Steroids and Your Tendons: Shocking Research
Most are aware that steroids are not good for us, as a shoulder pain doctor in Mesa, Arizona can attest. Steroids are bad for bones. Bad for diabetes. Bad for tendons. But just HOW bad?
The standard recommendation for steroid injections into a tendon, such as the shoulder, elbow, or Achilles tendon is no more than 3. Anything past that and you increase the risk of a tendon rupture. Basically, it is well accepted that steroids weaken tendons. Which, considering that the idea of any type of therapy is to improve the situation, this seems odd to me. Giving a therapy to provide temporary relief that will only increase the risk of future damage just doesn’t make sense to me.
I, as a Mesa, AZ shoulder pain doctor, can honestly say that there have been very, very few situations in my years of practice that I have felt a steroid injection was a necessity. And don’t think you’re safe if you have a local injection directly into an area such as the shoulder. Research has shown that the injection site doesn’t matter; an injection into the buttocks is just as effective as a direct shot into the supraspinatus tendon. This means that the steroid is spreading throughout your body, affecting every single tissue in your body.
The same holds true for oral steroids taken for any reason; respiratory, pain, inflammation. But, it’s just once, right? Can’t really hurt anything, can it, so long as I keep the injections to the recommended 3 doses…?
Nope. The results of this particular study should be a massive eye-opener to everyone, as a shoulder pain doctor Mesa, AZ can explain. In this study, researchers looked at the cellular effect of the steroid dexamethasone on hamstring tendons. They found that steroids trigger a process called cell senescence. Senescence means to “grow old” and basically indicates that an organism is coming to the end of its lifespan. Cellular senescence has a similar meaning, indicating that a cell has ceased to function fully, has stopped dividing and is basically nearing the end of its life.
Interestingly, dosage would not likely make a difference. Steroids work by acting on a receptor at the surface of a cell and there are only a certain amount of receptors available. For this reason, a low steroid dose can be powerful enough to fill up all the receptors. A high dose is not necessary.
Some would argue that this was a “test-tube” (in vitro) study, it is not likely to happen when oral steroids are used to treat something like shoulder pain. The researchers took this into account and looked at actual tissue biopsied from shoulder surgery and found the same cell signals that trigger this cell senescence. In other words, it’s real. Worse, it’s irreversible. As in permanent.
I have stated time and time again that I am certain that the way we are treating musculoskeletal injuries and pain in medicine today is completely setting us up for problems in the future. Anti-inflammatories and steroids have consistently shown in the research that they damage the very tissues we are trying to protect.
Personally, despite many injuries over the past 20 years (ripped off extensor tendon of left 4th digit, left radial head dislocation, shoulder pain, neck pains, low back pain, episodes of knee pain), I have never even considered anything other than natural approaches. Most often, as a shoulder pain doctor in Mesa, AZ can explain, this involves advanced soft tissue techniques like Graston combined with chiropractic adjusting. And it has served me well over all this time. And maybe this approach is why I don’t deal with any chronic problems despite many severe acute injuries.
While this may seem entirely self-serving, do not let any ache or pain go and definitely do not try to “suppress” it with any type of anti-inflammatory, steroidal or not. Avoid the couch after most injuries–maintaining movement to the best of your ability is almost always your best option and ensures that scar tissue is less likely to form.
How a Shoulder Pain Doctor in Mesa, AZ Can Help Treat Your Neck and Shoulder Pain
Staring at a computer or phone screen has become a daily reality for most of us in today’s technology-rich society. People are suffering from neck and shoulder strain at younger ages because of an issue doctors have dubbed “text neck.” Repetitive bending of the head to look at a tablet or phone puts stress and strain on the spine in the neck, known as the cervical spine
Automobile accidents, especially ones that involve whiplash, are another typical contributor to these injuries. The neck’s susceptibility to damage is due partly to biomechanics, and when it is injured, the pain can radiate down to the shoulder. Daily activities and events that affect neck biomechanics include sitting for extended periods, repetitive movement, accidents, normal aging, falls and blows to the body or head, and everyday wear.
At LifeCare Chiropractic, our Mesa, Arizona shoulder pain doctor can help. Chiropractic care and techniques are often extremely useful for painful and motion-restricted neck and shoulder conditions. This pain can be very troublesome, and it can have a variety of causes.
The cervical spine is at the top of the spinal column and begins at the base of the skull. It is a series of vertebrae labeled C1 through C7. The cervical vertebrae support the head and provide movement and flexibility for the neck and head.
The head is hefty, weighing in at approximately 8-12 pounds. When the head is held at a slight angle for extended periods, it can place a great deal of pressure on the cervical spinal column. When this pressure is sustained over time, any of the vertebrae from C1 to C6 may slip out of place.
Sometimes, irreversible changes to the posture are possible from “text neck,” especially with young people who have bones and bodies that are still growing.
Other Common Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
A whiplash injury from a car accident or another jarring or forceful trauma is another common cause of neck pain. Muscle strains, bulging cervical vertebral discs, and spinal misalignments are also problems that cause uncomfortable or debilitating pain.
Generally, neck and shoulder issues can become so significant that patients experience interference with day to day activities and lifestyle impairments. Some effects that can impact a patient’s quality of life include:
- Acute or chronic pain
- Lack of flexibility
- Impaired range of motion
- Posture changes
- Referred pain in other areas of the body
Chiropractic Treatment Options
Patients who commit to a comprehensive treatment plan including spinal manipulation report significant improvements, according to one study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Patients participating in this study often reported quicker responses to spinal manipulation treatment and were able to complete treatment in less time than initially prescribed.
Spinal manipulation is often the primary chiropractic treatment. However, chiropractors also use complementary therapies like massage, hot and cold treatments, and electrical nerve stimulation to treat acute and chronic neck pain. Your Mesa, Arizona shoulder pain doctor can go over treatment options with you.
For more information, contact a shoulder pain doctor in Mesa, AZ, from our office, today.
A Mesa, Arizona Shoulder Pain Doctor Recommends Trying At-Home Stretches
Shoulder pain can impact so many aspects of a person’s life. Carrying the pain around every day can be an incredible challenge. LifeCare Chiropractic has experience in treating patients who suffer from shoulder pain. Seeking our services may be able to help a patient finally experience pain relief. Physical therapy can provide you with treatment to help mitigate pain and improve overall functioning. Here are some stretches that you may benefit from if you have been struggling with shoulder pain:
This simple stretch can help to alleviate shoulder pain in a matter of seconds. Simply lower your shoulder blades and squeeze them behind you, opening your heart, and relieving tension. Hold this for at least 10 seconds and repeat if needed.
With your feet hip distance apart, reach your arms behind you. Clasp your hands at your back and stretch your hands behind you. Slowly roll your body forward, allowing your torso to rest on thighs while keeping a slight bend in the knee. Allow your neck and head to hang loose, alleviating any tension you may have been experiencing. Point clasped hands in the air behind you.
With bended elbow, facepalms in the doorway and push. While pushing, lean your body forward and hold.
Shoulder rolls can work wonders when looking to alleviate pressure and tension in the shoulder area. Stand with your feet at hip distance apart, while allowing your hands to rest at your sides. Start with shrugging your shoulders and releasing. Slowly begin incorporating forward and backwards movements as well. Eventually, roll your shoulders in a circular motion. Reverse to counter clockwise.
Neck to Shoulder Stretch
If you have been suffering from pain, chances are you have naturally incorporated this into your daily habits. Neck to shoulder stretches are one of the most common types of stretches practiced by neck and shoulder injury sufferers. Tilt your head to the right. Making efforts to touch your ear to your shoulder. You can gently place your hand on your head to apply light pressure to further increase the stretch. Be careful not to push too hard as to not cause further injuries. Once you have sufficiently stretched one side, be sure to switch to the other.
This can be of particular assistance to those who sit and stare at a computer screen all day. Move your chin forward and tuck down (like you are forcing yourself to have a double chin). Be sure to keep your chin parallel to the floor. Repeat this movement ten times.
Reaping the benefits of physical therapy doesn’t necessarily mean that a patient needs to be suffering from an injury. Most people can experience benefits to treatment provided by a shoulder pain doctor in Mesa, Arizona from LifeCare Chiropractic. In fact, moving your body and regularly meeting with us can help prevent injuries before they have the ability to create further problems. Contact a shoulder pain doctor in Mesa, AZ at LifeCare Chiropractic to learn more about how we may be able to help you.