What are the Main Scoliosis Exercises for Adults?

What are the Main Scoliosis Exercises for Adults?

Scoliosis is perhaps one of the better-known health conditions which affect the spine. Sometimes causing pain and nerve damage, more severe cases of scoliosis can make everyday tasks difficult. Thankfully, there are solutions to help those suffering from adult scoliosis. Whether through physical therapy management or surgery, science and medicine have found ways to aid people with scoliosis. Continue reading to learn more about adult scoliosis, its symptoms, and treatment options! 

What is Adult Scoliosis?

While it is natural and healthy for the spine to have a forward-and-backward curve, scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve beyond its healthy limits. An abnormal curvature of the spine, scoliosis causes the spine to rotate and develop a side-to-side curve. Scoliosis can cause a curve as mild as 10 degrees or as severe as over 100 degrees

What are the Main Scoliosis Types?

There are four main types of scoliosis that progress in relatively similar fashions:

  • Congenital scoliosis; 
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis; 
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; 
  • Adult de novo scoliosis. 

Congenital, neuromuscular, and idiopathic scoliosis are primarily diagnosed in children. The most common type of adult scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis, curves the spine with age. Luckily, spinal curvatures are often mild cases and do not require treatment.

What is Causing My Adult Scoliosis?

Adult scoliosis stems from various causes depending on its type. Scoliosis without a known cause, or idiopathic scoliosis, is often uncovered during childhood or adolescence growth. Adult scoliosis can also be a case of pediatric scoliosis, left undiscovered until adulthood. However, it is more common for adult scoliosis symptoms to develop through aging and degenerative changes. 

There are four types of scoliosis that adults can develop: 

  • Degenerative scoliosis is found in older individuals whose spinal discs have deteriorated with the natural aging process. Aging can thus lead to the compression of the vertebral column and the development of abnormal spinal curvature. 
  • A little more mysterious, traumatic scoliosis is somehow caused by severe trauma or accidents. How a spinal deformity develops in such a manner is still unknown. 
  • Pathological scoliosis is a result of tumors pressing on the spine. Spinal tumors can exert such a strong pressure on the spine that a curvature develops. 
  • As mentioned earlier, idiopathic scoliosis represents cases of undiagnosed adolescent scoliosis. Instances of such conditions are rare and difficult to confirm or track. 

Common Adult Scoliosis Symptoms

Scoliosis-related symptoms are not actually caused by the curvature of the spine, although they are connected with the degeneration of the spine as time passes. Such symptoms are treated in a similar fashion, despite the actual diagnosis of scoliosis. 

Although most cases of adult scoliosis are symptomless, back or leg pain is a common sign of this disease. Back pain can result from multiple medical conditions, including: 

  • Arthritis; 
  • The inability to stand upright; 
  • Weakness of the core musculature. 

Pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs are common symptoms of spinal stenosis, which occurs if there is tremendous pressure on the nerves in the lumbar spine. 

Sometimes, body changes such as the following may develop

  • Height loss; 
  • Shortness of breath or quick fatigue;
  • Uneven alignment of the pelvis and hips. 

Depending on the degree of the spinal curvature, internal symptoms may be accompanied by changes in the body’s outward appearance. For example, a bulge or spinal deformity can become visible due to muscle or rib cage rotation. An inability to stand upright might also be a symptom. 

How is Adult Scoliosis Diagnosed?

The first step toward diagnosis and treatment is for your healthcare professional to examine you and your family’s medical history. Some common diagnostic questions circle around: 

  • Family history; 
  • When you first noticed the spinal changes; 
  • Curve progression; 
  • Presence and location of any pain; 
  • Bowel, bladder, or motor dysfunction. 

Next, wellness professionals will perform a physical examination and medical evaluation to check the shape of your spine curves and your movement. They may also use reflex, sensation, and muscle-strength checks to test your nerves. 

After a physical exam, your doctor will recommend X-rays to comprehensively inspect your spine’s front and side. With the help of such imaging, your doctor can determine the type and severity of your scoliosis.

What are My Non-Operative Treatment Options?

For adults diagnosed with scoliosis, the extent of the spinal curve may not necessarily determine the treatment options. Instead, treating scoliosis stems from the goal of relieving symptoms and not necessarily curing the curve. 

As such, many patients with adult scoliosis conditions that are not severe cases are treated through noninvasive means, such as: 

  • Regular medical observation; 
  • Over-the-counter pain medications; 
  • Core-strengthening exercises to improve abdomen and back flexibility. 

Scoliosis Exercises

Often, your doctor will recommend using physical therapy to maintain strength and relieve pain. A physical therapist may help improve scoliosis by: 

  • Working to improve posture; 
  • Doing low-impact exercises; 
  • Daily stretching; 
  • Staying active. 

Arm/Leg Raise

Arm/leg raises are useful to strengthen your lower back and core muscles, supporting your spine. To perform this exercise: 

  • Start by lying on your stomach with your chin or forehead on the ground. 
  • With your legs straight and arms extended overhead, slowly raise one arm off the ground, hold it for a moment, and then slowly lower it back to the ground. 
  • Repeat these steps for your opposite leg and arm with 15 repetitions each. 

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilts strengthen your abdominal muscles. Be sure to perform them on a yoga mat for support: 

  • First, lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor, toes pointed forward. 
  • Pull in your belly button so your pelvis pushes toward the ceiling and your back flattens against the ground. 
  • Hold the position for 20 seconds, and then slowly relax. 
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times. 

Cat/Cow Stretch

Cat/cow stretch focuses on the muscles and tendons which support your spine: 

  • Start by getting on your hands and knees. Keep your arms straight under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. 
  • While looking at the floor, keep your head straight in line with your torso and spine. 
  • Now, round your back and lift your spine toward the ceiling. At this point, your eyes should face your belly. 
  • Hold the position and take a deep breath before slowly lifting your chest and tailbone toward the ceiling. Let your stomach sink toward the ground as your eyes look up toward the ceiling. 
  • After another deep breath, slowly round your back and lift your spine toward the ceiling. 
  • Continue alternating between the poses to gently stretch and strengthen your abdominals and lower back. 

Latissimus Stretch

Finally, the latissimus stretch loosens and strengthens tight lat muscles: 

  • To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. 
  • Now, reach overhead and grab your left wrist with your right hand. 
  • Next, with most of your body weight on your right leg, bend at your right side until you feel a gentle stretch along your left trunk. 
  • Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds before returning to the start position by pushing from your right foot. 
  • Be sure to repeat the exercise on your left foot and the opposite side for maximum benefits. 

Invasive Treatment Options for Adult Scoliosis Patients

If oral medications or physical therapy are inadequate for reducing pain, your doctor may recommend epidurals around the spinal cord or nerve block injections for symptom relief. 

Surgery, another option for severe scoliosis, is considered a last-resort avenue because of the risks associated with spinal surgery. 

Spinal Injections

Sometimes, scoliosis can irritate or pressurize the nerves in and around the spine, causing pain, numbness, and tingling in your lower back down to your feet. If this is the case, spinal injections such as steroids and local anesthetic may offer some relief. Unfortunately, the benefits of such injections last for only a few weeks or months and are not a long-term solution.   

Back Braces

Not widely used in adults with scoliosis, back braces are occasionally helpful in providing pain relief through spinal support. A brace may be an alternative to surgery if you are not well enough to undergo such an operation. 

Surgical Treatment Plan

While it is not required for most patients with adult scoliosis, lumbar decompression surgery may be considered for the following reasons

  • If the curve in your spine is severe or significantly worsening; 
  • If you have spinal imbalance; 
  • If you have severe back pain and other treatments have not helped; 
  • If your spinal nerves are being irritated or squashed. 

Should surgery be deemed necessary, there are three different surgical techniques

  • Laminectomy; 
  • Discectomy; 
  • Spinal fusion. 

A laminectomy procedure removes one section of bone in your spinal canal to relieve nerve pressure. The second option, a discectomy, is where one section of discs between the vertebrae is removed to relieve pressure. Thirdly, a spinal fusion takes two or more vertebrae and joins them together to stabilize, strengthen, and straighten the spine. Oftentimes, a combination of these techniques is used instead of just one. 

A posterior spinal fusion is the most common type of special surgery for adults with scoliosis. For this procedure, the orthopedic surgeon makes an incision from the back, places screws to collect scoliosis, and then ‘welds’ the vertebrae together with bone chips. The surgeon may take these chips from elsewhere in the patient’s own body or from a donor through a bone bank. 

It may take six months to over one year for the healing process to be complete. However, recovery from spinal surgery only takes four to six weeks. During the recovery period, rods, screws, or other implants may be used to hold the spine in alignment. After the fusion is complete, the implants are no longer necessary but are left within the patient to avoid additional surgery. Normal mobility is achievable after healing if the treatment primarily targets the thoracic spine. However, treatment in the lumbar spine will result in more restricted sideways movement. 

Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating Adult Scoliosis!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 298-7179 or (201) 357-6539 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601 are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD areas. Also, feel free to access our blog page and social media for more information on chiropractic treatments!

What is the Most Common Type of Vertebral Fracture?

What is the Most Common Type of Vertebral Fracture?

It can be challenging to understand spinal fractures, as they all have different causes, symptoms, and treatments. Whether in the thoracic or lumbar spine, fractured vertebrae can lead to further injury if not dealt with immediately. There are several pain management and treatment options for spinal fractures, be it through physical therapy or surgical procedure.

What is a Vertebral or Spinal Fracture?

A spinal injury can range from a mild ligament or muscle strain to fractures or dislocations of the bony vertebrae. When a vertebra becomes seriously fractured or dislocated, it can cause bone fragments to pinch and damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord! Many spinal injuries do not require surgery; however, severe long-term issues can result from untreated or mistreated major fractures. 

Most spinal fractures occur in the lower back region — 64% occur in the thoracolumbar or lower back region, while 5-10% occur in the cervical or neck region.

How Do Spinal Fractures Occur?

The spine is rather delicate as even minor falls or trauma can produce spine fractures. The primary causes of spinal fractures are: 

  • Car accidents (45%); 
  • Falls (20%); 
  • Sports (15%); 
  • Acts of violence (15%); 
  • Various activities (5%). 

Other causes of spinal fractures are diseases such as spine tumors and osteoporosis, which weakens the bones, leading to severe pain and vertebral compression fractures. 

Spinal Fracture Symptoms

There are various symptoms of a spinal fracture that depend on the severity and location of the injury. Some symptoms include: 

  • Back or neck pain; 
  • Numbness; 
  • Tingling; 
  • Muscle spasm; 
  • Weakness;
  • Bowel/ bladder changes; 
  • Paralysis or loss of movement in the arms or legs. 

Paralysis can indicate a more profound spinal cord injury. Luckily, fractures do not always cause spinal cord damage, and rarely is the spinal cord completely severed. 

How are Spinal Fractures Diagnosed?

Often, a spinal injury will land you in the emergency room, and an Emergency Medicine specialist will be the first to examine the injury. For severe fractures, other specialists will be called in for further assessment. Doctors will check your breathing and perform a physical exam of the spine. Until adequately diagnosed, the spine is kept immobile in a neck or back brace. 

CT Scan

The only way to properly diagnose the extent of a spinal injury is through an X-ray, which views the bony vertebrae in your spine, revealing any fractures. A Computed Tomography (CT) scan is the next step toward diagnosis. Safe and noninvasive, a CT scan uses an X-ray beam and a computer to create two-dimensional images of the spine, helpful in viewing any abnormal movement in the bony structures. 

MRI

Finally, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan is another noninvasive test that uses magnetic fields and radiofrequency waves to detail the soft tissues of the spine. An MRI offers visibility of the nerves and discs, allowing evaluation of soft tissue damage to ligaments and discs.

How are Vertebral Fractures Classified?

Vertebral fractures are classified as either: 

  • Stable and Unstable Fractures; 
  • Minor and Major Fractures; 
  • Denis Classification Method. 

Each classification type differentiates the injury’s severity, placement, and stability. Together, they can help doctors determine the best treatment option for vertebral fractures. 

Stable and Unstable Fractures

A stable fracture does not cause spinal deformity or neurological (i.e., nerve-related) problems, permitting your spine to carry and distribute weight — of course, not as well as if there were not a fracture, but well enough to function securely. 

On the other hand, unstable fractures make it difficult for the spine to carry or distribute weight. Progressing and causing further damage, these fractures can result in spinal deformity.  

Minor and Major Fractures

A minor fracture occurs when part of the vertebra’s posterior or back side elements has broken. Minor fractures affect those parts of the spine that are less important to spinal column stability. 

For example, the spinous process and facet joints are the posterior elements of the spine. The injury is not considered overly serious when fracturing this part of the vertebrae. 

Major fractures are defined as the fracture of the pedicles, lamina, or vertebrae. Vertebral body fractures are considered major because these areas carry so much weight and are responsible for distributing force. When these parts of the spine fracture, they cause severe vertebral misalignment and increase the risk of nerve damage. Because the pedicles and lamina are necessary to keep your spine stable, your spine becomes unstable when they fracture. 

 

The Denis Classification

The Denis Classification method is commonly utilized by doctors to classify a spinal fracture in the thoracic, lumbar, or thoracolumbar spinal regions. Doctors can efficiently classify a fracture’s severity and placement by dividing the lateral or side spine into three sections (i.e., front, middle, and back). 

The anterior column is the front part of the vertebra or the part that faces in towards your body. Half of the front anterior column is the vertebral body and intervertebral disc. 

Next, the middle column or the back half of the vertebral body is vital for spinal stability. When a fracture occurs in the middle and anterior or posterior columns, nerve damage and spinal instability are likely. On the other hand, if the middle column remains strong and intact, you have an increased chance of stability. 

Finally, the back column includes all sections of the vertebra on the back side of the posterior column. The pedicles, lamina, and spinous process are all part of the posterior column. 

Visualizing three columns makes diagnosing the extent of a spinal fracture and its stability easier. For example, if the fracture only affects the front or anterior column, the spine may be sufficiently stable to withstand the body’s weight. However, unlike posterior fractures, spinal fractures in the anterior or middle column are generally unstable. 

Types of Vertebral Fractures

There are four main types of vertebral fractures: 

  • Compression; 
  • Burst; 
  • Flexion-distraction; 
  • Fracture dislocation.

#1: Compression Fracture

Compression fractures are common in patients with osteoporosis or other bone-weakening diseases. While the vertebra can absorb a lot of pressure, there is only so much it can handle before the bone fractures under stress. A sudden force or tremendous pressure can cause vertebrae to fracture.  

Is a Compression Fracture the Same As a Broken Back?

When a bone sustains more pressure than it can handle, it fractures or breaks. A vertebral compression fracture is the most common vertebral fracture and occurs when a downward force shatters or collapses the vertebrae. A large enough force may even send bone fragments into the spinal canal, resulting in a burst fracture. In this way, a more severe spinal cord compression fracture is essentially the same as a broken back. 

#2: Burst Fracture

Caused by severe trauma such as a car accident, burst fractures happen when an extreme force crushes the vertebra. A burst fracture not only affects one part of the vertebra but fractures it in several places. In addition, bony fragments spread throughout when the vertebra is crushed so wholly, causing spinal cord injury. 

#3: Flexion-distraction Fracture

A flexion-distraction fracture results after severe trauma. For example, if your spine is forced to flex forward while another sudden forward movement places incredible stress on the spine, your vertebrae will break. 

#4: Fracture Dislocation

The final type of vertebral fracture is fracture dislocation, a double doozy spinal injury. You are suffering from fracture dislocation when you experience any of the above fractures and the vertebra moves significantly or dislocates. Generally, these fractures involve all three columns of the Denis Classification, causing extreme spinal instability. 

How are These Fractures Treated?

Treatment for vertebral fractures depends on: 

  • Other injuries and their treatment; 
  • The particular fracture pattern; 
  • Whether a neurological injury is present or not. 

After stabilization of other life-threatening injuries, the doctor evaluates the spinal fracture pattern to decide if spine surgery is necessary. 

A stable fracture may not require surgical treatment but can be stabilized by wearing a neck or back brace for 8 to 12 weeks. On the other hand, an unstable neck fracture or dislocation may require more treatment through traction, which realigns the spine to its correct position. 

Spine surgery is often required for unstable burst fractures with

  • Multiple bone fragments; 
  • Severe loss of vertebral body height; 
  • Excessive forward bending near the injury; 
  • Significant nerve injury or disk pinching; 
  • Unstable ligament damage.

Flexion fracture patterns with the above symptoms are treated with surgical decompression of the spinal canal and stabilization of the fracture. A laminectomy surgically decompresses the spine by removing the bony arch or structure, pressuring the spinal cord on the backside of the spinal canal. It relieves pressure by providing extra space for the spinal cord to drift backward. 

Fusion, another surgical treatment used to treat unstable fractures, joins two vertebrae with a bone graft and hardware such as plates, rods, or cages and transforms two vertebrae into a solid piece of bone. 

Minimally invasive procedures also treat vertebral compression fractures commonly caused by osteoporosis and spinal tumors. For example, vertebroplasty injects bone cement into a fractured vertebral body. Another procedure, called kyphoplasty, first inserts and inflates a balloon in order to expand the compressed vertebra. Once inflated, the space is then filled with bone cement. 

Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating Spinal Fractures!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 298-7179 or (201) 357-6539 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601 are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD areas. Also, feel free to access our blog page and social media for more information on chiropractic treatments!

Sciatica when Pregnant: What to Do?

Sciatica when Pregnant: What to Do?

Your body experiences tremendous changes during the nine months of pregnancy. As you and your family dream of bringing home a newly minted person, wonder what their little personality will be like, create a nursery, and choose a name, parts of your body are shifting and straining to accommodate and nurture the little one.

 

Unfortunately, the joy, excitement, and anticipation can be masked by significant physical pain in pregnancy as the body tries to cope with its massive and constant changes. Some of those changes may bring on a case of sciatica, a painful condition caused by an irritated sciatic nerve. 

Here is a brief review of sciatica during pregnancy — what it is, what you can do, and how the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center chiropractors can help!

What is Sciatica during Pregnancy? 

Sciatica is a condition that sends a sharp pain shooting from your back or buttocks down the back of your legs, along the sciatic nerve, to your feet. This pain is often due to the nerve being compressed by damaged spinal discs or arthritis. 

Sciatic pain may be continuous or occasional, depending on the level of pressure on the nerve. In any case, though, it’s not hard to imagine that having sciatica, in addition to other discomforts of third-trimester pregnancy, must be quite painful!

What Causes Sciatica during Pregnancy?

Lower back pain is common during pregnancy. It is estimated that 50 to 80% of women experience this pain at some point in their pregnancies. In addition, in pregnant women, sciatica occurs in late pregnancy with the significant changes that come with a growing baby. 

For example, here are a few things that can pressure the sciatic nerve during pregnancy: 

  • Weight gain;
  • Fluid retention;
  • An enlarged uterus;
  • Shifting center of gravity;
  • The growing baby (the head may sit directly on the nerve).

This pain can last for the remainder of the pregnancy and several weeks after birth until the excess weight and fluid are shed. 

The condition may also be caused by a herniated disc, which, according to research, may be more common in pregnant women over 30.  

The Hormone Relaxin

During pregnancy, your body is flooded with a variety of hormones. One of them, relaxin, supports implantation and growth of the placenta. During the third trimester, it also softens the pelvic bones in anticipation of allowing the baby to be delivered. Unfortunately, this process can make the still pregnant woman feel unbalanced and pinch and irritate the sciatic nerve

What Sciatica Symptoms Do Pregnant Women Experience?

Unfortunately, the list of symptoms for sciatica during pregnancy consists mostly of different types of pain with a few other categories of discomfort to give it a little variety. But fortunately, there are things you can do to alleviate the pain, and there are many ways a chiropractor can bring you relief. 

The main symptom is shooting pain from the back to the feet. You may also experience

  • Pain in the legs;
  • A “pins and needles” or burning feeling, tingling, or numbness in the legs;
  • Pain that worsens with coughing, moving, or sneezing;
  • Urinary incontinence (i.e., loss of bladder control).

Symptoms may also include pain on one side of the buttocks or legs and discomfort when walking, standing, or sitting for a long time. In sum, sciatica is highly unpleasant, especially during pregnancy!

Relieving Sciatic Nerve Pain: What You Can Do

Fortunately, there are safe DIY methods to relieve the pain and discomfort of sciatica during your pregnancy unless there are other health conditions present:

Ice or Heat

Applying ice will numb the area and reduce pain signals, while the resulting reduced blood flow will ease inflammation. Heat may help address chronic sciatic pain by dilating blood vessels, increasing blood flow, and soothing sore muscles.

Sciatica Pregnancy Stretches and Exercises

A healthcare practitioner can help you pick a set of exercises that will help make your pregnancy more comfortable by strengthening muscles and improving posture:

  • Bound Angle Pose: With your legs straight out, raise your pelvis, bend your knees, move your heels toward you, drop your knees to the sides, and press your feet together. 
  • Child’s Pose: Face down with toes on the ground, lift up, and stretch your arms as far as they will go. Lower yourself to the ground with arms outstretched.
  • Table Stretch: With your legs slightly wider than your hips, put your hands on a table and lean forward. Move your hips away from the table to stretch your lower back and the back of your legs.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Lower yourself to the floor on your hands and knees. Move one foot forward and stretch your back, hip, and leg. 

Walking and More

Occasional short walks can benefit your lower back and make you feel more stable as you move around. Start with a 5-minute walk and gradually increase that time by a few minutes every several days. Depending on your health, you may want to add other mild exercises, such as bicycling, swimming, dance, or yoga. Check with your doctor to make sure that whatever you choose to do, it will be safe. 

Resting

Sometimes you have to sit down, put your feet up, and take a break, as the simple act of resting can take the pressure off your back and ease the pain! Try sleeping on your pain-free side using a firm mattress and avoid staying in one position for a long time. 

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

Complementary to primary medical care, chiropractic treatment can alleviate months of musculoskeletal pain, all too common for pregnant women. Some chiropractors even specialize in pregnancy care! The adjustments, exercises, and stretches used at Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center for pregnant patients are safe and gentle. We relieve your pain by realigning the spine and balancing the pelvis. 

Our practices are non-invasive and drug-free. Treatments can result in pain relief, increased mobility, improved sleep, and decreased labor and delivery times. We help your body more effectively adapt to the constant changes and stress that come with pregnancy, and reduce conditions such as sciatic pain! 

Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating Sciatic Nerve Pain!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 298-7179 or (201) 357-6539 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601 are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD areas. Also, feel free to access our blog page and social media for more information on chiropractic treatments!

What is the Lower Crossed Syndrome?

What is the Lower Crossed Syndrome?

Do you live a sedentary lifestyle? In today’s world, that’s not a surprise at all. However, if your career or living situation requires prolonged sitting, it is important to properly take care of your body and avoid painful health complications such as lower crossed syndrome. Even if you work a lovely desk job or enjoy your comfy couch time, be sure to spend some time exercising and moving your body. Humans are not designed to stay cooped up, so continue reading to learn more about lower cross syndrome and exercises designed to avoid or alleviate its symptoms! 

What is Lower Crossed Syndrome?

Unterkreuz syndrome, more commonly known as Lower Crossed Syndrome, is caused by large muscle strength imbalances in the abdominal muscles and the gluteus maximus. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the lower cross syndrome is one of the most common compensatory body patterns. It differs from the upper cross syndrome as it does not occur in the shoulders and neck but in the lower lumbo-pelvic region. 

When muscles become lengthened or shortened over time, the lower muscular imbalance results in postural changes of the neutral spine, lower back pain, and overactive muscles. Postural changes are most commonly viewed as an increased forward bend of the pelvis coupled with an excessive lower back arch. The uneven pull on your muscles forces the back muscles and hamstrings to work harder, leading to injuries. Because the lower cross syndrome causes overactivity in certain muscle groups, there is intense tightness of hip flexors and lumbar erector spinae.  

The Two Types of Lower Cross Syndrome

There are two different types of lower cross syndrome. While they are very similar and involve the same main muscle imbalances and common compensatory patterns, one mainly affects the hip flexors while the other affects the lower back. Unlike upper cross syndrome, which affects the upper trapezius, both lower cross syndrome subgroups are differentiated by how they alter the gluteal musculature’s postural alignment and change the myofascial activation patterns of the pelvic region, although they both result in tight muscles and a painful lower back. Often, physical therapy is the best option to resolve this painful condition and muscle weakness. 

#1: Posterior Pelvic Cross Syndrome

The first subgroup is called posterior pelvic crossed syndrome and dominates the axial extensor. In this type of lower cross syndrome, the pelvis has an anterior tilt while the knees and hip region are put into a slightly flexed position with unnaturally lengthened muscles. Often associated with a compensatory hyperlordosis of the lumbar spine and hyperkyphosis between the thoracic and lumbar spine, the condition leads to a decreased ability to breathe and control one’s posture. The tightened hip flexors and lumbar spine may become painful as they take on more strain to compensate for the weak muscles. 

Furthermore, due to the lack of stabilization within the abdominals and internal oblique, the thorax will move up to over 90 degrees, and the postero-inferior thorax will be hyper-stabilized. This means that exhalation becomes difficult as the rectus abdominis activation cannot lower the thorax into its neutral position. In short, the expiratory phase becomes shortened, and problems arise when the coordination between the transverses and the diaphragm is insufficient. 

#2: Anterior Pelvic Crossed Syndrome

The second type of lower crossed syndrome is called the anterior pelvic crossed syndrome and occurs when the abdominal muscles are too weak or too short. In this condition, the muscles compensate with minimal hypolordosis of the lumbar spine, hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine, and head protraction. Thus, the anterior pelvic tilt forces the knees into a hyperextension. 

What Causes the Lower Crossed Syndrome?

The lower crossed syndrome is caused by either the shortening or lengthening of muscles within the pelvic or lumbosacral regions of the body. Often related to or caused by poor posture or prolonged sitting, the lower cross syndrome results from changing muscular length and increased stress on certain muscles and hip joints. When you maintain improper posture, training, or ability to perform daily tasks, the affected muscles bear the burden of one-sided stress or high tension. Although the lower cross syndrome is most often linked to poor posture, it can also be caused by general poor health or physical condition. 

Another common cause of the lower cross syndrome is prolonged sitting. You can cause an imbalance between the muscles as weakness occurs due to reduced mobility or prolonged sitting. 

What are the Symptoms of Lower Crossed Syndrome?

The most common symptoms of the lower crossed syndrome are lower back pain or pain within a pelvic or hip joint. Other symptoms include

  • Difficulty moving or stiffness in the lumbar spine, hip, hamstring, or pelvic region; 
  • Pain in the hip flexors, groin, spine, or gluteal muscles; 
  • Protruding stomach due to an overly arched lower back; 
  • Tension in the lower back or gluteal muscles. 

Lower Cross Syndrome Exercises

One of the best treatment techniques for the lower cross syndrome is through an exercise program. Especially if you sit for prolonged periods, it is important to take time to exercise your body and loosen your sitting muscles or gluteus maximus. The first step toward treating this condition is to loosen your hip flexor muscles and joints and strengthen the weakened abdominal and gluteal muscles, particularly the gluteus medius. The goal is to loosen any possibly tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles. Certain floor exercises and stretches can work wonders at reducing pain in the lower body. However, if these exercises fail to reduce tension and pain, you should seek help from a physical therapist. 

Muscle-Relaxing Techniques

Everyone should learn how to relax their overactive muscles. One way to do this is by using a foam roller to slowly roll parts of the body. Take the roller and use it on tight muscles such as the quads and inner thighs. If you find a tender spot, hold the position for 30 seconds

Iliopsoas Stretch

After you have relaxed your overactive muscles, it is time to begin strengthening and lengthening your weak muscles. The iliopsoas stretch or single-leg squat uses static stretching to do just that. You can even increase the severity of the stretch with the rectus femoris. 

To perform this hip flexor stretch and rectus femoris:

  1. Assume a kneeling position with your back in line with the buttocks and knees.
  2. Put one leg in front of you with the knee bent, the foot resting flat on the ground, and the toes facing forward.
  3. Lean forward into a lunge position until you feel a gentle stretch in the hip flexors and the front and back of the thigh muscles.
  4. Hold the hip flexor stretch for 15-30 seconds, then repeat using the other leg. You can increase this stretch with the rectus femoris by bending the knee more than 90 degrees during the iliopsoas stretch. 

Erector Spinae Stretch

A similar gentle stretch is called the erector spinae stretch. In this stretch, you begin by lying in a supine position or an upright fetal position with your knees tucked into your chest and your arms wrapped around your knees. Exhale and stretch while staying balanced on your back. Hold the position for 15 seconds before releasing. 

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

The last step is strengthening the muscles and hip flexor with little to no external resistance. 

One exercise you can use is called the bridge: 

  • First, lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 
  • Lift your pelvis into the air with your heels a few inches from your buttocks and your arms extended towards your feet. You should form a straight line with the knees, pelvis, and shoulders by keeping your shoulders on the floor. 
  • Hold the position for a couple of seconds before gently lowering the body. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times

Another useful exercise is called hip extension: 

  • Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, your knees under your hips, and your neck in line with your spine.
  • Stretch the right arm and left leg, keeping your hand and foot against the ground. 
  • Once you feel balanced, raise the outstretched right arm and left leg until they are parallel with your back. 
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. 
  • Again, repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times

Once you have begun exercising and stretching your tight cross semi-regularly, you should begin integrated movement patterns to help your brain understand how to move the muscles. Follow the exercises your physical therapist advises you to complete to reach the ultimate goal of integration and resolving muscular imbalances. 

Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating the Lower Crossed Syndrome!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, Hackensack, and Fairfield, New Jersey, are ready to welcome you. Also, feel free to access our blog page for more information on chiropractic treatments!

Esports Injuries: What is Gamer’s Thumb?

Esports Injuries: What is Gamer’s Thumb?

In the modern world, we are surrounded by new sources of technology and entertainment. Today, we enjoy various activities our ancestors could have never even dreamed of! Unfortunately, our bodies are not designed to complete the repetitive motions that gaming and texting require. If you are a gamer or avid typer, you should be aware of a condition colloquially known as Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb. While modern technologies are mostly harmless, they have the unfortunate side effect of causing our thumbs to overwork, resulting in a “smartphone thumb.” Keep reading to learn more about this painful condition and how to prevent it from happening to you!

What is the Gamer’s Thumb?

The technical name for Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb is De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis, but it is more commonly known as trigger finger, Nintendo Thumb, Playstation Thumb, and Nintendonitis. This injury is caused by repetitive movements of the thumb, resulting in irritated and inflamed tendons in the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles. These muscles are responsible for pulling the thumb away from the hand and palm. When the sheath tendons become inflamed, they swell and begin to fill the narrow tunnel through which they run, causing increased friction and decreased range of thumb movement. 

In console gaming, the trigger finger is usually due to the repetitive motion of thumb stick movements. While PC gamers can develop the condition, it is most prevalent in console gamers. More recently, the condition has also been linked to text messaging or typing on mobile devices, receiving the name ‘Texting Thumb.’ 

What are the Gamer’s Thumb Symptoms?

The first and foremost symptom of a Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb is pain on the thumb side of your forearm and wrist. You may also experience grip weakness caused by the aforementioned pain. 

General symptoms include

  • Pain or swelling at the base of the thumb; 
  • Difficulty grasping or pinching; 
  • Pain when turning or flexing the wrist; 
  • Pain when making a fist. 

You may experience pain in your thumb due to inflammation when extending or abducting it and when bending your wrist towards the pinky side of your hand. Trigger thumb is a similar condition to Gamer’s Thumb that causes your finger to become stuck in a bent position and snap straight. Occurring due to inflammation of the tendons, trigger thumb, Gamer’s Thumb, carpal tunnel, and Texting Thumb all share similar symptoms and causes. 

How Long Does a Gamer’s Thumb Last?

Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb inflammation can have permanent effects if not dealt with properly or quickly. However, in most mild cases, the symptoms only last four to five hours after gaming or typing. If you are experiencing these mild symptoms, it is important you get it checked out before it worsens and becomes lasting. If your condition is more severe, your recovery may take four to six weeks

How is Gamer’s Thumb Treated Conservatively?

If you believe you are suffering from Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb, there are a few different exercises and methods to treat your symptoms and reduce inflammation conservatively. You can visit this video link explanation for a few different exercises, and below, you have an explanation of four exercises used to prevent and treat Gamer’s Thumb. If you take time to stretch after physical activity, then you can increase your range of motion and release chronic muscle tension. 

You can also take anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain caused by Gamer’s Thumb or Texter’s Thumb. However, it is highly recommended that you take the time to stretch and exercise your thumb properly before resorting to medication. 

#1: Ulnar Deviation

Ulnar deviation is a type of exercise used to improve Gamer’s Thumb through Resistance Tubing. To complete this exercise: 

  • Sit on a chair with feet hip distance apart and hold one end of the tubing in your right hand. 
  • With your palm facing the floor, lean forward so your right elbow rests on your right thigh, and your forearm drops between your knees. 
  • Take your left foot and step on the other end of the tubing. 
  • Now, take your right hand and slowly bend your wrist up and away from your left knee. 
  • If done correctly, you should feel a stretch at the back and inside of your hand. 
  • Repeat these steps on your right hand ten times before switching to your left hand. 

#2: Radial Deviation

If you want to condition your hand for those long gaming sessions, try radial deviation strengthening

  • Start the exercise by extending your arm in front of your body. 
  • Hold a weight with your palm facing inward. 
  • If you need some extra support, you can balance your forearm on a table and hang your wrist over the edge. 
  • Keep your forearm steady and focus on only moving the wrist. 
  • Begin bending your wrist toward the ceiling to feel the stretch at the base of the thumb. 
  • Gently lower your wrist to the starting position and repeat for two sets of ten repetitions each. 

#3: Wrist Extension

The eccentric wrist extension is another exercise ideal for preventing Gamer’s Thumb: 

  • Begin by holding a weight with your palm facing downward. 
  • Next, curl your wrist toward the ceiling and then uncurl the wrist toward the floor. 
  • Repeat this motion for three sets of 15 repetitions each. 

#4: Wrist Flexion

If you suffer from wrist pain due to gaming, wrist flexion is the ideal exercise for stretching and strengthening your wrist. To complete this exercise, you will use a moderately heavy weight so that it is possible to finish multiple repetitions and build endurance: 

  • First, hold the weight with your palm up and then curl your wrist toward the ceiling. 
  • Slowly uncurl the wrist and bring it down toward the ground. Be sure to uncurl your fingers to target deeper forearm muscles at the end of the exercise. 
  • Repeat the exercise for three sets of 15 repetitions each. 

#5: Thumb Braces

While a thumb or hand brace may work for short-term pain relief, exercise should be the primary method to keep your hand healthy. You can ease the pain of Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb by avoiding further tendon aggravation and inflammation. A thumb brace can be worn when you are not playing games to completely immobilize the thumb. You can likewise use Kinesiology Tape to support muscle and thumb joints without fully immobilizing your range of motion. 

How to Prevent Gamer’s Thumb Pain

There are three main ways to prevent pain from Gamer’s Thumb or Texting Thumb. While it is difficult for most gamers and texters, spending less time playing and texting is the best way to decrease your risk of developing this injury. By reducing your gaming or texting session by one extra hour, you can save yourself from the pain of a life-long texter’s thumb affliction. 

#1: Give Your Thumbs a Bit of Rest

The best way to prevent an injury is to give your thumbs some time to rest through frequent breaks. Some gamers can play for hours without taking a break, while some smartphone users can spend hours texting. However, all that gaming and smartphone use puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your thumbs. 

#2: Corticosteroid Injections

If more conservative treatments and preventions have failed, you may consider taking corticosteroid injections to eliminate chronic inflammation. Steroid injections are widely used and can help prevent stenosing tenosynovitis and the need for surgery. A steroid injection is considered minimally invasive, as it delivers the medication by puncturing the skin and tendon sheath. 

#3: Hand Surgery

If you cannot find relief for your gamers or texter’s thumb symptoms or your condition worsens, you may need to schedule a physical exam and speak with a hand surgeon about your options. By cutting the sheath around the thumb tendons and making more room, your surgeon can help relieve symptoms of Gamer’s Thumb and Texting Thumb. 

Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating Gamer’s Thumb Syndrome!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, Hackensack, and Fairfield, New Jersey, are ready to welcome you. Also, feel free to access our blog page for more information on chiropractic treatments!

Are Chiropractors Good for Herniated Discs?

Are Chiropractors Good for Herniated Discs?

A herniated disc or “slipped disc” occurs when the discs within your spine begin to wear down with age and use. Without these discs working properly to absorb shock, you can experience a lot of pain within your spine. While most people are not at risk of suffering from a herniated disc, it is not uncommon in young to middle-aged adults who overwork their bodies. Despite the pain this condition can cause, there are options for relief through chiropractic care! 

What is a Herniated Disc?

Between almost all your spinal vertebrae lies an intervertebral disc. These discs act as cushions to help absorb and distribute shock. Without them, your spine cannot function. However, as with almost every part of the body, the discs show signs of wear and tear with age. 

While the phrase “slipped disc” has become a popular term for bulging, ruptured, or herniated discs, intervertebral discs do not actually “slip.” The annulus fibrosus (the tough outer layer) and the nucleus pulposus (the soft, gelatin-like center) make up your discs. When cracks occur in the outer layer of the disc, the gelatin-like material found inside begins to ooze out. This process puts excess pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves and causes severe pain. Thus, not the entirety of the disc slips, but only the small area of the crack is dislodged from its proper place. 

Am I Suffering from a Herniated or Bulging Disc?

Eventually, discs deteriorate, resulting in either a bulging or herniation. As time passes, discs dehydrate and their cartilage stiffens, causing the outer layer of the disc to bulge out. A bulging disc does not always affect the entire perimeter of a disc. However, at least a quarter or half of the disc’s circumference is generally affected. Only the outer layer of tough cartilage is affected when it comes to a bulging disc. 

On the other hand, a herniated disc occurs when a crack in the tough outer layer of cartilage allows some softer inner cartilage to protrude out of the disc. Also called a ruptured disc or slipped disc, a herniated disc is not caused by an entire disc rupturing or slipping. 

How do you know if you are suffering from a bulging or herniated disc? The best way to tell is by the pain level you are experiencing. As a herniated disc generally protrudes farther and irritates the nerve roots, its symptoms are more painful than a bulging disc. The irritation of a herniated disc is caused by the compression of the nerve or the painful inflammation of the nerve root. 

What are the Different Disc Herniation Stages?

If you have a back pain condition, the symptoms will likely start small and gradually increase until you feel excessive back pain. There are four main stages of disc degeneration: 

  • Degeneration; 
  • Prolapse; 
  • Extrusion; 
  • Sequestration. 

The first stage, degeneration, occurs when the disc loses its elasticity and becomes brittle with age. 

Stage two, prolapse, occurs when tiny tears form in the outer fibrous ring of an intervertebral disc. These tears allow the gel-like central portion to bulge along with the tough fibrous outer layer. 

Extrusion, stage three, is when part of the nucleus breaks through the tough outer layer but remains within the disc. Also known as a non-contained herniation or transligamentous herniation, an acute lumbar disc herniation is followed by sequestration. 

In stage four, disc sequestration, the gel-like material breaks through the tough outer layer and leaks into the spinal canal, causing a free fragment. After all four stages are complete, you will feel full-fledged disc herniation symptoms and require chiropractic treatment. 

How Does Chiropractic Care Address Disc Herniation?

Chiropractic care helps to relieve back pain and other herniated disc symptoms. After an initial assessment, your chiropractor can recommend the best treatment option for your situation. 

Your Chiropractor Will Conduct an Initial Assessment

Before your treatment plan begins, your chiropractor will conduct an initial assessment. During this initial consultation, your chiropractor will examine your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and perform orthopedic and neurological tests. Even if you are only experiencing low back pain, your chiropractor will also examine your neck and other portions of the spinal column to evaluate the overall health of your spine. Similarly, if you are experiencing neck pain, your lower back will be evaluated as well. 

Chiropractic Techniques for Herniated Discs

Chiropractors have several techniques to treat and relieve pain caused by herniated discs. While there are options for surgical chiropractic care, you can also receive nonsurgical treatments to ease back pain. 

Flexion-distraction Technique

The flexion-distraction technique reduces herniated disc symptoms and offers back pain relief by reducing the pressure on your discs. 

To conduct a flexion distraction, your chiropractor will use a specialized table to gently stretch the spine. They will isolate the affected area while slightly flexing the spine with a pumping rhythm. This treatment option is almost painless and allows the center of the intervertebral disc to assume its central position in the disc without excess pressure. 

For the flexion-distraction to be successful, you must undergo a series of chiropractic care treatments alongside adjunctive ultrasound, muscle stimulation, physiotherapy, supplementation, and at-home treatments. Your chiropractor will monitor your progress throughout the entire process.

Spinal Manipulation

Often used for spinal conditions and disc problems, spinal manipulations are a type of chiropractic adjustments conducted under anesthesia. Luckily, the anesthesia puts the patient to sleep for only about six minutes, allowing your chiropractor to stretch and manipulate the area while the body is completely relaxed. Unlike the flexion-distraction technique, a spinal manipulation treatment plan requires only one to three sessions

Pelvic Blocking Treatments

Herniated disc symptoms can also be treated through pelvic blocking techniques. Cushioned wedges placed under each side of the pelvis allow the use of gentle exercises to draw your disc away from the nerve it may be pressing on, easing spinal pain. 

Additional Treatment Options

Chiropractors suggest you supplement the above treatment options with additional techniques to find relief. Such additional options include: 

  • 3D active traction; 
  • Laser therapy; 
  • Massage therapy; 
  • Ultrasound-guided injections. 

These more conservative chiropractic treatment options target your herniated disc at its root cause and help manage its other symptoms. 

Dr. Doerr is the Best Chiropractor in New Jersey for Treating Disc Herniation!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, Hackensack, and Fairfield, New Jersey, are ready to welcome you. Also, feel free to access our blog page for more information on chiropractic treatments!