Dr. Ryan Reilly
7155 80th Street So Ste 110
Cottage Grove, MN 55016-3050

Posts for: February, 2012

By contactus
February 28, 2012
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Health Update: Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain: Where Is My Pain Coming From?

Low back pain can emanate from many anatomical locations (as well as a combination of locations), which always makes it interesting when a patient asks, “…doc, where in my back is my pain coming from?” In context of an office visit, we take an accurate history and perform our physical exam to try to reproduce symptoms to give us clues as to what tissue(s) may be the primary pain generators. In spite of our strong intent to be accurate, did you know, regardless of the doctor type, there is only about a 45% accuracy rate when making a low back pain diagnosis? This is partially because there are many tissues that can be damaged or injured that are innervated by the same nerve fibers and hence, clinically they look very similar to each other. In order to improve this rather sad statistic, in 1995 the Quebec Task Force published research reporting that accuracy could be improved to over 90% if we utilize a classification approach where low back conditions are divided into 1 of 3 broad categories:

1. Red flags – These include dangerous conditions such as cancer, infection, fracture, cauda equina syndrome (which is a severe neurological condition where bowel and bladder function is impaired). These conditions generally require emergency care due to the life threatening and/or surgical potential.

2. Mechanical back pain – These diagnoses include facet syndromes, ligament and joint capsule sprains, muscle strains, degenerative joint disease (also called osteoarthritis), and spondylolisthesis.

3. Nerve Root compression – These conditions include pinching of the nerve roots, most frequently from herniated disks. This category can include spinal stenosis (SS) or, combinations of both, but if severe enough where the spinal cord is compromised (more commonly in the neck), SS might then be placed in the 1st of the 3 categories described above.

The most common category is mechanical back pain of which “facet syndrome” is the most common condition. This is the classic patient who over did it (“The Weekend Warrior”) and can hardly get out of bed the next day. These conditions can include tearing or stretching of the capsule surrounding the facet joint due to performing too many bending, lifting, or twisting related activities. The back pain is usually localized to the area of injury but can radiate down into the buttocks or back of the thigh and can be mild to very severe. 

If you, or anyone you know, has back pain call 651-459-5585 today for a back pain relief consultation!

By contactus
February 23, 2012
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Patients with headaches commonly complain of neck pain or stiffness.   This relationship is the rule, not the exception and therefore, treatment of headaches must include treatment of the neck to achieve optimum results.  The term "cervicogenic headaches" has been accepted for many years because of the intimate connection between the head and neck.  There are many anatomical reasons why neck problems result in headaches.  Some of these include:

  • The first 3 nerves exiting the spine in the upper neck go directly back into the head.  They go through the muscles that attach the head and neck, therefore any excess pressure on these nerves by the muscles or spinal joints will result in irritation and subsequent neck & headache pain.
  • The origin of the 5th cranial (which controls the side of the head and face) originates in the upper cervical region near the origin of the 2nd cervical spinal nerve (which controls the back and top of the head). Therefore, problems in the upper neck will often result in pain radiating up from the back of the head over the top of the head and around the sides of the head into the eyes and face.
  • The 11th cranial nerve (which controls the the muscles in the neck and shoulders) arises from the top 5-7 spinal nerves in the neck.  Injury, dysfunction or "pinching" throughout the neck often will result in spasm and pain in these muscles, which can trigger headaches.

When patients seek treatment for their headaches, a thorough examination of the head, neck, upper back and cranial nerves should be performed for the above reasons.  It is very common to find neck movement and alignment problems present in patients complaining of headaches.  Tender points located between the shoulder blades, along the upper shoulders, on the sides of the neck and most commonly and the base of the skull are found.  Patients commonly have pain and trouble looking up/down and turning their head to look over their shoulder.  Pain often radiates over the top of the head and/or around the sides of the head.  Chiropractic treatment performed on the problem joints often brings quick and satisfying relief to headaches sufferer.

A study just published by NWHSU (alma mater to both Dr. Santori & Dr. Larson) has found chiropractic to be more effective than medication in the treatment of neck pain.  Not only was chiropractic more effective initially, measurements taken 1year later showed the chiropractic group to have less pain and dysfunction than the medication group.  If you, or anyone you know is needlessly suffering from neck pain, call 459-5585 today for an appointment.