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Lower back pain is a common problem for most Americans and almost every adult experiences it at one point or another in life. The intensity of back pain is what varies, some individuals experience chronic back pain, which can significantly lower the quality of life. Surgeries and conventional therapies may not be ideal for the treatment of lower back pain. Stem cell therapy is said to be the change that is transforming lower back pain treatment for patients today.

Multipotent mesenchymal stem cell treatment or MSC has gained a lot of clinical interest since it has a lot of potential to revolutionize the pain management and treatment process of disc-generated pain and degenerative disc disease. MSC offers the unique ability to provide sustained improvement and reduce discogenic pain.

Stem cells are potent healers that have the ability to stimulate naturally and grow into healthy and mature cells. Stem cells can also replace injured cells. Handling and injecting stem cells correctly can help create a healing environment and trigger the regenerative process to create healthy tissue. The process sees the differentiation, proliferation and maturity of the cells in the environment that they are placed. All stem cells have the ability to develop into different types of healthy cells depending on where they are placed such as bone cartilage, muscle, tendons or ligaments.

Stem cell therapy has been studied since the early 90s and recent technological advances have improved the safety of the therapy. Autologus stem cell treatment involves using stem cells from your own body to treat injuries. Autologus treatment has become quite popular as a simple outpatient procedure. Stem cells used for treatment can be harvested from adults and are mostly harvested from the bone marrow in the back of the hip. Cells are prepared for reinjection by isolating and concentrating the desired stem cells in a specialized centrifuge system. The fresh stem cells are injected into the injured area guided by ultrasound or fluoroscopy.

The stem cell treatment process is a great idea but there are still concerns about whether these techniques work without causing unexpected complications. Some of the questions that still linger that about stem cell treatment today include:

The optimal dose for the injection

The right indications for use

The modifications needed since the disc environment is low in oxygen and no blood supply.

The best stem cells for each application (adipose, placenta, mesenchymal)

The long risks associated with stem cell injections also still remain unknown. There is a lot of concern as to whether the stem cells can eventually cause harm to the body and lead to complication. So far, stem cell treatment has worked great but the science is still in the early stages and the risks associated with the treatment may not be known until a couple of years later. It is advisable to have a long discussion with your physician before deciding whether to try out stem cell therapy.

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) was first approved by the FDA back in 1989. Today, it has become a standards treatment for chronic pain conditions in the back and limbs. It is an option for patients who have not found pain relief from other pain management methods. SCS patients often report at least 50 to 70 percent drop in overall pain and increased ability to do regular activities after treatment. Some patients even decrease or stop pain medications after SCS treatment.

SCS works through the application of electrical currents to the source of the chronic pain creating pleasant sensations that block the brains ability to sense the pain. The electrical current is applied at the source of the chronic pain. There are two types of simulation methods used including:

Spinal cord stimulation using electrical leads inserted through a needle in the back near the spinal columns.

Peripheral nerve field stimulation on the other hand involves inserting the electrical leads under the skin in areas near the nerves involved in the pain signal.

In both approaches, the electric current generator can be controlled to adjust the area or intensity of electrical stimulation. The program can also be turned off and on, whatever changes necessary to create optimal relief from the pain. The initial programming for SCS is done in the doctor’s office and patience can learn how to adjust the stimulation depending on individual pain levels.

It is crucial to know that spinal cord stimulation is not for everyone with only about 50% of patients experiencing meaningful pain relief. The procedure also does not address the source of the pain. SCS is only designed to interrupt the pain signals sent to the brain. The underlying anatomical problems remain uncorrected. This makes SCS treatment a great complementary to other treatment processes. Treatments to address the source of the pain should be incorporated as well.

Some of the advantages of spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve field stimulation for chronic pain include:

Trial tests can be carried out on a patients to determine whether they are responsive before inserting permanent implants.

Spinal cord stimulation rarely has any side effects. It is also reversible, if it does not work for you, the implants can be removed.

The implant insertion procedure is minimally evasive. The minor surgical procedure can be done for outpatients. Since the leads are inserted under the skin, you can travel anywhere and do all kinds of recreational activities such as swimming.

Using SCS and PNFS can help you get off the use of medication to manage pain.

Once the implants have been inserted, the neurostimulator technology allows you the control to adjust the stimulation level in case the location and severity of the pain changes.

The design of the equipment has greatly improved to make sure it lasts longer, has rechargeable batteries and the systems can be placed in the best position for optimal and effective pan relief.

Are you hurting yourself in your sleep? It sounds crazy but you can cause a lot of damage to your body when you sleep if you are using the wrong kind of pillows or mattress. While neck pain is not as common as lower back pain, millions of people go through it at one point or another in their lives. Poor positioning when sleeping or sitting often causes majority of these cases of neck pain. Neck pain is often addressed with non-surgical treatments such as back massages, chiropractic adjustment and medication. In order to avoid muscle strain that leads to neck pain while sleeping, you should consider the following:

Your pillow height should match your sleeping position

Your pillow should support the natural curve of your neck when you lie down to sleep. In case your pillow is too high or too low, it can strain your neck muscles or obstruct your breathing. If you like sleeping on your back, you should use a thin pillow that maintains the curvature of your neck as it usually is when you are standing. If you like sleeping on your side, use a thicker pillow that will keep your head positioned right in the middle of your shoulder. Your shoulder width and eight should be your guide to buying the right pillow. You should avoid sleeping on your stomach because is laces the most stress on you neck.

You should avoid your phone

Avoid using your phone when lying in bed. These few minutes of browsing on your phone in bed can provoke neck pain since tilting your head leads to sharp angles that increase the amount of force straining your neck muscles. This is commonly referred to as text neck. Doing things like reading books or finishing the crosswords in bed do not help either as the position of your head will put stress on your neck too. Simply limit screen time on your phone to only a few minutes before bed and hold the phone at eye level.

Stretch before going to bed

You probably spend the most time of your day sitting at your desk, driving a car or relaxing on the couch. Any poor posture such as slouching can cause the muscles in your neck to tighten up leading to neck pain. You often experience the cumulative pain from the strain in the evening before you go to bed. You will have a hard time sleeping too. Try stretching too loosen up the tension in your neck before you go to bed. You can also do exercises to loosen the levator scapula muscles.

Most cases of neck pain often disappear after a restful night, a massage or some good stretching. In case the neck pain persists or starts interrupting your normal sleep pattern for more than a week, you should consider consulting a doctor about it. There could underlying complications that led to the neck pain which need immediate treatment.

Chronic illnesses affect more than half of the adult population in the US. They include conditions like HIV, Crohn’s disease and lupus. Close friends and family members often want to help but sometimes make comments that worsen the situation. If you are wondering what not to say to a loved one dealing with chronic pain, here are a few guidelines.

Saying they’re faking it

No one wants to be sentenced to a life of constant pain. Telling someone that they are faking a symptom is one of the most hurtful comments anyone can make. Instead of passing judgment, take your time to support your loved one by helping around the house and doing what you can to make life a little better.

Joining in the pity party

Some people who have a chronic illness like to feel sorry for themselves. Do not allow this situation to continue by focusing on the negative stuff. Try and change the conversation and talk about things that make them happy. You can start a daily journal with your loved one where you share the positive things in life to help him/her have the right perspective.

Telling them they don’t look sick

You may assume that telling someone they don’t look sick is a complement but for someone with a chronic illness, those words can be hurtful. The best you can do is to ask your loved one how they are feeling and get a response. Remember that the most basic need, not just for our loved ones with chronic pain, is to feel loved. The best way to show your concern is by asking the right questions and never say the illness is all in their head.

Acting like they are seeking attention/sympathy

A chronic illness can wear someone down. But the last thing they want from you is sympathy. Other than assuming that the person is seeking attention, try and be empathetic. Understand that the pain they are dealing is true and real. It’s only by accepting and validating what someone else is feeling that you can show compassion.

Recommending more exercise

Most people with chronic pain are forced to live a sedentary lifestyle. There are only a few forms of exercise that they can actually engage in. Not because they do not want to but because they are sick. There’s no need to remind your loved one that they are getting out of shape because of lack of exercise. Sometimes the pain can be severe and limit movement.

Passing on judgment

People with chronic illnesses are not stupid, mentally disabled or crazy, they are just sick. They are suffering from a symptom of a condition and need our love and care instead of judgment. Many of them can still do things for themselves and even enjoy their independence. Don’t assume that your loved one is weak or giving up when they are unable to do a simple activity. Sometimes your support and care is best shown by just being there and lending a hand.

Research shows that people who work on a computer daily are more likely to experience back and neck pain at some point in their lives. Habits like hunching over the computer can put a strain on the spine and cause serious pain. But making a few simple changes at work can reduce pain and prevent future neck and back problems. Let’s look at a few changes that you can make at work to help reduce pain on your back and neck.

Avoid bending forward

When sited on your computer, try to always keep your head up. To do this, make sure your neck and head are properly aligned above your shoulders.

Change your chair

Ensure your work chair supports your back nicely. The best work chairs are those that are slightly reclined with adequate lumbar support.

Don’t sit for long hours

Sitting for long hours can create unnecessary pressure on your spine that eventually causes neck and back problems. Do not sit on your desk for hours without moving. Get up at least once every hour and stretch. This helps to also boost circulation on your back.

Get eye glasses

If you find yourself squinting and straining to see what’s on your computer, you need to see an optician and get some glasses. Squinting not only makes your eyesight deteriorate further but also forces you to lean forward in order to reach the screen.

Avoid crossing your legs when seated

When you cross your legs while seated, it’s hard to keep your spine in an upright position. Crossing your legs for a long period while seated also puts pressure on the muscles around the pelvis. Uncrossing your legs helps you to relax and boost blood circulation in your legs. You’ll actually reduce your risk of varicose veins when you heed this advice.

Use a headset or speaker when speaking on phone and multi-tasking

One bad habit that most people have is holding the phone between the shoulder and ear and then carrying on with other tasks. This posture damages your neck and can lead to serious neck problems. If you have to speak on phone and multitask, use a headphone or put it on speaker. This is especially important if you know the conversation will be lasting long.

Avoid slouching forward in your chair

People normally slouch when working on the computer because the screen or keyboard is too far. Ensure the monitor is about an arm’s length away. You can try and move your chair to ensure these components are easy to reach. You can also adjust the height of your chair and ensure your feet is flat on the floor in order to maintain the right posture.

Lower armrests

Lowering or removing the armrests can help to ensure your shoulders remain low and put less strain on your lower back. Your arms need to be at 90 degrees at all times to avoid placing unnecessary pressure on the lower back.

Lumbar herniated disc can result in serious pain that patients often describe as a burning sensation from the spine towards the leg. The disc pain can occur at different locations and this determines the most suitable treatment option. If untreated, a herniated disc can diminish one’s quality of life and even cause additional health problems. In fact, surgery is usually recommended to patients who experience severe pain from a herniated disc. Here are a few treatment options to reduce the pain caused by a herniated disc.

Simple home remedies

For those patients whose pain is not that severe, home remedies that target the affected area can bring some relief. For instance, you can try applying a heating pad or an ice pack on the area where you feel the most pain. Consider different forms of heat therapy like spending several hours in a warm whirlpool every evening. The heat can really help to reduce muscle spasms. Avoid strenuous tasks that put extra pressure on your back and take adequate time to relax.

Consider a change of lifestyle

If you are suffering from a herniated disc, it’s important to make changes to your lifestyle and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your back. For instance, ladies may be advised to give their high heels a rest because it puts pressure on the herniated disc. You also need to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time because this often puts excess pressure on your spine. Avoid lifting heavy objects and if you must, make sure your back remains straight as you pick the item. Most importantly, maintain a good posture when standing or sitting.

Stretches and other forms of exercise

Consider different forms of exercise that strengthen your back without putting any excess pressure on your spine. The type of exercise that is most ideal for you depends on where the herniated disk is located. Exercising regularly usually helps to relieve pain because it strengthens the back muscles causing the disc to lessen.

Medication

There are several over the counter as well as prescription medication to deal with lumbar herniated disc pain. Over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen and naproxen are quite commonly used. However, they only provide a temporary solution to deal with the pain. Patients are usually recommended to see a physician who will determine the best treatment option to deal with lumbar herniated disc pain. Physicians can recommend narcotics, nerve pain meds and injections in severe cases when over the counter pain meds have failed to work. However, some of these pain medications have serious side effects like nausea, confusion and constipation so you may want to consider this as a last resort after you have tried the home remedies and failed.

Surgery

Even though most people with lumbar herniated disc can receive treatment non-surgically, there are cases when surgery is required. The physician is likely to recommend a surgical procedure if the herniated disc is causing severe pain. The procedures are usually non-invasive and with good care the recovery time is shortened.

According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience. Pain is not what occurs at the periphery, there is the suffering component of pain, which is also important to recognize. Therefore undergoing any kind of pain can seriously affect the quality of life. Sensory pain can result from conditions such as arthritis, cancer treatments, fibromyalgia and old injuries. It is crucial to get this pain under control and this is what is called pain management.

When undergoing pain management, your doctor will first need to determine the cause of the pain. This will guide the pain management approach that is most effective for your kind of pain. There are different ways of pain management available today. Sometimes a combination of treatments is used depending on how complicated the situation is.

Medicine is supposed to treat injury by supporting and speeding up the process of healing. Medicine also treats symptoms like pain to relief suffering during treatment and healing of the injury or condition. However, even after this initial intervention, the pain may persist after the injury or condition is healed. Sometimes medical science is not able to identify the cause of the pain and the medicine is unable to continue relieving the suffering of the patient. This is where a tailored treatment approach of pain management comes in. Pain management experts use measures such as analgesics, anticonvulsants, anti depressants, physical therapy and exercise and thermo therapies among others.

Apex can help patients suffering from acute and chronic pain through the following ways:

Medication

There are various medications prescribed specifically for pain. Opioids and benzodiazepines are often not the best options; there are studies suggesting that using opioids for long periods of time in managing chronic pain may not be the best idea. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti seizure medication and steroids are just some of the medications used in treating chronic pain. Pain medication is often abused by people suffering from chronic pain. Pain management through medication should be done under the direction of an experienced pain management doctor. They prescribe the correct dosages and medication combination to achieve the best results.

Therapy

Main management therapy may be aimed at the mind and the body. Pain management clinics may mix these therapies depending on the condition of the patient. Physical therapy is usually very important in any part of any pain management program. This is because pain can be worsened by physical activities that are not done correctly. Physical therapy is facilitated through various ways from direct manipulation to the use of various stimulation tools. The physical therapy sessions may start off at the clinic, but with time, the patient learns the various exercises they can do on their own at home to help manage the pain they suffer.

Other pain management options include a variety of approaches. It is always important to consult an expert in order to get the best treatment combination for your condition.

Pain is uncomfortable for everybody; from a small cut leading to minor pain or a serious  musculoskeletal injury that results in chronic pain, there is a wide range of levels of suffering  that one may experience as a result of pain. In most cases, pain usually fades away. However, some people experience the pain that never fades or fades and recurs after a couple of hours. This is what we call chronic pain.

Chronic pain may be caused by an injury or underlying pathology. In some cases, the reason for the pain may be quite obvious while in other cases, the pain is unexplainable. This is often the case for individuals who experience chronic pain even after the injury or pathology has been treated and healed. Common causes of chronic pain include conditions such as migraines, arthritis, back pain and sports injuries among others. Pain has a profound effect on the daily life of the person that experiences it. People dealing with long-term suffering are bound to experience some serious mental effects of the pain.

In most cases, people who experience chronic pain are often depressed, anxious and irritable, short tempered or have a difficult time making even the simplest decision. This is because constant pain affects basic functioning by raising the focus threshold. People who suffer from chronic pain may be greatly annoyed in situations such as traffic jams or delays, an annoying situation that most people will find easier to ultimately take in stride. This is because the person is already putting so much effort into getting through the day that they barely have the energy for anything else.

Pain is bound to wear someone down and drain their energy and motivation. Research has shown that chronic pain sufferers develop a condition where the front region of the brain associated with emotions fails to operate as it should. Most chronic pain sufferers end up limiting social contact so they can reduce stress or the amount of energy they have to spend in their environments to get through the day. They try to simplify life as much as possible by reducing daily tasks to a bare necessary minimum and spend a lot of time isolated and quiet. Chronic pain has a lot of strain on interpersonal interaction and concentration.

According to research, the excessive activity from the brain nerve cells in the overactive region of the brain will prematurely wear out and die. Long-term pain and suffering can result in as much as an 11% reduction in the size of the brain. This kind of brain matter reduction often takes place in ten or twenty years among healthy people who do not suffer from constant pain.

Besides the changes to the gray matter of the brain, the constant nerve activity and firing of nerves causes rewiring in different ways than is normal to the brain. The nerve cells in the white matter of the brain tend to develop more chronic wiring patterns for people in chronic pain.

Primary Care Physicians and pain management doctors all play important, though distinct rolesin the treatment process. Primary care physicians are the first medical professionals you will see whenever you experience any injuries or symptoms of a medical condition. Primary care physicians provide regular medical care for patients; they are the first point of contact in diagnosing various illnesses and injuries. Other than just treating diseases and injury, they also give preventative care to their patients through regular medical examinations, physical checkups and blood tests to identify and prevent the risk of a disease.

One crucial role of primary care physicians is to refer their patients to other medical specialists,as the condition requires. Although they will refer the patient to a specialist, the primary care physician still maintains the role of managing the overall care of the patient in the entire course of treatment including communicating with the specialists what the patient needs. The primary care physician is the medical professional who coordinates the participation of other specialists in the treatment of the patient including pain management doctors.

When it comes to pain management, the primary care physician will refer the patient to a pain management doctor since it is a specialty that is born out of injuries and medical conditions that the patient may be suffering from. Pain may result from conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders, spinal disorders and neuropathic pain disorders. Accurate diagnosis and timely intervention is necessary to avoid the patient falling into a state of chronic pain. However, the severity of persistence of the pain may be beyond the scope of the primary care physician and this is ideally when they would refer the patient to a pain management doctor to help alleviate suffering.

Who is a pain management doctor?

Pain management is one of the specialties in the field of medicine that helps thousands of people each year who are suffering from some form of chronic or acute pain. Primary care physicians, orthopedics, neurologists and other health care specialists greatly rely on the m for process of treatment for their patient. They will invite a pain management doctor to participate in the patient’s treatment process or assign the patient to the pain doctor as an end step in the treatment process since chronic pain is what remains after the patient has healed from the injury or disease they were suffering from.

Pain management doctors have specialized medical training in fields such as anesthesiology, physiatry and with sub-specialty training in pain management. Anesthesiologists are trained to help manage chronic pain through interventional and minimally invasive procedures while physiatrists or rehabilitation physicians specialize in nerve, muscle and bone which often involves in managing pain that affects how you move.

Pain management under the directive of a pain management doctor may include medical intervention, physical exercises and minimally invasive procedures. The unique combination of skills from various health specialists is necessary to facilitate the effective management of the patient’s condition.

The lower back is where majority of the motion in your spine takes place. This is also the part of the back that is most likely to wear down over time or sustain injury due to these movable parts. You can get lower back injury from bad body mechanics among other causes. Poor posture and repetitive stress leads to muscle strain and soft tissue problems as well. Back pain is extremely uncomfortable; it may also force you to take time off work. Good body mechanics is important when moving your body and back to avoid any spine injuries. Here are a few tips on how to protect your lower back from injury.

Exercise

Regular exercise, particularly exercising your core, is great for your spine. The strong core muscles will provide support for your lower back and avoid injury when lifting heavy objects. Other low impact exercises such as power walking help increase blood flow to various parts of the body including the spine. A steady supply of nutrients and water to the spine ensures proper hydration and healing.

Posture

Poor posture places the back in an awkward position. The excess pressure on the lower back can worsen the pain from degenerated discs. You should always sit upright following the natural curve of the spine. You can also use ergonomic chairs that are designed specifically to assist in maintaining proper posture. You should avoid sitting for prolonged hours in the same position. Get up and walk around the office, stretch out if your job involves sitting for most of the day. You can even put a reminder on your phone to remind you to check your posture every once in a while. Avoid spending too much time with your head bent over your phone as well.

Lifting correctly

Many people experience lower back injuries when they bend over to lift heavy objects. Even young, strong and healthy people can suffer lower back injuries if they lift items the wrong way. Everybody should avoid lifting injuries by keeping the chest forward and bending at the knees when lifting heavy objects. You should also carry with your hips forward instead of your shoulders when moving heavy items.

Physical health

Maintaining good physical health can reduce the potential risk of lower back injury. The spine radiates nerves to all the parts of the body and it reflects your overall health. Anything you do to improve your physical health will be great for your spine as well. To maintain great physical health one should drink plenty of water daily and quit harmful habits such as smoking.

Stretching hamstrings

Although many people do not know this, tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain. You should stretch your hamstring to reduce pressure in the pelvis. In case you have existing lower back pain, check with your physiotherapist to ensure that the hamstring stretching exercise will have no negative effect on your current condition since not all stretches are good for your lower back.