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On the Other Hand: Our Informational Blog

An ongoing series of topics related to Our Practice

Note:  This is not intended to be Medical Advice. Please seek medical care if you have any medical condition.

Low Back Pain

June 24, 2018

Low back pain (LBP) is a very common ailment.  In fact, over 80% of all adults will experience low back pain, during their lifetimes. It is a leading cause of disability and missed work days.

LBP can be classified as Acute (lasting a few days to a few weeks), Subacute (lasting 4 weeks to 12 weeks) or Chronic (Lasting greater than 12 weeks.) Most cases of LBP will heal on there own.  However about 20% of the Acute cases will develop into Chronic LBP.

There are many, many causes of LBP. Most of the time it is due to mechanical causes. Sprains and strains are a common cause.  Intervertebral disc degeneration (possibly leading to disc bulging or herniation) is also a frequent cause. Inflammation or compression on a spinal root (Radiculopathy) can lead to LBP or even Sciatica (a condition caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, which leads to pain in the buttock, knee and even the lower leg.) Spinal Stenosis (a condition caused by narrowing of the spine) is another cause.  In fact, any general degeneration of the spine (due to arthritis, aging or injuries) can cause LBP.  There are rare causes of LBP (infections, tumors, etc) as well.

Treatment of LBP can take on many forms. In general, the treatment is directed at the underlying cause.  Acute LBP is initially treated with conservative approaches. Contrary to popular belief, bed rest is not recommended, and may be harmful. So, returning to activity as soon as possible is often advised. Heat and/or cold packs can help with the discomfort, but will not change the underlying problem.  By the same token, pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help with the discomfort.  Many patients with LBP find relief with spinal manipulation.

Chronic LBP is more of a challenge to health care providers.  Surgical treatment is reserved for those cases where there is evidence of ongoing nerve damage. 


How can Therapeutic Massage Help?

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (part of the National Institutes of Health) reported on a study that showed positive benefits for chronic LBP from Massage Therapy. "Significantly greater improvements in disability and bothersomeness of symptoms were seen at 10 weeks in both massage groups compared to those who received usual care. For example, at 10 weeks massage recipients were better able to perform daily activities, were more active, spent fewer days in bed, and used less anti-inflammatory medication than those who received usual care."  From: "Massage Therapy Holds Promise for Low-Back Pain."

How can Medical Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of LBP for over 3000 years.  As he is a Medical Doctor, Dr. Fraley can also supplement the acupuncture treatments with other techniques, such as Trigger Point Injections, if needed.

Contact us, if you have questions about Low Back Pain and how we can help!

Repetitive Strain Injuries

January 20, 2018

Repetitive Strain Injuries have become common place in our modern society. What is a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)? RSI is a general term to describe pain and dysfunction in nerves, muscles and tendons caused by overuse or repetitive motion. Common RSIs include:  tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and many others. 

Scientists believe that it is often small damage (micro-injury) that occurs over and over again, leading to cumulative trauma. RSIs are frequently seen in situations where a motion is repeated often; such as in certain jobs, or recreational activities. For this reason, you will notice that some RSIs are named after sports or occupations. Vibrating equipment and cold environments contribute to the damage that leads to RSIs. Stress is also thought to be a complicating factor.

Common symptoms are:  aching or throbbing pain, tenderness, numbness or tingling (or even itching), weakness, cramping and stiffness.  The symptoms often come on gradually, and worsen over time.  The pain may, initially, only appear with movement of the area.  In later stages, the pain may appear for longer periods of time, or may even become constant. 

Treatment is usually focussed on correcting the situation that led to the problem.  For example, carpal tunnel syndrome is often associated with improper hand position while typing on a computer.  Correcting this may help.  However, it is not uncommon to need treatment to help the area heal.  Treatments have included medications (such as anti-inflammatory drugs), injections, physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic treatments, biofeedback, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and even surgery.

How can Therapeutic Massage Help?

Therapeutic Massage is used to help relax tight, restrictive muscles while breaking down scar tissue in injured muscles. It can reduce adhesions on tendons, and muscles.  Massage also increases overall blood flow and nutrient delivery to the associated tissues leading to healing and recovery.  

Therapeutic Massage works well when applied in association with changes in the situation that led to the original injury, and with other therapeutic modalities.

How can Medical Acupuncture Help?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes Acupuncture as a useful treatment for RSIs.  Acupuncture sends signals to our brain, which then directs the body to heal itself. Often Electro Acupuncture, where a mild electric current is delivered through the acupuncture needles, provides more dramatic results.  As he is a Medical Doctor, Dr. Fraley can also use a technique known as Ultra Low Dose Steroid Injections to help more resistant cases.

Contact us, if you have questions about RSIs and how we can help!