Close up of woman doctor hands using digital tablet at clinic. Closeup of female doctor in labcoat and stethoscope holding digital tablet, reading patient report. Hands holding medical report, discussing Provocative Discography.

Why You Might Need Provocative Discography

When you’re dealing with constant and debilitating back pain, you’ll do anything to find relief as quickly as possible. However, determining the source for your back pain can be difficult if there is a long list of potential causes. It can take time and several doctor visits to discover the reason for your discomfort.

Provocative discography is a diagnostic procedure your physician might suggest to determine the root of the problem. To learn about this process and why you might need it, read more below from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.

What is Provocative Discography? 

Lumbar provocative discography, also called discography or discogram, helps your physician discover the source of your back pain. It identifies the disc or discs in the spine that appear abnormal and are painful. Then, your doctor can determine if surgery or another type of pain management is needed to help relieve your back pain.

How Does a Provocative Discography Work?

This procedure requires you to rate your pain during the procedure, so you will not be sleeping during it. Here are the common steps for a provocative discography.

  • Numbing medicine is applied to decrease the amount of pain felt during this procedure. 
  • A discogram needle enters the body and into the center of the disc. 
  • Then, a contrast dye is injected. 
  • The doctor will ask you to rate your pain and whether it corresponds with your normal area of pain.
  • Next, a CT scan or an X-ray is used to see how the dye spreads. 
  • If the dye spreads outside of the disc and it reproduces your pain, it could be the source of your pain. 

Why You Might Need It 

This procedure gives doctors an inside look at the quality of your spinal discs. The ones with the most wear and tear and reproduce your pain indicate the potential source of your back pain.

However, the efficacy of provocative discography in determining the source of back pain is still controversial within the scientific community. Sometimes, dye spreading past the disc doesn’t match your normal pain.

Because of this discussion, it’s best to consult with your pain physician beforehand to determine if provocative discography is the best procedure to identify your pain. 

If you have any more questions about why you might need provocative discography, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.   

Older woman holding back in pain due to arthritis, wondering How Arthritis Affects Your Spine..

How Arthritis Affects Your Spine

When thinking about arthritis, many people think about pain and lack of mobility in the hands and fingers. However, since arthritis is a medical condition that impacts the joints of the body, it can happen anywhere there are joints: which means, the spine is fair game. 

The common symptoms of arthritis are pain, lack of flexibility, and inflammation. While it can be difficult enough dealing with it in the hands, as it impacts your spine it can be even more difficult to get around and do everyday tasks. 

To learn more about how arthritis affects your spine from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Specialists, keep reading below.

Types of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

As the most common form of spinal arthritis, this impacts the lower back and is usually caused by common wear and tear of everyday life. The cartilage between the spinal facet joints naturally fades through the years, which means those joint surfaces begin to rub against each other. This then leads to the tell-tale signs of spinal arthritis, such as pain and lack of flexibility. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

An autoimmune disorder, this occurs when the immune system attacks the synovium, also known as the lining of the joints. It can happen during any age as, unlike osteoarthritis, it doesn’t naturally develop over time. 

It is usually more common in other areas of the body, but it can still happen to the spine. 

Spondyloarthritis

Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis is an inflammatory disease that impacts the joints, ligaments, and tendons of the spine. It can be triggered by other previous diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease or an infection. 

Symptoms of Spinal Arthritis

Here are the symptoms of arthritis in the spine: 

  • Pain in the back.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of flexibility in the back.
  • Headaches.
  • Grinding sensation in the spine when moving.
  • Swelling in the back.
  • Tenderness in the back.

Treatment of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

As with many other medical conditions, the type of treatment that works best for spinal arthritis will depend on many factors, such as type of spinal arthritis, age, and pain level. 

Keeping that in mind, here are several of the most common treatment options:

  • Medications.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking or losing weight.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Radiofrequency ablation of the nerves to the facet joints.
  • Surgery is rarely an option for spinal arthritis symptoms alone.

If you have any more questions about how arthritis affects your spine, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.  

Overworked Black Businesswoman Massaging Nosebridge At Workplace Having Eyesight Problem, Selective Focus, wondering How Stress and Fear Can Impact Your Pain.

How Stress and Fear Can Impact Your Pain

We’re all living in a stressful, unprecedented time. As the coronavirus impacts everything we know around us, it’s extremely common to feel stress and fear. Our favorite restaurants are closed, we need to stay inside all the time, and we can’t hug our loved ones. On top of all of that, the new stresses of working from home or dealing with less income have also arrived.

Needless to say, it can be rough. Even worse, stress and fear can cause more issues down the road if you’re dealing with chronic pain, which one in five Americans reportedly do. 

That’s why the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain are here to help. We’re explaining below how stress and fear can impact your pain and what you can do to help. 

Constant Fight or Flight Mode 

When you’re stressed or afraid, your body’s natural chemical reaction is to go into fight or flight mode. However, since you aren’t necessarily in need to fight or flight, your body gets confused by this and constantly stays in that mode. 

That means your body is always tense as all your muscles remain poised to strike or start to run. When you have chronic pain, this is a horrible thing for recovery and management. It’s best to relax your muscles as much as you can, but fight or flight mode is the direct opposite of that. 

Discourages Positive Mental Health 

When dealing with pain management, working on your mental health is a vital part of the process. When you’re feeling anxious or sad, your pain can often be increased or morphed. Added stress and fear only negatively impacts your mental health, therefore tampering with your back pain. 

Physical Side-Effects

Those with high-stress levels often report experiencing damage to their heart, irritable bowel syndrome and other issues with their digestive system, and even decreased fertility. When you’re already dealing with chronic pain, these combined physical effects can only make your initial symptoms feel worse. 

What Can I Do to Fight Against How Stress and Fear Can Impact Your Pain? 

To prevent the side-effects of stress and fear creating more issues with your chronic pain, here are several tips we recommend for coping:

  • Speak with others: Tell your trusted loved ones how you’re feeling. Oftentimes, they’ll understand what you’re going through and give you much needed advice, love, and attention to get you feeling better. 
  • Go to therapy: Dealing with chronic stress can often be a sign of an undiagnosed mental health issue. Speaking with a therapist can help you understand where your stress comes from, provide tips and tricks for how to deal with it, and also give you the tools to prevent the stress from arriving in the first place. 
  • Practice Self-care: When stress shows up, it’s best to lean on what brings you happiness and joy. That’s where self-care best practices come in, which means indulging in activities that make you feel happy and calm. Whether it’s pulling out the yoga mat or putting on a face-mask, don’t feel guilty for taking the time to love yourself so that stress will melt away. 

If you have any more questions about how stress and fear can impact your pain, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.   

A happy senior couple indoors at home, doing exercise on the floor., doing Exercises An Elderly Person Can Do to Strengthen Their Back.

Simple Exercises An Elderly Person Can Do to Strengthen Their Back

When you’re older in age, it becomes easier to rest more and work out less. However, it’s important for your overall health to stay active and keep exercising. Doing so has plenty mental benefits as well as physical, such as keeping your mobility up and preventing pain later down the road. 

Don’t fall into the temptation to spend more on the couch! Get up and do some workouts to keep your back happy and healthy. To make this easier for you, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain have put together a list of simple exercises an elderly person can do to strengthen their back. 

Try These Five Exercises An Elderly Person Can Do to Strengthen Their Back

All of the below exercises directly impact and strengthen your back. Whether you want to do them from the comfort of your own home or at the gym, the choice is up to you. 

  • Back Extension: Also called the superman, this exercise requires you to lay down flat on your stomach. Lift your chest up and pull your legs and back off of the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then rest before starting again. 
  • Bent Knee Raise: Lay down on your back. Have your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Raise one of your legs up to your chest, and repeat on the other side. You’ve done two bent knee raises! 
  • Bridges: Start off in the same position for the above exercise. This time, however, you will raise your hips off the ground until you make a straight slanted line with your body. Hold for as long as you can and then release. For an extra challenge, squeeze your abs when you lift your hips. 
  • Curl Ups: Similar to a sit-up, this exercise requires you to be on your back. Rest your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Curl your spine off the ground until you’re sitting up straight. Continue to do as many reps as you feel comfortable doing! 
  • Sit Backs: Essentially the opposite of the curl up, you start this exercise sitting on the floor. Have your knees bent up and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slowly start to sit back until you are resting on the ground. Sit back up and do it all over again. 

If you have any more questions about simple exercises an elderly person can do to strengthen their back, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our back-strengthening specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.  

Morning meditation. Tranquil good-looking woman meditating with closed eyes while having connected fingertips, learning What Mental Exercises Can Help with Pain Management.

What Mental Exercises Can Help with Pain Management

Chronic pain often negatively impacts the mental health of those who have issues. However, the brain can also be one of the toughest and most successful weapons against flaring pain. Mental exercises can be extremely effective practices to add to other pain management treatments. Focusing on your brain, distracting yourself, and keeping yourself positive can all make a difference.

To learn what mental exercises can help with pain management, keep reading below.

Do These Mental Exercises to Help Manage Your Pain

First and foremost, we want to stress that these exercises cannot replace the advice of a physician. Before you try any of these, please first speak with your trusted pain management specialist about how these might work for you and your specific pain.

That being said:

  • Lean into your breath. Using proper breathing techniques is a huge element of many encouraging mental exercises. For dealing with chronic pain, it can help to bring focus to other things besides your discomfort in addition to often triggering relaxation in your muscles and body. Practice deep breathing for these benefits by inhaling as much as you can and as slow as you can. Do the same for the exhale. Spend several minutes a day doing this, especially if you’re experiencing a flare-up of pain as deep breathing can often help the pain pass.
  • Focus Elsewhere with Meditation. A fantastic tool that many people often utilize, meditation can help bring your attention elsewhere besides your pain, strengthen your mental focus, make you feel more positive, and reduce stress. No wonder people with chronic pain often meditate! 
  • Gentle Yoga and Flow. Yoga and other gentle flow practices like Tai Chi incorporate both of the above practices while also helping to keep your body fit and stretched. When starting yoga or Tai Chi, make sure to pick exercises that won’t cause more pain for you later down the road. Plus, don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Keep Yourself Positive. It can be extremely challenging to remain positive in the face of daily physical pain. However, training yourself to look for the good in the situation and remaining happy will distract you from your pain. Also, it will also encourage you and better your situation. To keep yourself positive, try looking up inspiring news, starting a daily gratitude journal, or thinking about things that make you happy.

If you have any more questions about what mental exercises can help with pain management, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain-alleviating specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033. 

A happy senior couple indoors at home, doing exercise on the floor, wondering how to protect your body while working out at home.

Protect Your Body While Working Out at Home!

Many of us are practicing social distancing by staying home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, it’s vital to keep up as many healthy habits as we can. While it might be tempting just to crash on the couch and eat our favorite snacks, the best thing you can do for your body and mental health is to continue to exercise.

A great option to keep it up is to start working out from home. The good news is that there are countless resources available for you to do your favorite exercises from the comfort of your house, whether that involves dancing or yoga. But, because of this, injuries are more prone to happen when you don’t have a professional right next to you guiding you through your exercises.

To help the situation, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are providing our best tips and tricks on how to protect your body while working out at home.

Develop the Right Routine

First things first, make sure you’re working out in the correct order. It’s never a good idea for your body to just go right into a run or right into a dance routine. Always stretch before you start a workout and also plan to have a cool down following.

When you give your muscles this attention, the chance to warm up, and warning that it’s time to rest, you not only prevent injuries but you also build strength in a healthy manner.

Make Sure You Have the Right Equipment

The good news is that there are thousands of online resources available to let you work out from home with zero equipment needed. However, if you want to do more complicated routines like lifting weights or yoga, there may be some equipment you need.

Before you jump into a new exercise, do some research beforehand. See if there is equipment you need to do things properly, like a yoga mat to support your joints or tennis shoes so you avoid injuries to your feet while dancing.

And, if you need equipment, don’t fret. Amazon and other online resources are still providing access to these items.

Pay Special Attention to Form

Whether you’re starting a workout routine you found online or plan to use a guided video, always pay close attention to your form. If you’re following a guide, read the instructions carefully. If you are doing a video, listen to your instructor. Doing so will inform you about the proper form for each exercise so you don’t accidentally overextend or end up hurting yourself.

For example, when you do lunges, make sure that your knee doesn’t go past your toes. Or if you’re jumping around, plan to land softly on your feet. These small decisions do wonders in preventing harm to your body and muscles.

Rest is Just as Important as Movement to Protect Your Body While Working Out at Home

For many people, it might be tempting to work out all day every day. But, it’s vital to remember that rest is just as important as movement. When you give your muscles and body a day off to relax and recuperate, you’re allowing them the chance to grow stronger and be ready for the next event you put them through.

That rest time is essential in preventing injuries, as you won’t be pushing your muscles to go too hard or too fast.

If you have any more questions about how to protect your body while working out at home, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain-alleviating specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033. 

Work from Home: Tips on Being Active During Self-Quarantine

Work from Home: Tips on Being Active During Self-Quarantine

It’s an understatement to say right now is a crazy time. Between changing your entire routine and not being able to see your loved ones face-to-face, there’s a lot to balance. But self-quarantining and working from home is vital in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If you find yourself doing either or both, know you are making a wise decision that benefits the greater good.

But how do you stay active when you’re stuck inside? Or how do you keep working on best pain management practices in the comfort of your own home? The experts at Alliance Spine and Pain have the best tips and tricks on how to make the most of your work from home time, including how to remain active during self-quarantine.

How to Work from Home and Stay Active and Pain-Free

Spend time setting up your desk perfectly. You will want to invest in a good chair that will help you maintain the correct work posture, or maybe you can set up your computer somewhere that allows you to stand.

Make sure to take breaks every hour. Whether that includes staring at something other than your computer screen or maybe even walking up and down your stairs, it’s important to not spend all day sitting at your desk.

Create a schedule that includes regular workouts. While it can be easy to do what you want when you want in the comfort of your own home, it’s important for your productivity and your health to create a schedule. That way, you can make sure you’re getting everything done you need to be, plus making time for your breaks and regular workouts. Don’t drop that healthy habit just because you can’t go to the gym. There are countless resources available to keep you moving inside your own home, like online dance classes or YouTube workout videos.

Stay away from the snacks. While it can be extremely tempting to hit up your pantry and eat all of the food you might have stocked up on for the quarantine’s sake, don’t. On top of probably not moving more if you’re working from home, eating whatever and whenever you want is a recipe for gaining weight and feeling sluggish. Keep to your three meals a day and include one or two healthy meals in-between.

Self-quarantine doesn’t mean you can’t venture outside. Plan to spend some time walking around your neighborhood or stretching in your backyard or patio. As long as you avoid contact with other people, you’re still following the self-quarantining rules.

Alliance Spine and Pain Centers is actively monitoring the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and safety of our patients and employees remain a top priority and we will follow the CDC recommendations to help prevent exposure and spread of the virus. Click here for more information.

Please call your physician before coming to the office for an appointment if you develop symptoms of fever, cough, & shortness of breath, have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for your cooperation for the safety of yourself and others.

Older lady with holding her hurt back on a bench,

Signs Your Back Pain Might Be More Serious

Back pain can, of course, cause back pain. That’s a given. But, if you are experiencing other physical symptoms in addition to your back pain, then something more serious may be going on.

“When your symptoms first appear, it is vital to head over to your doctor’s office to discover what may be at the root of your back issues,” Alliance Spine and Pain Centers Specialist Dr. Zwade Marshall stated. “If other medical symptoms begin to appear, it means you’ve either waited too long so that your back pain has begun to cause other side effects, or that a bigger medical issue is causing your pain.”

That’s why it’s best to stay aware of any physical symptoms you’re experiencing. Keep reading below to understand signs your back pain might be more serious. 

Symptoms That Point to Your Back Pain Being More Serious

  • Fever.
  • Pain that travels down the legs. 
  • Pain in both legs. 
  • Legs that are weaker. 
  • Pain worsened by coughing and sneezing. 
  • Unable to hold the bladder. 
  • More bowel movements. 
  • Fewer bowel movements. 
  • Difficulty and pain getting out of bed in the morning. 
  • Stiff back when first waking up. 
  • Feeling unwell on top of the back pain.
  • Weight loss. 
  • Extreme pain, as in lightly touching the back hurts horribly. 

If you’re experiencing any of the above physical symptoms in addition to your back pain, then it’s time to visit your doctor. Don’t let a serious medical problem go undetected. 

If you have any more questions about signs your back pain might be more serious, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain-alleviating specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.  

Back view of fit African American man suffering from backache during workout in gym, wondering about the most common treatment options for back pain.

The Most Common Treatment Options for Back Pain

If you have back pain, it can be an excruciating daily nuisance. You’d do anything to get rid of it, just for a moment of relief.

But what are your options? And which one is best for you? We’ve compiled a list of the most common treatment options for back pain below from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.

Best Options for Treating Back Pain

  • Topical pain relievers are an option many find helpful. These creams or ointments that you rub onto the skin of your painful spot can often alleviate pain quickly and effectively.
  • Many doctors will offer prescriptions to help, whether those are pain, relaxer, or anti-depressant focused. With the opioid crisis on the rise in America, fewer doctors are willing to prescribe options like opioids. This decline is for a good reason! It’s good to know this before discussing your treatment options, just in case you were expecting one pill to take care of all of your pain.
  • Cortisone injections are popular for persistent back pain that also travels down the legs. These injections provide relief and numbing directly to the areas that need it the most.
  • Physical therapists have often been enlisted to help exercise the pain away, especially if it’s due to issues like posture or recovering from an accident.
  • For those sufferers who have severe and crippling enough back pain, surgery may be the only viable option.
  • Lifestyle changes can also make a world of a difference. Changing what you eat and the way you exercise might help to change your pain.
  • Some alternative options often can help specific patients, which include:
    • Acupuncture.
    • Massages.
    • Electrical Nerve Stimulation.
    • Laser Therapy.
    • Biofeedback Therapy.

If you have any more questions about the most common treatment options for back pain, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain-alleviating specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Woman holding sore joint while running, wondering how does bad weather affects joint pain.

Bad Joints in Certain Weather? What to Do!

When bad weather starts to roll in, it’s common for anyone with joint pain or arthritis to instantly grow worried. Many people know that when rain or cold hits, it can be disastrous for their afflicted joints.

The truth is, doctors and scientists alike have both looked into this claim that bad weather increases joint pain. They have found that this claim is true for many people. So, if the storm clouds start to gather and you feel your knees begin to ache, know that you’re not alone.

If you’re looking for a solution to how bad weather affects joint pain, keep reading below. bad weather affects joint pain

Why Does Bad Weather Affect Joint Pain?

Think about the things that make bad weather what it is. The barometric pressure of the air, the level of humidity or precipitation, and the temperature. Out of that list, it’s hard to pinpoint which exactly is the true cause of joint discomfort. But, it is safe to say all play a part in creating the nasty weather that squeezes the joints, the cartilage inside the bone, and the exposed nerves.

In most cases, many people will complain of joint pain when it’s raining, particularly humid, and if a cold front has come through.

How to Help Joint Pain When the Weather Changes

Keeping the above in mind, here are the things you can do to alleviate any joint pain you may feel:

  • Keep yourself warm. When it gets colder and you start to feel your joints twinge in pain, reach for things that will warm you back up. Options include additional layers of clothing, warm baths, and hot presses.
  • Certain pain medications prescribed by your doctor can help make the pain easier, as can over-the-counter options.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthy foods, get exercise, and have plenty of sleep. You’ve heard time and time again how good these habits are for your body. That includes joint discomfort.
  • Paraffin baths are a favorite of many people who have joint problems. This tool melts wax in a small container, allowing you to dip your hands and feet in. The wax hardens on skin and the warmth from the wax absorbs into the joints to warm them up. Speak to your doctor to see if this is a good option for you.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and do low-impact exercises. Both of these options ease the effort your joints go through on a daily basis, including those that are horribly cold and rainy.

If you have any more questions about how bad weather affects joint pain, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain-alleviating specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.