If you’re dealing with some perplexing back pain or neck pain, joint pain, or muscle pain that just won’t go away, you may have found yourself browsing online for answers. And while there’s a lot of great medical information on the internet these days, chances are you can’t reliably diagnose the source of your discomfort.
If you try to, you could easily end up frustrated, confused, or possibly even downright paranoid about a condition you don’t actually have. That’s why seeing an experienced chiropractic doctor is in your best interest.
A professional not only understands how to assess and diagnose you but also knows which treatments to administer or recommend that’ll help you get out of pain. If you try to go the road alone, chances are the issue will get worse over time and affect your life to a greater degree.
What might be causing your pain? While we can’t know for sure until you come in for a visit, here are a few types of pain we commonly see, along with their most common sources.
Wrist Pain: Carpal Tunnel vs. Arthritis vs. Acute Injury
If you’ve been dealing with chronic wrist pain that isn’t due to an acute injury you’re aware of, your discomfort may be the result of carpal tunnel or arthritis. Here’s how the two differ in terms of pain and what you should know about each condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder caused by the body’s own immune system. This autoimmune disorder occurs in the hands and wrist area when the immune system attacks its own cartilage by mistake. Over time, the condition deteriorates the lining of the joints, causing swelling, bone erosion, and even joint deformities in severe cases.
Osteoarthritis also deteriorates the lining of affected joints, but this condition results from normal joint wear and tear rather than a misguided immune system response.
Both types of arthritis are uncomfortable because all joints need adequate lining to function smoothly and move through their normal range of motion. When that lining deteriorates, it typically causes considerable pain with movement of the affected joint(s). That’s especially true with advanced cases.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain can also flare with changes in barometric pressure. Since atmospheric pressure levels can cause various bodily tissues to contract or expand, this condition often causes more pain and mobility impairment when cold fronts and storms roll in.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by wear and tear or injury that results in compression of the median nerve (the main nerve that passes through the wrist). This nerve extends from the forearm through the wrist and into the hand.
Repetitive work, a wrist fracture, or chronic diseases like diabetes are risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome as well.
People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis often have joint pain in other regions of the body in addition to the hands. However, carpal tunnel syndrome pain is typically restricted to the hand, forearm, and shoulder.
Carpal tunnel syndrome’s characteristic tingling and numbness distinguish it from arthritis pain because carpal tunnel tingling doesn’t often affect the pinky finger as badly. Tingling and numbness are usually also triggered by repetitive motion and extend up the forearm.
Acute Injury or Nerve Problem
Hand and wrist pain may also be attributed to a tendon, ligament, or bone injury or even a nerve problem in the fingers or neck. But it’s tough to determine whether an injury or acute nerve issue is causing the pain without a professional assessment.
That’s why it’s so important to consult an experienced chiropractor who can properly diagnose the condition and recommend an effective course of treatment.
Pelvic and Lower Extremity Pain: SI Joint vs. Sciatic Nerve
Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and Sciatica can often be confused with each other because the pain associated with each condition tends to be similar. Here’s how they differ and what you should know.
SI Joint Dysfunction
The sacroiliac joint is situated next to the base of the spine and above the tailbone. This joint connects the sacrum (triangle bone at the bottom of the spine) to the pelvic bone.
The SI joint itself isn’t capable of significant movement. For the most part, it’s pretty stationary. Rather than moving as most other joints do, the SI joint provides support and stabilization for the upper body. It also converts torque from the lower body into the spine and trunk and absorbs movement-related shock to help protect the spine.
Any change in the normal alignment (position) of this joint causes SI joint pain. If there is too much movement of the SI joint, it can result in inflammation that causes radiating pain into the low back and pelvic area.
Sciatica is caused by a compressed sciatic nerve root, not an SI joint problem. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and runs from the low back through the buttock and down the back of each leg. Because this nerve stems from the spine, it can easily suffer compression when discs in the lower spine develop issues.
Bulging or herniated spinal discs can put pressure on the delicate nerve, and when that happens, the nerve sends painful signals into areas through which it travels (buttocks, hamstring, calf, and even the foot and toes).
Typically, sciatica affects one side of the lower body with a sharp pain that grows worse with movement. In cases of severe nerve compression, the pain may be almost ever-present. Sciatica typically also causes some degree of numbness and/or tingling in the buttock, leg, or foot. Sometimes, it may even cause a loss of function in the affected areas.
While some people feel less pain while lying down or sitting, others feel better when they move around. The severity of the pain and aggravating factors all depend on the location and severity of the nerve compression.
Other common causes of sciatica include:
● Bone spurs that grow on the spinal vertebrae
● Obesity, which increases stress on the spine and causes the discs to compress the sciatic nerve
● Overly tight gluteal muscles or piriformis that compress the nerve where it travels through the buttock
● Prolonged sitting, which affects the lower spine and buttocks in such a way that they gradually compress one or more segments of the sciatic nerve
Knee Pain: Runner’s Knee vs. Meniscus Tear vs. Ligament Damage
Because the knees have a limited range of motion, absorb lots of shock, and carry lots of weight, they’re particularly susceptible to injuries and pain. Here’s what you should know about three of the most common causes of knee pain.
Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Syndrome)
Runner’s knee usually occurs as a result of a structural bone or joint problem, excessive training, tight tendons and muscles, muscle weakness in the thigh, or injuries.
Although it’s common among runners, the condition can affect athletes of all kinds, particularly those who play sports involving repetitive use of the knee like soccer or basketball. It can also affect people who don’t run or play any type of sport.
Signs of runner’s knee include:
● Pain on the sides or front of the kneecap
● Grinding in the knee or stiffness
● Increased pain or knee popping with movement
● Kneecap tenderness with palpation or even gentle touching of the area
The meniscus is a rubbery, flexible piece of cartilage that provides cushioning between the bones in the knee. It functions to reduce shock and absorb the amount of impact on the leg and knee during movement and standing. It also provides stability to the knee and facilitates smooth motion between the upper and lower bones of the leg where they meet beneath the kneecap (patella).
A meniscal tear usually occurs as a result of sports or injury such as impact, over-rotation (twisting the knee), or sudden movement in an opposite direction. But meniscus tears can also result when the cartilage wears out over time due to degenerative conditions like arthritis.
As the body ages, cartilage gradually becomes less resistant and absorbent, so it can suffer injuries more easily. Common signs of a meniscal tear include:
● Inability to fully straighten the leg
● A “locked” feeling when attempting to move the knee
● Pain when attempting to rotate or twist the knee
● Stiffness and swelling
Get Quality Chiropractic Care for Wrist, Back, or Knee Pain
If you’re dealing with sudden or persistent pain in your wrist, back, or knees, get in touch with our team at Bomberg Chiropractic in New Hope, MN. We specialize in diagnosing and treating athletic injuries of all types and will create a personalized treatment plan to alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and get you back to doing the things you love.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, give us a call at 763-450-1755 or request an appointment online, and we’ll get in touch to schedule you.