Pain

When to Worry About a Headache: Dangerous Headaches

  • when to worry about a headache

Do you know when to worry about a headache?

Headaches are not usually a cause for concern. The average headache comes with a manageable level of pain and is typically triggered by something like work stress, poor posture, flashing lights, strong smells, and loud sounds. Unfortunately, headaches can also be a symptom of a more serious medical condition like a tumor, stroke, aneurysm, or meningitis.

So, how can you distinguish dangerous headaches from harmless ones? If you don’t know when to worry about a headache, we encourage you to read through our detailed guide below. This information should help you decide whether or not to seek medical assistance for your head pain. 

When Is a Headache Dangerous?

To determine whether or not a headache is dangerous, it’s essential to understand the different types of headaches. Headache pain can be dull, sharp, throbbing, brief, or long-lasting. The pain can occur anywhere in the face or head, depending on the type of headache you’re experiencing. If you’re not familiar, the most common types of headaches include:

  • Cluster
  • Tension
  • Sinus
  • Neck
  • Migraine
  • TMJ

You can distinguish these headaches by where they tend to cause pain. Cluster headaches, for example, cause pain around the eyes, whereas tension headaches usually occur in the forehead area. Cluster headaches and tension headaches are good examples of head pain that doesn’t usually require urgent care. 

Any headache can technically be dangerous, provided it’s a symptom of a serious medical condition like a tumor, stroke, or aneurysm. The best example of this would be what’s called a thunderclap headache. This headache strikes seemingly out of nowhere and causes severe pain. They’re typically a sign of bleeding in and around the brain, so sufferers should seek medical attention immediately.

when to worry about a headache

 

 

Warning Signs of Dangerous Headaches: When to Worry About a Headache

Head pain can be dangerous without striking suddenly and severely like a thunderclap headache. Sometimes a dangerous headache will create a dull and tolerable ache rather than an electric-shock type of pain. That’s why pain severity should be just one of many metrics used to determine whether or not your headache requires medical attention. 

 

 

If you identify with any of the points listed below, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. These are a few of the key warning signs of dangerous headaches. 

  • Your headache has persisted for longer than 72 hours without a period of at least 4 hours pain-free.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications and at-home remedies are continuously ineffective.
  • The pain is the worst you’ve ever experienced from a headache. 
  • Your headache returns to the same spot over and over again.
  • You also have symptoms like vision loss, uncontrollable vomiting, fever, and slurred speech.

Headaches can be harmless, but you should take them very seriously if you begin to experience any of the issues described above. Getting yourself help from a medical professional in a timely manner could save your life. 

If you have any other questions about how headaches can be dangerous, how to manage head pain, or anything else, we encourage you to read through our informative FAQ below. 

FAQs Regarding When to Worry About a Headache

How long is too long for a headache?

Headaches usually go away within 4 hours, but it’s not uncommon for the head pain to persist for longer. If your headache persists for longer than 72 hours, however, you should seek immediate medical attention. This is one of a few signs that your head pain may be the result of a serious medical issue. 

Which type of headache is considered a medical emergency?

Your headache may be a medical emergency if it lasts longer than 72 hours, is the worst headache you’ve ever experienced, or comes with symptoms like uncontrollable vomiting or vision loss. Thunderclap headaches should also be treated as medical emergencies, along with headaches that are accompanied by a fever, slurred speech, or numbness. 

Is it OK to go to sleep with a headache?

Sleeping with a headache is not dangerous in itself. That said, you should take steps to ease your head pain before going to bed, as an untreated headache may worsen overnight. You also shouldn’t use sleep as a replacement for seeking medical attention if your symptoms are severe and resistant to at-home treatment.

It’s also worth noting that not getting enough sleep and getting too much sleep can trigger migraines. If you’re someone that suffers from regular headaches or migraines, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule of 7 or 8 hours a night might help you keep them at bay. 

What do I do if my headache won’t go away?

If your headache persists for longer than 72 hours, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. The same is true for headaches that come and go but continuously occur in the same spot. 

What does it mean if your headache won’t go away?

Headaches that don’t go away may indicate a more serious medical condition, such as a tumor, aneurysm, meningitis, and more. You may also suffer from chronic migraines, which have a variety of causes. If there isn’t an underlying condition to treat, you may need to see a pain specialist that can assist with headache pain management. 

When should I go to the hospital for a headache?

You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience extreme pain, pain of any severity that persists for longer than 72 hours, or side effects like fever, dizziness, vomiting, and slurred speech. 

What happens to the brain when you have a headache?

When you have a headache, the muscles or blood vessels around your head and neck may tighten or swell. These changes can put pressure on or stimulate the surrounding nerves, which then send pain signals to the brain. 

There’s also a theory concerning migraines that involves brain cells triggering chemicals like serotonin, which can narrow your blood cells. Your blood vessels may also contract and cause throbbing pain when your estrogen levels rise and fall. As you can see, there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding headaches and how they occur. 

see a doctor to know when to worry about a headache

How to Get Rid of Headaches Fast

Thankfully, not all headaches require a trip to the emergency room. You can treat most minor headaches from the comfort of your own home. Some of the most common remedies for easing head pain symptoms include:

  • Applying a cold pack or heating pad
  • Drinking plenty of water 
  • Easing any pressure on your scalp or head
  • Relaxing and destressing
  • Dimming the lights in your home
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medication

 

If these remedies aren’t effective or you’d like a more permanent solution for chronic headaches, the pain specialists at Carolinas Pain Center can help you. We can provide insight on when to worry about a headache and offer a wide range of treatments to eliminate your head pain or to help you manage it better. This includes trigger point injections, massage therapy, acupuncture, botox, biofeedback, prolotherapy, and more. 

We may also prescribe preventative or abortive medications, such as anti-depressants, anti-seizures, triptans, and anti-inflammatories. The treatment and medication you receive will vary based on the cause and severity of your headaches, which we take into account when preparing a personal treatment plan for you.

Don’t Tolerate Painful Headaches

Why suffer through chronic headaches when you could find relief at the Carolinas Pain Center? Our dedicated team of pain specialists has the skill and equipment necessary to assess your condition and offer a diverse selection of treatments. We take an individualized and multidisciplinary approach to our care by developing a personalized treatment plan just for you. Our methods have relieved the pain and improved the quality of life of countless patients throughout North Carolina. 

If you experience regular headaches and would like us to create a treatment plan for you, we encourage you to get in touch with our team. To contact us, please call 704-500-2332 or make an appointment using our online form. 

Bursitis vs. Arthritis: What Is the Difference Between Arthritis and Bursitis?

  • arthritis vs bursitis knee pain

Arthritis vs bursitis: both common health issues that cause joint pain. The pain can be debilitating, and resulting issues like stiffness can limit motion and make it impossible to engage in certain activities.

The symptoms of arthritis vs. bursitis can overlap, but there is one thing that both conditions have in common: they affect millions of people. Fifty-eight million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, and 8.7 million have bursitis.

What are the differences between arthritis and bursitis? Here is a closer look at these two common conditions.

The Causes and Common Types of Bursitis

The body has more than 100 bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion between bones, tendons, and joints. Bursae are located throughout your body, and bursitis is when these fluid compartments become inflamed.

There are different types of bursitis, and most occur around the joints, such as the knee, elbow, hips, ankles, and shoulders. Bursa near the Achilles tendon can also become inflamed.

Older people who suffer from increased inflammation can get bursitis, as can people of any age who have certain conditions, such as diabetes, gout, or thyroid issues. Some workers or athletes who perform repetitive motions day after day may also develop bursitis.

Can you have bursitis and arthritis at the same time? It is possible; arthritis can cause bursitis in some individuals.

How do I Know if I Have Bursitis or Arthritis in my Knee?

Understanding bursitis vs. arthritis comparisons is important because bursitis is usually a temporary condition, while arthritis is chronic and leads to joint damage. There are a few ways to distinguish between the two conditions.

  • Time of day of worst pain — Bursitis pain is typically worst at night, while arthritis is most intense in the mornings.
  • Treatment — Bursitis will respond to treatments like pain relievers, ice packs, and anti-inflammatory medications, while arthritis will not respond to these measures.
  • Symptoms — With proper treatment, bursitis should disappear within a few weeks, while arthritis will continue to bother you for the long term. It is possible to have chronic bursitis, but the symptoms will still abate with treatment and won’t return until an activity or illness triggers the inflammation again.

Can bursitis be mistaken for arthritis? Some of the symptoms overlap. Both can cause stiffness and pain that worsens with activity. Overuse and traumatic injury can cause or exacerbate both conditions, which can make it difficult to tell the difference. However, a medical professional like those at Carolinas Pain Center can help you decide if you have bursitis or arthritis.

bursitis knee pain

Tendonitis is another common condition that can be mistaken for arthritis. It is an inflammation of joint tendons, which are next to the bursae. Stiffness and pain are symptoms of both conditions, and both are temporary. A physician can help you figure out whether you have bursitis or tendonitis. In both cases, rest and at-home treatments can yield results.

Bursitis vs Arthritis: Which is More Painful?

Acute bursitis and chronic arthritis pain can both be intense. Both can be uncomfortable enough to cause you to avoid certain activities.

The main difference is the duration of the pain. Bursitis pain lessens with treatment, while arthritis pain is chronic, so it will continue. People with arthritis manage their pain rather than try to cure it.

Is it OK to Walk with Knee Bursitis?

High-impact activities will not cause damage to your bones or joint if you have bursitis. However, these activities can cause pain. In fact, if you have knee bursitis, you may notice pain and stiffness from simply walking. In addition to causing discomfort, walking or exercising can lengthen the amount of time it takes to recover from bursitis. 

Most physicians will tell you to rest as much as possible and limit movement as you recover from bursitis. However, you typically do need to totally immobilize your joints, so you can walk at work or around your home.

Is Bursitis Pain Constant?

Bursitis pain flares up with movement, though you may feel some symptoms, such as swelling or warmth in the bursa, constantly without treatment. These symptoms may be most evident if your bursitis is caused by an infection.

Bursitis pain will often lessen when you remain immobile. However, some types of bursitis, such as in the hip or shoulder, can hurt if you put pressure on the affected area when sitting or lying down.

You should keep in mind that one of the most common differences between bursitis and arthritis in knee, shoulder, and hip joints is that the pain from bursitis is more temporary and will negate with treatment.

What Causes Bursitis to Flare Up?

It is possible to have acute or chronic bursitis. Flare-ups can occur when you perform high-impact activities or make repetitive motions. People with chronic bursitis often have other conditions that cause inflammation in the body. For example, gout, diabetes, and arthritis can lead to chronic bursitis. Even in these cases, the symptoms should disappear with rest and proper treatment.

arthritis vs bursitis knee pain

Make an Appointment with Carolinas Pain Center to get Joint Pain Relief

A medical professional can further explain the difference between bursitis and arthritis in the knee and other joints. It is important to find a healthcare team experienced in treating both these conditions.

At Carolinas Pain Center, we understand the debilitating nature of arthritis pain and chronic conditions like bursitis. We can diagnose the issue and provide joint and knee pain treatment options to help you regain the level of comfort and range of joint motion necessary to do the activities that you love and handle daily tasks without pain.

Whether you are suffering from bursitis or arthritis, or another type of joint condition, you do not have to live with life-limiting pain. The first step in overcoming these joint conditions is to make an appointment with Carolinas Pain Center. We can offer you the treatment options to give you the best possible outcome and help you manage your pain and focus on living an active life.

Exercise for Pain Management: The Benefits of a Warm-Up

There are many benefits of warming up before a workout. Did you know that you can use warm-ups and exercise for pain management

Medical experts and even lay people have known for a long time that exercise can help you feel better, have more energy, and live longer. Exercise also controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, promotes quality sleep, increases confidence, and much more. And because regular physical activity has been shown to effectively reduce pain, particularly chronic pain in adults, it is a common pain treatment.

There are many different exercises that aid in managing pain. These include cardiovascular or aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, jogging, running, and swimming. Using strength/resistance exercises involving elastic bands, free weights, and body-weight resistance can relieve pain, too, as can stretching and warm-up exercises. 

Warming up is really important, as a matter of fact. There are many benefits of warm-up, regardless of the type of exercise you plan to do.

How Do Warm Ups Benefit and Help with Pain Management?

Exercising can relieve and prevent pain in a number of ways. Cardiovascular exercise, for example, is an excellent way to burn fat and lose weight, provided you maintain a healthy diet and consume fewer calories than you burn. The weight loss that results from the cardio can significantly reduce pressure on joints — especially lower body joints — relieving swelling, irritation, and pain, lowering the risk of injury, and slowing down degeneration. In one study, researchers found that losing just 10 pounds of fat could decrease knee osteoarthritis progression by 50 percent.

Resistance exercise can improve pain and chronic pain symptoms by adding muscles that support bone and cartilage. More muscle often translates to better pain management due to less bone-on-bone contact and inflammation. There may also be less stiffness, and added strength and endurance make physical injuries from falls and accidents (common in older adults) a lot less likely.

Usually, strength training and cardio exercise alone will not eliminate chronic pain from joint diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. However, exercise can serve as an effective complementary treatment.

What are the Benefits of Warm Up Exercises?

Warming up before aerobic and resistance exercises is beneficial because it prepares you for the strenuous activities ahead — not only physically but also psychologically. Rather than shocking the body, it gets your muscles ready at a gradual pace for exercises you are going to perform, increasing blood flow and oxygen to muscle cells. This makes it possible for you to perform at a higher level and minimize injuries while reaping the other benefits of warm-up.

Exercises for warming up raise body temperature, elevate heart rate, and loosen up muscles. With a higher body temperature, electrical signals are able to travel more rapidly along nerve fibers, increasing muscular contraction speed and force and making muscle tissue more pliable. Organs and systems in your body can adapt safely to a gradual increase in heart rate, whereas the opposite is true if you start exercising without warming up appropriately.

Does warming up prevent injury? It sure helps. Does warming up improve performance? For most individuals, yes, it does. Moreover, warm-up exercises improve neural function and coordination, and joints are protected as articular cartilage thickens with the natural accumulation of synovial fluid, a thick liquid located between the joints.

The benefits of warm-up exercises include:

  • Improved movement and flexibility and pain management from less muscle tension
  • Lower risk of physical injuries with muscles relaxed
  • Better range of motion, enabling more complete movement of the joints
  • Higher energy levels from hormone production
  • Enhanced exercise performance due to increased flow of blood and oxygen

What Are Examples of Warm Up Exercises?

Just as there are a lot of beneficial exercises that can improve your overall health and reduce pain, there are many warm-up routines that can help you get better results from physical training. In fact, a warm-up, ideally, will simply be a lighter version of the exercise you plan to do, where you perform it but at a slower pace and lower intensity. According to Harvard Health, warm-ups should last between 5 and 10 minutes, working all major muscle groups.

For a warm-up to successfully warm you up, it is necessary to engage the entire body, incorporating compound and low-impact movements. The best way to go about warming up for a cardio or strength training exercise that can assist with pain management is to begin slowly and then steadily increase intensity. Exert to the point of perspiration but not exhaustion. After all, you want to be able to get to and complete your planned exercise workout safely.

Walking, jogging, side lunges, planks, jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups are all examples of exercises that can deliver the benefits of warm-up sessions. Pre-workout and post-workout stretching is great as well, particularly when combined with exercise. The physical activity, though, should be suited to your age, health, and fitness level.

What Happens If You Don’t Warm Up Before Exercising?

Individuals who don’t warm up before exercise forgo a plethora of potential health benefits, with one being pain relief. For people living with chronic pain, relief can be life-changing. You increase your risk of musculoskeletal injuries that could cause or exacerbate pain when you skip warm-up exercise. In addition, you place yourself at risk for cardiovascular problems, as exercising strenuously without preparing your body strains the heart and the lungs.

Benefits of Warming Up for Pain Management

There are plenty of health benefits associated with adding warm-up exercises and stretches to an exercise routine. One just needs to go about it the right way. A medical professional can help you determine which exercises and warm-ups are most beneficial for you. If you happen to be a chronic pain sufferer, a pain specialist doctor can work with you to formulate a healthcare management plan for pain that will improve your quality of life.

At Carolinas Pain Center, we have a team of highly trained pain specialists who are well-versed in pain management and pain treatment. Over the years, we have treated thousands of patients with diverse and complex pain conditions.

Struggling with chronic pain? We can help. Set an appointment here and a friendly coordinator will contact you.

Healthy Habits To Manage Joint Pain

Joint pain is relatively common. Joints provide a cushion between your bones and allow you to move, bend, and perform other necessary motions. You can get stiffness or pain from an injury, an illness, or overuse. Chronic joint pain (discomfort that continues for more than three months) can come from arthritis or other stiffness-causing conditions.

Pain can affect any joint in your body, but it is most common in specific areas.

  • Shoulder pain can come from arthritis, inflammation, or an injury, such as a dislocated shoulder.
  • Knee pain can be due to an injury or overuse, though some chronic conditions, such as tendonitis, bursitis, and gout, can also create discomfort.
  • Neck pain can be caused by degenerative conditions, herniated spinal discs, or osteoporosis. Arthritis in the neck can be particularly painful and debilitating.
  • Hand and wrist pain is typically a result of arthritis, though nerve disorders can also cause issues.

Regardless of the location of your acute or chronic discomfort, you can adopt healthy habits to manage joint pain. These lifestyle changes can also help protect you from developing certain chronic joint conditions and strengthen your tendons to help you avoid injury and relieve pain.

Diet changes

Food, beverages, and supplements can affect your health in general and your ability to manage joint pain in particular. For example, a diet rich in whole foods can limit inflammation and help you lose weight, which will reduce pressure on your joints.

  • Eat more fish. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation caused by arthritis or acute joint injuries. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are particularly good choices for this beneficial type of fat.
  • Add more servings of colorful vegetables and leafy greens. These two types of food are rich in antioxidants, which can speed healing after an injury or illness.
  • Replace sugary foods with fruits and berries. Colorful berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, have a particularly dense concentration of antioxidants. Meanwhile, citrus fruits, like oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits, have a lot of vitamin C, which is necessary for maintaining healthy joints and fighting infections and viruses that can cause temporary stiffness, weakness, and joint pain.
  • Drink more water. Water is necessary for proper immune function and digestion. It can also help ensure that your joints are properly lubricated. At the same time, you should limit sugary beverages, which can cause weight gain and lead to inflammation that can exacerbate arthritis.

 

Other foods, such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds, can also help reduce inflammation and provide low-fat energy that can aid weight loss. By reducing the weight on your joints, these diet changes can help you relieve joint pain.

Fitness and lifestyle changes

Exercise and stretching can help improve joint function and reduce pain, but you also need to follow a proper recovery schedule after working out. Here are some tips.

  • Consider yoga. Gentle yoga poses can improve flexibility. They can also improve strength, balance, and posture, which can relieve pressure on your joints, reducing inflammation.
  • Move regularly. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to stiffer joints and more pain. Any movement can be helpful. Walking or riding a bicycle every day can be beneficial, as can working in a garden or yard, cleaning around the house, or even dancing.
  • Get enough sleep. Your body needs regular sleep to recharge, and proper sleep patterns can reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that arthritis sufferers who do not sleep well experience more pain than those who get a good night’s rest.
  • Save time for recovery. Movement is important, but you should know your limits. Gradually increasing your level of exercise is more beneficial for long-term stiffness relief and pain reduction than hard workouts that leave you sore for the next week. If you begin slowly, you will be able to continue the daily movement, which will reduce stiffness and help flexibility.

 

Get help for your joint pain

Carolinas Pain Center can diagnose and offer support to help you manage conditions like arthritis and recover from acute joint pain. Through examinations and diagnostic tests using ultrasounds and fluoroscopy imaging, our physicians can find the source of your pain and offer a treatment plan. We can also recommend healthy habits for joint pain to help you recover quickly or limit chronic discomfort.

You don’t have to continue suffering from joint pain. Contact Carolinas Pain Center today to schedule an appointment.

Why Do You Feel Joint Pain When the Weather Changes?

  • joint pain

When it’s getting close to that time of year — when rain or snow begins to fall and the temperature drops — you start to dread the aches and pains that always seem to come with the cold. And so, you ask: Why do my bones ache when it rains? Why does bad weather affect joints?

If you’re someone who suffers from arthritis or joint pain, or if you sustained injuries through the years from playing sports, you’re right to be concerned. Certain types of pain seem to come back when the weather changes, even after the tissue has healed — like that ankle sprain or knee injury you had some time ago.

So, if weather-related or seasonal pain afflicts you, this post is for you.

How weather affects joint pain

Weather affects joint pain in a variety of different ways. Joints are affected by barometric or air pressure. However, humidity and temperature also play a role. This makes it difficult for scientists to define what exactly causes some people to experience more pain when it’s cold, wet, or humid.

Over the years, scientists have conducted various research on the connection between joint pain and the weather, but no one has been able to definitively establish a link. 

Even so, there are a few theories about the connection. One possibility is that patients suffering from joint pain, particularly arthritis, are more sensitive to variations in barometric pressure. How? It’s possible that when the cartilage that cushions the bones inside a joint has worn away, the nerves in the exposed bones detect changes in pressure.

Another thing you might have noticed is that when the temperature drops, your ligaments and tendons tighten. People with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis will feel instant discomfort with such temperature changes.

Then there’s also the resulting change in blood pressure, which can make the pain worse. Too much blood going to an arthritic section of your body might cause sudden pain as you adjust to temperature fluctuations, whereas inadequate blood flow can result in a dull ache that lasts longer.

The problem isn’t just with the bones and ligaments.

When the temperature changes, a previously injured muscle may ache. Soft tissue (muscle) expands and contracts with the weather, just like blood vessels. Muscles naturally expand and contract daily. When you raise your foot, your calf contracts, and when you sit down, your thighs expand. The expansion and contraction produced by changes in weather, on the other hand, might irritate the nerves. Under normal conditions, this is fine, but areas of previous injury may be sensitive.

Ways to ease weather-related joint pain

You can treat joint discomfort due to weather changes in a variety of ways at home.

  • Keep yourself warm when it gets colder. You can take warm showers or baths, dress in layers throughout the day, use an electric blanket at night, or turn up the heat in your home.
  • Take a paraffin bath. For this, you’ll need to use a little paraffin wax melting machine. Dip your hands and feet in the wax, then wait for it to set on your skin. The heat absorbed by your body may help to relieve aching joints. Another option is to use a heating pad, especially for sensitive or sore spots.
  • Take pain medication. Ask your doctor whether you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds (NSAIDs).
  • Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts stress on the body, including your joints. If you’re not exercising, start with yoga or swimming, as these are gentle on the joints. With regular exercise, you can develop muscle and bone strength. If you plan to exercise outside, warm up with some simple stretches first.

Get help at Carolinas Pain Center

Although the link between joint pain and weather changes is not yet fully understood, it appears that changes in temperature, humidity, and air pressure could worsen conditions like arthritis and joint pain. Fortunately, there are home remedies you can try to alleviate the aches and pains you’re feeling. 

However, if your pain persists or none of the suggested treatments work, it’s advisable to set up an appointment with a pain specialist at Carolinas Pain Center.

Get in touch today!

Signs You May Be Suffering from Nerve Pain

  • nerve pain

Nerve pain can be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating. It can materialize as stabbing pain, dull aches, numbness or tingling, weakness, or uncontrolled bodily functions. 

Nerve pain, also known as neuropathy, can be difficult to diagnose because the discomfort can appear in one place or you could experience nerve pain throughout the body. Also, the symptoms can be easy to confuse with general soreness, tiredness, or another common illness. At the same time, nerve pain can become chronic (lasting for more than three months) and cause enough discomfort that you cannot perform common daily tasks.

Common types of nerve pain and the symptoms

You won’t know for sure if you have neuropathy until a doctor tests for it. They can find disease or nerve damage with touch-based examinations or electrical stimulation. If you have diabetes or abuse alcohol, they may preemptively test for neuropathy.

The first step, however, is to identify the symptoms so that you can decide if you need to make an appointment for such tests.

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy usually starts with an unpleasant tingling or numbness in your hands and feet. The sensation can spread out to your arms and legs. Patients with this type of nerve condition can also be highly sensitive to touch, and they may drop things that they are holding for no apparent reason. In extreme cases, people can even fall down or stumble when they are standing or walking normally.

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy and the related proximal neuropathy are caused by diabetes. Symptoms can vary and may include extreme pain in the lower body, hips, and thighs, sores that won’t heal, and excessive numbness or tingling in extremities. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage leading to digestive problems or blurred vision.

Autonomic neuropathy

The autonomic nervous system controls blood pressure, digestion, and the reproductive system. Damage to this system can lead to fluctuating blood pressure, digestive or bowel problems, nausea, excessive sweating, and sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

Mononeuropathy

Mononeuropathy, also known as focal neuropathy, is when nerve damage causes pain or other symptoms to one nerve. The most common locations for focal neuropathy are the arms, legs, face, or lower body. The symptoms can be similar to peripheral neuropathy, but they are focused on one specific area. Sometimes mononeuropathy can affect the face, causing temporary paralysis of one cheek or vision problems.

Treatment for nerve pain

If you think you have nerve pain throughout the body or in one place, whether caused by injury or a disease, you can consult a neuropathy specialist at Carolinas Pain Center.

We have the expertise to find the root cause of your nerve pain and provide effective treatments to offer relief, help you manage your condition, or cure underlying ailments that are causing the pain. Set an appointment with us today to take the first step in dealing with your nerve pain.

Guide to Sciatica Pain and How to Manage It

  • sciatica pain

As the thickest nerve in your body, your sciatic nerve plays a crucial role in helping your lower limbs move and feel. It has several roots in your lower back and bottom of your spine that flow through a series of musculoskeletal structures. When one of those structures pinches or places pressure on the nerve, you may notice an uncomfortable back pain that also runs down your leg. You may hear medical professionals refer to this as sciatica. 

While the condition is common, sciatica isn’t something you have to live with. With a series of multidisciplinary interventions and self-help techniques, you can combat sciatic nerve pain. Alongside making an appointment to address your pain, there are self-help methods you can use.

Common sciatica pain causes

As one of your sciatic nerve’s primary functions is to feed sensations back to your central nervous system (CNS), it’s sensitive to anything that rubs it or places pressure on it. As such, when you suffer from a slipped disc or a musculoskeletal structure rubbing against it, your brain perceives that event as being painful.

Slipped discs are usually the commonest cause of sciatica. A slipped disc usually occurs after lots of repeat movements that don’t protect your back — for example, lifting heavy objects with the wrong manual handling technique.

You can also experience sciatica when your spine narrows or if a spinal bone pushes out of place. Lower back injuries are another common cause. In a lot of cases, it’s unusual for one single event to result in sciatica. By the time the pain arises, you’ve probably spent months or years engaging in poor posturing or harmful repeat movements. 

How long does sciatica pain normally last?

An acute case of sciatica may last between one and six weeks. The most painful sensations are likely to last for one to two weeks, with some residual pain following. However, you may be able to reduce your symptoms and the amount of time your condition lasts with appropriate pain management. 

Tips for managing sciatica pain

There’s a lot you can do to help yourself when it comes to sciatic nerve pain. However, it’s also advisable to seek assistance from medical professionals. In many cases, a multidisciplinary approach achieves the dual benefits of reducing your pain and stopping it from happening again.

Sciatic pain self-help tips

There are certain stretches you can perform to treat your sciatic nerve pain. One is the piriformis stretch. Your piriformis is a muscle that runs from your lower spine through to your thigh bone. When it presses on your sciatic nerve, it causes sciatica. As such, stretching it at home may reduce some of your symptoms.

To stretch your piriformis muscle, lie flat on your back on the floor. Take your leg from the affected side and place the ankle just above the opposite knee. Place your hands behind the knee your ankle is resting on and pull your leg up off the floor and toward you. Hold the stretch for five seconds, then repeat. 

Managing sciatic pain at work

You can gain a lot of relief from sciatica by changing the way you spend your time at work. If you’re in a role that involves sitting at a desk a lot, ensure your chair provides the right type of lumbar support. You should also get up and walk around at least every hour to provide your lower back muscles with some natural movement. If you engage in any type of lifting and carrying, make sure your employer offers you some manual handling training, and follow the techniques they suggest. 

Professional sciatic pain management

Alongside trying self-help techniques, it’s worth seeking advice from a professional. A range of approaches can be used to reduce your pain and stop it from occurring again. This may include physiotherapy and medications. A professional can also help identify the physical cause of your pain, which may assist you in making appropriate lifestyle changes.

Advice for preventing sciatica pain

Moving forward, there are some areas of your life you can address to lessen sciatica pain. Whether you work at an office, from home, or in a labor-intensive job, assess your posture to see if it’s compromising your lower back and spine. People who smoke are more likely to experience sciatica, so quitting is well worth your while. You should always try some exercise that’s within your comfort zone, and if you’re overweight, then now’s a good time to lose some.

Sciatic pain is undeniably uncomfortable. However, with a range of self-help techniques and professional interventions, you can lessen yours and keep it at bay. To get more help for your sciatica pain, reach out to our team at Carolinas Pain.

What Happens When You Over Strain a Muscle?

  • muscle strain

A muscle strain can be seriously painful in some cases, while in other instances, the you might be able to manage the pain and you may not even notice that damage has been done. Discover more about what happens when you overstrain a muscle and why you need to treat a strained muscle with care.

Understanding a Muscle Strain

A muscle strain is basically a rupture or a tear of the soft tissue within your skeletal muscles — the organs that provide strength, power, and stability to your musculoskeletal system. This immediately makes a strain different from something like a sprain. A sprain is a rupture of a ligament, i.e. damage to the connective tissue that joins bones with other bones. 

While muscle strains may occur across an array of different areas — from calves and thighs to your biceps and chest — sprains occur almost exclusively in joints. This is because joints, such as the wrists, knees, and ankles, are found at points where two or more bones meet and are held together by ligaments, while the main muscles are found away from the joints.

You can strain a tendon, too, which refers to damage to the connective tissue joining muscles with bones. Ruptures of the Achilles tendon between the foot and knee, or hamstrings between the knee and hip, are common. However, we’re going to be focusing on strains that occur specifically in the muscle.

What Happens If You Over Strain a Muscle?

There are two fundamental ways to overstrain a muscle:

  1. Placing high amounts of stress on the muscle over a long period of time — a chronic strain.
  2. Placing a high amount of stress on the muscle suddenly — an acute strain.

In both of these instances, the same thing is happening. The muscle fibers have to stretch to provide power and support for the musculoskeletal system. In the event of a strain, they are stretched too far, extending beyond their safe capacity and leading to a rupture or tear in the tissue itself. 

An acute strain might occur because the muscle is not properly warmed up ahead of exertion, or if an unexpectedly high load is placed on it. A chronic strain might occur because the frequency or duration of intense activity is increased beyond normal levels, resulting in a small tear that grows more severe over time.

Recognizing a Severe Muscle Strain

Some degree of tearing is normal for muscles. During exercise, muscles often develop tiny ruptures known as micro-tears, resulting in that familiar post-workout soreness. However, a muscle strain generally involves a larger tear and can be debilitating for the sufferer.

Muscle strains are defined by three categories:

  • The mildest form of strain is a first-degree strain. This may cause tenderness or low level pain, which grows worse as the muscle is flexed.
  • The next form of strain is a second-degree strain. You may notice swelling around the muscle or even an indentation where the tear has occurred. You will find it difficult to move the area and use the muscle due to pain.
  • The most severe form of strain is a third-degree strain. It will be almost impossible to move the affected area, and there may be severe levels of pain. In some cases, however, an especially severe strain might result in no pain in the immediate aftermath.

This information is intended to serve as a guide as you recognize the severity of your strain. It’s not a substitute for medical attention or professional advice. If you think you have strained a muscle and the issue is not going away, seek medical evaluation.

Give Muscle Strains the Attention They Deserve

If you have a regular exercise routine or simply a busy life, it’s tempting to ignore a muscle strain. Milder strains may not feel too bad, and you may feel able to keep on exercising and moving about, albeit with a limited range of movement. This is generally a mistake.

A strained muscle needs time to heal. Depending on the severity, it may take anywhere between three weeks and several months to heal completely. Continuing to use your injured muscle means putting more pressure and stress on the strained area — this weakened area is not going to be able to cope, and the strain will worsen.

P.R.I.C.E. is a good acronym to bear in mind while you allow your muscle to heal.

  • Protection — Remove all stress, strain, or impact from the muscle.
  • Rest — Give the muscle time to recuperate.
  • Ice — Reduce swelling by cooling the injured area with ice.
  • Compression — Bandage the muscle and compress to accelerate healing.
  • Elevation — Try to keep the injured muscle above the level of your heart during healing.

Remember, if you have any uncertainties or concerns, consult a medical professional or rehab specialist without delay.

Overcome Muscle Strains Safely and Effectively with Carolinas Pain Center

Here at Carolinas Pain Center, we provide expert treatment and rehabilitation services for anyone suffering from a muscle strain or other similar injury. Reach out today to book your appointment or to chat with a member of our team.

Everything You Need To Know About Managing Neck Pain

  • managing neck pain

Neck pain is a common medical condition that often causes patients frustration. Living with and managing neck pain can be difficult and even prevent you from participating in your favorite activities. While the good news is that neck pain does not often suggest a serious problem, it must still be addressed.  

If you’re experiencing neck pain, keep reading to learn more. Whether your pain is from poor posture or tightness from looking down at a computer to more serious conditions, Carolinas Pain Center can help. With many treatment options available, you don’t need to live in pain! Our team helps patients with neck pain feel better in no time!

Types and Causes of Neck Pain

Whether you turned your head too quickly to answer a question or you were in a car accident, neck pain can have a variety of causes, depending on the location of the problem. For example, some neck pain can come from issues with the spinal cord, ligaments or cervical discs, cervical vertebrae, or the blood vessels, muscles, or nerves in the neck region.

Neck pain may also be due to trauma or whiplash, arthritis, nerve root irritation, poor posture, cervical herniated discs, or other medical conditions. Other common causes of neck pain include muscle spasms, osteoporosis, fractures, sprains or strains, and degenerative disc disease.

Some neck pain may be acute, meaning it is short-term pain that lasts less than four weeks. Other neck pain is considered subacute, which is pain that lasts up to 12 weeks. In addition, many chronic neck issues cause pain that lasts over three months.

Preventing Neck Pain

Prevention of neck pain is just as important as the treatment. When engaging in high-contact sports, use appropriate equipment to protect yourself. When driving, always wear a seat belt to prevent or reduce whiplash injury. If you work on a computer, it’s important to make sure the screen is at the correct height to protect against neck strains and muscle spasms. 

Here are other ways to prevent neck pain:

  • Practice good posture when sitting and standing.
  • Take breaks from working at your computer or driving. Move around and stretch your neck.
  • Don’t tuck your phone between your neck and shoulder when talking on it. Try a headset or use a speakerphone.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Don’t carry heavy bags with shoulder straps.
  • Sleep in a comfortable position with your head and neck aligned with the rest of your body. Use a small pillow and sleep on your back to flatten the spinal muscles.

Symptoms

Depending on the source of the pain, neck pain can cause patients to have many uncomfortable symptoms. These include feelings of a stiff neck, where you feel it’s difficult to move or experience sharp pains when trying to move. Generalized neck soreness or headaches may also occur with your neck pain.

Some patients with neck pain also have pain that radiates along a nerve from the neck to the shoulder or arms. You may also have difficulty lifting or gripping objects.

Treatments

How your doctor will choose to treat your neck pain will depend on the severity and type. First, non-surgical approaches may be deployed to help you in managing neck pain. Physical therapy may help as you learn exercises to strengthen the neck and correct postural issues. Heat, ice, or electrical stimulation may also be used in combination with physical therapy.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, often helps patients reduce their neck pain. Another type of targeted therapy uses traction to gently stretch the neck under the supervision of a doctor.

Several medications are also available to manage neck pain. If over-the-counter medications are not enough, your doctor may need to prescribe stronger medications. These medicines include muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants, and more.

How a Doctor Can Help

If you’re living with neck pain, it is important that you see a doctor promptly. Remember, there are many approaches to managing neck pain beyond surgery. Your doctor can help you manage neck pain through other approaches first, such as steroid injections, medial branch blocks, epidural injections, and much more.

Tired of living with uncomfortable neck pain? Is your neck discomfort impacting your quality of life and ability to enjoy every day? If so, make an appointment today with Carolinas Pain Center to learn more about neck pain treatment. Our specialists use a multidisciplinary, individualized approach to manage neck pain in a way that works for your specific needs.

How to Tell if You Have Bursitis in Your Knee

  • bursitis of the knee

Do you think you could be suffering from bursitis in your knee? Perhaps you’re experiencing knee pain, but you don’t remember twisting it or knocking it. Or maybe you have experienced a twist or impact, but the swelling and discomfort feels unusual and is localized in a specific area. All of this could indicate that you have bursitis in your knee. 

So, what do you need to do next? Read on to discover more about how to identify bursitis, what this means, and how it can be treated. Remember to reach out to the experts at Carolina’s Pain Center if you have any questions or worries about your knee.

Understanding Bursitis in the Knee

Your knee is a complex joint, complete with a number of different bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as other elements. One of these other elements is the bursa, or bursae of the knee. These are small sacs that are filled with fluid, providing protection for the joint and preventing excessive friction or impact.

Unfortunately, these bursae can become inflamed, resulting in pain and discomfort. Bursitis literally refers to inflammation in the bursa and can occur in various locations around the body. In the knee, bursitis used to be referred to as housemaid’s knee, coal miner’s knee, or carpet layer’s knee simply because it is commonly associated with the action of kneeling for an extended period of time.

The Symptoms of Bursitis

There are three general symptoms of bursitis in the knee:

  • The knee will be painful to touch, and you may feel pain while moving the joint.
  • The knee will become swollen, particularly around the area of the inflamed bursa.
  • The knee will feel hot and appear red.

Other injuries and complaints can also cause these symptoms. These are just things to look out for, and may indicate bursitis or another complaint. It’s important to seek medical diagnosis and further advice if you are unsure.

Bursitis Knee Treatment

A doctor, medical professional, or rehab specialist will generally prescribe an anti-inflammatory treatment, reducing some of the swelling around the knee. This will help you to eliminate much of the pain and discomfort associated with bursitis.

The best bursitis knee treatment, however, is rest. Bursitis may go away on its own, but only if the joint is properly protected and given time to heal. Rehabilitation services may be required if problems persist, or if there are other underlying conditions at work.

Bursitis of the Knee: Common Questions

How can you check for bursitis?

You can check by gently pressing your knee to identify any areas of pain, swelling, or heat. You may also want to look for areas of redness, or instances of pain when you move the knee. Always seek professional diagnosis if you are unsure.

Is it OK to walk with knee bursitis?

Bursitis does not affect the structure of the knee joint, so light walking should not cause problems. Don’t do anything that causes pain in the knee, however.

Is knee bursitis serious?

Some types of bursitis can be serious. If there is a bacterial infection, for example, this will require immediate treatment. This is why it is important to get your painful knee checked out by a professional.

Should I wear a knee brace for bursitis?

You don’t need to brace the knee joint if you have bursitis, as it is not a structural problem. You may want to use a light compression bandage to reduce swelling.

Does knee bursitis show up on X-ray?

No, the X-ray will not pick up bursitis. However, medical professionals may use an X-ray to determine if there are any other underlying conditions affecting the knee, such as a bone injury.

What do doctors prescribe for bursitis?

Doctors generally prescribe some sort of anti-inflammatory medication for bursitis, accompanied by rest and protection for the joint. Rehabilitation may also be required, particularly if there are other forms of damage to the knee.

Get the Treatment You Need for Bursitis or Other Knee Pain

The team at Carolinas Pain Center has the skill and understanding required to provide effective treatment, as well as rehabilitation for other knee and joint complaints. Get in touch today to book your appointment or to chat with a member of our team.