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Female runner running at summer park trail . Healthy fitness woman jogging outdoors, showcasing the proper posture for running.

Proper Posture for Running

When it comes to running, posture is extremely important. If you want to lower your risk for injuries, keep your level of soreness down, and also protect your joints so you can keep running, posture is vital to focus on. Running with poor posture can lead you to hurt yourself or feeling sorer than necessary the next day. Plus, running with the right posture will help improve your time.

The posture experts are here to help all runners stay injury-free and enjoy this healthy activity. We’re describing the proper posture for running below.

If You Run, Follow These Steps for the Best Posture

For the best possible posture for running, keep all of these tips in mind:

  • Avoid Bouncing: If you’re bouncing a lot when you’re running, that means you are spending too much energy lifting yourself off the ground. Focus on keeping your stride low to the ground, land softly on your feet, and run lightly.
  • Hands at Your Waist, Arms at Your Side: This tip is pretty straightforward. You don’t want to tense up your fists, because that tension will move up to your shoulders and your neck. As well, don’t keep your arms up closer to your chest because it will spend your energy up quicker.
  • Head-Up: You may be tempted to watch your feet while running to avoid tripping. However, it’s better to look about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. It will avoid adding tension to your neck and shoulders too.
  • Relax Shoulders: If you tense up your shoulders too much, it’ll lead to them feeling sorer after your run, which can discourage you and can even restrict your breathing. So, remember to relax them and don’t hunch them forward too much.
  • The Z Angle: This term refers to the proper posture of running as if you’re running with the right form it’ll make a z shape with your body. To do this correctly, ensure that your hip is parallel to the top of your pelvis, your hip is straight to the ankle of the leg that is running, and that your feet land firmly on the ground so your ankle doesn’t curve up too much.

If you have any more questions about the proper posture for running, Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help. Reach out to any of our pain care specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-929-9033.

Photo of Dr. Beata Grochowska

Dr. Grochowska is Now Offering Medtronic DTM in Atlanta / Piedmont

Alliance is excited to announce that Dr. Beata Grochowska has started offering Medtronic DTM™ (Differential Target Multiplexed) spinal cord stimulation (SCS) at our practices Piedmont/ Atlanta location. It is a Spinal Cord Stimulation waveform to help treat patients with chronic, intractable low back pain. A Spinal Cord Stimulator is a minimally invasive implantable device to help the patient better control his or her pain and the DTM™ waveform is the first SCS therapy intentionally developed from preclinical science. The goal of this therapy is to help reduce patients’ chronic pain with 50% or greater relief and to improve daily activities. Learn more about this treatment here

Alliance is proud of Dr. Grochowska and her team for bringing new hope and real relief to our patients in the Buckhead area. With innovative interventional pain treatments, our best-in-class physicians are leading the way to the future of pain relief. 

Closeup of female doctor in labcoat and stethoscope holding digital tablet, reading patient report. Hands holding medical report, discussing Provocative Discography.

Why You Might Need Provocative Discography

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

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

What is Provocative Discography? 

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

How Does a Provocative Discography Work?

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

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

Why You Might Need It 

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

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

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

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

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.

Positive young man with prosthesis standing outdoors while enjoying tourism.

Phantom Limb Pain 101

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

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

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

What is Phantom Limb Pain?

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

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

What Causes Phantom Limb Pain?

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

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

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

What’s the Treatment for Phantom Limb Pain?

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

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

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

An x-ray inspired image of a boyd with the brain and spine highlighted in orange.

A Breakdown of Spine Anatomy

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

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

Curves

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

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

Bones

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

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

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

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

Muscles

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

Ligaments

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

Nerves

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

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

Hands toasting red wine and friends having fun cheering at winetasting experience - Young people enjoying harvest time together at farmhouse vineyard countryside - Foucus on glasses with blurred woman

Food and Wine Issue

As we look ahead to the Fall Season in South Fulton county, there are many events to celebrate the changing of the seasons with our neighbors. There are numerous music, craft, and art festivals planned in neighborhoods all throughout South Fulton county. At the heart of any celebration is good food and fine wine.

As your neighborhood pain physician, I bring good news to all the wine lovers out there. Over the past decade, there have been numerous studies published in reputable academic journals that tout the health benefits of wine, especially red wine.

Moderate wine drinkers, defined as 1 glass daily for women and 2 glasses for men, have a 34 percent reduction in mortality compared to beer and spirits drinkers as reported by a Finnish study published in the Journal of Gerontology. This suggests that it is not simply the alcohol content of wine that extends the health benefits, but rather there was something unique to red wines that provided the benefit. Red wines contain a compound called resveratrol and other antioxidants that protect against heart disease. The grapes used to produce red wines sourced in the Mediterranean and southwest France appear to have more potent antioxidants than wine produced elsewhere. That glass of cabernet sauvignon is now associated with a reduction in your risk for colon cancer, cataracts, and cognitive decline.

If you consume your wine with a cheese pairing, you may be doing even more for your health and waistline than you ever imagined. Many people associate cheese with cakes, breads, and other diet-busting foods. However, cheese (cheesecake does NOT apply) also contains a very healthy compound called butyrate that helps to boost metabolism and encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Additionally, the high calcium and protein content of cheese helps to preserve your bone health especially in the aging populations that are frequently diagnosed with osteoporosis.

With that said, I am compelled to remind you that the health benefits of red wine consumption only applies to “moderate” consumption. Over-consumption of any kind of alcohol is associated with increased risk of addiction, hypertension, cirrhosis, stroke, and depression. So, drink in moderation and eat with your nutritional needs in mind.

Asian woman upon waking up on bed, running shoulder due to a crick in neck from bad sleep posture.

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.

A woman, leaning on a table in front of an open bottle of spilled pills, struggling with the opioids.

The Glorification of Opioid Abuse in Popular Culture

“Percocet…Molly, Percocet!” Atlanta native and trap music icon Future repeats this phrase in the chorus of his chart-topping single entitled “Mask Off”. Millions of hip hop fans sing along and dance to the rhythmic beat set to lyrics that highlight one of the nation’s most deadly public health crises. This also contributes to the glorification of opioid abuse in popular culture. Metropolitan Atlanta, as well as rural Georgia, has been plagued by the epidemic of narcotic overdoses stemming from Percocet tablets laced with other potent narcotics like Fentanyl. While Future, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, and many others rhyme about the recreational use of prescription drugs, there are numerous high profile celebrity deaths that drew much-needed attention to the scope of the opioid problem. Whitney Houston, Prince, Amy Winehouse, and Pimp C are just a few whose deaths were implicated by prescription drug overdose.

Does the prevalence of drug references in popular culture drive the demand for opioids for recreational use? Experts have found that the drug references in contemporary music do not contribute to the opioid epidemic in any statistically significant way. Rather, the evidence would suggest that the deceptive marketing efforts of the pharmaceutical industry and irresponsible prescribing physicians bear the majority of the responsibility for the current epidemic.

But while the glorification of opioid use in music is not responsible for increasing dependency, I would argue that it serves to normalize the behavior and makes it more difficult to combat this uniquely American public health crisis. In fact, the United States is the highest consumer of oxycodone and hydrocodone in the world, with the total annual American consumption of 27 million grams of hydrocodone dwarfing the combined consumption of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. Moreover, the prescription drug crisis implicates another more universal epidemic – illicit drug abuse. According to the CDC, people prescribed and addicted to opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to become heroin addicts than those who do not use opioids.

As policymakers and public health officials enact legislation to curb this scourge and the glorification of opioid abuse in popular culture, we should take heed to words of conscious musician/poets like Chance The Rapper who shared his personal struggle with Xanax and uses his platform and microphone to educate the masses on the ills of chemical dependency.

Rear View Of A Businesswoman Sitting On Fitness Ball Stretching Her Arms, working on her work posture.

How Your Posture at Work Affects Your Health

If you work a desk job, you’ve likely struggled with maintaining a healthy posture throughout the day. When you’re engrossed in your work, you often don’t realize you’ve progressively slouched over your keyboard. In fact, it often takes a pinch of pain in your neck or back to alert you to this issue.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, bad posture is the major culprit behind back problems for over 80% of Americans.

Learn more about how your posture at work affects your health from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.

What Effect Does Bad Posture Have?

Aside from overall pain and discomfort, bad posture can lead to multiple health and psychological issues.

  1. The most obvious negative physical side effect of bad posture while at work is soreness and pain in the back and shoulders. By holding your body in this unnatural position, it puts excess strain and tension on these areas.
  2. Slouching can also affect your pelvis. In particular, those who slouch often have issues with pelvic floor dysfunction, which later leads to urinary retention, pain during intercourse, and constipation.
  3. Similarly, poor posture can severely impact your digestive health. Stomach issues like acid reflux and heartburn can occur when slouched, as it means your abdomen is compressed and cannot do its job properly.
  4. Slouching all day while you work means you’re decreasing your flexibility and limiting your range of motion in your neck and back.
  5. A special kind of headache is caused by poor posture: cervicogenic headaches. They originate from pain in the neck and strain on the joints. If you start to have more headaches at the base of your head, posture could be the culprit.
  6. Bad posture even leaks into your self-confidence. Have you ever heard of power poses? Studies show that performing a power pose for several seconds before having to make a major decision, give a presentation, or do something stressful can increase a person’s level of confidence. When you slouch, you do the opposite of a power pose, meaning your self-esteem could be taking a major hit.

Tips for Improving Bad Posture at Work

After reviewing these negative side effects, you’re likely wondering what you can do to avoid them and improve your posture at work. We’ve got you covered with these tips from our expert medical team.

How Should You Be Sitting?

  • Start off by sitting at the end of your chair and slouch completely. Next, draw yourself up and lean into the curve of your back as far as possible. Then lean forward again just at about 10 degrees. That’s the position you should aim for.
  • A good rule of thumb is to keep your ears in line with your shoulders. Don’t lean too far forward or too far backward.
  • Your bottom should always be touching the back of your chair.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • If possible, avoid sitting in the same position for 30 minutes. Getting up and stretching each half-hour is a great way to keep your posture in check.
  • Distribute your weight evenly at both hips.
  • Your spine shouldn’t be totally straight. Your lower back should be slightly curved as should your neck.
  • Position your work and your desk so that you can sit as close as possible and have your computers tilted up to you.
  • Remember to relax your shoulders from time to time. It’s easier to do this if you have your arms and elbows resting on your desk or chair arms.

Posture Correcting Exercises

If you’re feeling the pain of a bad slouch, try out these exercises to help ease the discomfort:

  • Lift your shoulders up and down.
  • Rotate your head slowly around in a full circle several times and then reverse your direction.
  • Slouch all the way forward so your spine is making a C shape. Do the opposite by sticking your chest out as far as it can go so your spine now has a sharp curve. Alternate and breath through each position.
  • Lift your arms above your head and clasp your hands together. From there, stretch to the left then the right.

If you’re experiencing back or neck paid for any reason, including your posture at work, know there are treatments available to help. Click here to schedule an appointment with Alliance Spine and Pain Centers today and start working towards the pain relief you deserve.