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Back Pain

Understand Your Low Back: How to Protect and Care for Your Back

Have you ever wondered why some exercises are considered better for your back than others?  Or do you want to understand your back better and have some good strategies to protect your back while exercising or working?

Your spinal joints are small with sensitive nerve structures while your feet, knees, and hips are big with less sensitive structures and more suitable for weight bearing and movement. Learning to move with your feet, knees, and hips while keeping your spine stable is the key concept of core training and protecting your back. 

In this series of articles I will discuss the anatomy of your low back, common causes of conditions like arthritis and other low back pain, and the big idea of core training and some things to avoid for your low back.

Your Spinal Cord: Protects and Provides Movement
The main purpose of your spine is to protect your spinal cord. Your spinal cord is the direct link from your brain to the rest of your body. Nerves in various parts of your body tell your brain about what’s going on in that part of the body and send the information to your brain. Your brain then issues a response to that body part.

In short, your nerves relay important information about the state or health of your body and send it to your brain while your brain figures out what to do about the information.

However, the spine also allows for a great deal of movement.  Much of the current research on low back pain has shown that certain movements may cause undue stress on structures of your spine and lead to pain. This article explains how those movements may lead to certain types of degenerative changes [...]

Pain While You Sleep? 3 Ways to Change Your Sleep Positions to Be More Comfortable

You sleep for at least 8 hours a day. It is common especially as you get older to notice that when you wake up you may feel stiff, wake up with numb hands, or pain in your neck and shoulders. Therefore I am often asked what is the best way to sleep. Most experts agree that whatever position your body tend to go towards is the best.

If you find that you are waking up with pain and suspect that your sleeping position is causing your pain try these sleeping modifications. I have tried these myself and I really thought these were some of the best modifications I have seen.
Back Sleepers: Reduce Stiffness in Your Back and Keep Your Arms and Hands from Falling Asleep

Perhaps when you sleep on your back you notice your arms and hands become numb in the middle of the night. Sleeping with your arms at your side or resting on your belly places a stretching stress on your nerves which may cause your arms and hands to fall asleep.

To prevent this you can place two small pillow under your arms. This will help support your arms which will help prevent your arms from becoming numb.

When you sleep on your back your pelvis your pelvis rotates slightly forward causing your back to arch. This may cause your low back to feel stiff and achy while you sleep.

To help prevent excess pressure on your low back it can be helpful to place a pillow under the knees. This may help with stiffness and tension in your low back. 
Side Sleepers: Reduce Pain in Your Neck, Shoulders, and Keep Your Arms and Hands From Falling Asleep
Sleeping purely on your [...]

Massage for Upper Back Pain

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Your upper back tension may start out as minor. You catch yourself in awkward positions in an eager attempt to stretch out your shoulders.  Your friends and co-workers give you funky looks as you try to crack your back or press up against the corner of a wall to get those tight spots.

At other times your upper back tension may flare up into really sharp pain as you move your neck or shoulders. Sometimes it might hurt you to breathe which really freaks you out.

Worse still, you may experience pain that radiates into the shoulder or into your arm which causes you to seek out medical help. These symptoms may seem out of the blue and unrelated to your normal upper back tension.

Muscle strain, tightness,  and trigger points in muscles of the upper back can cause these symptoms and massage therapy can alleviate this stress. 




Soft Tissue Problems

Upper back pain is a common complaint from people seeking massage therapy.  Upper back pain is common because it is a complex structure made of many spinal joints, rib joints, and the shoulder blades. 

The muscles that make up the upper back belong to the shoulder blades, the spine, and the neck. Many of these muscles act as posture stabilizers of the neck, shoulders, and spine lending the upper back to lots of misuse and abuse. 

Also interesting to note, many muscles of the upper back attach onto the ribs and aid in breathing.  If these muscles are tight or strained many people may report pain as they breathe in. Coughing very hard may strain some of these muscles as well. This commonly [...]

Massage Therapy Treatment for Sciatica Relief In Greenwich, CT.

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You don’t know what you did but this pain in your leg is driving you crazy. Sometimes it’s a sharp pain like a knife that keeps you from being able to just sit down. Other times it’s just a deep ache that bothers you while just sitting down to have dinner. In other instances it seems fine except certain positions bother it and you can’t seem to figure it out.

You go to a doctor and they tell you have a herniated disc. They tell you to go to physical therapy and if that doesn’t help you, you may need surgery.

You look it up on the internet and talk to freinds, and everyone is telling you horror stories of having surgery and the back pain doesn’t get better or other problems that crop up after surgery. What other treatments are there?

Massage therapy can be a very important complement to other treatments for sciatica and provide relief as well to help heal sciatica.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a symptom of pain down the leg and involves impingement of the sciatic nerve. The impingement can occur from bulging discs, narrowing of the spinal canal, soft tissue, or irritation of spinal ligaments.

The ability of massage therapy to be helpful in sciatic pain depends on what is impinging the sciatic nerve, such as spinal narrowing or disc material, and the severity of these conditions.

How Does Massage Help Sciatica?

Treating the soft tissue around the spinal joints can be essential in healing sciatic pain. The discs can go back into place and anything that can help facilitate this process is essential. 

Massage can help this process by [...]

Massage Therapy for Low Back Pain

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By Matthew Snow, L.M.T

There is nothing like low back pain to let you know how much your low back is involved in even the simplest of movements. Something as simple as sitting down is excruciating and involves all of your concentration to avoid severe pain.  Low back pain can be frustrating as the pain can be just fine and dandy as you move about your day but the minute you lie down to go to sleep the pain keeps you up at night and prevents you from restful sleep.

Massage therapy is an effective treatment for many types of low back pain. Even for conditions involving arthritis, bulging or herniated discs, and pinched nerves: massage can help!
Soft Tissue Disorders
The low back is a complex structure with many joints and tons of soft tissue to support and protect the sensitive joints and nerves in the area.  The low back is a truly remarkable design as it provides you with a great deal of ability to move. But that in itself is the problem with the low back. It provides the great ability to move while also having the burdensome task of providing stability of the weight of your upper body and transmits the force of your lower body through the pelvis.

Once upon a time it was thought that most low back pain was to have a structural component to it and often surgery was used as a treatment. But that is no longer the case and most low back pain is thought to have soft tissue components. Most Doctors do not want to do surgery as it is [...]

Disc Problems and How Massage Therapy Can Help

Back in 2007 my first week working in a Rehabilitation office was intense.  There were 2 cases of disc herniation in my first day and I remember them well.  Both cases had severe pain and were on the verge of tears.  It was pain that they had never experienced before and this was their last resort before surgery.  I really wasn’t sure if they would get better because of the amount of pain they had but each treatment they had they felt improvement.  After 4 weeks they were much better and it was such a transformation in their personalities from the first day I met them from being depressed and hopeless to pretty much being how they probably were before I met them.  That was seven years ago and I still see them once in awhile and they have never had a problem with that since.



The spinal joints are quite complex.  There are three joints within a spinal joint.  The 2 facet joints  and the disc joint. The disc joint has three parts: the annulus fibrosis, the nucleus fibrosis, and vertebral endplate.
The disc  allows  movement,  absorbs shock and bears weight,  and provides space for the intervertebral foramen for the nerves to pass through.  The annulus fibrosis is made of many layers of fibrocartilage and each layer has many fibers in different directions to resist movement in different directions.  The nuclues pulposus is in the center of the annulus fibrosis.  A disc bulge or herniation is when fibers of the annulus fibrosis starts to crack or thin and the nucleus pulposis is allowed to bulge through the annulus.










There are different degrees of disc bulge or herniation.  A protrusion is when the disc [...]