Tag Archives: back pain

Tips to Lessen Back Pain (Part 2)

Back pain plagues millions of Americans every year, and is a major reason for doctor’s visits and ER trips around the country. Some think they have to live with the constant pain of a back on the fritz, but luckily, there are things that can be done to help relieve some of the discomfort. We looked at the first few in Tips to Lessen Back Pain (Part 1), now for the rest of our back-friendly tips:


  1. Eat right – by pursuing a healthier diet and loading up on anti-inflammatory foods, you’ll be doing your back (and the rest of your body) a huge favor. A healthier body will be less likely to submit to a back injury, and your diet really can have either a positive or negative impact on how much pain and inflammation you experience.
  2. Bring down your stress with meditation – In too many cases, perpetual stress is the real crux of a chronically bad back. Even if stress and tension aren’t the cause, they certainly make pain worse. If you suffer from a bad back, you should actively work on lowering your stress level. Meditation has proven effective for relieving back pain.
  3. Cuddle a pillow – Sleep on your back? Put a pillow under your knees. Sleep on your tummy? Put a small pillow under your lower tummy. Sleep on your side? Put a pillow between your knees. Making a pillow your bed-buddy will help relieve the stress on your spine and support your back’s natural curve, according to The University of Rochester Medical Center.
  4. Don’t let accessories weigh you down – sometimes when you have a bad back even carrying a heavy purse or sitting on a wallet can throw your back more out of whack. Go light with your accessories and make sure they aren’t compromising your gait or hanging too heavy.
  5. Stretch those hamstrings – Too-tight hamstring muscles can limit the range of motion of your pelvis which can cause strain on your back. If you want a better shot at less back pain, start adequately stretch out those upper legs to help loosen up the surrounding muscles.
  6. Lose extra weight – It is important if you’re experiencing any kind of chronic pain or other ailments, to try and aim for a healthy weight. Carrying around excess weight puts added pressure on your joints (and back) which can encourage more discomfort. By reaching a healthy weight for your height, you’ll be doing your back (and the rest of your bod) a definite favor.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope our tips help you work toward a better quality of life.

Tips to Lessen Back Pain (Part 1)

Back pain plagues millions upon millions of Americans, and can significantly impact quality of life. Even though many may worry their constant pain is there to stay, there are plenty of little lifestyle tweaks and tips you can apply to help get some relief. Let’s take a look at our pain tips:

  1. Check your posture – we’re all guilty of hunching over the laptop or slouching on the couch too often, but all this poor posture can really catch up on an already bad back. It is so important to train yourself to sit up tall, and walk with your shoulders back and straight. This will help realign those muscles in a healthier manner.
  2. Go, physio! The right physiotherapist can really change your life. If you’re used to constant back pain and just thought it would have to be background noise for the rest of your life, a good therapist can help you change that. Physiotherapists who specialize in back pain have some great tips and stretches specialized just for your body to help ease your pain.
  3. Ice, heat, baby – It may help to make extreme temps work for you. Those with long-term arthritic back pain may benefit more from using a heating pad (electronic ones are great), whereas those suffering from more acute or inflammatory back pain may benefit more from ice. Alternating between ice and heat can help as well.
  4. Get topical – Speaking of temperature, there are some wonderful creams out there that alternate between cold and hot sensations that may help take the edge off back pain. Topical NSAID cream can also be very beneficial.
  5. Try TENS – What do you mean, TENS? Tens of thousands? Nope. We’re talking portable transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machines. TENS machines work by sending pulsing electrical stimulation into the nerves, which are thought to interrupt or help redirect the trajectory of the pain sensation that was sent from the brain.
  6. Non-opiate prescriptions – For most people, it isn’t a great idea to start down the road of narcotic pain pills for a chronic back issue as they can be addictive, can lose their effect over time and can cause many unwanted side effects. However, there are plenty of other medication options out there such as NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections or even antidepressants such as amitriptyline (they can work for pain as well).
  7. Stay (gently!) active – even though it may seem counterintuitive when you just feel like constantly resting a bad back, it may be doing you no favors to lie around. You have to practice caution when exercising with a bad back, as many activities can further strain it. Walking, stretching and swimming are all good choices for activities that may help strengthen a weak back instead of further hurt it.

Stay tuned for the rest of our tips next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!



The Skinny on Sciatica

Sciatica (or sciatica-like) pain affects millions of Americans. It is often misunderstood, so we wanted to take a look at the facts:

  • Sciatica is not an official “condition”, but rather a term that describes a collection of symptoms related to irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
  • The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy.
  • Sciatica doesn’t present the same way in everyone. Many people have different symptoms and different degrees of pain (mildly irritating to severely debilitating). For example, when the L5 vertebrae is pinched, the sufferer will often feel numbness of the foot.
  • Common symptoms include: a sensation of burning or tingling in the leg or hip, weakness and a harsh, continuous pain on one side of the lower body.
  • Conditions that may lead to sciatica include: spinal problems such as stenosis, an abnormal gait, spondylolisthesis, tumors, herniated discs, pressure from pregnancy or excess weight, or nerve trauma or injury.
  • The sciatic nerves are the longest in the body spanning from the lower back all the way down to the bottom of the leg on each side.
  • Sciatica can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes other back problems such as sacroiliac joint pain is misdiagnosed as sciatica because they have similar symptoms. Proper diagnosis is difficult, but essential for effective treatment.
  • Sciatica is best treated non-invasively and not usually with too many medications until physiotherapy or another type of therapy is tried first. Surgery is necessary in some cases when severe sciatica is definitively identified and cannot be helped by other approaches.
  • Regular exercise and a healthy diet may help decrease your chances of developing problems with your sciatic nerve as a healthy lifestyle promotes better overall health.
  • If you’re not in too much pain, exercise can actually help ease the discomfort of sciatica pain in the short term. A sedentary life can contribute to back problems.
  • While it is most often caused by a problem with the discs, sciatica can also be non-structural or idiopathic by nature. Sometimes psychoemotional factors come into play during the healing process.

That concludes our look at sciatica. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Remember, our board-certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365 with any medical concerns you may have!


Are Your Feet Causing Knee, Back and Hip Pain?

Fallen arches (or ‘flat feet’) usually go hand-in-hand with an overpronation, both of which can lead to much more misery than just foot pain. These too-common structural conditions often cause back, knee, hip, foot and ankle pain and inflammation over time.

Flat Foot Fast Facts

  • The Latin-derived medical term for the condition we know as flat feel is ‘pes planus’.
  • Close to one quarter of Americans have varying levels of fallen arches. That is a huge chunk of the population, most of whom are undiagnosed.
  • One way to tell if you have flat feet is to walk on damp sand at a beach or get your feet wet and stand on a hard surface like concrete. You should only be able to see the outer edge and balls of your feet in the print. If your entire footprint is present, you have flat feet.
  • There are over 100 different ligaments, muscles and tendons that comprise your foot and work together to support your arch.
  • Fallen arches happen when ligaments (which are supposed to be taught) stretch beyond their limits. When these ligaments become more elastic than they are supposed to be, they don’t do a good job of holding the foot bones up where they should be, so when you bear weight your arch collapses.
  • The reason so many of us have flat feet? The human foot developed to accommodate softer earth, but in this modern world, we’re accustomed to a lifetime of walking and standing for hours on concrete, hardwood, and pavement.
  • Many times arches fall during childhood or adolescence, but the pain and ill effects are not felt until later in life when there has already been significant damage done.
  • Fallen arches can cause pain in many of your body’s joints, including the feet themselves, ankles, knees, hips and back. The pain can be quite bad, especially during or after high impact exercise or lots of walking in unsupportive footwear.
  • What kinds of things cause fallen arches? Mainly too much stress on the feet over time, like standing for long periods in unsupportive footwear. Sometimes having excess weight can lead to fallen arches because the feet take on too much strain. An untreated injury to the ankles or feet can cause flat feet as well. There are other causes, but those are the main ones.
  • Whether you have flat feet or are concerned about developing them, it is essential to wear good, supportive footwear like sneakers with a good built in arch, or Birkenstock sandals which have excellent ergonomic arch support. If you have specialized arch supports, you should wear them whenever you are on your feet.
  • How those two feet cause so much while-body duress? Think of it this way: Your feet are meant to have arches to align the structure of your whole body while standing, but people with no arches or overpronation have an altered bodily structure. Essentially, your whole skeleton is shifted or slumped inward, which misaligns your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. OUCH!
  • Unfortunately, there is no way to cure or fix fallen arches. The only way to do so is through constant correction. You have to retrain the arch and constantly support it with the proper custom orthotics (not just shoe inserts you pick up at the drug store).
  • If you have fallen arches, you should see a trained podiatrist or orthopedic specialist who will take a print of both your feet in standing position and make orthotic inserts designed specifically to recreate what should be your foot’s natural arch.
  • Ideally, your orthopedic specialist will tell you to work your way up hour by hour until you are wearing your orthotics all day, every day.

That’s all we have for your today on fallen arches, be sure to take care of your feet by always wearing supportive footwear, not putting too much strain on them and by trying to avoid going barefoot on hard surfaces like concrete (use caution when practicing certain martial arts, for example, that may take place on concrete in bare feet). If you think you may have undiagnosed flat feet, save yourself more years of pain and discomfort by making your way to a foot specialist soon to help get the problem corrected.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you’ll return soon!

Are Your Flip-Flops Causing Damage?

Convenience paired with colorful fun designs – who wouldn’t love flip-flops? They may be a beloved summer accessory, but unfortunately flip flops may be hurting frequent wearers in multiple ways. Wearing flip-flops occasionally shouldn’t cause too many issues, but many people wear them day-in and day-out during the summer months, which can lead to all kinds of trouble.

  1. Plantar fasciitis

Because flip-flops alter your natural gait and offer little in the way of shock absorption or heel support, your foot must stretch farther with each stride. This can lead to sprain and strain of the ligaments that run along the bottom of the foot causing plantar fasciitis (an extremely painful and temporarily disabling condition). It occurs when the plantar fascia, a long band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, becomes inflamed due to excessive stretching or strain, which can lead to the inability to bear weight on the affected foot until the condition gets better.

  1. Bacterial infection

Because the entire foot is exposed, flip-flop wearers have increased chances of contracting a bacterial infection of the foot. Not only because minor wounds can become infected, but studies show flip-flop wearers come in contact with harmful bacteria much more often than those with more protective footwear. One New York study found over 18,000 bacteria on a subject’s flip-flops after a 4-day walking trip around the city. Among those bacteria was the potentially fatal Staphylococcus aureus! If that gets into a small cut or wound, the results could be deadly.

  1. Ankle, knee and hip pain

If you have fallen arches or a tendency toward flatter feet, wearing flat shoes that offer no support such as standard flip-flops can adversely affect your ankles, knees and hips. Aside from those with weak arches, anyone can sustain a rolled ankle or knee much easier in flip-flops than protective footwear such as sneakers.

  1. Tendonitis

Among other types of tendonitis that can occur with prolonged wearing of flip-slops, peroneal tendonitis (the tendons that run along the outside and inside of the ankle) is a common kind associated with excessive flip-flop use. It happens when these tendons that stabilize the ankle become inflamed from the altered gait and scrunching of the toes caused by flip-flops thongs. This can cause excessive pain and swelling, sometimes requiring physiotherapy to heal.

  1. Back pain

The Spine Health Institute says of flip-flops and back pain, “Your foot contacts the ground differently in flip-flops, too, with more pressure put on the outside edges and less on the heel. This causes a slight rotation of the lower portion of your leg, which in turn changes the angle of your pelvis and prompts increased torsion of the lower spine.”

The Fix?

If you still don’t want to give up flip-flops cold turkey, there are other options such as shelling out more dough for quality ergonomic flip-flops or Birkenstocks instead.


Well, there you have it! Long-term Flip-flop use can wreak havoc in all sorts of ways! If you have any questions or concerns, our highly qualified, board certified DocChat physicians are always here to help!

5 Common Illnesses You Should NOT Neglect

Portrait of an upset young man sitting on a bed - Indoor

We often neglect some common illnesses by considering them minor and thinking they would go away on their own. Your neglect of a common illness and avoidance to seek medical assistance has the potential to create major health complications. The illnesses we deem minor are often the initial signs of the body informing you to take action. If you seek timely medical assistance, you can successfully avert major health problems. Below is a list of the 5 common illnesses you should not neglect.

1. Headache

According to the World Health Organization, 3 in 4 people in the age bracket of 18 to 65 years suffered from some form of headache over the last year. A headache is one of the most common health problems, but also the most neglected one. The most common types of headaches are migraines, tension-type, and headache resulting from excessive use of medications. Having a headache is the first signal your body gives out whenever there is a potential health issue. If left untreated, it can lead to further deterioration and affect other parts of your body.

2. Bleeding gums

A bleeding gum is a symptom that you might be at risk of major dental disease. Bleeding gums are often triggered by accumulation of plaque near the gum line. If ignored and left untreated, bleeding gums can have bad consequences like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The chemicals discharged by your immune cells or the bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream through the bleeding gums and affect other tissues and organs. Remember, your mouth is connected with the rest of your body, and a problem in your mouth can lead to major health complications. Always seek medical assistance whenever you suffer from bleeding gums.

3. Allergy

If you are having an allergy, it means that there is some kind of problem with your immune system. Symptoms of allergy include itches, red eye, runny nose, hives, etc. If ignored and left untreated, allergies can cause major health problems, like asthma and anaphylaxis. You should visit your doctor right away if you are experiencing allergies. Timely medical assistance can not only treat the condition, but also save you from major health issues.

4. Back pain

Back pain is also among the most common, but neglected ailments. Back pain is a symptom of an underlying problem in the muscles, joints, nerves or bones in the spine. Also, problems in the pancreas and gallbladder can create back pain. It is always wise to seek timely medical assistance whenever you experience back pain.

5. Sore throat

A sore throat can create difficulty in eating food and talking, and may lead to fever. It is often caused by bacterial or viral infections. However, a sore throat can also be the symptom of major health problems like inflammation of the tonsils. Therefore, it is better to seek professional help if you have a sore throat instead of self-medication.

If you have any such issue, you should get in touch with us. At times, these are a sign of big underlying problems, and at times something that can be corrected with the help of an OTC medicine. Nonetheless, expert advice is always recommended.