Got questions? We’ve got answers! Here are answers to questions about: Shots or pills for back pain? A Simple test for knee arthritis. Neck pain from sleeping wrong.

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Q: Roland from Middleton: I am going on vacation at the end of next week and I keep getting pain in my back just from the simplest things even when I am taking it easy like playing golf. I don’t have time to start an exercise program so they gave me some prednizone.  Now I feel like a million bucks. So why don’t you tell more of your patients about taking prednisone? I didn’t have to get a shot in my back or anything I just took some pills , but they only gave me enough for a week.

A: Cortisone and predisone are both steroids. They make you seem better for a few days, weeks or even months. But they do not change the situation that caused your pain in the first place. They are a substitute for fixing your problem. We do not recommend people use steroids because they are a ‘false friend’ making you feel better without really changing or fixing the cause for your pain. The potential steroid downside? They lower the performance of your immune system, are hard on your liver and can lead to cartilage break down and less calcium in bones.

Spinal and joint instability cause problems with even the simplest tasks or sports.  Unstable joints require a combination of joint manipulation, muscle trigger point therapy and core strengthening exercises if you want to get better and stay better for the long run.

Q: Margie from Beverly: I saw your show a few years ago and you said that there was a simple test that people could try to tell whether they had bad arthritis in their knees. Can you go over that again? And,  tell me why they do all these other expensive tests when you go see your MD about knee pain?

A: The simplest home test for arthritis in your knee is to stand up, bend your knee. Reach behind you using your right hand to hold your left foot. Then bring your heel up to touch your buttock. (Always use the opposite hand from the knee you are testing.) If you can touch your heel to your buttock or within one inch you are unlikely to have arthritis. And, it is unlikely you should need your knee replaced. The reason that MD’s order so many expensive tests  is that they seldom do the most basic hands on functional screening tests.  Pain in your knee does not automatically mean you have arthritis. And,  it does not automatically mean you need to have it replaced. We treat knee pain in our office using several techniques including manipulation, muscle trigger point therapy and custom made orthotics.

Q: Derek from Hamilton: I think I slept wrong because I woke up with neck pain 2 weeks ago. Now the right side of my neck hurts at night, and feels worse in the morning. It feels better as I work during the day then it feels bad again at the end of the day. Even though my wife bought me a special pillow for about $75 and my neck still hurts. I make sure I have about 5 pillows when I am lying on the couch watching TV. I can’t remember doing anything special to hurt my neck.

A: Many people say “I slept wrong” as the reason for their pain. Their neck pain is usually caused by several factors all coming together so that they feel the most pain in the morning. The biggest reason for neck pain is the loss of the normal arch of the neck. This can happen from using 5 pillows or from a pillow that doesn’t have an arch to support your neck while sleeping. The treatment for this type of pain is to do at least three things:

  1. work on all the affected muscles with trigger point therapy;
  2. free up the stuck joints with manipulation, and
  3. use a special cervical support pillow recommended by your chiropractor with the arch your neck needs.

And never use 5 pillows because it will throw your neck forward to lose the normal arch.