Within the spine you have numerous structures, but the two we’re focusing on here are your vertebrae (the individual bones of the spine), and the discs (the cartilage ‘cushion’ in between each of those vertebrae). These discs act as shock absorbers that allow your spine to move in different directions and deal with regular impact without damaging the other spinal structures.
Have you ever had pain, stiffness, grinding, clicking, or locking of your jaw? These are most often clear signs of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Dysfunction. This is a common condition, affecting over 10 million people! The severity of the condition varies greatly, with some people experiencing only mild symptoms on occasion, while others suffer a great deal daily. And if you notice your symptoms getting worse, now’s the time to start taking care of it. That grinding, clicking, pain, and locking are all signs that the joint isn’t moving and functioning properly, meaning damage is being done, and without intervention that damage may very well be irreparable.
If you’ve ever done any activity out of the ordinary, you know what it’s like to be sore after. If you’ve done squats, you know walking up and down steps is like torture the day after. Or have your arms shaking after an intense workout. Whether you’re still working toward that New Year’s resolution of getting into shape, or just pushing yourself a bit past your normal, it’s important to be aware that there are many misconceptions about muscle soreness.
When seeking answers for low back, hip, and leg pain, you may have heard the term Sciatica. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body) is irritated or inflamed, causing pain, tingling, and/or numbness felt along part or all of the nerve path; most often starting in the low back or the buttock and traveling down the outer leg, even all the way down to the foot in some cases.
The body is intricately designed with nerve endings and connective tissues that intertwine to form a beautiful structure capable of everything from minute movements, to birthing a child, to surviving in some of the harshest conditions on earth. But with these capabilities comes vulnerability, so it’s no surprise that we experience pain from time to time at the very least. What you may not realize is that sometimes the pain you feel isn’t necessarily caused by something in the area you feel it. For example, when you have an injury to your hips or pelvis, it can often cause back pain. Due to the proximity of the complex joints of the pelvis to your spine, your body can also interpret your hip/pelvis problem as back pain and your back problem as hip/pelvic pain.
Did you know that 18 million people each year see a doctor for knee pain? While there are a larger number of people who experience knee pain as they get older, there are quite a few causes that have nothing to do with age. Runner’s knee (which also affects those who participate in activities that require repetitive bending), Osgood-Schlatter disease (which is found in children & adolescents), chondromalacia patella (the softening and breakdown of the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap), and osteoarthritis are all common causes of knee pain. While in some situations, surgery is a necessity, there are certain exercises you can perform to help strengthen your knees as well as keep pain at bay.
Bulging and herniated discs tend to happen as a completely normal part of aging. While some can be caused by poor posture and movement patterns or injury to the spine, most cases are just what happens as we get older. A bulging disc occurs when the entire disc “bulges” out of its normal space. A herniated disc is when the outer portion of the disc thins and allows part of the inner structure of the disc to push out of the normal disc space. These conditions don’t necessarily translate into a painful or even noticeable condition, but if it does, patients can experience pain, numbness, and tingling within the low back, hip, and down the leg as well as a loss of range of motion depending on the nerve(s) being compressed.
If you’re not familiar with it, spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal – the space that contains the spinal cord. This is most often caused by degenerative changes; some sort of normal shift or loss that occurs over time, such as with herniated discs, arthritic changes, compression fractures, etc. This stenosis, or narrowing of that space, can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. The two most common places for this to occur are in the neck (cervical stenosis) and the low back (lumbar stenosis). Most often, stenosis can begin with little to no sign that anything is wrong. Progression of symptoms happens over time as the stenosis worsens. The most common symptoms include numbness, tingling, and weakness of the limbs and in some severe cases, organ function may be affected as well.
The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica is a condition that occurs when this nerve, which happens to be the largest nerve in the body, is irritated or inflamed, causing pain, tingling, and/or numbness. These sensations are felt along part or all of the nerve path and most often starts in the low back or the buttock and travels down the outer leg, sometimes all the way down to the foot.