Grandfather and grandson playing piggy back

Strong Spine Tips for Every Age

Our spines do such a good job of holding us up, it’s easy to take them for granted. But the spine links every part of the skeleton together, and protects our spinal cord — a key component of our central nervous system. Simply put, backing up our backbone is one of the most essential preventative care measures we can take.

Here’s how you can look out for your spine, regardless of your age.

Childhood Spine Caretaking

One of the best ways to tend to a child’s spine is to monitor the weight and positioning of their backpack when going back to school. Keeping them regularly active will be another terrific boost to their spines, as well. Also, regular doctor’s checkups help monitor muscle pain, potential fractures, or disc herniation on a case-by-case basis.

Tending to Your Spine as A Teen

If you’re physically active and accident-free through childhood, there are few spine problems you may experience as a teenager. But adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (occurring between the ages of 10 and 18) is one thing to look out for.

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis, and usually worsens during the adolescent years, while the skeleton is reaching full maturity. The forward bend test is often used to diagnose the presence of scoliosis, but your doctor can also determine it using X rays and physical exams. The success of treatment depends upon early detection, and the severity of the spine’s curve, but even for patients with large curves, surgical treatment can be highly successful.

A Youthful Spine Tip for Young Adults

In the midst of establishing career success, growing a potential new family, and navigating social changes, young adults may place new stresses and strains on their spines. For example, sitting for more than 7 hours in one position during the workday can negatively impact your back health.

Young adults may also want to incorporate some regular yoga into their routine in order to protect their spines into the future. Yoga can decrease both physical and mental stress, as well as strengthen and stretch muscles to prevent pain long-term.

Middle Age Spine Care

As we age, there are a variety of reasons why spine pain may require attention. Determining the cause will help create the cure, so it’s important at this time of life to have a close relationship either with your primary care physician, a pain specialist, or both.

Family history, lifestyle habits, recent injury, or chronic conditions may all come into play when it comes to spine pain, so there isn’t a single cure-all for this condition. But if you aren’t exercising regularly, are overweight, or need to introduce a more healthful diet, now’s a crucial time to start incorporating these changes for your spine health.

Staying Spine Strong After Sixty

After sixty, osteoporosis may become a concern, especially for women. To ensure your whole skeleton (including your spine) is healthy and strong, consider a bone mineral density test to assess the porousness (and therefore fragility) of your bones.

Adding Vitamin D and calcium supplements may also help increase bone strength at this time, but consult with your doctor before doing so. Weight-bearing exercises and activities for added balance may also build musculoskeletal strength, so long as they do not add to the risk of injury or strain.

Regardless of your age, our award-winning team cares about the strength of your spine from top to bottom. To craft the ideal plan for your spine, book appointment with us online or call 770-929-9033.

Woman laying in bed while in pain

The Link Between Chronic Pain and Insomnia

Just as there’s a relationship between chronic pain and the food you eat, new science studies point to a connection between your sleep patterns and chronic pain. Even otherwise healthy individuals who experienced just one night of sleeplessness can experience an “uptick” in pain sensitivity, which means getting consistent good sleep is good for us all.

Solving both your sleep and chronic pain problems could benefit your overall health, as well. Research has indicated that both chronic pain and sleep disturbances overlap in a multitude of physical and mental health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

We understand the suffering and frustration associated with both problems, and are here to provide some solutions.

Increased Pain = Decreased Sleep = Increased Pain

Research estimates that between 50% to 80% of those living with chronic pain also regularly experience sleep disruption. Whether persistent pain makes it difficult to relax and fall asleep in general, or resting for a period of time in one position causes joints and muscles to stiffen with pain, waking up in the night thanks to chronic pain is extremely common.

This disruption has a cumulative, adverse effect on our entire health. When our bodies are unable to experience extended REM sleep, we’re unable to achieve full mental and physical recovery. And when that disruption continues for many nights in a row due to pain, it negatively affects our energy during the day — and therefore our future nights. It’s a problem that can potentially snowball into something bigger.”

Impact of Medicine

Though medication can play a vital role in alleviating chronic pain, what may be doing you good in one department could be causing harm in others. For example, certain opioid prescriptions can be associated with sleep-related hypoventilation, central sleep apnea (CSA), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Other pain medications that may interfere with healthy sleep patterns include:

  1. Alpha-blockers
  2. Beta-blockers
  3. Corticosteroids
  4. SSRI antidepressants
  5. ACE inhibitors
  6. ARBs
  7. Cholinesterase inhibitors
  8. H1 antagonists
  9. Glucosamine/chondroitin
  10. Statins

This means it’s vital to be in close conversation with your doctor about prescriptions for your pain management, as well as anything you may take to aid with sleep. Taking sleep aids in combination with pain prescriptions could greatly increase your risk for overdose, so monitoring all of your medications with your doctor is essential.

Ways to Improve Sleep, and Chronic Pain

Worrying about your chronic pain, your lack of sleep, and how they are contributing to each other may only elevate your stress levels — which can cause even more pain. So here’s some actions you can take to achieve the rest you sorely need.

  • Employ static stretches. Helpful for relaxing both your mind and body, gentle stretches done for 5 minutes within the hour before bedtime can soothe muscles, flex joints, and calm the mind.
  • Consider your blankets and pillows. The size, shape, and position of your pillows can shift your body’s position at night, which may have a negative impact on your pain. Equally, a weighted blanket may provide soothing comfort to sore muscles, though too much heat or being too cool can also disrupt your sleep. Spend a month experimenting with different shapes, sizes, coverings, and positions to find the right fit.
  • Aim for consistency. When you’ve had a sleepless night, it’s tempting to stay in bed longer in the morning. But waking up and going to sleep at consistent times can help your body establish a regular pattern.

We understand it may be frustrating not to have an “easy fix” for either your chronic pain or the sleep struggles it may be causing. We’re here to listen — and help find the solution unique to your needs.  Schedule an appointment with us online or call us at 770-929-9033.

Smiling group doing aqua aerobics

Summer Activities That Help with Pain Management

Chronic pain knows no season, and for many people, its effects are felt year-round. But summer can introduce some particular challenges that may exacerbate your pain. And there are several chronic pain conditions with symptoms that may worsen in hot temperatures or humid conditions, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and migraines.

The silver lining is that summer also brings opportunities to reduce your symptoms. Here are some activities that won’t worsen your chronic pain, and in fact, could even improve it.

Go for a Swim

People with chronic pain know they have to be careful with exercise. While it’s often prescribed to improve physical functioning and reduce symptom severity, exercising too much or too intensely could have the opposite effect.

For a workout that won’t leave you feeling worse than when you started, consider taking a dip. When you swim, the water’s buoyancy makes you nearly weightless, which reduces the strain on your muscles and joints. It’s a low-impact, full-body cardiovascular exercise that allows you to enjoy a greater range of motion than you would on land. In people with low back pain, pool therapy has been shown to have tremendous benefits on pain levels, function, quality of life, mental state, and sleep quality.

Try Low-Impact Exercise

No pool nearby? No problem. Other low-impact exercises can deliver physical and mental benefits that may help to alleviate your chronic pain. The easiest one to try is walking. Aim for 30 minutes, three to five times per week. To avoid getting overheated, avoid the hottest hours of the day, such as walking before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. You can also try targeted stretches to loosen any stiff muscle groups and relieve tension. Or, practice gentle yoga, which also delivers the benefit of stress relief.

Try a Cool Treat

Nothing is quite as refreshing as a cold smoothie or popsicle on a hot day. For easy homemade popsicles, experiment with ingredients like coconut milk, fresh fruit juice, nut butters, plain Greek yogurt, and even vegetables. For an added benefit, choose ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties that could help curb your chronic pain. The Arthritis Foundation recommends blueberries, blackberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach, and kale.

Catch a Movie

A cool, dark movie theater provides welcome relief from unrelenting heat, so catching a summer blockbuster is a great activity to add to your list. For an even more unique experience, visit your nearest drive-in theater. Park your car and blast the AC for a one-of-a-kind movie night under the stars.

Go Glamping

Spending some time outdoors could help chronic pain: research indicates forest therapy (spending time in forested areas to promote wellness), can relieve pain in individuals with chronic conditions.

While traditional camping provides plenty of time outdoors, having nothing but a thin tent and sleeping bag between your back and the ground may not benefit your chronic pain. A happy medium is glamping (“glamorous camping”). It offers all the benefits of camping – including the ability to immerse yourself in nature and take a break from your busy routine – while still giving you the option to enjoy a warm shower, supportive sleep surface, and any other comforts that ease your pain. Consider renting a well-equipped cabin space or an RV to upgrade your camping experience.

For pain relief during any season, turn to Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. Our team is committed to finding personalized solutions aimed at controlling your pain and restoring your quality of life. Schedule an appointment with us online or by calling 770-929-9033.

Woman on couch with back pain

Bias in Women’s Pain

You may have already had this conversation with friends and family: Who is able to tolerate more pain, women or men? Some are certain women have higher pain tolerance, due to familiarity with pain during childbirth and menstrual periods. Others believe men are more adept at “toughing out” physical pain.

Scientific research shows that men and women do experience pain differently, but that gender bias may play a part in how it is treated or even measured. Here is a closer look at the complexity of this issue.

Biological & Psychological Differences

An increased number of scientific studies have been conducted to clearly establish the differences in men and women when it comes to chronic pain. “Women are more likely than men to experience a variety of chronic pain syndromes and tend to report more severe pain at more locations than do men,” the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery reported in 2020, and many similar studies agree.

But a variety of factors may contribute to this difference, including anatomy, sex-hormone levels, inflammatory response, and even genetic predisposition. In a 2019 study, for example, women who developed chronic pain after a car accident were more likely to have an elevated series of specific RNA molecules encoded on their X chromosome — which women have two of, as opposed to men who have just one.

Psychological differences may also come into play. For example, Jennifer Kelly, PhD, of the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Medicine observed in 2010 that “Women tend to focus on the emotional aspects of pain . . . [and] may actually experience more pain as a result, possibly because the emotions associated with pain are negative.” Contrasting beliefs between the sexes about articulating or expressing pain could also challenge the ability (even for patients themselves) to gauge its severity.

How Gender Bias Intervenes

Nearly 20 years ago, authors Diane Hoffman and Anita Tarzian concluded in their paper “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain,” that “In general, women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent incidences of pain, and pain of longer duration than men, but are nonetheless treated for pain less aggressively.” Further studies since have come to similar conclusions.

For example, in 2021, a report in The Journal of Pain “identifies a bias towards underestimation of pain in female patients, which is related to gender stereotypes.” Caregivers and medical professionals providers, the study concludes, “are more likely to recommend psychological treatment for females than males, and analgesics more frequently for males than females.” This means that women may not be receiving the prescriptive pain relief they need.

The gender of a care provider may not only influence treatment, but even a patient’s own articulation of her pain, as well. “I’ve noticed that women typically feel more comfortable discussing pain symptoms and being vulnerable with female health care providers,” Leia Rispoli, M.D., a pain management specialist and associate physician at Remedy Pain Solutions, told Glamour.

Inequity in medical research reinforces gender bias,” experts at Medical News Today explain. For many decades, women have been excluded from a variety of medical studies and clinical trials, leaving them out of the conversation regarding diagnosis and treatment altogether.

Individualized Treatment Can Make a Difference

Clearly identifying and articulating your pain, and advocating for your own best treatment may be the first and most effective step in finding the right pain solution to alleviate your own suffering — regardless of your gender. We are committed to finding solutions and relief for your chronic pain. Schedule an appointment with us online or call directly at 770-929-9033 to discuss what solutions may be best for you.

Person talking to doctor

How To Talk About Pain with Your Doctor

Living with chronic pain is an ongoing, daily stressor in itself. But it can also cause psychological and emotional stress that adds insult to injury — literally. Finding solutions with your doctor and pain specialists needn’t add to this discomfort.

At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are committed to addressing your pain with open curiosity, kindness, and practical advice. Here are some tips for coordinating with your team to discover pain solutions together.

Ask Questions

You turn to your medical team because they have a lot of knowledge. But they don’t always know what you want to know. “Asking questions is one of the best ways to ensure you and your doctor are on the same page,” Dr. Ted Epperly, a clinical professor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine advised Time magazine. “And if your doctor doesn’t seem interested in answering, or you get a negative response, you need to find a new doctor.”

To be sure you are both communicating clearly, schedule an appointment specifically designed to address your pain questions, and provide thorough answers. For guidance, here are a few questions the U.S. News & World Report determined doctors wish their patients would ask:

  • How does my family history impact treatment?
  • What preventative care measures can I take?
  • What are other trusted sources of information I can utilize?
  • Do you have specific advice around prescriptions?
  • How does my sleep impact pain treatment?
  • Why are we conducting this test? What will the results reveal?
  • What do you do for your own health and well-being?

Take Note of Your Own Body

Outside resources may direct you toward successful pain management solutions, but starting with self-awareness might be the best way to empower you, and therefore your doctor.

“Think about the duration and quality of the pain,” advises REWIRE. “How you’d describe it if someone asked when it started. If anything has relieved it, and if anything has made it worse. Prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ of sorts. The more you can describe it, the better you’re going to be able to work with your physician.”

Climate, food consumption, over-the-counter pain medicines, and levels of physical activity may also impact your pain. Self-tracking these details even over a couple of weeks can paint a clearer picture of your condition, and help your pain management team craft a plan to alleviate it. Paying careful attention to how your pain impacts your work and personal life can also provide useful information.

Coordinate with Caregivers

Involving a trusted loved one — to take notes, ask questions, or provide private, thoughtful and honest feedback or support — may help you feel even more courage to speak up for yourself.

But coordinating conversations among all your caregivers may help even further. Can you (or your personal health advocate) bring your health team together in a conference call, or email chain? “When you’re seeing a whole bunch of different specialists,” Isabel Mavrides, a disability justice activist and organizer explains, “they don’t always talk, which can make the diagnostic process take much longer.” Finding a format that works best for you and your specialists (while keeping in mind HIPAA regulations to protect your privacy) can help ensure that everyone is clearly connected.

At Alliance Spine & Pain Centers, we’re here to advocate for and with you. Schedule an appointment online to discuss your pain management, and how we can work more specifically with you to find solutions. You can also call 770-929-9033 to set up a conversation.

woman sitting with legs crossed enjoying the smell of her coffee

Stress Relief Tips for Chronic Pain

Stress and chronic pain are often close cousins. When you experience physical discomfort, it’s natural to feel emotional stress too, but even this normal stress can accelerate pain, resulting in a cycle that makes things worse both mentally and physically.

Here’s some advice about the relationship between pain and stress, and how to interrupt their circular connection.

Stress and the Body

Stress affects every system of the body, the American Psychological Association reports, including respiratory, nervous, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal systems. Tensed muscles often serve as a protective measure against injury and pain, but this continual tension can lead to other problems in every system, including headaches, digestive complications, and joint discomfort.

On a chemical level, stress can also release hormones that have a damaging, compound effect on the mind long term. “[I]ndividuals who are under this constant state of stress experience a decrease or damage of cognitive function to the brain, lowered IQ, and, as a result of the chemical response, the pain becomes more pronounced,” Loma Linda University Health reports. More pain yields more stress, and more stress yields more pain. For those with a chronic pain disorder, the cycle may feel impossible to break.

Coping with Pain and Stress

If either stress or pain could be avoided altogether, this problematic cycle would be easy to fix. But stressors (including pain) are part of everyday life. Fortunately, there are several healthy outlets that can help manage both your mental health and your chronic pain.

  • Exercise moderately and regularly. It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you’re in pain, but even a short, low-intensity walk, yoga, or moderate stretching can provide benefits. Research shows, for example, that walking can help reduce arthritic joint stiffness, while also delivering a mood boost.
  • Focus on your sleep patterns. When stress or pain causes your mind to race at night, you aren’t getting the sleep you need to restore and repair. Avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before bed to combat this mind-racing, and do your best to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Explore an anti-inflammatory (and anti-stress) diet. Eating health-consciously with enjoyment can help both your body and your mind. Choose anti-inflammatory foods that bring delight to your palate and your pain levels.
  • Delegate responsibilities. Chronic stress, and therefore unnecessary pain, sometimes stem from taking on too much. Can you delegate tasks at work or home to trustworthy others?
  • Reach out and touch loved ones. “Studies have shown that touch can lower stress levels, lessen anxiety, and help a myriad of other physical disorders,” Dr. Martha Lee, founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching, told Bustle. “There are noticeable changes in mood and even health when we’re exposed to simple human kindness in the form of touch.” Even when you can’t physically connect, a phone call may help you unload problems and feel more connected.
  • Practice other stress outlets. Going for a drive, listening to music, reading a favorite book, journaling, playing with a pet, or experimenting with art are all ways to manage stress, and alleviate pain at the same time.

At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are dedicated to finding solutions that aid your chronic pain, your mental health, and the relationship between the two. Schedule an appointment with us online or call directly at 770-929-9033 to discuss what solutions may be best for you.

lady holding her lower back in pain

When Should You See a Pain Specialist

While most people deal with pain in some capacity during the course of their lives, it can be difficult to know when it is time to talk to a professional about it. In a 2016 study, more than 1 in 5 adults were reported to have chronic pain in the United States, and about 8% of adults experienced “high-impact” chronic pain. The NCCIH defines chronic pain as that which “lasts longer than several months,” and persists past the timeline of “normal healing.”

Dealing with pain every day can become its own “normal,” but continual pain does not have to be brushed aside.  A pain specialist is trained to help people manage pain issues, particularly when chronic pain is affecting the following areas of your life.

When it Impacts Your Ability to Work

A 2017 study published in Family Practice found that employees with chronic pain reported an average of 5.4 hours per week of reduced productivity. This effect on overall performance can leave both employees and managers feeling frustrated.

If your pain is reducing your productivity at work, you may need to speak to a specialist for solutions.

When it Diminishes Your Mental Health

Living with chronic pain is both physically stressful and draining. But this continued pain is also often associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. According to Mental Health America, this is because daily pain can cause a change in the level of stress hormones and neurochemicals in your brain and nervous system.

Unfortunately, the anxiety caused by chronic pain may add to its intensity. “Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain,” Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic acknowledges.

If your chronic pain is dampening your mood, causing frustration, depression, anxiety, or other negative emotions, a pain specialist can help.

When it Reduces Time with Loved Ones

Many people who experience chronic pain can find themselves having difficulty participating in social activities and engagements they would otherwise enjoy. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Patient Experience, patients with chronic pain had lower friendship quality, higher perceived rejection, and higher perceived hostility. Whether due to physical restrictions, emotional exhaustion, or a combination of both, many people with chronic pain often feel that they are not as connected to their family and friends as they want to be.

Talk to a specialist to relieve chronic pain, and get back to more quality time with loved ones.

When Other Treatments Have Been Unsuccessful

There are many different types of treatment for chronic pain available. If you have tried at-home or even doctor-prescribed methods only to have persisting pain, a specialist can help.

Postponing treatment for your chronic pain may lead to its worsening in the future, so consult a pain specialist sooner rather than later to access new, multidisciplinary treatment and help your body heal.

If you or someone you love are experiencing chronic pain, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain can provide individualized solutions that can get you back to doing the things you love. You can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at 770-929-9033.

female athlete runner touching foot in pain

Exercises for Leg Pain

Nearly 59% of Americans are suffering from leg pain. But despite these numbers, the current status quo of pain management is not ideal for many.

Leg pain can range from annoying to absolutely debilitating. Fortunately, many cases of leg pain can be relieved by exercising the affected muscles.

Wherever you’re hurting, from your thighs to your ankles, we hope the following exercises can be helpful. Keep in mind that it is always important to start slow and build your skills, and as with all types of pain management, to listen to your body. If any exercise becomes painful, discontinue and seek advice from your pain specialist.

Quadriceps

For those with knee osteoarthritis, it is important to strengthen your quad muscles.

To do so with leg lifts, lie down on your back, lift your legs up one at a time, keeping the raised leg straight, and hold them in the air for five seconds. Another way to bolster your quad muscle strength is with a Bulgarian split squat: rest one foot on a bench or chair behind you, and lower your body in a squat with the other leg.

Hamstrings

A kettlebell swing requires a kettlebell, although it is possible to use a dumbbell instead. Begin in a standing position, holding the kettlebell between your knees. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward while shifting your hips back, bending your knees no more than necessary to allow the kettlebell to swing between your legs. Using your leg strength and core, return to an upright position while raising the kettlebell with extended arms in front of you, and then lower to the original position. This whole-body exercise stretches the glutes, hamstrings, hips, core, shoulders, and back.

The basic bridge is another excellent exercise for the hamstrings, and is easier on your body than others. You don’t have to arch your entire back into a curve — simply lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, and focus on raising your hips to form a straight line from knees to shoulders.

Knee & Joint Strength

If you are struggling with knee pain, certain leg exercises may not be for you, as improper movement may exacerbate any injuries. However, there are several knee and joint exercises that can be low-impact and bring relief. These include leg raises, or seated knee extensions, and hamstring curls.

Lower Back & Hip

Supine side leg raises may be able to help you stretch and relax your lower back and hip. Lie down on your side, properly supporting your spine and abdomen, and slowly lift and lower one leg. Utilizing a mat can also give you extra support and comfort.

Calves

Calves are often neglected during exercise routines, and a standing calf raise may be quite beneficial to your knees, too. Stand upright, with your feet flat on the ground, and slowly lift your heels and shift your weight to your toes. Squats can also ease pain in your calves.

Ankles & Feet

The University of Michigan provides a selection of rehabilitation exercises if you are struggling with an ankle sprain. These include the towel stretch, during which you place a rolled-up towel at the bottom of your foot, outstretch your leg, and pull at each end of the towel.

There are also many exercises that can help with foot flexibility and mobility, such as the toe splay: Sit down and spread your toes apart without straining. Hold the position for 5 seconds before releasing.

What if the Exercises Aren’t Helping?

Since every body is different, and there are many different types of leg pain — including musculoskeletal, vascular, and neurological — not all of these exercises may work for you. Consult with your doctor or a pain specialist to custom-design an exercise program that is specifically designed for your leg pain. Visit us online to schedule a consultation, or call us at 770-929-9033.

Woman stretching her arms at her desk

Start the New Year with Less Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, you may have already searched for ways to find relief. Though some medicines or therapies may help with immediate discomfort, they may not provide the promise of a long-term solution for the new year.

While finding the most appropriate and effective way to alleviate pain for an even fuller life may require close consultation with your doctor and pain specialist to determine the cause and eliminate any risks, there are several options available to you.

Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation

Lower body chronic pain can be difficult to treat. Dorsal root ganglion stimulation uses neurostimulation along the spinal nerve root to target specific areas of chronic pain, such as the hip, groin, knee, or foot.

The dorsal root ganglia (DRG) are composed of densely compacted sensory nerve cell bodies, which send sensations to the brain. Each DRG is associated with a different part of the body, and DRG stimulation targets these specific clusters to address the unique area of your individual discomfort.

“[DRG] could provide long-term relief for chronic back pain that has not responded to other treatments, including spinal cord stimulation,” a study from Rush University Medical Center asserts. “It could also help certain people who need a non-drug form of pain therapy.”

Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine is an umbrella term used for a multitude of new procedures that amplify your own body’s healing powers. Because these treatments do not introduce new materials into your system or require surgery, recovery time may be reduced.

Platelet Rich Plasma

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy utilizes the growth factors that are in the platelet layer of centrifuged blood. These factors help your body naturally harness to treat inflammation, reduce pain, heal injuries, and promote tissue regeneration.

The process involves taking a sample of your own blood, and then separating out the platelet layer with a centrifuge. Your platelet-rich plasma is then reinjected where needed into injured tissue to release growth factors that stimulate and increase reparative cells.

According to the American Academy/Association of Orthopedic Medicine, “Research studies and clinical practice have shown PRP injections to be very effective at relieving pain and returning patients to their normal lives,” but we recommend consultation with your pain specialist to determine whether PRP injections are appropriate for you.

Bone Marrow Aspirated Concentrate

Like platelet-rich plasma, bone marrow aspirated concentrate (BMAC) also employs your body’s own natural healing power. But rather than using blood, BMAC retrieves bone marrow from your pelvic bone where stem cells are made. The cells are then concentrated from the marrow, and injected into a ligament, joint or vertebral disc that is causing pain.

Though further research is being conducted, clinical studies have shown that BMAC has “promising results” for those with osteoarthritis, and that the procedure involves minimal side effects.

Customized Treatment

There are several other methods that can be used to alleviate your chronic pain, including diagnostic facet nerve blocks, lumbar endoscopic discectomy, individual physical therapy sessions, and more.

We know that finding the most effective treatment for your chronic pain can be exhausting. So the care team at Alliance Spine & Pain Centers is dedicated to providing an accurate diagnosis and effective therapy to alleviate your discomfort with long-lasting results. To learn more about our treatments, and to book an appointment for consultation, visit us online, or call 770-929-9033.

person holding lower back in pain

Finding Relief from Lower Back Pain

Pain in the lower back is the leading cause of disability across the globe. In a 2012 National Health Interview Survey, more than 25% of surveyed adults reported experiencing lower back pain within the previous three months.

At best, lower back pain discomfort can be irritating. At worst, it can interfere with your daily life by disrupting your sleep and making it challenging to complete routine tasks.

But just because lower back pain is common doesn’t mean you have to suffer from its symptoms. Here’s a closer look at what causes this pain and what you can do about it.

Common Symptoms of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is experienced anywhere below the bottom edge of the ribcage. The discomfort can range from a dull ache, to shooting or stabbing sensations that become so intense they even interfere with the ability to stand.

Acute pain can come on suddenly — often after an injury or strain, such as one experienced during heavy lifting. Chronic pain, on the other hand, can have more subtle causes and persist for more than three months. Regardless of the source or intensity, it’s a good idea to seek professional care for any back pain that doesn’t subside within 72 hours.

Causes

There are many potential causes of lower back pain beyond direct injury to the muscles and ligaments in the back. These causes may include:

  •       Sciatica
  •       Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal column
  •       Ruptured or herniated disk
  •       Arthritis

New Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are nearly as many ways to treat back pain as there are causes. Instead of simply dulling pain with medications, patients now have access to innovative and personalized treatments that address the underlying causes of back pain. While the recommended treatment will depend on the cause of your back pain – which is why consultation with your doctor is recommended — here are several ways the condition may be treated:

  • Injections: Often used for low back pain that radiates down the leg, injections such as epidural steroids can alleviate swelling and inflammation to eliminate pain.
  • Facet blocks: Facet joints are located on either side at the rear of the spine. Facet block injections to this area can administer anesthetic and anti-inflammatory steroid medication to alleviate symptoms.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: Especially effective for pain in the lower back, during this treatment electric current is administered through a small needle, heating nerve tissues and eliminating their ability to send pain signals.
  • Neurostimulation therapy: Artificial nerve stimulators can be implanted under the skin to deliver targeted electrical impulses to affected nerves. This treatment blocks pain signals, and can provide long-lasting relief.

If you’re struggling with persistent back pain and have yet to find lasting relief, turn to Alliance Spine & Pain Centers. We understand the challenges of ongoing back pain and offer personalized, state-of-the-art treatments delivered by experienced pain management specialists to help you feel like yourself again. To schedule an appointment, call (770) 929-9033, or view our full list of treatment options.