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.

peripheral neuropathy written in a notebook on white table.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Despite the fact that it is very common, peripheral neuropathy is not a household disease name. Not many people know of its existence, until it happens to them. Yet, more than three million cases of it happen year after year.

To help educate everyone on this medical issue, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are defining and discussing peripheral neuropathy below.

The Definition of Peripheral Neuropathy

The peripheral nervous system is a key component of your anatomy. It helps to send information from your brain and spine directly to the rest of your body. This is from where senses of pain and touch come.

However, when issues in this area happen, it’s called peripheral neuropathy. More specifically, having this disease means weakness, numbness, and pain due to the damage of nerves or the body’s communication system. Most commonly, this damage to the nerves happens to the hands and feet, but it can travel anywhere.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Most often than not, this problem is caused by something else, like another disease. Here is a broad list of some of the most common causes:

  • Diabetes.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Medications/Chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Vitamin deficiencies.
  • Exposure to poisons.
  • Tumors.
  • Bone marrow disorders.
  • Previous trauma or accidents.
  • Infections.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

The symptoms vary widely. This is because the physical effects depend on which nerves are affected. Here are some of the most common:

  • A slow build-up of numbness.
  • Spontaneous pain in the toes or fingers or in a glove or sock-like area.
  • Pain during normal activities, such as putting on a blanket or touching something soft.
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch.
  • The feeling of wearing gloves or socks even if none are on.
  • Heat intolerance.
  • Weakness.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Changes in blood pressure.
  • Dizziness.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Paralysis.

Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy

In most cases, the treatment for peripheral neuropathy lies in the treatment for the disease or the issue that is causing it. Once that is fixed, it will begin to alleviate. However, certain medications can also help.

If you have any more questions, the pain specialists experts at Alliance Spine and Pain are here to help. Reach out to any of our pain specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Physiotherapist doing healing treatment on man's back forMedical Conditions That Can Cause Spinal Pain

Medical Conditions That Can Cause Spinal Pain

You’ve heard about bad posture and previous injuries hurting your back. But what about the long list of medical conditions that can also cause spinal pain? The experts at Alliance Spine and Pain know all the well the many reasons someone can find themselves walking through our front doors.

In this blog, we’re breaking down the most common medical conditions that can cause spinal pain.

Illnesses and Diseases That Can Cause Spinal Pain

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis (or Bechterew’s Disease):This is a type of arthritis that directly affects the spine through inflammation and severe pain.
  • Arthritis: Since arthritis, the inflammation of joints, can cause pain and discomfort in all areas of the body, some people’s spine pain comes from this medical disease.
  • Cervical Radiculopathy (or Pinched Nerve): This disease happens when a nerve root in the spine is damaged or even inflamed. It’s a severely painful condition.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: When the discs between the vertebrae lose their protective cushioning, this disease occurs. It’s a pretty common medical disease as people get older.
  • Endometriosis: Though this disease rarely causes spinal pain, this is a medical condition that happens when the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. Though it doesn’t grow on the spine, the side effects often cause discomfort in that area.
  • Fibromyalgia: A musculoskeletal condition that causes widespread pain, sleep issues, and mood changes, fibromyalgia commonly causes spinal discomfort.
  • Herniated Disc (or Bulging Discs): If a spinal disc manages to push through a crack in the exterior casing, herniated discs happen.
  • Kidney stones: These are known to be painful, so it only makes sense that kidney stones can also cause spinal pain. They are small and hard deposits of calcium that form in the kidney and are then passed through the ureter and the bladder.
  • Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, this happens when the flexible tissue at the end of a bone breaks down. Since it can happen to any bone, it can certainly happen in the spine.
  • Osteomyelitis: When a bone is infected in the spine, the inflammation that occurs from this often causes spinal pain and discomfort.
  • Scoliosis: This disease causes a sideways curve of the spine, which often leads to discomfort and pain. It’s not clear what causes this, but it’s often a side effect of other diseases like cerebral palsy.
  • Sciatica: The sciatica nerve, which is a nerve that runs along the lower back down to the back of the leg, can often have issues that cause severe back pain. 
  • Spinal Disease: An umbrella term, this describes any sort of medical condition that impacts the spine.
  • Spinal Stenosis: When the spinal canal that contains the nerve roots and spinal cord becomes compressed, it pinches those areas and pain will arise.
  • Spondylolisthesis: One of the lower vertebrae slips during this condition and presses against the bone beneath it.
  • Tumors: Though this is very rare, tumors on the spine can happen. When they appear, they press against all the sensitive materials of the spine.

If you believe you may have any of the above medical conditions that can cause spinal pain, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain are here to help. Reach out to any of our pain specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Doctor shows results to patient x-ray, dealing with spinal tumor.

101 on Spine Tumors

Spine tumors affect about 10,000 people a year in the United States. These masses of tissue grow in the back and neck area, usually becoming very large and have a possibility of expanding beyond control. They can be either benign, which means they are non-cancerous, or they can be cancerous, which is also called malignant.

Unfortunately, it’s not known what causes spinal tumors. Still, there is a lot to learn about this medical issue.

Keep reading below to learn more about spine tumors.

What Types of Spine Tumors are There?

There are multiple types of tumors, all depending on the location of the tumor. The first major type of spine tumors depends on where the tumor is located on the back. Cervical spine tumors occur on the neck area, thoracic spine tumors occur in the middle back area, lumbar spine tumors happen in the lower back area, and sacrum spine tumors appear in the hip area.

The second major type of spine tumor divides the above forms into even more kinds, depending on where in the makeup of the spine the tumor is located.

Intradural-extramedullary tumors happen in the inside covering of the spinal cord, also called the dura. This means they are outside the actual spinal cord. Intramedullary tumors grow inside the spinal cord. Extradural grow outside both the thin covering and the spinal cord.

What are the Symptoms?

Here are the most common symptoms of spine tumors:

  • Back pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bowel and bladder issues
  • Paralysis
  • Stiff back and neck
  • Tingling and other pain issues
  • Loss of sensitivity in the area
  • Spinal deformities like scoliosis

What is the Treatment?

There are two major types of treatment options for those with spinal tumors. The first is non-surgical. This type of treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and general observation to see if the tumor continues to grow and does require further treatment.

The second type is surgery, which means that your physician will have to remove the tumor completely from your body. What type of surgery you require will be determined by what kind of tumor you have.

If you have one, your physician will be able to help you develop a treatment plan that will get rid of the mass.

If you’re facing spine tumors and would like to know your treatment options, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers would be happy to discuss. Give us a call at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Young woman pain left shoulder, Ache in human body, office syndrome, health care concept, wondering the common reasons to visit pain specialists.

The Most Common Reasons to Visit Pain Specialists

For most people, when a major injury occurs, the first thing they think to do is visit their primary care physician or, in worst-case scenarios, go to the emergency room. But for those who deal with chronic pain, meaning their pain is a daily occurrence, then a primary care physician may not cut it.

This is where pain specialists, or pain management doctors, come in. These physicians are experts at managing both chronic pain and recovering processes from major accidents. At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, our team is full of trusted medical professionals who are experts at helping patients to return to normal function and an active lifestyle. Our providers work to correct the cause of chronic pain, not just mask it.

But why might you need to visit our offices? We’re explaining the most common reasons to visit pain specialists below.

Why Do You Visit a Pain Management Doctor?

Here are the common reasons to visit pain specialists:

  • Diagnose chronic pain issues, such as osteoporosis and scoliosis.
  • Develop treatment plans for chronic pain issues, such as radiofrequency neurotomy or superion.
  • Receive surgeries for injuries or pain, such as proactive discogram or percutaneous vertebroplasty.
  • Require prescriptions for medications of pain management, only if absolutely necessary. However, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers is committed to ending the war against opioids through stringent prescription guidelines and effective non-narcotic solutions.
  • Develop a relationship with a physician to prevent future pain from arising.

If you’re struggling with chronic pain or would like to make your first visit to a pain management physician, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are here to help. Give us a call at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Friends stretching together in the park, knowing the benefits of stretch before and after working out.

Why It’s Important to Stretch Before and After Working Out

When you’re focused on getting to the gym or hitting the road for a jog, sometimes the last thing on your mind is stretching. All you want to do is feel the burn and strengthen your body without anything getting in the way, but the best thing you can do for your health before working out is to carve out a few minutes to stretch.

Taking the time to stretch before and after your workouts has incredible benefits for both your exercise regimen and your body. To learn what those advantages are, keep reading.

Benefits of Stretching Before Working Out

  • Reduces Risk of Injury: One of the major reasons to stretch before working out is to reduce your overall risk of injury while exercising. When you stretch before jumping into cardio or before lifting a weight, your muscles become more flexible. This increased flexibility will give you a more efficient workout. Usually, when an injury occurs while exercising, it is because the muscles are not properly stretched beforehand.
  • Prepares the Body: In the same vein of thought, stretching and getting your body slowly moving before the intense part of your workout prepares the body for what is coming next. As mentioned, your muscles loosen up and strengthen prior to be able to handle whatever exercises you put it through.
  • Improves Overall Performance of Workout: Loosening and strengthening your muscles before the workout boosts overall workout performance. Looser muscles require less energy to work, plus a more flexible body can go further in your exercises. If you want a better burn with your workout, then stretch before you get started.
  • Improves Posture: A key component of working out properly is using the right posture. That means squatting correctly or moving in the right manner when running. Stretching helps to maintain those healthy poses and keep your body in that posture while working out.

Benefits of Stretching After Working Out

  • Promotes Circulation: When you stretch after an intense workout, you’re encouraging your blood to flow more. This means increased circulation and more blood to the muscles that you just worked on, helping to create the below benefits.
  • Relieves Aches and Pains After Working Out: The best benefit of stretching after you work out is that it helps to minimize the pain and soreness in the muscles that you just used. Stretching them out helps to reduce the tension they were holding onto, encourages them to relax, brings back their full range of motion quicker, and frees up any stiffness in the area. This means you won’t have to be as sore the next day and can get right back to the gym quicker.
  • Decreases Pain, Especially in the Lower Back Area: If you ran for quite some time or did a lot of weight lifting, this usually puts a significant amount of strain on your lower back. But when you stretch after working out, you are reducing that strain and helping to put back mobility and flexibility into that region, plus all the other areas of your body that you stretch.
  • Reduces Stress on the Mind and Body: Stretching is a fantastic self-care strategy that not only reduces the stress your body might be carrying after an intense workout, but it also helps to reduce any stress your mind might be harboring onto.

If you’re struggling with managing pain while working out, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are here to help. Give us a call at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Young athlete woman hurting from a knee injury on a cold winter day in the track of an urban park, wondering How Your Pain is Affected By Cold Weather.

How Your Pain is Affected By Cold Weather

Colder temperatures have arrived in the south, finally! For a lot of people, the change in the weather means the start of an incredible season and plenty of joyous occasions, such as the holidays, time to play out in the snow, or evenings spent by the fireplace. 

But, sometimes, the winter season isn’t as fun. The cold weather can increase everyone’s pain. If you’ve ever experienced more intense or frequent pain during the colder months, keep reading below to learn how your pain is affected by cold weather.

How Cold Weather Changes Our Pain

  • As extremely cold temperatures arrive, our body’s natural reaction is to tell the brain that we are in pain as a form of protection. It is trying to keep us out of the weather conditions that are not good for us.

  • When the colder weather hits, our bodies begin to store heat by sending more blood to the organs in the center of the body, such as the heart or the lungs. The blood vessels not in those areas constrict and experience less blood flow. It kickstarts stiffness, discomfort, and pain, especially in the arms, legs, shoulders, and knees.

  • Cold weather increases the barometric pressure in the air, which also affects our bodies. This leads to circulation changes and increased nerve fiber sensitivity, causing joint pain and discomfort.

  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, such as working outside or going on lengthy runs, the cold weather can add more pressure to the weight-bearing joints and cause pain in those areas.

  • In general, cold weather usually means less exercising and time spent outside for most people. Because more exercise and movement is good for our bodies, the change in activity during the winter can have our bodies feeling worse. In general, we all experience a decrease in strength and a lack of flexibility.

  • For many people with chronic illnesses, the extreme cold can make the pain even worse because our bodies are much more sensitive during this season. A great example of these conditions is rheumatoid arthritis.

Whether you’re experiencing pain because of the extremely low temperatures this winter or because a previous injury never healed properly, the experts at Alliance Spine and Health Centers are here to help you manage all of your pain needs. Click here to schedule an appointment with us or give us a call at  770-929-9033 if you have any more questions about how your pain is affected by cold weather.

Cheerful man standing outside in nature with a prosthetic leg, wondering about phantom limb pain.

Phantom Limb Pain 101

Losing a limb is hard enough, but sometimes the process can be made even worse by something called phantom limb pain, also known as PLP. This condition makes the person who recently had something amputated still feel pain in that area, even if it’s gone.

Despite the fact that PLP happens to about 80 percent of the amputee population, it’s not commonly talked about. That’s because those who don’t experience it themselves often associate it with mental health problems. But phantom limb pain isn’t just in the brain. It’s a real, physical experience.

To help spread awareness, we’re discussing phantom limb pain in the blog below.

What is Phantom Limb Pain?

As mentioned above, PLP occurs when feeling returns to a limb that is no longer there. Scientists believe this occurs because of mixed signals being sent to the body from the brain and the spinal cord. For those experiencing it, the sensations can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.

Most commonly, PLP happens within the first six months of the amputation and tends to lessen after that time period.

What Causes Phantom Limb Pain?

There are a few known triggers for PLP. A small portion of the full list is included below:

  • Physical touch
  • Feeling cold
  • Changes in the atmosphere and the level of pressure in the air
  • Using the restroom
  • Smoking
  • Other diseases like herpes or angina
  • Sexual intercourse

For those who do have PLP, it’s important to keep track of when it happens and if it commonly occurs after the same thing. Being able to identify your personal triggers makes treatment easier down the road.

What’s the Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain?

Speaking of treatment, there are a handful of treatment options available for phantom limb pain. Medication is extremely common, as it will interrupt the pain signals that your brain and spinal cord are sending, stopping the pain from happening in the first place.

However, there are also several other non-medication treatment options. The most common of those are massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, music therapy, dorsal root ganglion stimulation, and even virtual reality therapy.

If you or a loved one needs assistance with PLP, the pain management specialists at  Alliance Spine and Pain would be happy to assist. Give us a call at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.

An xray photo of a man showing the anatomy of the spine.

A Breakdown of Spine Anatomy

The spine and the central nervous system, where the spine lives, is a complex piece of our human anatomy. There are many bones, ligaments, and muscles to know if you are a specialist working in this field.

However, it is useful to know the basics in case you ever find yourself with spine issues and problems later down the road, even if you aren’t a physician. That’s why we’re breaking down the basics of spine anatomy below, just enough to keep you in the know of how things work back there.

Curves

A healthy spine will normally have a natural S-shaped curve. It helps our spine absorb shock, keep balance, and have a full range of motion.

That spine actually consists of three main types of curves. The first curve happens at the neck, and it is called a cervical curve. The second curve is at the middle back and called a thoracic curve, while the third curve is the lumbar curve that occurs at the lower back.

Bones

The spine is made up of 33 different bones, called vertebras. These bones are broken down into five different regions: the cervical region at the neck, the thoracic region at the mid-back, the lumbar region at the low back, the sacrum which connects the spine to the hip bones, and the coccyx region which is where the tailbone is located.

In between all of these bones is something called the intervertebral disc, a cushion that keeps the bones from rubbing against each other and breaking down. Unfortunately, while we age, these discs begin to break down naturally and can eventually cause issues, such as pinched nerves and decreased mobility.

Alongside the discs are facet joints, and each vertebra has four of them. These allow the range of motion that our back if capable of doing.

While there is more information available about all of the vertebrae that make up the spine, this is the basic knowledge you need to know to keep yourself educated.

Muscles

There are two major groups of muscles in the spine. The first is called extensors, which are attached to the back of the spine. They allow us to stand up and lift objects. The second group, called flexors, is in front of the spine. They allow us to flex and bend forward.

Ligaments

Ligaments are defined as strong, fibrous bands that hold the bones together in the spine. There are three main types of ligaments: ligamentum flavum, anterior longitudinal ligament (ALL), and posterior longitudinal ligament (PLL).

Nerves

Almost as numerous as the number of bones in your spine are the number of spinal nerves that branch off from them. There are 31 pairs in total and cover the entire body.  They are in charge of the feeling and movement in your body and spine.

The above information is a basic summary of all of the complex medical elements of the spine and the back. If you would like to learn more, call the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers at 770-929-9033 or click here to schedule an appointment.