actively pull your foot and toes up toward your knee with your foot muscles, assisting with the hand. Next, do the opposite by pointing the foot and toes away from the knee. Repeat this cycle for about 10-20 repetitions to open up the foot.

4. Take your shoes off at work

Most people can get away with popping their shoes off when sitting at their desk, so why not when standing? Unless your employer has ridiculous rules against this or you have personal hygiene issues — which is a whole other problem in itself — let your puppies breathe while standing on your SmartCells Anti-Fatigue Mat.

If you’re inclined to exercise at your desk, try this simple single-leg balance exercise to strengthen your feet in conjunction with your entire leg and core, the way the body is meant to function — as a sum of its parts!

Conclusion

Curb your back, hip, knee, or foot pain frustrations by getting back to the basics of human movement by taking a minimalist approach to your footwear.

Published April 17, 2018 by Dr R.J. Burr 

on Start Standing. org

THE BEST PILLOW POSITIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH BACK PAIN…

If you adopt the best pillow positions for people with back pain you may find this really helps your sleep. Tuck Advanced Better Sleep says Individuals who experience back pain can adjust or reposition their pillows in order to alleviate their discomfort. According to Healthline, the following methods may be suitable for different sleepers:

  • Side sleeping with a pillow between the knees. You should ensure your body makes contact with the mattress between your shoulder and buttocks. The pillow should be placed in a position where it won’t slip out; this will help the hips and pelvis align with the spine, which can reduce pain and discomfort. If a gap forms between your side and the mattress, then a smaller pillow may be used to fill that space.
  • Fetal position with both knees tucked. To achieve this position, lie down on your back and then roll onto one side with both knees bent and tucked toward your chest. Bend your upper body toward the knees; this will help expand the spine and alleviate pressure on the disks. Be sure to rotate to the other side if you begin to experience discomfort.
  • Stomach sleeping with a pillow beneath the pelvis. Although stomach sleeping can exacerbate back pain symptoms, a pillow placed under the pelvis can relieve stress on the neck and back disks. Some sleepers in this position are more comfortable without a pillow beneath their head.
  • Back sleeping with a pillow beneath the knees. Lay flat on your back and place a pillow beneath both knees. This helps straighten out the spine and alleviates pressure points between the neck and hips. If you find this is insufficient, consider placing a rolled-up towel under your lower back.

 There are six standard sizes for pillows, as well as smaller specialty sizes normally associated with specific pillow types (such as orthopedic memory foam pillows). The following table breaks down the width and length dimensions of these seven sizes, as well as suitable pillowcase measurements.

PILLOW SIZE DIMENSIONS PILLOW CASE SIZE AND DIMENSIONS NOTES
Small 20W” x 12L” Specialty sizes Normally found with orthopedic/cervical pillows (see below)
Standard 20W” x 26L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L) The most common pillow size, as well as the most compact and usually the least expensive
Super Standard 20W” x 28L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L) Slightly longer than the Standard, but uses Standard-size pillowcases
Queen 20W” x 30L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L)

Queen (20-22W” x 30-34L”)

The second most common pillow size, and suitable for most people who toss and turn
King 20W” x 36L” King (20-21W” x 36-41″L) Good for people who toss and turn, and also makes good headrests and backrests
Euro 26W” x 26L”

24W” x 24L”

22W” x 22L”

20W” x 20L”

18W” x 18L”

16W” x 16L”

Euro (dimensions vary) The only standard pillow size that is square-shaped, and not normally used for primary sleeping pillows
Body Pillow 54W” x 20L”

48W” x 20L”

Body pillow (dimensions vary) The longest pillow size, mostly suitable for side sleepers and pregnant women

Pillow shape is also important for people with back pain. Although a wide selection of pillow shapes are available, pillows generally fall into one of these two categories:

  • Even: These pillows have an even, non-contoured surface. They may not be as suitable for sleepers with back pain, but pillows made from certain materials (such as shredded memory foam or feathers) conform beneath the head and neck for targeted pain and pressure relief.
  • Curved: Also known as cervical or orthopedic pillows, curved pillows are usually made from foam and have a contoured surface. The neck is raised with the area for the head dips down, which can provide better support for people with neck pain — but some sleepers claim that these pillows are more comfortable when they are placed upside down on the mattress.

Lastly, let’s discuss pillow loft, a term that refers to how thick a pillow is when not bearing weight. Specific loft measurements vary by model, but there are three general loft categories:

  • Low-loft: Less than three inches thick.
  • Medium-loft: Three to five inches thick.
  • High-loft: More than five inches thick.

The loft will help determine how supportive and comfortable the pillow feels, and whether it is suitable for people with back pain. However, there are several factors to take into account when selecting a pillow based on loft. These include:

Sleep position: Choosing the right pillow based on loft depends on whether the sleeper prefers the back, side, or stomach position.

  • Back-sleepers are usually most comfortable with medium-loft pillows because they find the right balance between thickness and softness.
  • Side-sleepers often prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because this position can cause large gaps to form between their head/neck and the pillow.
  • Stomach-sleepers tend to prefer low-loft pillows because higher-loft models elevate the neck too much, causing the spine to become uneven; this can lead to aches and pains throughout the body. Some stomach sleepers find that not using a pillow at all is most comfortable.

Pillow position: People who sleep with a pillow completely beneath often prefer medium-loft pillows because there is less space. For those who sleep with a pillow partially beneath their head, then a medium- or high-loft pillow may be needed to fill the larger gap.

Mattress type: Certain mattresses, such as all-foam and latex models, are designed to sink deeply beneath the sleeper’s body. A low-loft pillow may be most suitable for these mattresses because there is less space between the neck and the mattress surface. Other mattresses, such as innersprings and hybrids, are less responsive and will not sink as much. A medium- or high-loft pillow can help fill the extra space and provide more support.

Body weight: People with above-average weights (more than 230 pounds) may sink deeper into their mattress than lighter individuals, and thus prefer a low- or medium-loft pillow that won’t elevate their heads too much. People with below-average weights (less than 130 pounds) may prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because they don’t sink as much.

Head size: People with larger-than-average heads are more likely to feel comfortable on a high-loft pillow that won’t sink too deeply. Low- or medium-loft pillows may be the best option for those with small or average-size heads

Shoulder width: People with wider shoulder spans experience larger gaps between their head/neck and their pillow, and may need a higher-loft pillow to compensate for space. Those with narrower shoulders usually feel more comfortable with low- or medium-loft pillows.

It’s important to note that many pillows offer adjustable loft. The owner simply unzips the pillow cover and adds or removes the fill material to increase or decrease the loft. Adjustable-loft pillows may be the best option for people whose loft preferences tend to vary from night tonight.

Best Pillow Materials for People with Back Pain

Pillows come in a wide selection of fill materials, each with unique benefits and drawbacks for sleepers with back pain. The table below lists pros, cons, and back pain ratings for the seven most common pillow materials.

PILLOW MATERIAL DESCRIPTION PROS CONS NECK PAIN RATING
Buckwheat The pillows are filled with five to 10 pounds of buckwheat hulls, or outer shells Adjustable loft

Sleeps cool

Good support

High price

Too firm for some

Heavy and difficult to move

Good

Buckwheat pillows offer adjustable loft and sleep fairly cool, but many people with back pain find they are too firm

Down The pillows contain the soft inner plumage of ducks or geese, and may also be padded with outer feathers Adjustable loft

Lightweight

Sleeps cool

High price

Flatten easily

Too soft for some

Fair
Most down pillows are not suitable for sleepers with back pain because they are excessively soft and will lose their shape quickly
Down Alternative The pillows are filled with polyester fibers that mimic the softness of real down Adjustable loft

Lightweight

Low price

Short lifespan

Flatten easily

Too soft for some

Poor

Most sleepers with back pain do not feel comfortable on down alternative pillows because they are too soft and will become flat rather quickly

Feather Pillows are filled with outer feathers of ducks or geese (as opposed to down, or inner plumage) Adjustable loft

Lightweight

Long lifespan

High cost

Flatten easily

Very Good

Feather pillows tend to be firmer than down pillows, making them more suitable for people with back pain

Latex Pillows contain solid latex, a substance extracted from the sap of rubber trees Close conforming

Long lifespan

Retain full shape without flattening

Non-adjustable loft

High cost

Dense and heavy

Good

Latex pillows offer even support, but the loft is not adjustable

Memory Foam Pillows may contain shredded or solid pieces of memory foam, which softens when it comes into contact with body heat Close conforming

Adjustable loft if shredded

Lightweight

High cost

Sleeps hot

Very Good

Memory foam pillows conform closely and alleviate a high amount of pressure; most orthopedic pillows are made from memory foam

Polyester Pillows contain shredded polyfoam, which has a similar feel to memory foam, or interlocking polyester fibers that give the pillow a fuller shape Low cost

Adjustable loft when shredded

Short lifespan

Flattens easily

Sleeps hot

Good

Memory foam pillows provide more pain and pressure relief, but polyfoam pillows can be a low-cost alternative for people with back pain

Additionally, some pillows contain interior water chambers that can be filled or drained to adjust the loft. The chambers are usually padded with foam to make the pillow more comfortable. Many sleepers with back pain claim that water chamber pillows alleviate pain and pressure to a noticeable extent.