Being proactive about your health means caring for your body before it breaks down.
Pain is all too common in a large portion of the population. However, what is causing that pain and daily choices can not only reduce the severity and frequency, but it can also prevent the pain from occurring. In this blog, we will discuss:
• What are common causes of pain in the general population?
• What are some common “cop-out” treatments?
• What are types of preventative treatments?
• How our providers at IHS help you be proactive, rather than reactive.
1. What are common causes of pain in the general population?
The most common causes of pain in the general population are back pain and headaches. When left untreated, chronic pain can ensue.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts months to years and affects activities of daily living. This leads to increased stress and can result in depression due to loss of quality of life.
According to statistics from the CDC, our culture is a very sedentary, inactive culture. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults do not engage in the recommended amount of activity. Approximately 25 percent of U.S. adults are not active at all. “Too many adults are inactive, and they may not know how much it affects their health,” said Ruth Petersen, MD, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Being physically active helps you sleep better, feel better and reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.”
Increasing activity, however, has many benefits. Activity reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes. It can also help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension. It helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints for longevity and ability to maintain moving throughout the aging process. It reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and fosters improvements in mood and feelings of well-being. As most know, it helps control weight, develop lean muscle, and reduce body fat, all of which promote more comfortable, pain free movement.
Due to the pandemic, as well as our sedentary culture in general, lack of movement is a major cause of back pain and headaches. While the culture has shifted to a work-from-home (WFH) lifestyle, the increase in back and neck pain has been noticed in the past few years and this pattern seems to continue.
While this blog typically focuses on athletic injuries or, the same types of tissue dysfunction can appear from lack of movement as well. Here are some common injuries, and how they can be caused by not taking initiative and being proactive about health. Sedentary lifestyles lead to muscle imbalances causing compensations to be made, and injuries result.
The most common cause of low back pain we see is a sprain/strain situation. It is common for patients to report “I don’t know what happened, I just picked up my shoe and my back went out now I cannot move without severe pain.”
A seated posture leads to two common forms of dysfunction: Upper Crossed Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome. With both versions, certain muscles become tight, and certain muscles become weak. With either instance, pain ensues, as your body’s way of saying something is wrong here. After time, tight muscles will stop functioning due to already feeling overused. The weak muscles will continue to weaken and cause other muscles to compensate. Compensatory patterns stress the body and lead to overuse. Those overused muscles are what tend to be the pain generator with subtle movements, due to constant overuse each day.
Notice how the above picture, demonstrating both Upper Crossed Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome, is very similar in appearance to the posture that develops from a sedentary lifestyle.
To further explain, imagine doing 100 bicep curls. You will probably be sore but can still use your bicep. Now imagine doing bicep curls for 8 hours straight everyday, eventually injury will ensue because that constant, repetitive movement has lead to overuse resulting in pain.
Sedentary lifestyle can also cause headaches and migraines. Mentioned earlier as well, sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased stress and depression, which also leads to headaches from stress management situations such as clenching the jaw, medication usage, lack of sleep, the list goes on and on.
While we acknowledge many causes of headaches outside of the musculoskeletal world, there are also causes related to muscle tissue that are often overlooked.
If you look at the anatomy of the neck, there are many muscles
related to the jaw in particular that get contracted when clenching
from stress. There are also muscles behind the base of your skull,
facially connected to the jaw muscles. BONUS: these muscle at
the base of your skull get tight with upper crossed syndrome. So
let’s say you clench, you work from a desk, and you lack
movement. By clenching, you overuse the suboccipitals and jaw
muscles. By sitting at a desk, you likely develop upper crossed
syndrome, leading to neck instability, anterior head carriage, and
neck stiffness as a result. Lacking movement means the tissues
don’t get blood flow which means they cannot get the nutrients
they need for healing. Long story short, tension ensues and refers pain causing a headache.
2. What are some common “cop-out” treatments?
While ice helps momentarily reduce pain, it constricts blood vessels. By restricting blood vessels, blood flow is restricted. Blood flow is what is needed for tissue healing, therefore, lacking it leads to delayed healing.
Similar to ice, medication and anti-inflammatories typically temporarily relieve pain. Medication does not address the cause of pain. Let’s say you are sitting on the couch watching a series and get a headache, you pop a few anti-inflammatories then press “next episode.” Well, sitting at work, followed by sitting on the couch, results in the syndromes mentioned above. Masking the pain with medication just allows you to further progress these syndromes by continuing to do thee same activities. Your body giving you pain on episode 5 means that your body is craving a change, that change likely being movement.
In a study assessing self-reported medication side effects, it showed that patients become dependent on medication and the “need” for medication. “We found that pain intensity, negative affect, and perceived medication side effects all emerged as having significant unique influences on pain-related activity interference, suggesting that these variables might represent additive risk factors for poor functional outcomes in patients with chronic pain.” In other words, patients taking medication, made the patients think they need mediation and cannot perform a function due to to whatever “ailment” they are taking the mediation for. This becomes a slippery slope to less activity and greater harm to the liver due to increased medication intake.
Accepting pain as normal:
A lot of patients have stated that they are “used to being in pain” or that “this pain is pain I am used to.” Nobody should be used to pain – pain is your body’s way of saying – please do something! Treating the cause, being proactive, staying moving, that is what the body is craving.
3. What are some preventative measures?
Movement! Your body was designed to move. Not using your body daily, in other words, being sedentary, causes weakening. When a muscle becomes weak, it feels that it has to stiffen so that it does not get used. An example of this is the development of arthritis. Not using a muscle or joint can lead to tissue overgrowth, reducing range of motion and increasing inflammation.
You do not have to be run a marathon or deadlift 500 pounds. Simply walking for 30 minutes has extraordinary health benefits. Resistance training 2-3 times per week helps improve strength and prevent joints from injury. Staying active helps with balance, flexibility, and improves mood.
Treat your body as if it is the only one you had! That’s because it is…Investing in your health is not an expense that should be considered frivolous. Self-care is important. Whether it is getting a massage, seeking out functional treatment, or addressing the psychosomatic aspect of health by meditating or talking with someone, all aspects of health are important.
Be sure to seek out the sunshine! This helps to release endorphins and gives us a vitamin D boost to help boost healthy lifestyles.
Drink water and eat whole foods. These are easy measures to address any internal issues and to give your body the nutrients it needs in order to stay moving.
Get sleep! This is the time I highly suggest being sedentary. Rest allows the body to return to homeostasis and to be prepared to be on the move once you awake!
How our providers at IHS help you be proactive, rather than reactive.
Functional Dry Needling
We implement a medical approach to dry needling in order to stimulate blood flow to the injured area as well as to reduce inflammation. Each time a needle is inserted, up to 10,000 cells are damaged. Your brain senses this insult and begins the healing process to regenerate fresh, healthy tissue. This is no different than when you fall and scrape your knee, a scab forms as your body’s way of healing the insult it experienced. Dry needling not only leads to healed tissue, it causes pain relief, both short term and long term.
Soft Tissue Therapy
Soft tissue therapy typically follows dry needling. This can be in the form of Gua Sha for lymph flow and fiber alignment, or a form of active release where the chiropractor will use pressure as well as patient passive or active movements to further help elongate the fibers and heal the tissue.
In other words, the adjustment. The restrictions that are still present following dry needling and soft tissue therapy will be manually manipulated to improve joint health and range of motion. Manipulations at IHS are performed with high velocity, and low amplitude, to provide pain relief without heavy force.
We focus on the principles of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). DNS has been clinically proven to help reintroduce global stability to the body for optimal tissue health. The functional rehab portion is the portion that empowers the patient not only to expedite the healing process, but also to have options for how to self-manage the problem in the future. Each rehab protocol is tailored to the individual depending on what is found in the exam.
This blog was intended to give a quick glimpse at the importance of a proactive approach to health. Being proactive helps improve your quality of life and maintain the ability to perform activities of daily living.
The ease of WFH and increase in technology has lead to our culture becomeing more sedentary. This leads to injury. Most expect injury to result from rigorous activity. However, muscle overuse and compensations resulting from a sedentary lifestyle also leads to pain and injury down the road.
Back pain and neck pain cases have seemed to increase since the pandemic has began due to increase in inactivity. Inactivity leads to stressed postures and ends up resulting in upper and lower crossed syndromes, causing imbalance which leads to pain.
While ice and medication can momentarily help with pain, addressing your body’s innate needs takes precedence to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Movement, diet, and overall healthy lifestyle can also lead to a pain free lifestyle.
If in pain, address the function. Find a provider that you trust and will take your health concerns to heart. Tissue health must first be addressed but then improper movement patterns and poor lifestyle choices must also be addressed in order to promote healing.
Questions on how we can help? Call us for an exam and consult today! P: 317-449-2020
Written by Dr. Jen Brenneisen
Disclosure: sources accessed include the following
Martel MO, Finan PH, Dolman AJ, Subramanian S, Edwards RR, Wasan AD, Jamison RN. Self- reports of medication side effects and pain-related activity interference in patients with chronic pain: a longitudinal cohort study. Pain. 2015 Jun;156(6):1092-1100. doi: 10.1097/ j.pain.0000000000000154. PMID: 25782367; PMCID: PMC4431924.