Spinal Injury vs. Muscle Spasm
Spinal injuries involve changes in bone structure or soft-tissue consistency: fractured vertebrae, degenerating discs, torn or stretched ligaments, nerve damage. Spinal injuries require substantial healing time.
Muscle spasms though painful, do not constitute an injury. Symptoms often disappear nearly instantly, once muscle spasms relax. In persons with chronic muscular tension, muscle spasms may also occur when lifting heavy loads or even when bending forward, leading persons to speculate that they have injured their back.
Acute Inflammation – Inflammation (Latin – to set on fire)
Acute inflammation occurs when we perceive pain, trauma, or injury in the body. Specialized cells are activated in the affected area to surround, remove, and to start the healing process. You may feel swelling and heat from the increased amount of cells being shuttled to the area. It will most likely be tender to the touch and also cause some loss of mobility.
- Inflammation is essential to our healing and is our friend.
- Everyone, at all times, has inflammation as the body protects and repairs itself.
- Inflammation ceases once the stimulus has been removed.
May also be associated with the general “flu-like” symptoms including, fever, chills, loss of energy, headaches, loss of appetite, muscle stiffness.
CHRONIC – lasting longer than 3 months
In the chronic pain situation the body has begun to pattern its method of adaption to the injury, which may include
- Soft tissue pain
- Blood flow
When inflammation does not move out of the injured area the area can become stagnant changing the fluidity in the area. The cells begin to modify and harden. It then becomes more difficult to remove inflammation and in fact it may need to be pushed out of the area.
- Systemic inflammation from long-term stress produces increased cortisol levels
- Chronic inflammation is almost always accompanied by tissue destruction
- Inflammation which runs unchecked can also lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis
- We witness inflammation in all disease states named with “sis” or “tis” on the end. Endometriosis, colitis, etc
- Inflammation is normally tightly regulated by the body
Congenital diseases and other abnormal curvatures of the spine may predispose to chronic pain.
Degenerative Disk Disease refers to a thinning and drying out of the disks over time leading to altered spine mechanics. Accounts for about 10% of low back pain.
Facet Joint Syndrome occurs when the facet joints, which lay at the back of the vertebrae, get compressed and force the joint into immobility or dysfunction.
Herniated (Bulging/”slipped”) Disc is the when the liquid-like center of the disc push against the containing outer cylinder of the disc causing bulging and when pushed it its limits, herniation.
Osteoarthritis is a condition where cartilage is damaged. Often the body’s reaction is to grow calcium deposits over the joint (calcification), which can lead to pinching of the nerve as it exits the spine.
Referred Pain refers to nerve impingement when the pain is at a location other than at the location where the nerve pinch exists.
Sciatica can be felt in the butt or down the back of the leg as the sciatic nerve gets compressed at the waist or butt.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Structural scoliosis involves distortions of bone growth. Functional scoliosis arises from muscular pulls that may arise from injury.
Spinal Stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal. The most common cause is a combination of degenerative spine disease (osteoarthritis of the spine) and bulging or herniated discs.
Spinal Subluxation refers to misalignments of neighboring vertebrae adversely affect posture, movement, and organ function. Bones go where muscles pull them. Abnormal (habituated) tensions in the spinal muscles pull vertebrae out of alignment.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one vertebral body slips forward over another. A fracture of disconnection in the bones that surround the spinal canal, a condition known as spondylolysis, predisposes to spondylolisthesis.
Vertebral Fractures occur most often in patients with osteoporosis which is most common in postmenopausal women, the elderly, patients with a family history of the disease, and patients with a history of malnutrition, chronic corticosteroid usage or immobility.