Slipped or Bulging Discs – These are often the result of twisting or lifting injuries. Damaged discs protrude into the spinal canal, pressing against nerves as they exit the spinal cord.
Spinal Stenosis - This is the term for narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress nerves.
Compression Fractures - Commonly associated with osteoporosis, these fractures occur when brittle vertebral bones collapse.
Soft Tissue Damage - Heavy lifting or trauma can cause damage to back muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Whiplash is an example of a soft tissue injury.
Our bursa is found throughout your body where muscles and tendons glide over bones. You have more than 150 bursae in your body. These small, fluid-filled sacs lubricate and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons and muscles near your joints. Without the bursa between these surfaces, movements would be painful due to friction.
A bursa can be thought of as a self-contained bag with a lubricant and no air inside. If you imagine rubbing this bag between your hands; movement of your hands would be smooth and effortless. That is what a bursa is meant to do; offer a smooth, slippery surface between two moving objects.
Bursitis is a painful inflammation of a bursa. When your bursa becomes inflamed, the bursa loses its gliding capabilities, and becomes more and more irritated and painful when it is moved. The added bulk of the swollen bursa causes more friction within an already confined space.
What Causes Bursitis?
There are several common causes of bursitis. They include the following:
Repetitive Bursa Irritation
Bursitis usually results from a repetitive movement or due to prolonged and excessive pressure.
Shoulder Bursitis (subacromial bursitis) for example is caused by your the pinching of your shoulder bursa between your shoulder’s rotator cuff tendon and the adjacent bone (acromion).
Trochanteric Bursitis (hip bursitis) sufferers usually have weak hip muscles and tend to sway as they walk, which irritates your trochanteric bursa.
Similarly in other parts of the body, repetitive use or frequent pressure can irritate a bursa and cause inflammation.
Another cause of bursitis is a traumatic injury.
Following trauma, such as a car accident or fall, a patient may develop bursitis. Usually a contusion causes swelling within the bursa. The bursa, which had functioned normally up until that point, now begins to develop inflammation, and bursitis results. Once the bursa is inflamed, normal movements and activities can become painful.
A common traumatic bursitis is knee bursitis, which can occur when you fall and land on your knee.
Traumatic Fractures - Falls from elevation, car accidents or crush injuries can cause painful vertebral fractures.
Structural Deformities - Spinal abnormalities such as scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis put strain on the muscles that control posture, causing pain and fatigue.
Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or otherwise irritated by the piriformis muscle causing pain, tingling and numbness in the buttocks and along the path of the sciatic nervedescending down the lower thigh and into the leg. When the piriformis muscle shortens or spasms due to trauma or overuse, it can compress or strangle the sciatic nerve beneath the muscle. Generally, conditions of this type are referred to as nerve entrapment or as entrapment neuropathies; the particular condition known as piriformis syndrome refers to sciatica symptoms not originating from spinal roots and/or spinal disc compression, but involving the overlying piriformis muscle. Another purported cause for piriformis syndrome is stiffness, or hypomobility, of the sacroiliac joints. The resulting compensatory changes in gait would then result in shearing of one of the origins of the piriformis, and possibly some of the gluteal muscles as well, resulting not only in piriformis malfunction but in other low back pain syndromes as well.
Piriformis syndrome can also be caused by overpronation of the foot.When a foot overpronates it causes the knee to turn medially, causing the piriformis to activate to prevent over-rotating the knee. This causes the piriformis to become overused and therefore tight, eventually leading to piriformis syndrome.
Headaches are one of the most common types of chronic pain reported by Americans. A headache is considered chronic if it happens for three months in a row, for at least 15 days out of each month.
The most common types of chronic headaches are:
- Muscle Tension Headaches - Often caused by stress, fatigue or “sleeping wrong,” muscles of the neck, shoulders and scalp tighten. This causes pressure on the head, leading to pain.
- Eye Strain Headaches - Ocular muscles become fatigued and cause head pain. This is usually caused by sitting at a computer for too long, or wearing the wrong eyeglass prescription.
- Migraines - Migraines can be caused by nervous system triggers or hormonal changes in the body. They often cause pain on one side of the head or face, and may be accompanied by sensitivities to light, sounds or smells.
- Cluster Headaches - Often confused with migraines, these severe headaches are usually caused by enlarged blood vessels leading into the head.
Chronic headaches may also be present with diseases such as MS, cancer, brain injuries, HIV and high blood pressure. They can be caused by the disease process itself, or may be unpleasant side effects of medications.
Joint pain is one of the leading types of chronic pain reported by Americans. Arthritis is the most common type of joint pain; however joint pain is not only felt by the elderly. Depending on its source, chronic joint pain can begin at any age.
The common types of joint pain are:
- Osteoarthritis - OA is the term for wear and tear on joints over time. It is common in the elderly, and usually affects one or more of the larger joints in the body.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis - Often present in early adulthood, RA causes swelling in the joint spaces. Eventually it also damages bones, ligaments and tendons.
- Repetitive Strain Injury - Common in athletes, frequent injuries over time can result in chronic pain. Typically these involve larger joints like the knee or the shoulder.
Nerves that carry pain signals to the brain may be triggered by swelling, compression or damage. Nerves that are healing may also over-fire, causing sensations such as pain to be more intense.
Some examples of neuropathic pain are:
Sciatica - The sciatic nerve runs from your back to your feet. Compression or damage of this nerve often causes pain to shoot down the leg on one side of the body.
Bulging or Slipped Discs - Nerve compression in the spinal cord can cause local pain, or pain referred elsewhere along the nerve’s path.
Diabetic Neuropathy - Sensory nerve damage is a common side effect of diabetes. It can cause numbness or pain, most often in the hands or feet.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Swelling in the wrist tunnel irritates the median nerve. CTS causes tingling, numbness and pain over the thumb, first and middle fingers.
Chronic neuropathic pain can also be present in disorders of the nervous system such as MS, spinal cord injury and stroke.
Other Diseases and Illnesses that Cause Chronic Pain
- Fibromyalgia - Though the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, its effects can be devastating. It causes widespread muscle fatigue and pain, and is often accompanied by chronic fatigue, sleep disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Cancer - Cancer pain can be caused by tumors or lacerations to tissues or nerves. Pain is also a common side effect of many cancer drugs, such as those used for chemotherapy and radiation.
- Depression - While depression is commonly thought of as a psychiatric disorder, it is often accompanied by unrelenting pain. In fact, many drugs used to treat depression today are also effective at treating the physical symptoms of this disease.
Find out why you are in pain today. Call Dr. Lindsey at 321.591.7601