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Are You Suffering from Repetitive Motion Injuries?

Are You Suffering from Repetitive Motion Injuries?

If you’re a jogger, play the piano, type on a computer for most of the day, or even just routinely clean your house, you probably have some experience with the pain that comes from repetitive motion injuries. Also called stress injuries, repetitive motion injuries come from doing the same thing over and over again, thus causing temporary or permanent damage to ligaments, muscles, tendons or nerves.

These types of injuries often bring about wrist, elbow, hip, or knee pain which points to the inflammation happening within the body. Repetitive motion can cause microscopic tears in our tissue and when these tears are not repaired as quickly as they are made, inflammation and pain will begin to set in. If you suffer from a repetitive motion injury, read on to learn the symptoms, how you can find pain relief, and how to prevent future injuries.

Contact your pain management doctor in Orange county for treatment options.

Symptoms of Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repetitive motion injuries can impact the joints in your body. Some of the most common symptoms include:

Tendinitis. This condition happens when there is repeated motion of an inflamed tendon. The skin around the tendon can also become red and warm to the touch. Tendinitis can happen at the biceps (where the arm meets the shoulder), at the elbow, and the rotator cuff.

Bursitis. This condition happens when there is inflammation of the bursa sac between the tendon and bone. This can be extremely painful, decrease range of motion and also cause redness and swelling of the affected area. Common areas of bursitis include the knee, elbow and hip.

Exams and Self-Care

Your doctor may perform an MRI to determine the severity of the repetitive motion injury. In the case of bursitis, your doctor will need to determine whether the cause is inflammatory in nature, or if there is an infection. Fluid can build up, most commonly in the knee and elbow, and may need to be drained to determine if a bacterial infection is present. Home care methods include using ice, elevating or temporary immobilization if the injury is severe enough. You should always check with your doctor to find out the appropriate course of action for your specific injury. Typically, tendinitis and bursitis cases heal well and most make a complete recovery. However, if you continue with the jogging, golf, tennis, or daily computer work, prevention might be your best bet.

Prevention

There are some basic things you can do to prevent repetitive motion injuries and keep the pain at bay. Some common prevention techniques include:

• Making sure you perform adequate warm-up and cool-down stretching exercises.

• Avoid the activities causing the injury until you are healed.

• Performing exercises to make sure you are maintaining high function and not losing any of your range of motion in the affected area.

• Utilizing a brace or band purchased from your doctor or over-the-counter in a local drugstore. These can be particularly helpful for those who regularly enjoy golf, tennis or jogging.

Your Pain Management Doctor in Orange County

Sometimes, no matter what you do, the injury is too severe and the pain just won’t go away. If you are suffering from limited mobility, continuous inflammation in your shoulders, knees or other joints, if the pain is affecting your daily quality of life, and other treatment options just haven’t worked for you, contact Dr. Lai, as you may be a perfect candidate for joint injections. Dr. Lai is the premier pain management doctor in Orange County and his physicians are dedicated to helping you relieve your joint pain, creating a personalized treatment plan to meet your specific needs. You don’t have to live with chronic pain. Call Dr. Lai today to schedule your consultation and learn how you can find relief from repetitive motion and other joint injuries.

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When Do You Need an Epidural Injection Procedure?

When Do You Need an Epidural Injection Procedure?

Pain can be extremely difficult to manage and endure at times. Nerves can become compressed and the pressure then creates swelling and inflammation. This can lead to pain, numbness, tingling and even weakening (or damage) to the nerve. One pain management treatment option for patients experiencing such pain is through the use of an epidural injection procedure. An epidural is a long-lasting steroid medication used to help reduce swelling and inflammation of the nerves and, thus, reduce any pain associated with the compression of a nerve.

What Types of Pain are Associated with an Epidural Injection Procedure?

A commonly known use of epidural injections is for pregnant women during labor, to help relieve the pain of childbirth. However, epidural injections are used for much more than that type of pain. Common conditions treated with the use of an epidural injection include:

Herniated Disc – This is when one of the intervertebral discs, which help to provide stability and absorb shock for the spine, bulges or ruptures. This is usually caused when the outer layer of the disc becomes weakened. The result is a great deal of pain, swelling and irritation.

Spinal Stenosis – This is a condition when the spinal canal and nerve root canal narrow and it begins to put compression on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. This makes it extremely painful to walk and reduced mobility.

Sciatica – This is a condition where the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks and to your legs, becomes compressed. The result is excruciating pain that engulfs the lower body, particularly the buttocks and legs.

Spondylosis – This is a condition that can be the result of either a fracture or general wear and tear of the upper and lower parts of the spinal discs. This can cause bone spurs and thinning of the discs, which can become extremely painful for the nerve roots.

Degenerative Disc Disease – This is when the intervertebral disc collapses and the outer layer, known as the annulus, is torn. This can happen as the result of untreated and unattended herniated discs. Bone spur growth is also known to be affiliated with degenerative disc disease.

Lower Back and Neck Pain – In addition to the above conditions, severe lower back and neck pain (either as a result of an injury, accident or chronic pain) are also painful conditions where epidural injections are used to help treat and manage the pain.

When is an Epidural Injection Procedure Needed?

Now that we know what common pain conditions are used with epidural injections, it may be helpful to know when an epidural injection is needed. In general, epidural injections are administered to patients who have tried alternative methods of pain management, including but not limited to: chiropractic care, over-the-counter and prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medication, massage and physical therapy.

If following these conservative and conventional methods of pain relief you are still experiencing pain that limits mobility, becomes difficult to endure or manage, or generally affects your quality of life, an epidural steroid injection may be helpful to relieve you of your pain. A doctor will go over your medical and pain history and determine if an epidural injection is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Side Effects of an Epidural Injection

As with most procedures, there are always potential side effects. Epidural steroid injections are considered a relatively safe procedure for majority of patients, however, given its minimally-invasive nature. The most common side effects with epidural injections include pain, bleeding and swelling at the injection site. This is temporary and usually experienced in the days following the procedure.

You should immediately contact your doctor if you have a loss of feeling or function in your arms or legs, a fever of 101 degrees or higher for more than 24 hours, or painful headaches.

How Long Does an Epidural Injection Last?

The procedure itself is about 15 to 45 minutes. The patient will be awake while the epidural injection is administered and will begin to take effect immediately following the procedure. Many patients are able to walk out of the procedure. The pain relief provided by the epidural injection last for several weeks to up to a few months, and for some even a year or more. For patients with more severe cases of pain management, they may require multiple epidural injections each year—with a limit of up to 3 epidural injections in a 12-month period.

Contact Us

All-in-all, epidural steroid injections have been an effective and successful means of pain management for decades. If you are experiencing any pain associated with the conditions noted above or chronic and severe lower back and neck pain, contact Centers of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine (CRPM) at (714) 909-0136 or online today! The friendly staff and experienced doctors can work to help you begin relieving pain for you so you can begin moving on with your life!

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Causes of Pain Behind the Knee

Causes of Pain Behind the Knee

Knee pain is common among individuals of all ages and for a variety of reasons. Many people experience knee pain as the result of an injury doing activity of some kind or sports. Knee pain can be the result of a variety of different reasons and, depending on the cause of the pain, can be treated with anything from general care each day to physical therapy and support braces to surgery and even surgical replacement.

In addition to pain in the knee, some people experience the following symptoms:

• Swelling
• Fluid around the knee
• Clicking or popping noise
• Locking sensation of the knee
• The knee giving out whenever weight is applied
• A lump behind the knee

It is helpful to understand what may potentially be the cause of pain and these symptoms in the knee. In particular, pain found behind the knee (also called posterior knee pain) is one common form of knee pain.

Below are the common causes for pain found behind the knee.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a painful condition that is caused by the natural wear and tear of the joints. Some may also have an autoimmune disease known as rheumatoid arthritis which causes inflammation in the joints. This can make moving extremely difficult and painful, particularly in the morning when the joint may be the most stiff from resting through the night.

Baker’s Cyst

One common cause of pain behind the knee is something known as a Baker’s cyst, which is a cyst that develops behind the knee from running. When running, your legs repeatedly bend and straighten. This excessive repetitive movement can cause an accumulation of fluid that results in a swollen lump that feels like a water balloon found right behind the knee. It can be painful and make movement challenging, particularly running. The first step to treating a Baker’s cyst is to drain the excess fluid and take a break from running while your cyst heals.

Tendonitis

One cause of knee pain found behind the knee is tendonitis. There are actually two forms of tendonitis that can wreak havoc on the posterior knee. One is tendonitis of the hamstring. The hamstrings are the large muscle group found on the backside of the upper part of your leg, just below your butt and going down to your knee. Tendonitis of the hamstring is a common injury among runners, particularly those that run long distance races. Due to a lack of overuse and improper training, runners begin to experience fatigue of the hamstring and it begins to put strain on the hamstrings, which then leads to pain behind the knee.

Another form of tendonitis that is known for causing pain behind the knee is what’s known as gastrocnemius tendonitis, which is when the Gastroc tendons found in the calf muscle, which crosses behind the knee and attaches above the knee joint, become strained. This particular form of tendonitis is more prominent among cyclists.

Both of these common forms of tendonitis that are known to cause posterior knee pain can be treated by seeking out the assistance of a doctor or physical therapist. These injuries are typically the result of weak glute muscles and improper training. A physical therapist can advise you about which exercises to do to treat the injury and build up strength in the glutes to avoid future injury.

Torn Meniscus

The meniscus is the cartilage that sits between the upper and lower leg bones. This cartilage helps to keep the knee sturdy. However, it is known for tearing, particularly as the result of twisting or falling down on the knee. It can also tear from being worn down over time and everyday wear and tear. The doctor will need to administer an MRI test to determine if your meniscus is torn and the severity of the tear.

Blood Clot

Another cause of pain, as well as swelling, behind the knee is blood clots. People who are on bed rest or recovery from surgery often experience blood clots behind the knee. If you are on bed rest and experience pain or swelling behind the knee, be sure to inform your doctor right away.

If you are experiencing knee pain of any kind and are currently located in Orange County and throughout the greater Southern California area, contact Centers of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine (CRPM) at (714) 909-0136 or online!

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Best Exercises for Chronic Pain

Every person experiences pain at some point in their life. Anything from a headache, sore muscles or joints, or even an injury such as a sprained finger, a bruised knee, or a more serious injury liked a broken bone or fracture. These pains are temporary and go away after some time. Chronic pain is very different. Chronic pain is on-going pain that lasts weeks to months to even years. One of the most effective ways to go about chronic pain movement is to implement some of the best exercises for chronic pain.

Chronic pain can come in different forms for different people. Here are some of the most common types of causes of chronic pain that people experience:

• Migraines
• Nerve pain
• Past injuries, particularly involving the back and knee
• Past surgeries
• Arthritis
• Fibromyalgia

Chronic pain can range from all levels of pain, including a dull ache up to a burning or shooting pain. There are different things that can aggravate or worsen the pain.

While too much activity and exercise can make the pain worse, a common mistake that people who experience chronic pain often make is they become sedentary and avoid activity of all kind. This can actually make the pain worse by stiffening the muscle and joints around the area in pain. Depending on the kind of chronic pain you may experience, there are certain exercises that are recommended that you do to help you get activity in and improve (or at least reduce) the level of pain you may experience.

Here are some of the best exercises for chronic pain, keeping in mind that before you do any type of activity, you should consult your doctor and get clearance to do these activities.

Walking

Walking can be done outside or indoors on a treadmill. Walking is a great activity for increasing the heart rate and gets the blood flowing throughout the body while not being so vigorous and hard on the joints as jogging or other types of activities.

Swimming

Even walking can be difficult for some patients that experience chronic pain because there still is some impact made, particularly on the knees and feet. Swimming helps take any impact out of the joints by allowing you to be active through the water.

Yoga & Pilates

Yoga and Pilates have a number of benefits to the body including improved breathing and relaxation, as well as building core strength and improving the overall flexibility and stretching off the muscles. The meditative and spiritual experience that many yoga workouts can offer is also helpful in managing everyday stresses and the emotional aspect of managing chronic pain. By strengthening the core muscles, you can help to reduce back pain and help stabilize the body without straining other muscles and joints. This is one of the most effective and best exercises for chronic pain.

Strength Training

When people think of strength training, they get the idea of large bodybuilders lifting weights at the gym. Strength training doesn’t have to be that at all. Strength training can be used to strengthen muscles that are weaker and contributing to chronic pain disorders, such as strengthening the leg muscles around the knee so that the muscles take on more of the stress than the joint. Strength training does not to be a lot of weight either. It can be as simple as doing some exercises that involve using your own body weight.

Stretching

Stretching has a number of benefits including improving flexibility, reducing stiffness, and increasing range of motion. By doing this, you can take a lot of pressure off certain muscles that take on a lot of strain to support the body and help it in its daily activities. Stretching is highly recommended as a part of your cool down to any activities that you do. This will prevent any further soreness or injury as well.

Everyday Activities

Last, but not least, it is helpful to participate in everyday activities, such as household chores, playing and running around with the kids, gardening, etc. These kinds of activities will not only help keep you staying active, but it will help to continue to keep you involved and staying connected. Chronic pain is not fun and can prevent you from doing these things, so do your best to plan your schedule to do these types of everyday activities. Figure out when you have the most energy and are better off to do these types of activities.

In conclusion, it is helpful to find activities that will allow you manage the chronic pain that you experience and improve the symptoms that you have. As noted above, all activities and exercises should be discussed and approved by your doctor in advance to doing any kind of exercise routine. Being active has other benefits beyond just helping to manage chronic pain, as it can also help you sleep better, manage stress and anxiety, and help naturally make you feel better (thanks endorphins!). These other added benefits to exercise will all have an even greater impact in the battle against chronic pain.

If you have questions about the best exercises for chronic pain and are currently located in Orange County and throughout the greater Southern California area, contact Centers of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine (CRPM) at (714) 909-0136 or online!

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How to Avoid Back Pain at Work

How to Avoid Back Pain at Work

Back pain is one of the most common injuries found in the work place and it’s not limited to those jobs that require a great deal of physical labor. It’s one of the prevalent injuries found in the office and doing what seems like everyday tasks, such as sitting at a desk for long periods of time or having bad posture. Here are the top five ways to avoid injuring your back and experiencing back pain at work.

Proper Bending and Lifting

This might seem like a very obvious one, but this is one that often slips your mind because you might not be lifting or having to pick up something very heavy in order to injure your back. Something as simple as dropping some papers on the floor can do a number on your back if you’re not using the proper technique to pick up those types of things. Many people have the tendency to bend at the hip, straining the lower back. Instead, it’s important that you bend with your knees and left with your legs and not your back. For heavier items, figure out if there are other ways of lifting and carrying those items through the office (e.g. cart, dolly, etc.).

Be Aware of Your Posture

In and out of the office, be aware of your posture (both sitting and standing). If you are slouching, leaning to the side, or hunched over, you are putting a lot more stress and strain on your back than you need to. With the invention of the smart phones, far more people with neck and back problems staring down and keeping their head down. Pull that head up, keep your shoulder back, breathe in from the core, and try keeping your head up.

Take a Break

If you work a 9 to 5 job, chances are, many of those hours are spent sitting down at a desk and focusing on the computer and the work at hand. Be sure that you take your breaks. Get up, stretch your legs, take a walk to the break room or the restroom, and even find a way to get out of the office for lunch if you can. It’s extremely hard on your body to be stuck in the same position for too long, so help keep your muscles loose and give them a break throughout the day. You can set an alarm to remind you to get up and take a break. You can do shoulder rolling and some stretches to help alleviate some of the muscle tightness that comes with back pain at work.

Say Bye Bye to Phone Cradling

Do you ever tuck the phone between your shoulder and the side of the face to free your hands while on the phone? While it’s convenient, particularly if you need to be hands-free in order to type or write out a note, it can wreak havoc on your neck and the result is potential neck and back pain. If you are in a position where you’ll be on the phone for long periods of time or throughout the day, try to utilize a headset or speakerphone in order to avoid risking injury.

Evaluate Your Work Area

Last, but not least, evaluate your entire work area and see if there are ways that you can improve things that could be causing long-term strain on your back and potential risk of injury. Many employers are willing to work with employees to figure out comfortable, ergonomic conditions that can prevent injury. Anything from standing desks to comfortable desk chairs for proper posture to the necessary keyboard and monitors to allow for better working conditions. Figure out what will help you the most with respect to taking the most strain off of you and your back and work from there.

If you currently are experiencing neck or back pain at work, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches or other types of pain and are currently located in Orange County and throughout the greater Southern California area, contact Centers of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine (CRPM) at (714) 909-0136 or online. The single goal of the team of physicians and staff at CRPM is to help ensure that you, the patient, are able to live a full life with little to no pain. Contact CRPM today at (714) 909-0136 to learn more!

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Knee Arthritis Exercises

It may be a good thing to be weak in the knees in love romantically, but quite a whole other thing just to be weak in the knees and in pain. Yet arthritis in the knee area is a common—not to mention painful– form of Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which by themselves affect 27 million and 1.5 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly one in two adults will develop some sort of knee arthritis or pain during their lifetime, leading not only to chronic achy knees, but further stress, injuries, and health issues.

There may be a simple solution, however, as knee arthritis exercises have been said to be the best medicine for those suffering from bad knees. It has been shown to relieve the pain and stiffness that comes with knee arthritis by strengthening the muscles around the joints and improving on flexibility, range of motion, and balance.

How Knee Arthritis Exercises Help

Exercising an arthritic knee may seem odd, but it has been proven to lessen and relieve arthritis pain and other symptoms like stiffness and swelling. Different exercises vary for different individuals, but for the most part, regular motion and movement in the knee area helps joints maintain full range of motion while keeping muscles strong enough to absorb shock.

What’s more is that the exercises done do not have to be difficult to be beneficial. In fact, gentler lower impact exercises are better for those with knee arthritis, as they minimize stress on the joint while still increasing upon both flexibility and strength.

According to the CDC, people with knee arthritis should do moderate exercise for at least half an hour each day of the week to maintain better mobility and less pain. It might even be a good idea to break it down into three, 10-minute sessions per day, which works just as well.

Forms of Knee Exercises That Work Best

Often times, the very best knee exercises to do are actually the ones that you are able to simply do at home or during an office break. Not only are they easy, effective, and convenient, but don’t require special equipment, allowing individuals to gradually increase the number of repetitions as surrounding leg muscles become stronger.

Walking is also an excellent choice. It is a low-impact, weight-bearing exercise that further aids in strengthening the muscles and building the bone. Be sure to start out slow while gradually increasing pace and distance over time. Remember also to always wear good, sturdy shoes for ample support.

Water exercises, in addition, or even walking in the shallow end of a pool, are equally superb for muscle strength and knee flexibility. Because the body is buoyant in water, this choice lessens impact to near zero while making people work harder to move.

Additional exercises to consider include: Knee stretches to encourage flexibility in the knee joint and surrounding muscle; Knee strengthening exercises designed to build muscle around the knee; and low impact aerobic workouts, which build muscle and improve overall cardiac health.

When engaging in activities, remember to never bend the legs to a point where knees are sticking out past the toes– this puts unneeded pressure under the kneecap. Make sure also to do several gentle stretching exercises afterwards to help prevent muscles from tightening up.

And as always, if any pain is felt during any knee exercises, stop and seek advice from a healthcare professional or an appropriately qualified athletic trainer before continuing.

Let Us Be of Help

Move more to feel better! Contact OC Pain to let us help you determine the best exercises for you and your knees. Our qualified pain specialist doctors and physician assistants draw from a wide array of proven treatments and medical therapies to let you live life large and to the absolute fullest.

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