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Showing posts with label Musculoskeletal Disorders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Musculoskeletal Disorders. Show all posts

Whiplash

 What is whiplash?

Whiplash occurs when a person’s head moves backward and then forward suddenly with great force. This injury is most common following a rear-end car collision. It can also result from physical abuse, sports injuries, or amusement park rides.

Whiplash results when the soft tissues (the muscles and ligaments) of your neck extend beyond their typical range of motion. Your symptoms might not appear for a while, so it’s important to pay attention to any physical changes for a few days following any accident.

Whiplash is thought of as a relatively mild condition, but it can cause long-term pain and discomfort.

Whiplash occurs when the muscles in your neck suffer a strain because of a rapid movement backward and then forward. The sudden motion causes your neck’s tendons and ligaments to stretch and tear, resulting in whiplash.

Some things that can cause whiplash include:

  • car accidents
  • physical abuse, such as being punched or shaken
  • contact sports such as football, boxing, and karate
  • horseback riding
  • cycling accidents
  • falls in which the head violently jerks backward
  • blows to the head with a heavy object

Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after the incident that caused the whiplash. Sometimes, symptoms may develop after a few days. They can last for several weeks.

Common symptoms include:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • headaches, specifically at the base of the skull
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • constant weariness

Less common symptoms associated with chronic whiplash include:

  • problems with concentration and memory
  • ringing in the ears
  • inability to sleep well
  • irritability
  • chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, or head

You should follow up with your doctor immediately if:

  • your symptoms spread to your shoulders or arms
  • moving your head is painful
  • you have numbness or weakness in your arms

Most mild to moderate cases of whiplash can be treated at home using over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, ice, and other remedies. However, you should seek medical help if you have the following symptoms:

  • pain or stiffness in the neck that goes away and then returns
  • severe neck pain
  • pain, numbness, or tingling in your shoulders, arms, or legs
  • any issues with your bladder or bowels
  • localized weakness in an arm or leg

Your doctor will normally ask you questions about your injury, such as how it occurred, where you feel pain, and whether the pain is dull, shooting, or sharp. They may also do a physical exam to check your range of motion and look for areas of tenderness.

Your doctor might order an X-ray to ensure your pain isn’t connected to any other type of injury or degenerative disease such as arthritis.

Other tests, such as CT scans and MRI, will allow your doctor to assess any damage or inflammation in the soft tissues, spinal cord, or nerves. Certain imaging studies, such as diffuse tensor imaging (DTI) or positron emission tomography (PET scan), may be helpful, especially when there may be a brain injury. These tests will help localize and measure the extent of an injury to the brain or other areas.

The treatments for whiplash are relatively simple. Doctors will often prescribe an OTC pain medication like Tylenol or aspirin. More severe injuries may require prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms.

In addition to medication, physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery. You may want to apply ice or heat to the injured area and practice simple exercises to build strength and flexibility in your neck. Practice good posture and learn relaxation techniques to keep your neck muscles from straining and to help with recovery.

You might also be given a foam collar to keep your neck stable. Collars should not be worn for more than three hours at a time. They should only be used the first couple of days after your injury, as well.

Read more: No exercises needed to fix your posture »

Alternative remedies

You may also want to try alternative remedies to treat pain. Some include:

Some people with whiplash do experience chronic pain or headaches for years following their accident. Doctors may be able to trace this pain to damaged neck joints, disks, and ligaments. But chronic pain following a whiplash injury typically has no medical explanation.

However, very few people have any long-term complications from whiplash. Usually, recovery time is anywhere from a few days to several weeks. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeTrusted Source, most people recover fully within three months.

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The 7 Best Natural Muscle Relaxers

 Have you ever felt an involuntary tightness, hardness, or bulging in a muscle? That’s called a muscle spasm. This type of cramping can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons and in many areas of your body.

Spasms are common in the abdomen, arms, hands, and feet. You can also feel them in your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, and along the rib cage. Many cases of simple muscle spasms are caused by heavy exercise and vigorous sport. Patience, rest, gentle stretching, and massaging the muscle can help alleviate the pain.

People with acute neck and back painTrusted Source often suffer from muscle spasms. Pregnant women are also prone to muscle spasms because of the sudden increase in weight. Menstruating women experience muscle cramps due to uterine contractions, though the severity of the pain varies by person. Muscle spasms are a common side effect of chronic conditions like multiple sclerosismuscular dystrophy, and McArdle’s disease.

While muscle spasms can be painful, relief is available with these seven natural muscle relaxers.

ChamomileTrusted Source is an ancient herb that’s used to treat a variety of ailments, including muscle spasms. It contains 36 flavonoids, which are compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. You can massage chamomile essential oil onto affected muscles to provide relief from spasms. Chamomile tea can also help relax sore muscles.

Shop for chamomile tea.

People who sign up for marathons train vigorously, often causing a lot of stress on their muscles. Cherry juice can help combat the inflammation and muscle pain that is so common in runners. StudiesTrusted Source reveal that drinking tart cherry juice can minimize post-run pain. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities in the fruit help to relax muscles naturally.

Shop for cherry juice.

Another sweet and natural way to relax your muscles is by eating blueberries. A recent studyTrusted Source suggests that having a blueberry smoothie before and after exercise can help accelerate recovery from muscle damage. Blueberries have antioxidant powers and have been shown to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

Capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne pepper, is a natural muscle relaxant that’s often recommended to people who live with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. It can be added to food, like in this grilled shrimp with lime cream recipe, or you can find cayenne pepper in capsule form and as a cream. When used as a cream, you can apply it to areas affected by muscle spasms.

Shop for cayenne pepper.

People who have regular muscle pain or spasms might be deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin comes in many forms, including liquidstablets, and capsules. You can also get it in foods like eggs, fish, and fortified milk. Getting regular exposure to sunlight is another way to get vitamin D!

Shop for vitamin D supplements.

Magnesium is vital for human nutrition, as it maintains normal muscle and nerve function. Although it’s rare, early symptoms in people who are deficient in this mineral include muscle pain. This mineral is mostly found in foods such as bananas, almonds, legumes, and brown rice. It’s also available as a supplement.

Shop for magnesium supplements.

Perhaps the best and most natural way to relax your muscles is to rest. Make sure to get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and try not to overwork the affected muscle. Using heat pads or ice packs on the muscle can provide immediate relief. Sometimes muscle spasms are due to over-stimulated muscles, and ice can help calm down the transmission of impulses from the brain to the overactive muscle.

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Muscle Relaxers: A List of Prescription Medications

 Introduction

Muscle relaxers, or muscle relaxants, are medications used to treat muscle spasms or muscle spasticity.

Muscle spasms or cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of a muscle or group of muscles. They can be caused by too much muscle strain and lead to pain. They’re associated with conditions such as lower back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia.

Muscle spasticity, on the other hand, is a continuous muscle spasm that causes stiffness, rigidity, or tightness that can interfere with normal walking, talking, or movement. Muscle spasticity is caused by injury to parts of the brain or spinal cord involved with movement. Conditions that can cause muscle spasticity include multiple sclerosis (MS)cerebral palsy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Prescription drugs can help relieve the pain and discomfort from muscle spasms or spasticity. In addition, certain over-the-counter medications may be used to treat aches and pains associated with muscle spasms.

Prescription medications are divided into two groups: antispasmodics and antispastics. Antispasmodics are used to treat muscle spasms, and antispastics are used to treat muscle spasticity. Some antispasmodics, such as tizanidine, can be used to treat muscle spasticity. However, antispastics should not be used to treat muscle spasms.

Antispasmodics: Centrally acting skeletal muscle relaxants (SMRs)

Centrally acting SMRs are used in addition to rest and physical therapy to help relieve muscle spasms. They’re thought to work by causing a sedative effect or by preventing your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain.

You should only use these muscle relaxants for up to 2 or 3 weeks. The safety of longer-term use is not yet known.

While antispasmodics can be used to treat muscle spasms, they have not been shown to work better than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen. In addition, they have more side effects than NSAIDs or acetaminophen.

The more common side effects of centrally acting SMRs include:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nervousness
  • reddish-purple or orange urine
  • lowered blood pressure upon standing

You should talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of these medications for the treatment of your muscle spasms.

List of centrally acting SMRs

Generic nameBrand nameFormGeneric available
carisoprodolSomatabletyes
carisoprodol/aspirinnot availabletabletyes
carisoprodol/aspirin/codeinenot availabletabletyes
chlorzoxazoneParafon Forte, Lorzonetabletyes
cyclobenzaprineFexmid, Flexeril, Amrixtablet, extended-release capsuletablet only
metaxaloneSkelaxin, Metaxalltabletyes
methocarbamolRobaxintabletyes
orphenadrineNorflexextended-release tabletyes
tizanidineZanaflextablet, capsuleyes

Antispastics

Antispastics are used to treat muscle spasticity. They should not be used to treat muscle spasms. These drugs include:

Baclofen: Baclofen (Lioresal) is used to relieve spasticity caused by MS. It’s not fully understood how it works, but it seems to block nerve signals from the spinal cord that cause muscles to spasm. Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, and fatigue.

Dantrolene: Dantrolene (Dantrium) is used to treat muscle spasms caused by spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, or MS. It works by acting directly on the skeletal muscle to relax the muscle spasm. Side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Diazepam: Diazepam (Valium) is used to relieve muscle spasms caused by inflammation, trauma, or muscle spasticity. It works by increasing the activity of a certain neurotransmitter to decrease the occurrence of muscle spasms. Diazepam is a sedative. Side effects can include drowsiness, fatigue, and muscle weakness.

List of antispastics

Generic nameBrand nameFormGeneric available
baclofenLioresal, Gablofen, Lioresaltablet, injectionyes
dantroleneDantriumtabletyes
diazepamValiumoral suspension, tablet, injectionyes

Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol and diazepam can be habit forming. Be sure to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Muscle relaxants can also cause withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations (sensing things that aren’t real). Do not suddenly stop taking your medication, especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time.

Also, muscle relaxants depress your central nervous system (CNS), making it hard to pay attention or stay awake. While taking a muscle relaxant, avoid activities that require mental alertness or coordination, such as driving or using heavy machinery.

You should not take muscle relaxants with:

  • alcohol
  • CNS depressant drugs, such as opioids or psychotropics
  • sleeping medications
  • herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort

Talk to your doctor about how you can safely use muscle relaxants if you:

  • are older than 65 years
  • have a mental health problem or brain disorder
  • have liver problems

Doctors can use certain medications to treat spasticity even when the drugs are not approved for that purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA). This is called off-label drug use. The following drugs are not actually muscle relaxants, but they can still help relieve symptoms of spasticity.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are sedatives that can help relax muscles. They work by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that relay messages between your brain cells.

Examples of benzodiazepines include:

Side effects of benzodiazepines can include drowsiness and problems with balance and memory. These drugs can also be habit forming.

Clonidine

Clonidine (Kapvay) is thought to work by preventing your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain or by causing a sedative effect.

Clonidine should not be used with other muscle relaxants. Taking it with similar drugs increases your risk of side effects. For instance, taking clonidine with tizanidine can cause very low blood pressure.

Clonidine is available in brand-name and generic versions.

Gabapentin

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant drug typically used to relieve seizures. It’s not fully known how gabapentin works to relieve muscle spasticity. Gabapentin is available in brand-name and generic versions.

OTC treatment is recommended as first-line therapy for muscle spasms caused by conditions such as acute lower back pain or tension headache. This means you should try OTC treatments before prescription medications.

OTC treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or a combination of both. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose an OTC treatment.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs work by blocking your body from making certain substances that cause inflammation and pain. NSAIDs are available in generic and brand-name versions. They’re typically sold over the counter. Stronger versions are available by prescription.

NSAIDs come as oral tablets, capsules, or suspensions. They also come as chewable tablets for children. Side effects of these drugs can include upset stomach and dizziness.

Examples of NSAIDs include:

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is thought to work by blocking your body from making certain substances that cause pain. Acetaminophen is available in generic and brand-name versions. It comes as immediate-release and extended release oral tablets and capsules, orally disintegrating tablets, chewable tablets, and oral solutions.

The more common side effects of acetaminophen can include nausea and upset stomach.

You can often manage your muscle spasm or spasticity symptoms on your own, but in some cases, you may need medical advice or care. Be sure to call your doctor if you:

  • have spasticity for the first time and don’t know the cause
  • notice the spasticity is getting more severe, happening more often, or making tasks difficult
  • have severe and frequent muscle spasms
  • notice deformity of the parts of your body affected by muscle spasms
  • have side effects from your muscle relaxant
  • have a “frozen joint” due to contracture that decreases your range of motion or causes pressure sores
  • have increasing discomfort or pain

It’s important to treat both spasticity and muscle spasms. Severe, long-term spasticity can lead to muscle contracture, which can decrease your range of motion or leave the affected joints permanently bent. And muscle spasms can not only be uncomfortable, they can also be a sign of an underlying medical problem.

Your muscle spasms or spasticity are likely treatable with rest, physical therapy, medications, or all of the above. Work with your doctor to put together a care plan that can ease your pain and get you moving comfortably again.

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