General Pain and Other Conditions: Causes and Treatments
Many diseases or general conditions can contribute to pain throughout areas of the body. Whether you’re dealing with a chronic condition or a sports injury, zeroing in on a specific pain or a range of motion issue can help find a solution that leaves you with better quality of life and mobility.
Check out some of the general conditions and treatments offered at Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine below.
What Are Sprains and Strains?
Sprains and strains aren’t the same thing. Sprain refers to an injury involving a ligament that has been overstretched or torn. Strains are the same thing except with muscle tendons. As far as the result, the symptoms are the same: swelling, pain, tenderness and trouble moving the impacted area or bearing weight on it.
How Common Are Strains and Sprains?
Sprains and strains are very common and can occur any place where there are ligaments or tendons in the body. Common places where these injuries can occur include ankles, knees, shoulders, parts of the hand, wrists and the back.
Sprains most commonly occur in the spine, knee and ankle. Strains most commonly occur in the lower back or the leg’s hamstring muscles.
Common Treatments for Sprains and Strains
Minor strains and sprains are often treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation. Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to reduce feelings of pain and inflammation that can lead to swelling. If sprains and strains are more serious or keep occurring , they may require physical therapy or sports rehab to help strengthen the area and maintain range of motion. In extreme cases, surgery may be recommended — especially if the ligament or tendon has torn completely.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that can cause inflammation, change the shape of the affected bones and break down the connective tissue on the surface of the joints (cartilage). It most often occurs in the lower back, hands, hips, neck and knees, but it can affect any joint in the body. Risk factors for this disease include obesity, weak muscles, a family history of osteoarthritis and previous joint injuries. Osteoarthritis may also develop in people who perform repetitive movements, such as athletes or office workers who spend much of their time typing.
The most common symptoms of arthritis include pain, redness, swelling and stiffness in the affected joints. Over time, these symptoms may reduce joint flexibility, resulting in a limited range of motion.
How Common Is Osteoarthritis?
Between 2013 and 2015, 22.7% of American adults (54.4 million) had some form of arthritis diagnosed by a doctor, according to the CDC. More than 32.5 million adults have osteoarthritis.
Common Treatments for Osteoarthritis
Over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes are the most conservative treatments for osteoarthritis. For people who prefer oral medications, acetaminophen and ibuprofen may relieve pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis can also be treated with creams or ointments known as counterirritants. These products typically contain capsaicin or menthol, both of which can interfere with the pain signals produced by arthritic joints. Losing weight, performing weight-bearing exercises and reducing stress can also help with OA symptoms.
If symptoms don’t improve with conservative treatment (ie physical therapy, joint manipulation or acupuncture), a doctor may recommend prescription medications or surgery. Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids, reduce inflammation, while others relieve severe pain caused by OA. Surgical options include joint fusion, joint repair and joint replacement, all of which aim to improve joint function and reduce pain.
What Is Sports Rehabilitation?
The human body is designed to move. However, sometimes the overuse and/or misuse of joints and muscles during sporting activities can lead to injuries. Treatment for sports injuries varies depending on the severity and type of problem. But one thing remains constant — a period of rehabilitation is necessary to ease back into the sport.
Sports rehabilitation helps the athlete recover the use of the injured muscle or joint. It usually involves several aspects of patient care, including regaining range of motion, strength building and pain management. It also helps the athlete gain confidence in their physical ability. Sports rehabilitation goals should change to meet the different phases of therapy. For example, in the beginning, pain and inflammation control may be the most important factor, while later, the focus might be on balance, flexibility and strength.
How Common Is Sports Rehabilitation?
Sports rehabilitation is essential for any injured athlete that wishes to fully participate in their chosen sport again. Doctors, trainers and coaches typically work together to ensure the athlete’s training needs are covered. The length of rehabilitation will vary depending on the type of injury and the response to treatment. Beginning treatments and exercises may last only a few minutes, while more time is typically needed farther along in the recovery process.
Common Reasons for Sports Rehabilitation
Athletes who require orthopedic surgery can benefit from a custom physical therapy and post-surgical rehabilitation program. Complementary therapies include acupuncture, cold laser treatment and pain management. Less severe injuries may be managed with physical or chiropractic therapy following a short period of rest and support.
What Is Pregnancy-Related Pain?
Pregnancy-related pain refers to any type of pain experienced during pregnancy that isn’t something related to a previous condition. Pregnancy pain can be caused by changes to the structure of a woman’s body as she carries a child, including weight gain and bloating. It can also be caused by other factors, including changing hormone levels.
How Common Is Pregnancy-Related Pain?
Pregnancy-related pain is very common. It’s estimated that around 50% of pregnant women will experience low back pain, for example. Another common pain is called pelvic girdle pain, and roughly 20% of pregnant women may deal with it.
Common Treatments for Pregnancy-Related Pain
Pain during pregnancy may be treated by a variety of options, including applying ice or heat to various areas, getting rest, using a brace to reduce the burden of a pregnant belly and over-the-counter pain medications. Chiropractic care may be viable option for the pregnant mom, and the same is true for acupuncture. Many obstetricians support chiropractic care during the 3rd trimester to maintain good posture and joint strength as a mother prepares for labor.
What Is RSD?
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a term used to describe the symptoms caused by complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). People with CRPS experience intense pain, swelling, stiffness and discoloration of the affected area. CRPS usually occurs in the hand, but it can also affect the feet, legs or arms.
CRPS Type 1 develops after an illness or injury that didn’t cause direct nerve damage in the affected area, while Type 2 develops after an illness or injury resulting in a direct nerve injury. Although they have different causes, both types of CRPS progress through acute, dystrophic and atrophic stages. Symptoms start during the acute stage, causing intense burning pain in the affected area. Once the pain sets in, redness, swelling and joint stiffness may also occur.
The dystrophic stage is characterized by chronic swelling, brittle nails, reduced skin temperature and increased sensitivity. During the atrophic stage, the affected area becomes pale and dry. The skin also stretches, causing it to become shiny. RSD may be caused by fractures, sprains and strains, surgery, penetration injuries and long periods of immobility.
How Common Is RSD?
RSD affects approximately 200,000 Americans each year. It’s especially common in people of European descent.
Common Treatments for RSD
Some of the most common treatments for RSD include physical therapy, psychotherapy and medications. Physical therapy keeps the affected body part moving, which improves circulation and may help relieve pain caused by RSD. Some people with RSD receive psychotherapy to help with depression and other conditions that can affect their perception of pain. Medications are used to relieve pain or prevent a person with RSD from experiencing pain in the affected area. Nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation and implantable drug pumps may also be used to treat RSD.
What Is Balance Dysfunction?
Balance dysfunction occurs when a person is unable to control and maintain their body position when sitting, standing or lying down. Dizziness, lightheadedness and faintness are primary symptoms of balance dysfunction. A person with balance dysfunction may stagger when trying to walk, and they may fall. Vision may become blurred, and the person may feel confused and disoriented. They may have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, and changes may occur in heart rate and blood pressure. Feelings of anxiety, panic or fear may surface. Balance dysfunction episodes may be brief, or they may persist for longer time periods.
How Common Is Balance Dysfunction?
Approximately 15% of Americans experience balance dysfunction each year. While balance problems are more common in older people, they can strike people of any age.
Medications and inner ear problems frequently cause balance dysfunction. Head injuries, tumors, viruses, nerve damage in the legs and joint or muscle problems may also contribute to problems with balance. Other possible causes of balance issues include vision problems, neurological or psychological disorders and hyperventilation.
Common Treatments for Balance Dysfunction
Treatment for balance dysfunction varies depending on the cause. Addressing an underlying condition, including making dietary or medication changes or surgically removing a tumor, may restore normal balance. For those with balance problems related to low blood pressure, drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and using cautious body movements, such as rising to a standing position slowly, may be helpful. For other people, anti-vertigo and anti-nausea medications may work.
To help people cope with ongoing balance dysfunction, therapists can suggest exercises to improve balance and techniques to compensate for balance issues. They may also recommend wearing low-heeled shoes, using a cane or walker and installing handrails in the home to help prevent falls.
What Is Dizziness?
Dizziness includes any feelings of lightheadedness, disorientation and wooziness, and it is considered a symptom — not an illness or injury on its own. Plenty of things can cause dizziness, including head injuries, migraine headaches, dehydration, certain medications, drops in blood pressure, panic attacks, ear infections and disorders of the vestibular system. Vertigo, a sense of the world spinning around you, is a related symptom that often coincides with dizziness.
How Common Is Dizziness?
Many people experience dizziness occasionally, and around 40 percent of American adults have had vertigo at some point in their lives. Dizziness may be more likely to occur in people with frequent migraines, neurological conditions such as brain tumors, heart arrhythmias and diabetes. Older individuals may be more susceptible to dizziness, particularly if they develop balance problems or take medication more frequently as they age.
Common Treatments for Dizziness
The first step to treating dizziness is to determine the underlying cause. Treatment for dizziness caused by migraines may include medication and dietary changes to prevent the migraines from occurring. An ear infection that causes dizziness might be treated with antibiotics. In some cases, dizziness caused by vestibular problems may be relieved using physical exercises that reposition the tiny crystals inside the ear. Others may require medicine or corrective surgery.
What Is Deconditioning?
When a person is inactive for a period of time, certain changes take place in the heart, lungs and muscles, making it more difficult for them to function normally. This is known as deconditioning.
Muscle size and strength may be diminished, possibly leading to balance problems linked to falls. Lung capacity and heart health may be affected, resulting in weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath when a person undertakes activities requiring minimal exertion. The heartbeat may be accelerated, and in severe cases, the person may have difficulty completing daily activities and caring for themselves.
How Common Is Deconditioning?
Deconditioning occurs to some degree after a few days of inactivity. The longer the period of inactivity, the greater the degree of deconditioning. Older adults, people hospitalized on bed rest and those with an injury or condition that limits movement or activity are more likely to experience deconditioning. Obesity and poor nutrition are other factors that increase the risk that deconditioning occurs.
Common Treatments for Deconditioning
To treat deconditioning, a doctor or physical therapist may design an exercise program that involves aerobic and strength training. The exercise program starts with a few light exercises, and as the person’s strength and endurance improve, more exercises and extra repetitions are added to the regimen until the person is able to return to their previous lifestyle and successfully carry out their daily activities.
Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet and remaining well hydrated are also critical when recovering from deconditioning. Following a healthy lifestyle that includes abstaining from tobacco is helpful as well.
What Is Muscle Weakness?
When someone has muscle weakness, their muscles don’t contract normally even when they exert what feels like a big or full effort. That can make it harder to make certain movements, carry or pick up things, or even walk or get up from a chair — depending on where the muscle weakness is.
Muscle weakness can have numerous causes. Underlying conditions, such as neuromuscular disorders, can be the cause. An injury to the muscle or areas around the muscle can also lead to perceived muscle weakness. If someone is unconditioned, which means they haven’t exercised those muscles in a while, the muscles may also be weaker than normal.
How Common Is Muscle Weakness?
Muscle weakness is common when related to another condition. It is almost always a symptom of some other issue.
Common Treatments for Muscle Weakness
Typically, the treatment for muscle weakness is discovering the root problem and treating it. Options might include medication, surgery, physical therapy, appropriate exercise or even chiropractic adjustments, all depending on what the cause of the weakness is.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes sleep problems, fatigue and widespread pain and tenderness. People with fibromyalgia typically report having intermittent pain, or pain that comes and goes. The pain may also move around to different parts of the body. In addition to fatigue and pain, fibromyalgia can cause:
- Tension headaches
- Digestive problems
- TMJ, which causes jaw pain and ringing in the ears
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, although the nervous system may be involved. In many people with the condition, an injury or illness seems to trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, changing the way the body communicates with the central nervous system. Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia may even occur due to changes in the amounts of chemicals or proteins in the brain.
How Common Is Fibromyalgia?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fibromyalgia affects about 2% of the United States’ adult population, which accounts for approximately 4 million people. The condition is more common in women, and it’s also more likely to develop in middle-aged adults than in younger adults. People with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus have a heightened risk of developing fibromyalgia.
Common Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is typically treated with medications and lifestyle changes. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs may be used to reduce pain, while getting more exercise can help relieve the symptoms of this condition by strengthening the muscles and increasing flexibility. Because fibromyalgia symptoms can worsen under high levels of stress, some people benefit from massage, yoga and other techniques for reducing stress and inducing relaxation.
Good sleep hygiene, which promotes high-quality sleep, can also help relieve fatigue caused by fibromyalgia. Creating a relaxing environment, getting up at the same time each day and following a nightly routine can all improve sleep quality.
What Is Post-Op Rehab?
Post-op rehab refers to the entire process of bringing your body back to full functionality (or as full functionality as possible) after a surgery. Aspects of post-op rehab might include physical therapy, occupational therapy, medication and other regimes to help your joints and muscles become stronger and more able to function.
How Common Is Post-Op Rehab?
Most people do some sort of post-of rehab, though if surgeries were minor or people were in good health to begin with, they may do unofficial rehab at home. Official post-op rehab with assistance from medical providers is also very common.
Common Reasons for Post-Op Rehab
Post-op rehab with the help of clinicians might be prescribed in cases where surgeries are especially difficult or impact functions associated with muscles or joints. For example, if an operation necessitates cutting through muscle, post-op rehab may be required to help rebuild those muscles. It may also be a good idea when underlying conditions prior to a surgery, such as an injury or disease, limit someone’s range of motion or strength.
What Are Migraines?
Migraines are headaches that cause a pulsing or throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. These headaches are recurring, which means they occur repeatedly over a period of time. In addition to pulsing or throbbing pain, migraines can cause weakness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and/or noise.
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of migraines, but many triggers have been identified. People may experience migraine headaches when exposed to strong smells, flashing lights, loud noises, caffeine or tobacco. Stress, poor sleep habits, sudden environmental changes and too much physical activity have also been known to trigger this type of headache.
Migraines occur in four distinct phases, but not everyone with this condition experiences all four. The prodrome phase starts about 24 hours before a migraine begins, causing mood changes, food cravings and other symptoms. People who experience the second phase, known as aura, report seeing zig-zag lines or bright lights in their vision. The third phrase is when the headache sets in. Many people experience nausea, increased sensitivity to light and an aversion to strong smells during this phase. The postdrome phase causes confusion, weakness and exhaustion for up to 24 hours after a migraine.
How Common Are Migraines?
In the United States, migraines affect 39 million adults and children.
Common Treatments for Migraines
Some medications are used to prevent migraines or lessen the severity of migraines when they do occur. These medications include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, Botox injections and anti-seizure drugs. Other medications are used to treat migraine symptoms after an attack has already started. These medications include triptans, pain relievers and anti-nausea medications. Reducing stress, drinking plenty of fluids, following a sleep routine and exercising regularly may also help prevent migraines or make them more manageable.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when the head is violently snapped back and forth rapidly, causing possible injury to the neck muscles, ligaments, discs, nerve roots and intervertebral joints. Symptoms may be present immediately following the accident, or their onset may be delayed for about 24 hours. They include:
- Neck pain and stiffness that worsen with movement
- Reduced range of motion of the neck
- Pain, tingling and/or numbness in the shoulders, upper arms or back
- Fatigue and dizziness
Some people also develop blurred vision, tinnitus, memory and concentration problems and disturbed sleep.
How Common Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a common injury sustained by people involved in rear-end vehicular collisions. Less typical causes of whiplash include falls, abuse and trauma sustained while playing sports, especially contact sports such as football. Women, older people, those with existing back issues or who previously had whiplash, and people involved in accidents involving high speeds tend to have a worse prognosis.
Common Treatments for Whiplash
The treatment plan depends on the extent of the injury. Less-serious whiplash injuries typically respond to rest and pain control using applications of cold or heat, over-the-counter pain medications or a cervical collar. If additional pain-relief measures are necessary, a doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants. They may also inject numbing agents to help mitigate the pain.
Gentle stretching and movement exercises may help restore range of motion. A doctor may provide instructions, or they may refer the person to a chiropractor. Some people find alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga to be beneficial in alleviating pain and restoring normal range of motion.
Most people with whiplash fully recover within three months, but some experience chronic pain and other symptoms for years.
Make an Appointment Today
If you’re looking for relief from pain or an issue with moving certain joints, we can help. Contact us today to make an appointment. Our experienced and caring teams can help you figure out whether chiropractic care, physical therapy, joint injections or another treatment option might be right for you.