Congratulation to Dr. Becker for being voted the #1 chiropractor by readers in Saline County for the Saline Courier Best of the Best 2014! Dr. Becker's services are available at Pain Care Associates in Benton.
Often misunderstood to be a diagnosis, sciatica is actually the term for a collection of symptoms, the most pronounced of which is low back pain combined with pain that extends through the buttocks and down one leg. It is one of the most common forms of low back pain and, as such, is regularly treated by chiropractors.
Sciatica takes its name from the sciatic nerve, which branches out from the lower part of the back and stretches down the entire back of each leg as far as the foot. Deriving from a number of spinal nerves, the left and right sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the human body. The compression or pinching of either sciatic nerve (or the nerves at the root of the spine) is the cause of sciatica, and this can occur as a result of a number of different medical conditions.
The pain that occurs with sciatica is the single most important factor in differentiating it from other kinds of low back pain. Although the pain may begin in the lower back, sciatica is also felt further down in the buttocks, the back of the thigh, the lower leg an even into the foot itself. The left and right sciatic nerves are rarely affected at the same time, so pain that occurs in only one leg is often a reliable indicator that someone has sciatica.
Sciatic pain is often described as shooting like electricity or burning like fire rather than a dull ache. A tingling or prickling feeling may also occur, often accompanied by numbness and/or weakness in the leg, just as when the leg ‘goes to sleep’ after you have been sitting on it for a while. A combination of pain and weakness can also be felt in the same leg. Sufferers of sciatica usually report that their pain tends to be better when they are lying down or walking and worse when standing or sitting.
The level of pain experienced in sciatica can range from moderate discomfort to severe pain, depending on the nature and severity of the underlying condition. In the worst cases, the degree of shooting pain or weakness in the leg may prevent standing and walking altogether. The frequency of symptoms may also vary from occasional through intermittent to ever present.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then it would be wise to arrange a visit to your chiropractor. They can examine you properly to determine if you do have sciatica, what is causing it, and the appropriate treatment options for your case. Leaving a condition untreated can lead to a worsening of symptoms, so getting an early diagnosis could save you a lot of aggravation and pain.
The results of a study published in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, found that the use of tablet computers was associated with greater head and neck flexion than traditional desktop computers and that placing the tablet higher on a table and using a case to put the tablet at a more optimal angle could help prevent neck and shoulder problems.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Microsoft Corporation studied 15 volunteers who were regular users of tablet computers. The subjects performed simulated tasks on an Apple iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom, during which the posture of the head and neck, the subjects' gaze angle and gaze distance were measured by a three-dimensional infrared motion analysis system. They surfed the internet, wrote e-mails, watched movies and played video games.
Each tablet came with its own proprietary case that enabled users to set the tablet at different angles. The Apple case allowed for 15° and 73° tilt angles, while the Motorola case allowed angles of 45° and 63°. Greater flexion of the neck was found with the iPad2 when used in its case. Not surprisingly, tablets set at the least perpendicular angle caused greater neck and head flexion than when the subjects used a desktop or laptop computer. Head and neck posture only began to approach a neutral position when the tablets were set in their cases at the Table-Movie angle in which they were closest to perpendicular.
The researchers recommended that tablet users place the devices on a table and at the steepest viewing angle possible to avoid neck and shoulder pain. However, they cautioned that this configuration might cause problems for the arms and wrists, which in this configuration are not optimally placed for input and can lead to problems of their own.
If you just cannot conceive of giving up your iPad, in addition to reducing the amount of time you spend using it, consider seeing your chiropractor on a regular basis. Chiropractic care has been shown to be more effective in treating neck pain than using pain medication. A chiropractic adjustment can realign neck vertebrae and take the pressure off compressed nerves, bringing relief in a gentle, natural manner and allowing you to use your tablet more comfortably.
The adult human head weighs about 5kg, which, at rest, is comfortably supported by the bones and muscles of the neck. However, rapid movement backward and forward puts a much larger load on the cervical vertebrae and ligaments holding them in place. The anterior longitudinal ligament that runs down the back of the spine is particularly at risk of stretching or tearing during a rapid collision.
The signs and symptoms of whiplash associated disorders range from mild neck pain for a few days after the injury to headaches, arm pain and long-term restricted movement of the neck. Studies have shown that whiplash injuries can also constrict blood flow to the brain, leading to light-headedness, poor concentration and fatigue. Left untreated, injuries of whiplash origin can experience further deterioration leading to other long-term complications such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, migraines, thyroid problems, and other, neurological compromised, related symptoms and conditions.
Since 1995, the Québec Task Force (QTF) scale has been widely used to assess the severity of WAD and how they should be treated. Their grading system is as follows:
0 - No complaint about the neck. No physical signs
I - Neck complaint of pain, stiffness or tenderness only. No physical signs
II - Neck complaint and musculoskeletal signs. Musculoskeletal signs include decreased range of motion and point tenderness
III - Neck complaint and neurological signs. Neurological signs include decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits
IV - Neck complaint and fracture or dislocation
In addition to grading the injury based on your symptoms, a chiropractor can assess the injury by performing a thorough examination, including palpating the affected area and observing your neck movement and any associated pain. Further tests likely to be performed may include x-rays, and in more severe cases MRI, or nerve conduction studies.
The recommended chiropractic treatment will depend on the severity of the injury, but common actions include treatment with heat and cold, chiropractic manipulation, therapeutic massage, and a specific program of exercises to gently regain the full range of neck movement. A bag of frozen peas held against the neck for short periods is a good stop-gap treatment for moderate neck pain if you have to wait for an appointment. Pain medication may be required in grade II injuries and above (usually NSAIDs to reduce inflammation but narcotic pain relief may be prescribed for grade III WAD) and collars may also be used to keep the neck in place for 72 hours after grade II and III injuries to give the muscles and ligaments time to recover.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to the average person, chiropractic manipulation is the most powerful rehabilitative therapy that can be deployed to the typical whiplash injuries at the targeted levels of soft tissue anatomy. The adjustment utilized by your chiropractor will assist the healing process and assure that proper functional balance is restored as soon as possible, avoiding long-term complications.
Grade IV whiplash is a serious injury that will require a medical specialist for treatment. This will at minimum consist of several months of neck immobilization and possibly surgery. Most whiplash injuries are, much less serious than this and are more likely to be a cause of pain and discomfort than a true medical emergency. Though, as anyone who has suffered with WAD will tell you, the distress associated with ongoing neck pain and stiffness can have a substantial impact on daily life, and it is well worth getting checked over by a chiropractor if you experience any signs of whiplash in order to reduce your healing time and reduce the chance of future neck complaints.