Pain is a signal your body sends you that something isn’t right and needs to be fixed. Whether that fix is removing your hand from a hot surface or getting a cast for a broken bone, once the problem is solved, your pain should diminish.
Sometimes, though, pain lingers long past its usefulness, and long past the time where the body is actively sending pain signals. This is known as chronic pain.
Osteopathic physician Dr. Richard Bernstein of Santa Cruz Osteopathic in Capitola, California understands that pain, especially pain in the joints and muscles, can easily become chronic, greatly affecting your quality of life. Here’s what he wants you to know about the long-term effects of joint and muscle pain and what treatments can help.
What are common types of joint and muscle pain?
The most common types of joint and muscle pain result from common injuries or the natural aging process. These types of pain often create functional problems like reduced range of motion; if you don’t receive the proper treatment, you can lose your mobility, requiring assistive devices even to walk. Here are some of the most prevalent types.
Arthritis describes any condition that causes degeneration or inflammation of the joints or the tissues around them, and there are more than 100 types. Arthritis, in some form, affects about 54.4 million adults in the US. Most types cause pain and stiffness, while some types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also affect the immune system and/or internal organs.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form, affecting more than 32.5 million US adults. It occurs from the regular wear-and-tear of joints over time, which is why it’s found more often in elderly populations. It causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced joint function that can lead to disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, meaning your immune system attacks healthy cells in error, causing painful inflammation. RA primarily attacks the joints, and usually many at the same time, damaging the tissue and leading to chronic pain, joint instability, and deformity. RA can also affect other body tissues, especially in organs such as the lungs, heart, and eyes.
Fibromyalgia is sometimes lumped in the arthritis category, but it’s really its own condition, one that causes whole-body muscle pain, a heightened sensitivity to pain triggers, tender points, fatigue, and sleep problems, and is often associated with depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The condition affects about four million US adults, predominantly women. There’s no cure, but it can be effectively managed, in part, with medication, good sleep hygiene, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Without treatment, the long-term effect of the pain can be debilitating.
Radiculopathy occurs from damage to a spinal nerve or a change in the way the nerve works because of nerve root compression; the result is radiating pain, tingling, and numbness along the nerve’s path and down into the arm or leg. The damage may result from degenerative disc disease (wear-and-tear in the spinal discs), a ruptured disc, arthritis in the spinal joints, or injuries to muscles and other soft tissues in the area. The best-known form of lumbar radiculopathy is sciatica.
Treating joint and muscle pain
Dr. Bernstein specializes in nonsurgical joint and muscle pain relief treatments, emphasizing whole-body health and long-term wellness. He also finds that a combination of therapies often produces the best results. Some of his therapies include:
Osteopathic manual medicine
With this hands-on approach, Dr. Bernstein precisely manipulates your body to improve your strength, flexibility, and range of motion. His techniques include resistance exercises, exercises that stretch your muscles, and mild pressure. By correcting structural problems in and around the muscles and joints, he delivers pain relief and improves function.
Stem cell therapy
Dr. Bernstein uses stem cell products from Predictive Biotech, a leader in regenerative technologies. These products come from donated placental tissue — the richest source of stem cells, which can transform into any type of cell needed for muscle/joint repair.
By infusing damaged joints and muscles with new cells capable of fast regeneration and growth, the treatment allows you to heal from the inside, reducing inflammation and pain.
Spinal decompression therapy
Dr. Bernstein uses SpineMED® spinal decompression therapy to relieve pressure on compressed nerves by separating your vertebrae, giving your spinal discs room to get enough blood to heal. This technique is especially useful in your lower back and helps relax muscles that have tightened painfully in response to the pain in the joint.
Don’t wait to treat joint and muscle pain until they become chronic — the earlier you intervene, the more successful treatment is likely to be. Give Santa Cruz Osteopathic a call at 831-464-1605 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bernstein, or book online with us today.