Dealing with aches and pains? Here’s how Bergen Medical Associates can help
Nicole Brand, MD, discusses the many common causes and types of orthopedic pain and the range of treatments that bring welcome relief and promote healing.
Aches and pains are a common problem for many of us. In fact, almost 60% of adults in America are living with back, neck, arm, hip or other orthopedic pain, notes a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
“The good news is that there are many minimally invasive treatments available to help manage pain, restore functionality and get people back to doing the activities they enjoy,” said Nicole Brand, MD, board-certified physiatrist and interventional pain management specialist at Bergen Medical Associates, which has six offices throughout Bergen County.
Dr. Brand discusses some of the most common types of orthopedic pain she encounters, as well as the array of effective treatments that have helped patients out of pain and back into the game of life:
- Common Aches and Pains — “One of the most common issues I treat is back pain, often the result of a patient overdoing an activity, bending over and straining their back, or sleeping in a funny position. Other patients have been dealing with chronic back pain for a while but end up seeing a doctor because the pain has become more problematic,” Dr. Brand said. “Other common complaints I hear involve hip pain and shoulder pain, both of which can quickly impair our ability to do activities of daily living. Many patients also complain of knee pain — often caused by arthritis in older patients and sports-related injuries in younger patients. In general, the aforementioned injuries can sometimes be resolved with physical therapy or other approaches, while others may require an MRI or X-ray to see the extent of the damage and determine the appropriate treatment.”
- The Many Causes of Pain — “Many people are very active and their pain or injury is triggered by some form of exercise or sport,” Dr. Brand said. “But even if they get injured in another way, these individuals are very motivated to remain active and may not take the time to understand the right way to work through their injury and allow it to heal properly.” Activities of daily living also are a major source of pain, she said. “Picking kids up or playing with them on the floor can cause people to strain muscles, as can shoveling snow, lifting things around the house, and even bending over to do laundry. People often engage in activities improperly in their daily life and need to be more conscious of the importance of stretching.”
- The Types of Pain Can Vary — “The types of pain I see include muscle strains, which occur when a muscle is pulled or stretched beyond where it normally wants to go, causing inflammation and temporary pain,” Dr. Brand said. “Another type is pain from arthritis, a degenerative condition that causes narrowing of the joint space or bony changes around the joints as we age. While this can begin developing in one’s 40s, painful bouts of arthritis become more common among people in their 60s and older.” Tendonitis is another common type of pain that Dr. Brand treats. “Tendonitis involves an inflammation of the tendons, which attach muscles to bones, and is usually caused by repetitive movements or overuse injuries,” she said. “Examples of tendonitis that many people are familiar with include golfer’s or tennis elbow, but other repetitive activities such as typing at a computer or carrying heavy items at work can also be culprits.”
- Treatments Abound — At Bergen Medical Associates, Brand has had great success with a range of effective, minimally-invasive treatments, including:
- RICE — “This acronym stands for ‘rest, ice, compression, and elevation,’ all of which can be done at home,” Dr. Brand said. “Rest allows the muscle, tendon or joint to recover, avoids re-triggering the pain, and promotes healing, while ice helps reduce the pain and inflammation associated with an acute injury. Compression — in the form of an Ace bandage or sleeves for various body parts — helps reduce swelling and sometimes just makes the area feel better or acts as a reminder to not overdo it. Elevation helps reduce swelling by limiting the flow of fluid in the direction of the injury and letting the area drain.”
- Anti-Inflammatory Medication — “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) sold over the counter such as Advil, Aleve and others help with pain and inflammation and can be effective when taken as directed on the package or by your physician,” Dr. Brand said.
- Physical Therapy — “The ultimate goal of PT is to help you get over your pain. The secondary goal is to address any weakness or imbalance that puts you at risk and to help prevent the injury from happening again,” said Dr. Brand, listing physical therapy as an important component of pain management. “Through physical therapy, patients will learn exercises designed to build their strength, flexibility and balance. PT can position patients for long-term success, and we have a network of trusted providers in the area that we refer patients to.”
- Braces — “Braces help protect injured areas and enable them to rest so that they won’t hurt as much while the individual continues to engage in certain activities,” Dr. Brand said. “Braces for the knees, elbows, wrists, hands and even the ankles are common, and the duration of time for which patients are advised to wear them will vary depending on the activity and injury.”
- Injections — “The goal of injections in a joint, around a tendon, in a muscle or in the spine is typically to help direct steroidal medication to a targeted, localized area to help decrease inflammation and reduce pain,” Dr. Brand said. She noted that the dosage and frequency of these injections are carefully controlled.
While any of the above treatments can be prescribed alone, “one or more of them can work well together to help reduce pain, promote healing and enhance long-term success,” she added.
- Bergen Medical Associates Can Help — “Everyone has a different tolerance for aches and pains. But if your pain is severe, you’re struggling to engage in activities of daily living, and even modifications you’re making aren’t helping you get back to doing the activities you enjoy, it’s time to see a doctor,” Dr. Brand said. “There are a lot of effective treatments out there and I’m very attuned to each patient’s goals and comfort level when working with them to determine their best option.”
“Pain can be mentally and physically draining, causing setbacks that can affect one’s entire life and outlook. My goal is to restore my patients’ functionality, enabling them to pursue activities they love and enjoy once again,” Dr. Brand concluded. “That’s my definition of success.”
For More Information:
With offices in Emerson, Paramus (two), Ridgewood, Northvale and Montvale, Bergen Medical Associates offers primary care and 12 areas of specialized care. Patients enjoy the “one-stop shopping” approach where so many medical services are provided under one umbrella. The multispecialty group fosters an environment of collaboration among the physicians, which results in a seamless continuum of care for patients. For more information, visit bergenmed.com or call 201-967-8221.
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