Close-up of a woman holding her knee

How Does PRP Provide Pain Relief?

Many musculoskeletal conditions can be notoriously challenging to address. Whether caused by sports injuries or general wear and tear of the joints, these issues are common in adults and can involve ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and other soft tissues. Low back pain, in particular, is believed to affect 568 million people across the globe, diminishing mobility and dexterity, and contributing to other health issues if left unaddressed.

Treatments such as physical therapy and lifestyle modifications can reduce symptoms. But in some cases, you may need a more powerful approach while avoiding invasive surgeries that require significant downtime. Fortunately, there’s a pain management solution that can address the root cause of musculoskeletal pain without the need for surgical interventions: PRP.

What Is PRP?

PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, a treatment that leverages the patient’s own blood cells (specifically platelets) containing growth factors. PRP has the ability to:

  •       Stimulate cell proliferation
  •       Accelerate healing
  •       Facilitate tissue regeneration

PRP therapy is a cutting-edge treatment for joint injuries and other musculoskeletal conditions. The process is simple and minimally invasive. During the procedure, a small sample of blood is taken. The blood sample is then placed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the other components in the blood. The concentrated PRP is then redelivered to the body via injection.

How Does PRP Alleviate Pain?

When the platelet-rich portion of the plasma is isolated and injected into an area where the tissue has been injured or otherwise compromised, it can stimulate healing and increase the number of reparative cells at the site. Due to the powerful growth factors, PRP has been shown to improve tissue strength, reduce inflammation, and increase muscle regeneration. Thanks to increased strength and elevation of healing from PRP therapy, individuals with both acute injuries and chronic tendon, ligament, or muscle issues can experience reduced pain levels. 

Because the treatment uses the patient’s own blood, risks of rejection, transmissible infections, or allergic reaction are low. There is little to no downtime required, and most patients can resume their normal activities immediately after receiving injections.

What Conditions Can PRP Help With?

Results for PRP can vary based on the area of treatment and the nature of the injury or condition. PRP is commonly used to treat the following conditions:

  •       Chronic tendon injuries, including tennis elbow and Achilles tendinitis
  •       Acute ligament and muscle injuries, such as pulled hamstrings
  •       Osteoarthritis in the knee, hip, shoulder, and spine
  •       Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
  •       Plantar fasciitis
  •       Ankle and ligament sprains

PRP therapy engages the body’s natural healing process, which means it may take some time for full results to be realized. Pain relief may increase gradually over several weeks, but subsequent injections may be needed to achieve optimal results.

If you’re curious about how PRP injections could reduce your pain levels, contact Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. Our physicians use safe, evidence-based techniques to provide pain relief so you can return to your normal lifestyle. Schedule an appointment online or by calling (770) 929-9033.

Athletic senior man in a blue t-shirt going for a jog outside.

Preventing Pain During Healthy Aging Month

September is Healthy Aging Month, which spotlights the importance of maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health throughout life’s changes. Thanks to modern medical advancements, the 65+ population has risen in the last ten years and is expected to grow by an additional 45% by 2060.

This increased longevity makes it even more important to ensure you can and will enjoy yourself through your golden years. But the aches and pains that come with age-related conditions have the potential to impact your physical health, and affect you emotionally and mentally, too.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep pain at bay and continue your favorite activities.

Common Causes of Age-Related Pain

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the pain created by the wear and tear your body experiences over the years might be simply considered “nuisance pain.” As we age, the cartilage between bones diminishes naturally, and discs in the spinal column may lose moisture and therefore provide less shock absorption. But pain from other conditions can worsen these effects.

For instance, the Arthritis Foundation notes that at least 54 million adults have some version of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis: characterized by swollen, painful joints caused by a breakdown of cartilage. While osteoarthritis is a common age-related condition among many, athletes and individuals with physical jobs may be more susceptible. 

Other chronic conditions commonly seen in aging populations may also contribute to pain. Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may all impact your body’s ability to combat inflammation and deterioration, reducing your capacity to function optimally. Further health issues caused by a sedentary lifestyle, such as joint stiffness and frailty, may also contribute to pain. 

Whether or not you’re already managing a preexisting condition, here’s what you can do to minimize discomfort through adulthood.

Pain Prevention Through the Ages

Stay Active

Our bodies are meant to move. Joint-friendly exercises can support mobility without compounding existing damage. For instance, biking and swimming take the load off your joints while keeping you active.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Staying within a healthy weight range can reduce the strain on your body. Obesity increases the risk for arthritis, along with other health issues, but maintaining your weight by eating a nutrient-rich diet and staying physically active can mitigate your risks.

Don’t Overdo It

Muscle fibers become less dense with age, making you more injury-prone. Ask for help when needed to prevent a muscle strain, and practice bodyweight or light weight-bearing exercises, (such as squats or bicep curls) to build up your strength gradually and avoid injuries.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration promotes shock absorption. Your cartilage and spinal discs need moisture to stay healthy, so pay attention to your body’s thirst cues. Ideally, you should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and swap out sodas and other calorie- or sugar-rich beverages for water when possible.

Address Persistent Pain

While we can expect certain pains to come and go as we age, intense or persistent pain should never be ignored. Discomfort is the body’s way of telling us something’s wrong, so professional help is essential for addressing the root issue. 

If you’re experiencing chronic or acute pain, turn to Alliance Spine and Pain for an effective care plan. Our team is dedicated to bringing you relief through state-of-the-art treatments and a personalized approach to patient care. Call 770-929-9033 or schedule an appointment online 

Young boy in yellow shorts is playing outside with his golden retriever.

How Childhood Habits Can Affect Chronic Pain

Though children sometimes seem indestructible — bouncing back from illness and injury more quickly than the grownups around them — their growing bodies are, in fact, susceptible to pain. And behavior patterns they establish now could prevent more serious suffering later in their lives.

Here are some things to stay aware of to help children avoid chronic pain, especially at the beginning of a new school year. 

Overburdened by Backpacks

If your child regularly uses a backpack, improper adjustment can cause aches and pains in their shoulders, neck, and spine. Keep these things in mind while packing them up for the day:

  • Weigh the bag and its contents carefully. Altogether, the pack should weigh only 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight. Extra books can be carried in their arms, if necessary. 
  • Make sure the bag has two straps, and that both are secured over the child’s shoulders, so that the pack rides high between their shoulder blades and does not drop below their waist. 
  • Consider a rolling backpack/suitcase if that suits their style and will help make maneuvering easier. 

Keep Them Moving 

Everyone benefits from regular physical activity, but especially children. “Exercise leads to improved motor skills (such as hand-eye co-ordination), better thinking and problem-solving, stronger attention skills and improved learning,” according to About Kids Health. “Not surprisingly, these all combine to benefit school performance.”

Getting into the habit of physical activity now may also help prevent chronic pain later. Besides the other general health benefits of exercise,  Utah State University Heart Extension also reports that “Physical activity reduces chronic pain by building muscle strength and flexibility, reducing fatigue, reducing pain sensitivity, and reducing inflammation.”

Sedentary school schedules, a reduction in physical education or recess, and the appeal of video games and tablet time may make it challenging to get a child active, however. But combatting these trends doesn’t require a grueling sports schedule. “Every time you and your child throw a softball, swim a lap, climb a flight of stairs, walk to the store, or carry packages, your health and fitness levels are improving,” reminds Parents magazine

Even 10-30 minutes a day of helping with outside chores, climbing on a playground, or running through a homemade obstacle course can make a positive impact. 

But Warm Them Up, First

Though little ones might be eager to dive right into physical activity, Harvard Health cautions against doing so. This is because sending “cold” muscles into abrupt action can cause injury, due to a lack of blood flow or proper oxygen. 

Before sending them into the pool, onto the trampoline jump zone, or across the ball field, give kids a quick warm-up to elevate their heart rates and move joints and muscles through a basic range of motion. NerdFitness recommends some of the following for adults, but they can work for children too:

  1. Marching in place while swinging arms
  2. Jumping or walking jacks
  3. Arm circles and shoulder shrugs
  4. Hip rotations (like stepping over a fence) or hip circles (like you’re hula hooping)
  5. Squats or lunges

All of these elements in combination can help prevent injury and more complex chronic pain issues later in life. Though a child may not yet suffer from the same causes for pain that you do, we’re still here to help (and especially so if they are experiencing pain). Schedule an appointment with us online or call 770-929-9033 to investigate any pain they are suffering, or discuss an individualized plan for prevention.

Grilled salmon on fresh vegetables on wooden table

Chronic Pain-Friendly Recipes

Easy, Healthy Options to Boost Your Immune System

Learning about the connection between diet and chronic pain is an important piece of any integrated treatment plan. 

At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are dedicated to finding multiple solutions to relieve your pain. Below is a collection of chronic pain-friendly recipes that will help boost your immune system and your taste buds at the same time.

Rainbow Fruit Skewers 

Flatlay photo of rainbow fruit skewers, chronic pain-friendly recipe

“Eating the rainbow” provides your body with phytonutrients that help protect it from disease. With these simple skewers, you can accomplish that in a single breakfast or snack.

Ingredients

  • 7 raspberries
  • 7 hulled strawberries
  • 7 tangerine segments
  • 7 cubes peeled mango*
  • 7 peeled pineapple chunks*
  • 7 peeled kiwi fruit chunks
  • 7 green grapes
  • 7 red grapes
  • 14 blueberries
  • Wooden skewers

To assemble, slide one piece of each onto the skewer in the order listed. If it’s challenging to find wooden skewers, you can mix everything into a bowl and enjoy it with a spoon! 

* If mango is difficult to come by, replace it with cantaloupe. And banana chunks may substitute (or be an addition to) the pineapple. 

Pan-Seared Fatty Fish

Grilled salmon on fresh vegetables on wooden table, chronic pain-friendly recipe

Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids — essential fats for inflammation reduction. Because our bodies cannot generate these fats on their own, getting them from your diet is important. 

Healthline recommends 12 different fatty fish, including mahi-mahi, striped bass, and wild Alaskan salmon. Though finding the fish flavor you enjoy most may take some experimenting, cooking it doesn’t have to.

When selecting your filet, The Stay at Home Chef recommends finding the freshest possible — one with only a mild fish smell. 

For pan-searing, you’ll need:

  • fish fillets
  • seasoning or marinade (your choice)
  • cooking oil
  • acid (lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, etc)
  • heavy skillet
  • sharp knife

Trim the skin from your filets if you prefer not to eat it. Then sprinkle both sides with your seasoning (simple salt and pepper can do the trick), or marinate it for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your heavy skillet with a coating of cooking oil until the oil shimmers. Place your filet in the oil, and cook until it is ⅔ done. (Cooking time will change based on the thickness of your filet, but you’ll be able to see the color change from translucent to more opaque along the side of the filet.) Flip the filet over, sprinkle with your acid of choice, and cook the rest of the way through. You’ll know your fish is finished when it flakes off with a fork and is fully opaque.

Whole Grain and Legume Salad

Flat lay of a quinoa salad with broccoli, legumes, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, chronic pain-friendly recipe

It’s easy to combine these two health foods into one meal, once you understand the basics. Though you may be concerned that cooking grains will be time-consuming and fussy, Epicurious recommends treating them like pasta by boiling them in water and draining them through a sieve.

Select whatever legumes you’d like to add (many are easy to find canned). Other vegetables, cheese, nuts, and dressing can also change up the flavor and texture. As with your fish, experiment to find the flavors you enjoy most.

If you’d like to talk about how your lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, can help manage your pain, schedule an appointment by calling 770-929-9033 or reach out to us online.

Blond woman supporting a loved one with chronic pain

How to Support a Loved One with Chronic Pain

Battling chronic pain is an obvious challenge for those who suffer from it. But it also impacts those around them — especially their concerned loved ones. Knowing how to provide support can be complex to navigate, but may provide a crucial coping mechanism. 

At Alliance Spine & Pain Centers, we are dedicated to resolving problems for the whole patient, which includes their loved ones. Here are some ways you can help your loved one. 

Be Understanding

“You can’t completely understand your partner’s pain, but you can listen and learn,” recommends MigraineAgain. “Just knowing what they’re going through can make it easier for both of you to handle the ups and downs.” Staying patient, being adaptive, and arming yourself with information are all things you can do to assist everyone caught in the web that chronic pain can spin. 

The Power of Positive Physical Touch

Positive physical touch is good for both your mood and your spirit, according to one study in the Western Journal of Communication. The Journals of Gerontology also indicates that experiencing close physical contact, such as hugging, receiving a pat on the back, or getting a gentle neck massage, can yield higher oxytocin levels.

Why is that important? Oxytocin has the ability to undo the potential negative effects of the stress hormone cortisol. When imbalanced by stress, higher levels of cortisol can add to widespread inflammation, and increased pain. This cycle may put the body in a state of continual fight or flight that makes it even harder to find relief

So when you’re at a loss for what else to do, offer some positive touch. 

What (Not) to Say

Words have the power to both help and harm, especially when the listener may already be struggling with stress, depression, physical discomfort, or changes in lifestyle their chronic pain may cause. Being mindful of your words can make a difference.

  • Be cautious of “toxic positivity” that’s intended to help but may come across as dismissive. “It could be worse,” is one example of this. 
  • Put the emphasis on validation
    • “Saying ‘I understand that *insert chronic illness* can be debilitating. I can’t imagine what it’s like, but I am here to support you in your journey” is what CreakyJoints recommends. Commending them on what they are doing may also prove helpful.
  • Recommending solutions is nice of you, but could be interpreted as an insult. Instead of saying “Have you tried (fill in the blank recommendation),” Duke University’s The Chronicle suggests leave it at something like, “Explore this information if you want to.” 

Keep Up the Engagement

Though someone suffering chronic pain may not always feel “normal,” they still want to be. Remain respectfully aware of their limitations, but invite them to outings and activities. If they can’t attend (or have to cancel at the last minute), remember not to take it personally. Stay engaged in their lives and keep them engaged in yours, too. 

Find alternatives to the tasks they can’t easily perform. “Perhaps they can no longer do yardwork, but they may still be able to help with cooking, setting the table, washing the dishes, caring for children, handling family finances, making phone calls or shopping by phone,” The New York Times recommends. “Feeling useful can bolster a patient’s self-esteem and mood.”

Taking care of yourself is as important as tending to your loved one. And we’re here to help. If you need guidance for a loved one’s pain management plan, we encourage you to schedule an appointment by calling 770-929-9033 or reaching out to us online.

African American Senior Couple Enjoying Meal Around Table At Home

How Nutrition & Eating Habits Can Impact Your Pain 

Nutrition is only one aspect of overall health, but it can play an important role in how well your body functions. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, dietary changes — as part of an integrated treatment plan — may help you feel better. 

Here’s a look into how nutrition can influence your pain levels, and how you can make choices that help control your pain. 

The Link Between Diet & Chronic Pain

The food you eat, as well as the nutrients you may be lacking, can significantly influence pain levels. According to Dr. Fred Tabung, visiting researcher with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the culprit is inflammation. Dr. Tabung says:

A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that your diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation. But your diet is also one of the best ways to reduce it.

While inflammation is the body’s natural way to fight injuries and infection, prolonged inflammation can damage healthy cells, too, including those that make up the joints, muscles, and other tissues. 

The immune system may respond to an unhealthy diet similar to how it would respond to an infection, triggering an inflammatory response. It’s also possible that deficiencies in certain nutrients — including zinc, iron, folic acid, selenium, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — could create the same immune system response.

This low-grade, persistent inflammation is believed to be an underlying cause of many sources of chronic pain, including:

  •       Osteoarthritis
  •       Myofascial pain syndrome
  •       Rheumatoid arthritis
  •       Chronic low back pain

What Can You Eat to Reduce Chronic Pain?

While there’s no single, “cure-all” food that will alleviate chronic pain in everyone, certain dietary approaches can help you get the nutrients your body needs to heal and perform well while also minimizing the factors that can contribute to inflammation. 

For instance, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with significant reductions in pain symptoms. In the Mediterranean diet, the following foods are prioritized:

  •       Fruits and vegetables
  •       Nuts and seeds
  •       Legumes
  •       Fish and poultry (omega-3s found in fatty fish are also believed to reduce inflammation)
  •       Poultry
  •       Eggs and dairy (in limited quantities)
  •       Whole grains

This dietary approach provides many of the micronutrients the immune system needs to perform optimally.

Heavily processed foods, including refined carbohydrates, trans fats, processed meats, and foods with added sugars are avoided or limited, as the ingredients found in these foods are often linked to inflammation.

Does this mean you have to eat only the above ingredients? Absolutely not. In fact, there’s research that suggests adding moderate wine and cheese consumption may help, too. 

In general, because no single food can address inflammation, and a variety is needed to promote a healthy immune system, anyone looking to reduce chronic pain through their diet should aim to eat a wide spectrum of nutrient-rich foods. Attempting to “eat the rainbow” each day can help you take in a variety of nutrients, as different color groups have distinct nutritional properties. While it may not eliminate pain altogether, it could be a promising complementary approach to consider.

If you’re seeking a more tailored dietary plan as part of your individualized pain management plan, schedule an appointment by calling 770-929-9033 or reach out to us online.

Grandmother and child gardening outside.

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain in the Summer

Chronic pain can impact your daily routine no matter what the weather is like, but many people find that the heat can exacerbate symptoms. While experts can’t always identify the exact mechanisms behind this correlation, people with the following conditions often report worsened symptoms during the hot weather:

  •       Arthritis
  •       Multiple sclerosis
  •       Headaches and migraines

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the heat’s effects on your pain so you can enjoy your summer.

Take a Swim

Water therapy has been shown to improve pain, quality of life, and fatigue in patients with pain conditions. Being in the water has multiple benefits: it can reduce the gravity that strains joints, muscles, and other tissues, increase circulation, and manage inflammation. Whether in the pool, lake, or ocean, see if you notice the benefits of a swim session.

Do What You Can to Stay Cool

It’s challenging to avoid the heat when you want to enjoy outdoor activities. You can still spend time outside, but try these tips to avoid extreme heat:

  •       Bring a tent, parasol, or other type of shade to the beach
  •       Plan any yard work, errands, or other activities for the morning or evening
  •       Wear a hat to keep your face cool
  •       Stay in the shade whenever possible
  •       Make sure the AC in your car and home are working efficiently

Trim Down Your Travel Time

If you’re planning a summer excursion, make attempts to break up travel into shorter, more manageable legs. Long periods of sitting put immense stress on the neck, arms, back, and legs, and can therefore contribute to widespread pain. Aim to take an hourly break to get out and stretch, which is also beneficial for circulation and preventing blood clots.

Consider the Air Quality

When you spend more time outdoors, it’s especially important to monitor air quality levels. Air pollution can cause cellular injury and inflammation, which puts added stress on the systems that are already inflamed and causing pain. Use the Air Quality Index (AQI) online tool to check your area’s levels before heading out for the day.

Keep Up with Meals

Whether you have a packed vacation itinerary or the heat suppresses your appetite, you may find yourself eating less during the summer. While you can listen to your body’s hunger cues, be mindful to get plenty of nutrition each day. 

Many summer-fresh foods are high in nutrients that can help you combat pain, too. For instance, according to the USDA, cherries have compounds that can help calm pain and inflammation.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration reduces pain by helping the body fight inflammation by flushing out toxins and keeping joints well-lubricated. You’ll lose more water when you sweat in the summer, so that’s another reason to take in plenty of fluids. Aim to get at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water each day, and snack on foods with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumber. 

For an effective pain management strategy that helps you feel your best in any weather, call 770-929-9033 or schedule an appointment online.

Man in a blue shirt suffering from disc herniation

What to Know About Disc Herniation, Also Known As “Slipped Discs”

Disc herniation, also known as “slipped discs” is one of the most common causes of serious lower back and leg pain. Yet as common as they are, herniated discs are not so commonly understood.

How does a disc herniation happen? What symptoms might you feel? How can you best care for yourself while your body recovers? And how might an interventional pain management specialist help you on the path to real relief?

With better understanding comes better treatment, so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in your spine.

What Is a Disc Herniation?

The Mayo Clinic describes a disc herniation as “a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) that sit between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack to make your spine.” When the jellylike center (nucleus) of the disc pushes out, it can cause a tear in the annulus, or rubbery exterior, of the disc.

The protruding nucleus can then compress a nearby nerve. This may cause pain, numbness, or weakness in other parts of the body such as the neck, arm, or leg — particularly along one side of the body. 

What Causes a Disc Herniation?

“Most of the time, disc disease happens as a result of aging and the normal breakdown that occurs within the disc,” says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Aging-related wear and tear can cause your discs to become less flexible, and therefore more susceptible to damage.

Medical News Today further explains that “spinal discs also lose some of their water content as a person ages. This reduction in fluid makes the discs less supple and more prone to splitting.”

Though you may not be able to pinpoint when a disc problem began, it can often occur while lifting heavy objects without bending at the knee, or else twisting while lifting something heavy. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, other risk factors for a herniated disc include:

  • Excess body weight
  • A physically demanding job
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Lessening of oxygen supply due to smoking

How Do You Know If You Have a Disc Herniation?

Though in some cases you may have no symptoms at all, common signs of a disc herniation include:

  • Numbness and tingling
  • Pain in the spine that possibly spreads to an arm or leg
  • Weakness in muscles linked to the nerve

Your primary care doctor or interventional pain management specialist can also help diagnose a disc herniation with a physical exam.

During the exam, your doctor will check your reflexes, muscle strength, and range of motion. They will also ask you about areas of tenderness and activities that increase your pain levels.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend advanced tests such as an X-ray or an MRI.  

How is a Disc Herniation Treated?

Fortunately, most people recover from a herniated disc without surgery. Treatments recommended by John Hopkins Medicine, SPINE-Health, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons include:

  • Bed rest
  • Lumbosacral (small of the back and back of the pelvis) support
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Physical therapy
  • Maintaining healthy body weight
  • Low-impact activities
  • Regular core-strengthening exercises
  • Ice and heat therapy for pain relief
  • Avoiding tobacco products

If you are suffering from pain or complications of what you suspect may be a disc herniation, please reach out to us online or give us a call at 770-929-9033. We will work with you to identify the cause of your pain then develop an individualized treatment plan to bring you real relief.

Scoliosis Spine Curve Anatomy, Posture Correction. Chiropractic treatment, Back pain relief.

Learn All About Scoliosis

Though an important part of your body and your life, the spine can often be taken for granted — until it develops or causes problems. 

In order to more fully understand and appreciate the spine, we’re taking a closer look at scoliosis: what it is, how it’s caused, and different forms of treatment.

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition involving a side-to-side curvature of the spine of 10 degrees or greater, either to the left, right, or both. “You can’t spell ‘scoliosis’ without an ‘S’ or a ‘C,’”  say the experts at Spine Universe, “and if you have this condition that’s what your spine looks like.”

Scoliosis usually manifests itself during the growth spurt that happens in young people just before puberty (between the ages of 10 – 15), though it can affect people of all ages. It is a fairly uncommon condition (2 to 3% of Americans have scoliosis), but if left untreated, it can cause complications later in life, including leg and back pain, and/or breathing and cardiovascular problems.

What Causes Scoliosis?

Though the Scoliosis Research Society assures scoliosis “does not come from carrying heavy backpacks, participating vigorously in sports, or poor posture,” in more than 80% of cases, the actual cause of scoliosis is not easily identified.

There “appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that influences the development of scoliosis,” professionals at CLEAR Scoliosis Institute explain. “Even in identical twins, it is possible for one twin to develop scoliosis but the other does not.”

There are generally three types of scoliosis:

Idiopathic

Though scoliosis has been around and studied for a long time, often the original cause remains unknown. What we do know, as Johns Hopkins Medicine experts explain, is that it can worsen as the body grows. “We should be most concerned about scoliosis in a child that has significant growth remaining.” 

Neuromuscular

Neurological conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or other disorders of the brain, spinal cord, or muscular system can contribute to this form of scoliosis. When the muscles are not working properly due to these conditions, scoliosis may develop.

Congenital

If the spine or vertebrae do not form properly while an infant is in utero, scoliosis can manifest later in life. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, this form of scoliosis occurs “in only 1 in 10,000 newborns, and is much less common than the type of scoliosis that begins in adolescence.” 

Spine Universe also identifies three other types of scoliosis (Degenerative, Thoracogenic, and Syndromic), but each of these involve complications with or damage to the spine because of outside forces (such as radiation) or other syndromes. 

How is Scoliosis Identified and Diagnosed?

As we’ve already discussed, the causes of scoliosis are sometimes difficult to determine. Symptoms can vary as well — differing between individuals. Johns Hopkins Medicine identifies common indicators of scoliosis that include:

  • Shoulder height differences, as well as differences in shoulder blade position
  • A difference in head alignment with the rest of the body
  • Difference in arm length, when standing straight
  • Asymmetry in the ribcage visible from the back or front

If scoliosis is suspected, diagnosis can be determined by a physical exam with a doctor, and/or imaging tests (X-ray, and in some cases MRI) to give your health specialist a more specific look at the spine. 

Can Scoliosis be Treated?

Though often the impacts of scoliosis are mild, when necessary, effective treatment commonly involves a brace, which is worn daily until the bones have ceased their growth. Stretching and muscle-building exercises may also help, including a few offered here by Healthline. In some cases, surgical treatment may be recommended, particularly in extreme cases where the procedure will improve balance, breathing, pain management, and quality of life. 

Above all, frequent checkups and conversations with your spine specialists are of utmost importance. If you suspect you may have scoliosis, we are here to help alleviate your pain and distress. Please reach out to us online or give us a call at 770-929-9033.

Preparing for yoga poses for pain management at home with laptop and fitness mat.

Helpful Yoga Poses for Pain Management

Yoga has increasingly become established as an effective method for relieving some physical stress and pain. At Alliance Spine & Pain Centers, we are dedicated to the pursuit of innovative solutions that give you real relief from chronic, long-term pain. Here are our top yoga poses for pain management, as part of an integrated plan for interventional pain management

Why Yoga Works

“Decreasing stressful feelings and emotional reactions to stress lowers levels of cortisol, the main human stress hormone,” Carrie Janiski, DO, a yoga teacher and the director of sports and musculoskeletal medicine at Romeo Medical Clinic in Turlock, CA explained to Healthline. “This has a positive impact on levels of inflammation throughout the body, including joints that are affected by [rheumatoid arthritis].”

Beyond the physical sources of chronic pain, thoughts, emotions, memories, and other mental influences may also contribute. “The best way to unlearn chronic stress and pain responses,” asserts Yoga International, “is to give the mind and body healthier responses to practice.”

Restorative Yoga is an opportunity to hold simple poses, relax deeply, connect with the body, and alleviate pain issues. Benefits highlighted by the Chopra Center include:

  • Heightened body awareness
  • Soothing of the nervous system
  • Strengthening of acceptance and detachment

Experts at Harvard Health agree, highlighting scientific studies that indicate weekly yoga practice can increase mobility, improve daily function, and raise psychosocial well-being.

What Are the Best Yoga Poses for Pain Management?

When beginning any new practice, going slowly, listening to your body, and staying in consultation with your pain specialist is of utmost importance. But if you feel you’re ready to start, here are some simple yoga positions we’ve found may be helpful:

Cat/Cow Pose

Chakravakasana, or Cat/Cow pose is highly recommended for those with back pain. Begin on your hands and knees, and flex the spine through its full length first toward the floor, and then up to the ceiling.

Side Body Stretch

A gentle side body stretch can strengthen and relieve all the muscles around and between your ribs. Clasp your hands over your head, facing forward, and lean to one side, then the other.

Legs up the Wall

The name of this pose may make you want to climb the wall, but the benefits could help you lie down with greater comfort. Yoga Journal has solid recommendations for making this pose work for you.

Warrior II

Abundant with the powerful energy of its name, Warrior II can strengthen muscles throughout the arms, core, chest, and legs, while simultaneously allowing the lower back to release and relieve pain at the same time. 

Side Twist

Popular for spine and hip pain relief, the Side Twist (illustrated here by Yoga Basics) can be executed on the floor or in a chair.

Modified Downward Facing Dog

It may feel challenging to get both hands and feet on the floor at the same time, but Downward Facing Dog can also be modified by leaning against a chair or table.

Fish Pose

Though it may involve a pillow, rolled blanket, or yoga block for support, done properly, Verywell Fit assures this pose “stretches the front of your body, including the chest, abs, hip flexors, neck, and back, and engages parts of the body that are often neglected, even within yoga’s asanas.”

For a deeper discussion of how yoga and/or other exercises may work to help resolve your chronic pain as part of your custom pain management plan, please reach out to us online or give us a call at 770-929-9033.