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Could Spinal Stenosis Mask a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Symptoms of spinal stenosis can be confusing and confused with other conditions, including vitamin B12 deficiency. Indeed, some clinicians warn that not checking a patient’s vitamin B12 status may lead to them continuing to suffer primary symptoms even after having high-risk spine surgery. So, just how prevalent is vitamin B12 deficiency and how can you tell if you’re getting enough? Continue reading “Could Spinal Stenosis Mask a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?” »

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Back Pain – Is it all in Your Genes?

genes and painA presentation at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 66th Annual Meeting could change the way physicians view patients for whom typical doses of pain medications aren’t effective. The presentation described results of a study that found a genetic component to pain perception, meaning that the way we perceive pain may be inherited from our parents, and not just through social conditioning. Continue reading “Back Pain – Is it all in Your Genes?” »

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Using Topical Analgesics for Back Pain Relief

back pain relief creamPopping pills can help fight back pain but they aren’t as specific as topical analgesics and can take longer to kick in. They’re also more likely to have adverse effects and to interact with other medications, diseases, foods, alcohol and so on.

Do topical pain relief gels really work though, or are they unable to penetrate deep enough or produce significant effects to help people manage their back pain? Continue reading “Using Topical Analgesics for Back Pain Relief” »

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Back Pain After Eating – What Does it Mean?

back pain after eatingThere can be a number of reasons why back pain can strike after eating, including some things that can be fixed quite simply and others that are serious and may require surgery. Determining the cause of postprandial back pain is, therefore, very important in order to get proper treatment that could be lifesaving in some cases. Continue reading “Back Pain After Eating – What Does it Mean?” »

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Top Five Worst Sports for Back Pain

worst spine exercises back painWhen you have spinal stenosis and back pain you’re likely to keep being told to stay active and get regular exercise, but what if your favourite type of exercise is downright dangerous for the spine?

Find out what the top five worst sports are if you have back pain and then take a look at our suggestions as to what might be a better way of staying fit and pain-free! Continue reading “Top Five Worst Sports for Back Pain” »

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Best Ways to Sleep to Avoid Back Pain

spinal stenosis back pain sleep positionsAvoiding back pain is no easy feat, but just changing the way you sleep could offer the most significant relief yet! You might be proactive about posture at work, spend time at the gym or outdoors staying fit and healthy, and avoid slouching on the couch in the evenings and at weekends but when you spend a third of your time in bed it may be that your back pain is connected to something you’re doing unconsciously. Continue reading “Best Ways to Sleep to Avoid Back Pain” »

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The Best Back Braces for Lumbar Support for Adults, Kids, Athletes and More!

choosing a back braceCoping with the daily agony of back pain can be exhausting and while most physicians don’t recommend continual use of a back brace (because it can cause your spinal muscles to weaken), sometimes a little support is just what you need. So, once you’ve got your doc’s approval for using a back brace, what do you need to think about when choosing a product for spinal stenosis relief? Continue reading “The Best Back Braces for Lumbar Support for Adults, Kids, Athletes and More!” »

Avoiding Back Pain While Travelling

traveling with back pain

Asking for help can save you from back pain while travelling.

When travelling, spinal stenosis can be a real pain in… well, you know. So, if you suffer from pinched nerves, sciatica, or other form of spinal stenosis, what can you do to make it a little easier to zip around the country visiting relatives or going on vacation? Here are five top tips on beating back pain while travelling. Continue reading “Avoiding Back Pain While Travelling” »

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Sleep, Back Pain and Diabetes

diabetes sleep and back painIn the second article in our mini-series looking at the link between back pain and diabetes we focus on how both conditions are not only affected by a lack of sleep but might actually be a major cause of sleeping difficulties. When sleep is disturbed this can lead not only to an increasing level of pain perception but also poorer control of blood sugar. A lack of sleep actually makes diabetes harder to manage and predisposes people to complications from the disease, such as diabetic neuropathy and more pain. Continue reading “Sleep, Back Pain and Diabetes” »

How Common is Back Pain in Diabetes?

Diabetes and back pain In the second in our series looking at the links between diabetes and back pain we examine the research on how the two conditions overlap. Just how common is back pain in those with diabetes and how do the two conditions interact?

In a 2005 study published in Diabetes Care, 1000 patients with diabetes were asked to rate their degree of difficulty in the following key areas:


  • Taking medications
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Sticking to the recommended diet
  • Performing blood glucose checks
  • Examining their feet

Around 60% of the patients reported chronic pain and this pain caused disruption to their daily life for an average of 18 out of the past 28 days. Regular or occasional use of painkillers was reported by 78% of participants and those who were younger, heavier, female, and on insulin were most likely to have chronic pain. Those with severe pain had increased difficulties taking their medications and around half of those with chronic pain had signs of depression (compared to 20% of those without chronic pain).

Similar interactions between diabetes and chronic pain have been found in other studies, suggesting that physicians need to be wary of overlapping concerns when working with patients to manage diabetes and back pain. Researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, the University of California, San Francisco and the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, looked at the records of over 13,000 adults with type 2 diabetes and found that almost half reported acute and chronic pain, and close to one quarter report:


  • Neuropathy
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • sleep disturbance
  • physical or emotional disability
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • constipation

Constipation is potentially a significant problem for those with lumbar disc herniation as straining can put extra pressure on spinal structures. Back pain is the most common type of pain reported by those with diabetes, along with neuropathy in the hands and/or feet. Headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other painful conditions are also noted and pain has been seen to adversely affect how well people are able to manage their diabetes.

Pain is also often invisible to others, making it difficult for those with diabetes and back pain to adequately communicate their suffering to family, friends, coworkers, and even to health care workers. It may be that a physician, or even a patient, fails to pay adequate attention to a new or worsening symptom of pain as it is seen as part of the overall diabetic condition rather than a possible indication of an overlapping condition such as spinal stenosis.

Diagnosing Back Pain in Diabetes

Indeed, diagnosing diabetic neuropathy requires ruling out other potential causes of symptoms, as does diagnosing symptomatic spinal stenosis, but the symptoms of the two can be very similar. Peripheral neuropathy can occur in the nerves in the head, arms, legs, face, and all over the body and may originate from nerve damage at the site of pain or anywhere along that nerve branch, including at the spinal nerve root or even the spinal cord itself.

Such nerve pain could result from shingles, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, or spinal nerve compression of central canal stenosis. Treatment for spinal nerve compression is usually very different from treatment of shingles or diabetic neuropathy, making it of vast import that the source of pain be properly isolated in those with back pain and diabetes.

References

Sudore RL, Karter AJ, Huang ES, Moffet HH, Laiteerapong N, Schenker Y, Adams A, Whitmer RA, Liu JY, Miao Y, John PM, Schillinger D. Symptom burden of adults with type 2 diabetes across the disease course: diabetes & aging study. J Gen Intern Med. 2012 Dec; 27(12):1674-81.
Krein SL, Heisler M, Piette JD, Makki F, Kerr EA. The effect of chronic pain on diabetes patients’ self-management. Diabetes Care. 2005 Jan;28(1):65-70.