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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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Managing Chronic Pain Starts at Home

Chronic pain, or sustained pain that lasts well after the end of acute pain, affects millions of people. From prescription medication to holistic remedies, or seeing a doctor to seeing a therapist – those living with chronic pain must find out what works for their specific situation. Everyone is different, and no two instances of chronic pain are exactly alike.

Having said that, there are some easy ways to organize your home life to help you deal with your chronic pain.

Focus on Exercise

The problem with exercise in chronic pain sufferers is that the pain limits their ability to exercise. Without that exercise, the pain gets worse. It’s a vicious circle. If you can break the circle and ease into some low-level to moderate exercise, you could see a boost to both your physical and mental health. Exercise taps the brain to produce hormones that have painkilling effects.

“Decreases in pain, depression, and anxiety following treatment in a pain rehabilitation program have been well documented, they add, but to date, no study has determined the immediate effects of brief exercise on these factors,” says a study quoted in Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery.

“The brief exercise protocol also produced significant immediate antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. The research suggests that relatively modest exercise leads to improved mood and physical capacity … the review also suggests that brief exercise is a safe, cost-free, nonpharmacologic strategy for immediately reducing depression and anxiety.”

At home, you can simply take walks around the neighborhood or you can invest in low-impact equipment like ellipticals or stationary bikes – both of which are good for chronic pain sufferers.

Provide Yourself a Quiet Space for Mindfulness Activities

Mindfulness activities, which include but are not limited to meditation, guided breathing, and yoga, have been proven to help reduce the impact of and make living with chronic pain much easier. In your home, you may want to dedicate a special place for such activities, focusing on quiet, serene tranquility. Furnish and decorate the room in a way that will provide you with the calm you need.

“Yoga can help people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, low back pain, and many other types of chronic pain conditions. A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that among 313 people with chronic low back pain, a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care for the condition. Another study published at nearly the same time found that yoga was comparable to standard exercise therapy in relieving chronic low back pain,” says Harvard Health.

The benefits of these practices are multi-faceted. Not only do they seem to have the same effect as more aerobic exercise when it comes to managing pain, but they also have the added benefit of helping to rehabilitate your mind.

Reduce Some of Your Workload

It’s hard to keep a clean, organized house. It’s even harder when chronic pain prevents you from being able to work at your fullest. Those living with chronic pain can become extremely fatigued from simple household chores, and this unease snowballs into other aspects of their life.

One thing you can do is to accept help. Consider hiring professionals to help you maintain a clean, clutter-free house. Not only will you forgo the heavy lifting, but you’ll enjoy the benefits of reduced stress and anxiety – both of which can have devastating effects on both body and mind.

If you can tailor your home life to reduce the impact of your chronic pain, you’ll be setting yourself up for greater success in all aspects of your life.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Author: Jackie Waters

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What is Carpal Tunnel and How to Avoid it

We often experience painful hands by engaging in something repetitive such as typing or from using gadgets constantly. However, the pain becomes abnormal once you experience it all the time. If you feel numbness, weakness, or a tingling sensation in your hands, then you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when there is an excessive pressure on the median nerve within your arm and wrist. Your hands are not only made up of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. They are also comprised of nerve endings and the median nerve is the main nerve that runs along the upper limbs. This nerve does not only control the movement of the hands but also the feeling of most of your fingers such as the thumb and first three fingers. So, if you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, you will experience pain on half of your ring fingers, index finger, thumb, and middle finger. Several tendons also run along the forearm along with the median nerve and they run through a small space on the wrist called the carpal tunnel.

Carpal Tunnel Causes

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is too much pressure on the median nerve. The pressure may come from inflammation of the median nerve or tendons surrounding it. Other carpal tunnel causes include:

• Making the same hand movements, such as bending your hands lower than the wrist level
• Illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and hypothyroidism
• Pregnancy

Pain in the hands and wrists should not be immediately associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Your doctor needs to evaluate your condition first before making a diagnosis. What happens is that, first, your doctor will need to know if you suffer from other health problems like the ones mentioned above. Next, your doctor will ask if you suffer any pain on your arm or neck as wrist pain can sometimes be related to other types of pain.

Your doctor will ask about your daily activities that may lead to wrist pain. Lastly, your doctor may require you to get nerve and blood tests to single out carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Treatment

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be painful but it can also be treated and managed with home care practices. One of the most important things that you need to do is to stop doing any activities that are causing you pain. If you have been doing repetitive activities for a long time, make sure that you let your wrist rest in between activities. Additionally, ice your wrist for at least 15 minutes every two hours or until the pain subsides.

If the pain still lingers, you can apply non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help reduce the pain and swelling. If you are not using your hands, wrap the affected area with a splint and bandage so that you take off the pressure from the median nerve. Surgery can also be an option but is only available to people who suffer severe and crippling symptoms.

The sooner that you start treating your carpal tunnel syndrome, the higher your chances of preventing more damage to your median nerve.

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Treatment is effective in managing your condition but why wait for treatment options if you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from ever happening? Below are tips on how you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from wrecking your wrists.

• Relax your grip: If you use more force when you grip than what is needed in doing tasks, then you are at risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Whether you are doing repetitive tasks or not, it is always crucial to relax your grip so that you don’t put too much stress and pressure on your wrist and eventually on your median nerve.

• Take a break: It is always beneficial to give your hands and wrist a break. Gently bend and stretch them constantly to break the abuse that you inflict on your hands. Take a 15-minute break to relax your hands. If you find it difficult to take a break, use an alarm clock if needed.

• Keep your hands warm at all times: If your hands are constantly cold, it is prone to become stiff and develop pain over time. So, make sure that you keep your hands warm at all times. But if you cannot control the temperature, wear fingerless gloves to keep them warm.

• Improve your posture: Having an incorrect posture especially when sitting down can make your shoulders roll forward leading to shortening your shoulder and neck muscles thus compressing the nerves on your neck. In turn, this also affects the median nerve.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may be painful but it does not mean that you need to suffer. Managing and implementing the tips mentioned in the article will help prevent you from suffering from this condition.

Discover several tips for maintaining healthy work habits while avoiding chronic pain, and visit CRPM to learn more about chronic pain treatment in Orange County.

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