THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACK PAIN…

1. Acute Pain

Acute Pain is a pain that lasts less than 3 to 6 months, or pain directly related to tissue damage. This is the type of pain caused by a paper cut or needle prick. Other examples of acute pain are like labour pains, the pain is acute and identifiable.

Acute low back pain is defined as a pain present for up to six weeks. It could feel like an aching, stabbing, burning, or dull pain. The actual intensity of this type of low back pain could range from mild to severe and could fluctuate or move to other areas of your body like your hip or thigh area.

2. Chronic Pain

Chronic pain describes pain that lasts more than three to six months, or beyond the point of tissue healing. Chronic pain is usually less directly related to identifiable tissue damage and structural problems. Chronic back pain without a clearly determined cause, failed back surgery syndrome (continued pain after the surgery has completely healed), and fibromyalgia are all examples of chronic pain. Chronic pain is much less well understood than acute pain.

Chronic pain can take many forms, but is often described as a pain with an identifiable cause, such as an injury. Certain structural spine conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis, can cause ongoing pain until they are successfully treated.

3. Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain could be placed in the chronic pain category, but it has a different feel than chronic musculoskeletal pain. The pain is often described as severe, sharp, lightning-like, stabbing, burning, or cold. The individual may also experience ongoing numbness, tingling, or weakness. Pain may be felt along the nerve path from the spine down to the arms/hands or legs/feet.

It is thought that the pain is caused by damage or disease affecting the somatosensory nervous system. Neuropathic pain may be associated with abnormal sensations called dysesthesia or pain from normally non-painful stimuli (allodynia). It may have continuous and/or episodic (paroxysmal) components.

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FIBROMYALGIA FLARES – WE ALL HAVE THEM…

Fibromyalgia flares are something most Fibromyalgia sufferers go through and is a dreaded part of Fibro. They can make your life very miserable.

One thing I found helped me with a flare-up was by writing it in my diary when it happened and what I did to help with it and if it helped.

I also have a list of all the things I enjoy that take me away from my pain like one of my hobbies (making cards) and baking but maybe for you it’s Tai Chi or Yoga that helps. Just knowing something that works will help get through the flare-up.

Make a note in your diary of a particular treatment that helped or a medication or piece of equipment like a tens machine that helped.

Knowing that there is something you can do, use or otherwise for your flare-up, will get you through the worst days and back to controlling it as you normally do.

TREATING ACUTE PAIN BEFORE IT TURNS INTO CHRONIC PAIN…

Although acute back pain can be frustrating to live with, they say that you should try to remain as positive as possible. Research has shown that people with a positive mental attitude tend to have quicker recovery times and are much less likely to progress from acute to chronic back pain.

For acute back pain, they say you should remain as active as possible. If you find it too painful to return to your normal daily activities immediately, pace yourself and aim to do a little more each day.

Going back to work can help you to return to a normal pattern of activity, and it can often distract you from your symptoms of pain so don’t wait until all the pain has gone before you go back.

People with back pain find that using either hot or cold compression packs helps to reduce pain. Personally, I prefer heat rather than ice.

Placing a small firm cushion beneath your knees when you are sleeping on your side, or using several firm pillows to prop up your knees when lying on your back, may also help to ease your symptoms.

If the symptoms persist then go and see your GP or a professional chiropractor or physiotherapist.

MYOFASCIAL PAIN -v- DISC PAIN…

As most of my readers know I suffer from chronic back pain after four previous spinal fusion surgeries only alleviated the pain for a matter of years before it came back.

Nowadays spinal fusion is not used as the first choice for prolapsed discs with pain management being the first treatment and only if nerves are compressed is it used as another option.

The problem with spinal fusion especially if you have more than one surgery is the pressure it puts on the disc below and above your fusion.

Another condition which you can also suffer from after any type of surgery is Myofascial Pain Syndrome which is a chronic painful muscle disorder and is common if you have experienced a muscle injury. Over time these myofascial restrictions can lead to poor biomechanics, altered structural alignment, compromised blood supply and pain. Other causes of myofascial pain are injuries to an intervertebral disc, general fatigue, repetitive motions, and some medical conditions.

It is characterised by the myofascial trigger points and the symptoms include persistent or worsening pain, deep and aching muscle pain, tender knots located in the muscles and pain after exercise or sporting activity.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is the name given to pain caused by trigger points and fascia (connective tissue) adhesions in the body, usually in muscle tissue, and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.

Myo = muscle
Fascia = the main connective tissue in the body
Release = to let go, ease pressure

Treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, pain killers, physical therapy, stretching, massage therapy and trigger point injections.

A trigger point injection is either a cortisone injection or dry needling. Pain relief is quick and helps in continuing physical therapy. Trigger point injections can also be used for people suffering from degenerative disc disease.

Understanding the cause of your pain is an important step to finding an effective solution. It may involve a series of sessions and an at home program to keep the area strong.

Disc pain can come from a disc bulge or prolapse but you can also get myofascial pain which could be treated conservatively instead of surgery. Fibromyalgia patients can also suffer from myofascial pain. According to history, Sir William Gowers introduced the term fibrositis for a common, but idiopathic, localized form of muscular rheumatism that is now recognised as myofascial pain syndrome in 1904. And, despite the intervening years, it still constitutes the largest group of unrecognised and undertreated acute and chronic pain problems. Some people (like myself) have also been told they could have Fibromyalgia, previously named ‘fibrositis’.

My neck and arm pain have been giving me a lot of problems since last summer and after extensive tests, MRI’s, ct scans and more it was decided that a nerve block would help with the pain. There is never any guarantee with any injection but they hope to give the patient a few months of pain relief.

Nerve block injections into your neck for a disc bulge can be quite dangerous as they are quite tricky to do and they go through the front of your neck. I had this injection about six weeks ago. It’s not a very nice injection (if any are) but I knew the pain consultant had hit the spot and soon felt total relief. Unfortunately, it was short lived and only gave me pain relief for a few weeks. Not all the pain has come back but most of it as did the pins and needles.

I then had another appointment at the pain clinic and after looking at my MRI’s etc I was given a quick check where my pain consultant felt that the pain I now have could well be myofascial and not from the bulging disc so he has booked me in for a series of steroid injections in my shoulders.

I guess with any spinal pain after you have had all the tests it’s then worth trying alternative treatments well before you resort to surgery which is something I have always said I would avoid having.

 

ACUPUNCTURE THE LATEST TREATMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA…

The theory and practice of acupuncture originated in China. It was first mentioned and recorded in documents dating a few hundred years before the Common Era. Earlier instead of needles sharpened stones and long sharp bones were used around 6000 BCE for acupuncture treatment.

The word “acupuncture” means “needle piercing”. It is a traditional Chinese medical treatment using very fine needles, which are inserted into the skin at any of the 800 specially-designated points. It originated from a Dutch physician, William Ten Rhyne, who had been living in Japan during the latter part of the 17th century and it was he who introduced it to Europe.

A study conducted at Sheffield University in the UK looked at the long-term symptom reduction and economic benefits of acupuncture for persistent pain, An average of 8 acupuncture treatments was given to 159 people, while 80 received usual care instead.

After one year, people receiving acupuncture had reduced pain and reported significant reduction in worry about their pain compared to the usual care group. After two years, the acupuncture group was significantly more likely to report that the past year had been pain free. They were less likely to use medication for pain.

A scientific explanation is that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving opioids, sends signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, and releases neurochemicals and hormones.

Dove Press wrote that ‘A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials’, showed that ‘Acupuncture therapy is an effective and safe treatment for patients with FM, and this treatment can be recommended for the management of FM.’

Without balance in our bodies, there are many health-related problems we can encounter and having an Acupuncture treatment can help to restore your body systems to the right balance. They are quite often referred to as Yin (which is negative) and Yang (which is positive).

The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist’s explains how Acupuncture works. The acupuncture needle will stimulate the flow of QI [pronounced ‘chee’], which circulates in channels or meridians within the body. The QI circulates within the deeper organs of the body but connects to the superficial skin. In the state of a normal healthy body, a balance exists between these systems. Both the superficial energy and the deeper energy can be influenced by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. If injury, disease, emotional trauma or infection occurs, the natural flow of QI within the meridians and organs may well be affected and the result is an altered flow, either a slowing or stagnation of QI causing pain and inflammation, or a deficit of QI, which may cause weakness, exhaustion and longer debilitating disease. The stimulation of relevant acupuncture points may free stagnation, reduce excess or indeed, increase QI to the specific area or organ and thus help to restore normal QI flow and balance.