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Frequently Asked Questions & Common Conditions

We try to anticipate questions you might have about Metro Denver Accident and Injury Centers and provide the answers here. This section is devoted to Questions that have come directly from my office. Please feel free to read through them.This is in no way medical advice. A physician evaluation is necessary to provide accurate and appropriate advice and recommendation. This is simply for general knowledge. If you have any questions that you would like to see addressed please email them to us. We hope you find some answers and learn. - Dr. Higgins and Dr. Losiewicz

1. WRIST/HAND

I am awakened by severe pain and tingling into my fingers every night. Is this Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

It sounds like it could be. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the trapping and irritation of a nerve that runs through the wrist joint. It can cause severe pain in the wrist and forearm. It can also cause numbness, tingling, and weakness into the hand and fingers. CTS is mostly caused by persons that perform repetitive motions in thier daily life. The only way to tell if you have CTS is to undergo a Nerve Test that tests the primary nerve responsible for CTS. Depending on the severity of the findings there can be many options. Usually Physical Therapy and Surgery followed by Physical Therapy are the most common routes taken. Make an appointment today and I can do an indepth evaluation and Nerve Test. CTS, if left alone, can have long lasting effects on the hands.

2. SHOULDER

I have a deep throbbing ache in my muscle at the border of my shoulder blade, what do you think?

This is a very common injury. It is usually caused by a couple of things. The most common is poor posture that has caused stress on the vertebrae of the neck or weakened the shoulder muscles. In severe cases it can lead to the degeneration of the discs in the neck. With poor posture muscles become stressed and tired while trying to correct the posture. Pain is the signal given off to let the patient know something is wrong. In my office I will do a thorough shoulder and neck evaluation to correctly isolate the source of the pain and provide proper treatment.

My shoulder hurts and then aches when I lift it out in front of my body. It also hurts when I sleep on my side. What do you think?

The shoulder can have many problems within it so a hands on evaluation is very necessary. Usually what you are describing is caused by the rotator cuff muscles being pinched in the shoulder joint to the point of irritation. Pressure, such as sleeping on the shoulder, or using the arm for raised activities, will set off the pain and discomfort. Physical Therapy will greatly resolve, if not heal, the shoulder. If the problem persists then and MRI may be necessary. Occasionally a Rotator Cuff Tear can develop. Get started today inTherapy and the chances of if worsening will be lowered.

3. NECK/BACK

Neck/Back Pain

Pain along the spinal column in your neck or back is usually caused by improper joint positions, poor posture, and weak muscles. A small misalignment can cause pain by causing pressure on nerves. Left untreated, these alterations can cause muscle spasms and increasing pain. Postural Physical Therapy and hands on stretching properly align your spine so that pressure on joints and nerves is released. It is a direct treatment for the cause of the pain, not a temporary relief. If you are experiencing back or neck pain visit us today.

Since the weather has turned warmer, then colder, then warmer, I have noticed that my low back pain and sciatica have acted up. What do you think?

When the seasons change so does the weather. Weather changes involve increased or decreased barometric pressure. When the weather turns it can have negative effects on the body. If a region or joint within the body is in an inflamed state pressure can cause this region to expand. Expansion can add pressure to the surrounding structures such as a nerve. It is very common for weather to affect persons with Herniated discs or Osteoarthritis. I recommend a thorough evaluation to see what is causing the low back pain and associated symptoms. Any treatment that can be performed to help with low back pain can be performed in my office under my care.

Is it bad to "crack" my own neck and back?

As a Chiropractic Physician I never recommend that anyone manipulate their own spinal joints. Although it may feel good for the manipulation to be done it is always a great idea to let a properly trained Physician perform the service if it is even necessary. When people continue to manipulate their own spinal joints they run the risk of over stretching the ligaments and tendons associated with the joints. Continued overstretching can lead to increased pain and instability of the region being manipulated. If you feel that you are putting yourself in more pain stop by my office today.

I was sick and vomited a lot this weekend. Today I have achiness and pain in the front of my neck and top of my collarbone. Could this pain be from being sick?

Pain in the front of the neck most certainly can be from muscle strain due to vomiting. It can also be swollen lymph nodes that are tender. If an evaluation reveals that the pain is from muscle strain it makes sense. The neck has muscles that are responsible for turning, lifting, and moving the head. These same muscles are responsible for assisting in breathing. If these muscles are overworked or stressed from something such as vomiting, they can become sore and tight. Gentle stretching techniques and other treatments can usually reduce the pain considerably.

I slept on my couch and I have had neck pain for a couple of days. What can be done?

Sleeping in awkward positions can cause havoc to your body. If a person falls asleep in a position that is not ergonomically correct the person usually will wake up with some sort of ache or pain. When we sleep our bodies' will also relax. If the neck is in a compromised position the joints within the neck are stressed and the muscles supporting these joints are also stressed. Joints can become sprained and muscles can become strained. Often times physical therapy is needed to reduce pain and tightness and correct the damage that has been done. Call me today and we can get started right away.

4. ANKLE/FEET

I heard that you provide Orthotics (shoe inserts) that help with foot, knee and back pain. Can you tell me about them please?

Sure can! Foot orthotics can be custom made for many different conditions. If a person has plantar fasciitis that causes sharp foot pains orthotics can work wonders. If a patient has knee pain while running or walking another custom pair can help with this pain during activity. Low back pain can also be reduced with the use of orthotics. One has to see the legs as two separate units that meet at the low back. If both feet are corrected by orthotics the low back and pelvis has to work a lot less to stabilize itself. This in turn causes less pain with walking, running, or any other activities. Call today and we can get you in yours next week.

My husband complains of sharp pain on the bottom of his feet the mornings after each practice. What can be done for him?

Firstly, a thorough evaluation of the feet must be done before any diagnosis can be made. This allows for me to see if any stress fractures or bone spurs have developed. An evaluation will also let me hear a very in depth history to help focus on the problem. A common sharp pain that occurs in the morning on the bottom of the foot is from plantar fasciitis. This is a tear to the protective covering of muscles and tendons on the bottom of the foot. This can be a very annoying and problem of long duration if care is not sought out early. Treatment for plantar fasciitis is very successful. It involves the use of pain and inflammation reducing protocols and eventual use of Orthotics to support the foot arch.

My son plays football and complains of sharp pain on the bottom of his feet the mornings after each practice. What can be done for him?

Firstly, a thorough evaluation of the feet must be done before any diagnosis can be made. This allows for me to see if any stress fractures or bone spurs have developed. An evaluation will also let me hear a very in depth history to help focus on the problem. A common sharp pain that occurs in the morning on the bottom of the foot is from plantar fasciitis. This is a tear to the protective covering of muscles and tendons on the bottom of the foot. This can be a very annoying and problem of long duration if care is not sought out early. Treatment for plantar fasciitis is very successful. It involves the use of pain and inflammation reducing protocols and eventual use of Orthotics to support the foot arch.

5. HEADACHES

Headaches

Many people believe that headaches are caused by loud noise, being tired, or being stressed. While these are all factors that can lead to headaches, the direct cause is tightness in the neck and shoulders. The tightness can cause misalignments in the vertebrae of your neck, resulting in pain. 80% of all headaches originate from the neck. With a typical cervicogenic (neck origin) headache, a person usually feels pain starting at the base of the skull which radiates into the temples, eyeballs, and forehead. Massage of the neck and shoulder muscles can release tension, and a chiropractic adjustment can mobilize the verteberal joints in your neck. The combination therapy can help eliminate the cause of your headaches rather than offering a temporary relief from the symptoms.

I get tension headaches and pain at the base of my neck by the end of my workday. Can you help me?

I most certainly can. Tension headaches are prominently caused by muscles at the back of the head and within the neck that become tight due to stress from emotions, physical positioning (posture) or repetitive actions.  Because muscles actually wrap the side and back of the skull they have the ability to squeeze. This vice-like action is very uncomfortable. In my office we provide therapy focused on creating prolonged relaxation of the muscles causing the problem. This will include stretches, massage therapy, posture correction exercises, and if necessary Chiropractic manipulations. Of course this type of treatment is only provided after a thorough evaluation rules out any possible larger issue. Call today and see me so you and I can remove that vice.

What therapy can be done for Migraines?

Chiropractic manipulation, manual therapy, and Acupuncture can be very helpful for patients suffering from Migraines. Once therapy begins it is best to follow through so prolonged relief and possible complete resolution can occur. Call me with any questions.

6. SPINAL DEGENERATION

Degeneration Phase 1
The first stage of spinal degeneration is when there is a minor loss of normal spine balance and spinal curvature. The surrounding features of the spine such as nerves, discs and joints begin to age quicker and are continually more stressed. This stage of the degeneration process rarely is accompanied with any major pain. At this point, there is a good chance that with the proper care, you can return to normal.

Degeneration Phase 2
In the second stage of spinal degeneration, there is a often narrowing of the discs and potentially deformation in the bones. Your posture is often beginning to degenerate as well at this point. As the spinal canal, or opening begins to narrow, there are often significant aches and pains associated. Fatigue and stress are more common at this stage. There is a good chance of improvement at this stage with the proper care.

Degeneration Phase 3
In the third stage of spinal degeneration, there is significant physical and mental involvement due to the level of issues here. There is most likely nerve damage as well as deformation of the bones and discs. There would be a significant loss of energy and height at this point. Some reversal is possible.

Degeneration Phase 4
In the fourth stage of spinal degeneration, most damage is permanent including scar tissue, nerve damage and deformation. At this point, the condition is irreversible. Management of pain and discomfort is the best option here. 

7. DISC PROBLEMS

Disc Problems
Intervertebral discs are positioned between the vertebrae in the spine. The outside of a disc is made from cartilage, and in the center is a jelly like solution. These discs serve many purposes, including allowing movement of the spine, creating space between the vertebrae, and acting as shock absorbers. The gelatinous middle allows the disc to compress and expand based on impact and movement. Trauma to the spine can cause the discs to herniated, bulge, become displaced (slipped disc), or even rupture. Trauma or direct injury to the area is not the only cause, however. As we get older, the discs can begin to weaken and dehydrate. These conditions can put pressure on the nerves around the spine and cause pain.

If you suffer from one of these injuries you should see a Dr. Ron. Surgery is risky, expensive, and requires recovery time. In many cases, you can experience relief from these conditions through Physical Therapy and Chiropractic care. By properly strengthening spinal muscles and other accesory muscles, pressure can be relieved on nerves and on the discs themselves. This will reduce and hopefully eliminate your pain and discomfort and allow you to live a normal lifestyle.

8. WHIPLASH

Whiplash
Whiplash is a common injury for people involved in car collisions and sporting events. When a car is struck from behind or collides with another object, it causes the neck to snap back and forth violently. This causes the muscles and ligaments to overextend, leading to strains and/or tears. This is referred to as soft tissue damage, and can cause stiffness and soreness. Whiplash can also cause structural damage such as misaligned vertebrae, herniated, bulging or ruptured discs, or nerve damage due to the overextension from the violent movement.

Dr. Ron can help with both types of injuries. Therapies including Massage, Exercise, and Chiropractic can be performed specifically for those who have been in car accidents and suffered from whiplash. The pressure on the discs and nerves is released when the spine is returned to its proper position. Massage can be used to help relieve the pain and discomfort from soft tissue injuries. If you have been in a car accident, schedule an appointment with us before relying on pain medications and surgery.

9. OSTEOARTHRITIS

Osteoarthritis
Arthritis is a condition that is caused by the wearing down of the cartilage between joints. Some of the major joints that are affected are the knees, hips, back, neck, and hands/wrist. Arthritis can be painful and can cause the affected areas to not function properly. Arthritis in one area can cause arthritis or other problems in a different joint. For instance, if you have arthritis in your left knee, you may compensate for this by putting more pressure on your right side, leading to right hip problems.

Pain killers can cause temporary relief from pain and discomfort, but it is not a long term solution. Therapeutic combinations such as Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, and Massage can be a powerful weapon to help alleviate pain and joint stress. It can also restore proper joint movement, helping to ensure that you use proper motion so that you do not cause injury to other parts of your body. We are not concerned strictly with the affected area, but rather the body as a whole. We aim to restore and maintain proper movement and functionality to increase your overall well being.

10. JOINT DYSFUNCTION

Joint Dysfunction

Joint dysfunction occurs when joints become stiff and full movement is restricted. It can be caused by an injury, poor posture, overuse/underuse of a joint, muscle imbalance, as well as other factors. Like arthritis, joint dysfunction can cause pain in the joint and the surrounding muscles, and can also cause problems in other parts of the body due to overcompensation.

One common form of joint dysfunction is sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which occurs where the base of the spine meets the pelvis. It causes low back pain and prohibits movement. This condition is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to sciatica or a herniated disc.

Dr. Higgins or Dr. Losiewicz can properly diagnose this condition and provide relief. Using specific exercises and mobilization for the affected joint can return proper mobility and relieve pain. If you have joint pain, visit us for relief.

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