How Do You Know If You Have A Pinched Nerve?

You’ve got a massive highway of nerves running through your body.

Those nerves can become pinched any time there’s pressure on the nerve, usually when it’s compressed between two other tissues such as tendons, ligaments, or bones.

That explanation sounds simple and straightforward enough. Of course, lacking X-ray vision, it’s difficult to peer inside yourself to see if that’s what’s causing that sudden, shooting pain you’re feeling.

In the absence of X-ray vision then, here’s how you can tell if the pain you’re feeling is indicative of a pinched nerve or not:

  • If you feel a sharp, radiating pain that originates from a localized point on your body, especially in your neck or lower back. However, the pain could be most anywhere since you’ve got nerves all over your body.
  • If you feel weakness in the area where the pain is originating from, especially when performing certain repetitive motions.
  • If you feel numbness or tingling (“pins and needles”), or if you feel a burning sensation from the area where the pain is originating from.

Of course, these symptoms aren’t unique to nerve pain, so even if you’re feeling all three, that’s still not definitive.  To get a definitive diagnosis, your best bet is to make an appointment with your chiropractor right away.

If that’s impractical in the immediacy, the first thing you should do to treat the possible nerve damage is to rest the affected area.  Stop doing whatever it was you were doing when the pain began. Consider if you moved differently than normal, which could have caused the pinched nerve.

If the pain persists, use alternating ice and heat to try and reduce the swelling in the impacted area, which may help take pressure off the nerve.  Assuming that there’s no medical reason you can’t take NSAIDs like naproxen, ibuprofen or aspirin, these also help to reduce swelling and should at least be considered. Again, an appointment to your chiropractor at your first opportunity is the ultimate solution.


Do Fitness Trackers Really Work?

On the face of it, it seems obvious.

Step counters, heart monitors, and related fitness activity tracking apps seem like they’d naturally increase your level of physical activity because they make it such an easy thing to track.

You may wonder: is that actually the case, or is it simply that you’re more aware of how much activity you’re performing on a typical day and not genuinely increasing your activity level at all?

It’s a fair question, and the fine folks at the Duke-National University of Singapore’s Medical School decided to run a long-term experiment to test it out. They designed a study which tracked the activity of a total of 800 full-time employees who were paid a nominal sum ($7) to participate.

The participants were divided randomly into four groups:

  • Group A – The control group.
  • Group B – Paid $3 a week, regardless of the number of steps taken and tracked by FitBit
  • Group C – Paid cash incentives of $11 for taking 50k – 70k steps each week and $22 for taking more than 70k steps in a week.
  • Group D – A payment made in the employee’s name to charity (in line with the payments received by Group C)

As one might expect, Group C was the most active, but members of Groups B and C were both significantly more active than the control group, with a catch.

After the cash incentives stopped, only about one study participant in ten continued with their increased activity levels. Within a year, overall activity levels across all groups had returned to their baseline levels.  According to this study then, the net long term effect of using a fitness tracker like FitBit is essentially nil.

It’s a great idea, and with further tweaking and refinement, it’s entirely possible that these apps and devices will one day usher in an era of increased activity. However, according to the latest research, that day is not today.

Can Running Or Jogging Cause Back Pain?

The short answer to the question posed by the title of this article is yes.

Running can cause back pain.

However, there’s a bit more to it than that, so we’ll explain in more detail.

First, running or jogging isn’t guaranteed to cause lower back pain, but it can in some cases. This is especially true if you’re a new runner, if you have a history of running, if you have taken some time away from it, and if you are running again without gradually getting back to it.  Running can also exacerbate existing back pain in some cases.

Far and away the most common cause of running related back pain is muscle pain.  This type of pain rarely affects experienced runners, but new or newly returned runners can certainly experience it.

Essentially, muscle-related back pain is caused when the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, hips and core aren’t strong enough to support the activity you’re pursuing, which causes your lower back to try and take up the slack, working overtime to keep you upright and stable.

Runners may also experience bone-related back pain caused by bulging or slipping discs or arthritis.  This, however, is relatively uncommon compared to the muscle-related pain described above. In general, runners are aware of these conditions before they begin running and account for them properly.

Regardless of the type of pain you’re feeling, however, there are a few simple things you can do to alleviate your discomfort. The first and most obvious thing is stretching, both as a warm up and as a cooldown when you’ve finished your run.

A good stretching routine sends signals to your body that work is about to begin and gears them up and gets them ready for the trials ahead.  Similarly, a vigorous stretch after the run limits the amount of muscle pain you’re likely to feel post-run, which isn’t a perfect ward against back pain, but helps considerably. As an added benefit, you will become more flexible if you stretch before and after running.

Ultimately when dealing with muscle-related back pain, the best thing you can do for yourself is build up your core muscles so they can properly support you, which takes pressure off of your back!

Yard Work Injuries Are Common With Warming Weather

Spring is here, and that means getting outside and enjoying the warmer weather.  Of course, it also means yard work.  While not everyone enjoys it, it’s something that’s got to be done. As a result, tens of millions of Americans roll up their sleeves and get to work.

Even if you enjoy yard work,  it opens the door to the possibility of minor injury or a serious injury.  Some of the more common outdoor injuries include things like:

  • Slips and falls
  • Strains and sprains
  • Insect bites
  • Burns, especially when you touch hot lawn equipment like lawn mowers
  • Cuts

This last category tends to be the most serious, and includes cuts received from a variety of equipment including trimmers, lawn mowers, garden shears, chainsaws, and the like.  Falls are typically the second most serious category, especially if you have the misfortune of falling off a ladder.

The good news, however, is that most of these accidents and injuries are easy to avoid.  The twin keys to doing so are mindfulness and proper gear.

Mindfulness is simply being more aware of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.  Be sure you’re using proper bending, squatting and lifting techniques. Whenever you use any piece of equipment, ensure you’re using it in the proper manner.

In terms of gear, properly outfitting yourself will go a long way toward minimizing your risk of injury, especially when combined with increased mindfulness.  Among other things, any time you’re doing yard work, be sure you’re wearing:

  • Closed-toe shoes with slip resistant soles
  • Long pants
  • Gloves

Depending on what kind of work you’re doing, protective goggles may be a good idea too, but for many of the lawn-related chores you’re likely to do, it’s probably overkill.  Use your best judgement on that front.  Just be careful, be mindful and stay safe!