Chiropractic answers to questions about recurring back pain, shoulder surgery rehab, and neck pain.

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Injections for back pain for a stuck joint? 

Q: Allison from West Peabody:  I just woke up with a bad back 3 months ago. I went to my internist and he referred me to see a specialist. They took some x-rays of my back and said they could see where it was stuck. If I want to get it fixed he said I will have to have a shot in my back. I don’t like shots and I am scared to get one in my back, am I being too chicken about this?

A:  You are not being ‘too chicken’ because taking an x-ray almost never reveals where the person has a lack of normal motion in their spine unless a series was taken with you bending forward and back and side to side. These series are rarely ordered by medical doctors. And an injection in your back never frees up a joint that is stuck. Finding a stuck joint is best done by hand by a chiropractor who has learned that skill through years of study and practice.

Injections in the back only mask the pain or lessen inflammation and make people think that their back pain problem has gone away. Injections do not free up joints; they only fool you into thinking your back problem is solved. The best way to feel better is to receive high quality chiropractic care that finds the source of your problem. A chiropractor focuses on helping your spine work normally. Then we make sure that all the related muscles are freed of trigger points. Next we  teach you special spinal stabilization exercises to correct the underlying muscle weakness and/or imbalance that allowed the problem in the first place.

How long should shoulder surgery rehab take?

Q: Brian from Middleton: Last Spring I fell down stairs and hurt my shoulder pretty badly. I had surgery to fix it. While it is a little better, I still can’t use it to throw a ball or reach up high. How long is it supposed to take to heal up? I already had 6 weeks of PT and exercises and it is still screwed up.

A: If you don’t get the right care there is no amount of time that will make your shoulder feel better. This is because after surgery everybody has a buildup of scar tissue and trigger points. PT seldom properly treats scar tissue after shoulder surgery. People will get a little better but often not all the way back to normal. Getting back to normal takes more than exercises and massage. To get better you need a doctor who can find all the hidden trigger points and stuck joints  related to your shoulder and not just the obvious sore spots right near your shoulder. When we treat a patient with shoulder pain after surgery we treat not only the obvious areas but ALL the places related to being able to get back to normal.

Back exercises for recurring neck pain?

Q: Kelly from Danvers: My neck bothers me over and over again.  My doctor gave me some exercises to do but they are for my back so I just don’t do them. I figure I’m only in my 30’s and I’m not overweight so back exercises are not really for me. What else can I do, because I am getting tired of waking up in the morning with neck pain.

A: When you have neck pain that keeps on coming back it usually means that your problem is not just in your neck. Exercises that strengthen your back in the right way will result in your spine being more stable all over. Your neck is a part of your spine. So, your neck pain symptoms will benefit from the right exercises for a more stable spine. We teach our patients Foundation Training exercises to help them have a more stable spine as well as less pain in their neck.

However, if you wake up each morning with neck pain or stiffness it usually means that you are a stomach sleeper meaning you sleep face down. Or you may not be using the right pillow to support and promote the normal arch in your neck. If you sleep on your stomach and you don’t change to sleeping on your side or your back you will always have neck or low back pain. If you are using more than one pillow you are very likely to lose the normal arch in your neck. A lost neck arch  opens the door to having a stiff or sore neck more frequently. There are special pillows that do have good support for the arch of your neck. That is the type of pillow we use and recommend to everyone.