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

How Arthritis Affects Your Spine

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

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

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

Types of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

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

Rheumatoid Arthritis

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

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

Spondyloarthritis

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

Symptoms of Spinal Arthritis

Here are the symptoms of arthritis in the spine: 

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

Treatment of Spinal Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

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

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

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

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

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What Mental Exercises Can Help with Pain Management

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

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

Do These Mental Exercises to Help Manage Your Pain

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

That being said:

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

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

Older lady with holding her hurt back on a bench,

Signs Your Back Pain Might Be More Serious

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

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

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

Symptoms That Point to Your Back Pain Being More Serious

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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How Your Sleeping Posture Affects You

You think about your posture when you’re sitting at work and when you’re about to go on a run. But did you know your sleeping posture is equally just as important? While you can’t actively think about the posture when you’re in the middle of sleeping, there are several steps you can take to ensure that what you do to your body as you rest won’t hurt your spine later on.

If you wake up sore or with back pain after you’ve been sleeping, keep reading below to learn the best and worst sleeping postures below.

Lying on your Back with Knee Support

Sleeping on your back is considered the best sleeping position, especially when you have a small pillow or blanket underneath your knees for additional support. Doing so evenly distributes your weight throughout your entire body, eliminates pressure points, and ensures that your head, neck, and shoulders mimic the natural curve of your spine while you’re sleeping.

If you’re having pain in your back after waking up, try sleeping on your back to see how it feels. Though it’s considered the least popular sleeping position, with only about 8% of people sleeping this way, there are tons of other benefits aside from sleeping well. A decrease in acid reflux and less wrinkles are two additional benefits.

However, sleeping on your back will increase snoring, give you a higher chance of experiencing sleep paralysis, and can be dangerous for those who have sleep apnea.

Lying on your Side With a Pillow Between Your Knees

You need to make sure you sleep with a pillow in between your knees if you plan to sleep on your side, as this will create the natural alignment in your spine, hips, and pelvis. Make sure you don’t curve your knees, otherwise, you’ll disrupt the curve of your spine again.

In addition, sleeping in this position will give you less chance of snoring, helps with sleep apnea, and cools heartburn if you sleep on your left side. However, it can lead to additional wrinkles and potential spine pain if you’re not careful about your positioning.

Fetal Position

As one of the most popular sleeping positions, it’s a step above sleeping on your side since the knees are curved up to the chest with the back relatively straight.

This sleeping posture is particularly beneficial for relieving the pain of herniated discs, for pregnant women to alleviate pressure on their uterus, and also those who struggle with snoring.

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Unfortunately, this is the worst sleeping position you can sleep in. This is because sleeping on your stomach usually means you’re sleeping with your head turned to one side in addition to keeping your spine out of its neutral position. Sleeping this way also puts pressure on your stomach and the joints in that area. This can cause numbness, tingling, aches, and even irritated nerves.

However, the good news is that this position helps to prevent snoring. So if sleeping this way is necessary for you, sleep with two pillows stacked on top of each other so that you can breathe while keeping your neck flat, not turned to one side.

If you have any additional questions about how your sleeping position can be affecting your pain, click here to schedule an appointment with the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain.

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Pain Management for Women: How to Listen to Your Bodies

Women experience plenty of pain during their day to day lives. Whether you’re having horrible cramps with your monthly cycle or bad side pain thanks to uterine fibroids, there are multiple, natural medical conditions that are common for women. Not to mention childbirth!

That’s why it’s extremely vital women have the best pain management practices in mind when it comes to living their best, healthiest lives. To help make that goal as easy as possible for you, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Center are here to provide their best tips and tricks for the pain management for women.

Tell the Difference Between Normalcy and Abnormal

Because women are so used to experiencing pain, and so much of it can be tributed to their menstrual cycles, it’s easy to think the side pain or cramps you’re experiencing is normal. It’s even easier to think that way as it can be a challenge for certain women to open up about their symptoms and experiences, whether it’s to their friends or their doctors. However, some symptoms that are often commonly associated with periods can be a sign that something abnormal is happening to your body.

What may seem normal to you could actually be a medical condition rising up. In order to tell the difference, it’s vital for women to pay attention to their bodies and keep track of their symptoms. To do so, consider downloading an app to help you watch your menstrual cycles and symptoms, write down anytime you have pain and fully describe your feelings, and create a medical journal to write down all your symptoms no matter what it is, both physical and mental. Not only will this help you uncover patterns, but it will also help your doctors exponentially when you bring your findings to them.

Have a Medical Plan in Place

The minute you start to have any new pains or symptoms that you’re not used to, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That’s why you should always plan to head to your doctor and let them know what’s happening if something new happens to your body. You could visit your general physician or your OBGYN. Wherever you go, the physician you met with will be able to let you know if what you’re experiencing is normal or needs more attention.

Having this medical plan in place will help you remain ahead of any serious medical conditions. Usually, the earlier the diagnosis, the better for treatments and management systems.

Plus, your medical professionals will be able to provide a trusted plan to manage any pain you may have. For instance, if you’re period pains are extra bad, your doctor might prescribe to you a type of birth control that can assist in making that pain more manageable.

At-Home Tools and Tricks

If you discover that your pain and symptoms are abnormal and need attention after you visit your doctor, there are several at-home tricks you can perform to give provide as much comfort as possible to yourself.

Some of our favorite at-home remedies include applying ice packs, indulging in warm baths, using heating pads, and investing in massages. Herbal teas, participating in favorite hobbies to distract yourself, and communicating with your loved ones also work well.

However, feel free to experiment with any of the other pain remedies you can find. You’ll be able to uncover thousands of options through a simple Google search.

Again, we recommend visiting your trusted medical professionals before committing to any of these DIY tactics. If you’re struggling to find the right person to confide in, click here to schedule an appointment with our talented pain management specialists.

If you have any more questions about pain management for women, reach out to the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Center!