Information on chronic pain and addicton

Christopher Frandrup, M.D., DABPM, FIPP

Month: October 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain

Finding the best pillow for neck pain is a critical concern for the millions of people who suffer from neck pain. It’s estimated that up to 25% of all women will experience neck pain at some point, with up to 15% of men experiencing it. Finding the best pillow for neck pain can help reduce neck pain from sleeping, while also providing better quality sleep overall.

What is the best pillow for neck pain?

Finding the best pillow for neck pain isn’t straightforward. Many things will depend on finding it, including your specific cause of neck pain and your sleep habits. However, focusing in on a few key areas can help. When it comes to finding the best pillow for neck pain, consider the: pillow characteristics, the material the pillow is made from, and your sleeping style.

Your goal, with all of these, is to keep your neck in the proper alignment in order to reduce pain. Kammi Bernard, PT, a physical therapist at the Baylor Health Care System in Dallas notes:

“The goal of using a pillow is to help keep your head in what is called a ‘neutral alignment,’ meaning your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward.”

This simple adjustment can make a world of difference for neck pain patients. It’s important to get the pillow right and, if done correctly, some patients can find that their neck pain reduces or goes away completely. Dr. Raymond Hall on states that:

“I consider the lack of proper neck and head pillow support that almost all ordinary pillows and even 99% of the so-called “therapeutic pillows” on the market, are the MAJOR cause of neck pain in our society.” echoes this sentiment, noting that old pillows or sagging mattresses are leading to many neck pain issues for patients. Let’s take a look at these different areas before we dive into our list of the best pillow for neck pain options.

Finding The Best Pillow For Neck Pain |

The best characteristics of pillows for neck pain

Where do you start when it comes to getting the best pillow for neck pain? Loom & Leaf suggests focusing in on six characteristics of pillows for neck pain. They note that pillows should:

  • Be fluffy
  • Fill the gap between your neck, head, and back
  • Be durable
  • Have the right filling
  • Support your particular sleeping position
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position

Jennifer at MomActivity talks about a few more of her must-haves when it comes to pillows for neck pain. She suggests readers look for wider pillows that can support your head, as well as using additional pillows between your knees if you’re a side sleeper.

Check out your pillow materials

PainAway Devices gives an in-depth look on the different materials that are used to make the best pillow for neck pain. On their post, they discuss pillows made from:

  • Buckwheat
  • Down or down alternatives
  • Feathers
  • Latex
  • Memory foam
  • Microbeads
  • Polyester
  • Water

You can find additional pros and cons about each of these different materials used to make pillows for neck pain at PillowAdvisor or Everyday Health. Many of these options are hypoallergenic, easy-to-clean, and dust mite resistant. We’ll be looking at a number of these different types of materials throughout this post, with most pillows coming in memory foam, down, or with water.

Figure out your sleeping style

There are three types of sleepers: back sleepers, side sleepers, and stomach sleepers. Universally, back sleeping tends to be the healthiest for reducing pain levels for all patients, however, side sleepers can often find the support that they need with a few modifications.

We typically find that stomach sleepers experience higher levels of both neck and back pain, so generally suggest that patients modify their sleep routine to avoid this sleeping style. However, in this post we will be discussing a few pillows for neck pain that work for each sleeping style.

Finding The Best Pillow For Neck Pain |

Why is sleep so important? 

We’ve discussed often on the blog the need for appropriate sleep for pain patients. Harvard Medical School supports this, noting that sleep researchers:

“Found that people who reported moderate to severe problems in at least three of these four categories were significantly more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after one year than those who reported little or no problem with sleep. One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that normally occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.” also notes that not getting the right sleep can increase your risk of obesity and depression, other known comorbid conditions occurring with chronic pain.

21 overall best pillows for neck pain

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at options for the best pillow for neck pain for you. This list is based on our trials and other customer reviews. Finding the best pillow for neck pain for you will depend largely on what you need to have your best night’s sleep, as well as your budget and sleep style. Because of that, we’ve included information on prices and materials for all of these. Do note that these prices are subject to change. Always check the original site for the most up-to-date prices.

1. Mediflow Waterbase Pillow for Neck Pain 

There’s a reason why BPillow, one of the best resources for pillows for neck pain reviews, calls the Mediflow Waterbase Pillow for Neck Pain their favorite. This neck pain pillow is backed by a clinical study at John Hopkins University that showed it was the best in class, receiving high marks in every category they studied, especially neck pain relief. The neck pain pillow’s inner water chamber allows you to adjust the level of support you need, whether you sleep on your back or side. And, over 2,000 reviewers agree, giving this pillow 4-stars on Amazon.

Type: Water | Price: $34.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

2. Core Products Therapeutic Sleeping Pillow 

This pillow for neck pain is one of the most unique, as it creates the perfect sleeping position based on your size and shape. To get this one, you’ll choose from multiple sizes, as explained in more detail on their site. Some reviewers call it a life saver, helping them to relieve neck and headache pain that has plagued them for years. Back Pain Relief Productscalls it one of their top three best pillows for neck pain. Some reviewers have found it too firm, however, so as with all of these pillows for neck pain, it’s best to find the one that works best for you and your comfort level.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $81.25

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |


3. CustomSleeping’s Cervical Orthopedic Pillow

For all the bells and whistles, check out this: the best pillow for neck pain when it comes to creating a custom fit and support. You can customize your direct neck support with this one, and a zipper on the bottom lets you change the pillow’s firmness. And since it’s filled with a shredded gel memory foam, it’s also soft and cool to sleep on.

Type: Memory Foam and Gel | Price: $49.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

4. Shredded Memory Foam Pillow from Xtreme Comforts

Shredded memory foam pillows allow you to shape the pillow to your neck and sleeping position. Xtreme Comfort’s pillow for neck pain is made in the USA, stays naturally cool thanks to its bamboo cover, and is machine washable. It also has the added benefit of being comfortable for those who sleep with their arm under their pillow, as the pillow is adjustable to any shape.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $44.97

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

5. Core Products Tri-Core Standard Support Neck Pain Pillow 

Core Products’ pillow for neck pain provides options for all sleepers, whether they sleep on their side, back, or stomach. And it provides options for comfort, all in one uniquely designed pillow. Its center depression allows sleepers to customize their level of support–larger or smaller neck support options and thick padding along the edges for side sleepers, making it a great choice as one of the best pillow for neck pain options.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $40.96

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

6. Chiroflow Premium Water Pillow

Looking for the best pillow for neck pain, at a reasonable cost? The Chiroflow water pillow is one of the best, with multiple reviewers noting that they loved how it could be customized to provide the support they needed. Many reviewers noted specifically that it worked great to help them after neck injuries. They also noted that it was leak-proof, comfortable to sleep on, and easy to set up.

Type: Water | Price: $59.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

7. CozyCloud Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

CozyCloud’s take on the shredded memory foam pillow combines breathable and cooling options while also allowing for proper neck and spinal alignment. This neck pain pillow was designed by a chiropractor, comes with a 10-year warranty, and is made in the USA from high-quality products.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $49.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

8. Tempur-Pedic® Swedish Neck Pillow

Tempur-Pedic® is one of the leaders of pillows for neck pain. Their classic Swedish neck pillow provides support to help properly align your spine for a better sleep posture. It’s the leading neck pain pillow by Bed, Bath, & Beyond reviewersfor a reason!

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $99.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

9. PharMeDoc Memory Foam Pillow with Cooling Gel

The PharMeDoc pillow provides neck support, but it also is engineered with a cooling gel that helps keep the pillow cool in hotter climates (or for those suffering from hot flashes!). Reviewers loved the support of this pillow and that it was made with top-of-the-line products.

Type: Memory Foam and Gel | Price: $26.95

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

10. Perform Pillow Low Profile Memory Foam Pillow for Neck Pain

Low profile, chiropractor-approved, and eco-friendly? This pillow for neck pain is a great overall option for those who are looking to find the right kind of support they need while sleeping. The bamboo cover is also machine washable, and all products used in this pillow are hypoallergenic. It got one of the highest ratings over at CrushReviews!

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $74.95

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

11. Beautyrest Latex Foam Pillow 

The reviewers over at think this is one of the best pillow for neck pain options–soft, made from all-natural latex, and resistant to bacteria, mold, mites, and fungus. They especially think it might be the best pillow for neck pain and headaches. And, neck pain and headaches caused by the wrong pillow is definitely a thing. notes that:

“When your spine is out of alignment as you sleep, the muscles surrounding your neck and head try to make up for that lack of support. This is why you will wake up feeling stiff if your head isn’t properly supported, and in fact, the tension in these muscles can actually cause significant headaches over time.”

Type: Latex | Price: $43.45

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

Best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain

12. Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam Pillow

Sleep Innovations creates one of the best pillows for side sleepers with neck pain. It’s a standard memory foam construction (made entirely in the U.S.) that is lighter than some of the other pillows for neck pain on the market. It’s also one of the cheapest on the market, but still has a 4-star review on Amazon, from over 3,000 shoppers.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $24.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

13. Classic Brands Conforma Memory Foam Pillow

Hypoallergenic, dust-mite resistant, and designed to keep your head cool while you sleep? The Conforma Memory Foam Pillow is a great option for those who are looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain, as it combines solid construction and support that help keep the neck supported during sleep. With its firm support, many larger people also love the pillow. Additionally, Classic Brands prides themselves on their customer service, with many customers noting that they were quick to help with questions.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $37.62

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

14. Beyond Down Gel Fiber Side Sleeper Pillow

This pillow, made by SleepBetter, uses a micro-denier gel fiber that mimics the feeling of the softest down feathers. Many reviewers claim that this pillow gives them the softness they love, with the support they need to relieve their neck pain. And, these pillows stay fluffy for even the hardest sleepers.

Type: Gel | Price: $42.30

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

15. MALOUF’s Z Gel Memory Foam L-Shape Pillow

Another unique option, this one for side sleepers! calls this the most unique and possibly best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. It also reduces the need for multiple pillows. Other reviewers say it did wonders for their neck and shoulder pain, since it was able to provide them support on both sides.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $57.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

16. MALOUF’s Latex Zoned Pillow For Neck Pain

MALOUF provides one of the highest-end neck pain pillows on the market. With the higher price tag, you’ll get more customizable options for bed size, height, and firmness. It’s also made from all-natural latex, with no synthetic additives, and is naturally antimicrobial, mildew-proof, and dust-mite resistant. And since it’s created with zones, it means you’ll feel less pressure on the back of your head and more support under your neck.

Type: Latex | Price: $91.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

17. ComfyComfy’s Buckwheat Pillow

Buckwheat pillow?? Many sleepers find that buckwheat gives them the solid support they can’t find in other pillows. This one was specially made for larger sleepers, those with broad shoulders, or those looking for the best pillow for side sleepers with neck pain. You can completely customize how much buckwheat is in the pillow, and many reviewers claim that it holds its shape better than any pillow on the market.

Type: Buckwheat | Price: $115.00

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

Best pillow for back sleepers with neck pain

18. COOP Home Goods’ Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

COOP Home Goods provides one of the best pillows for back sleepers with neck pain. And, with all U.S.-made products, it means the pillow doesn’t contain any ozone depleters, mercury, or other heavy metals. It’s also hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, and machine washable.

But does it really help relieve neck pain? Over 9,000 neck pain pillow reviewers seem to think so, claiming that they were able to customize the support and shape of the pillow to give them their best sleep.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $52.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

19. Relax The Back’s PureContour Dual Pillow

Relax the Back offers a wide variety of eco-friendly pillows that can help relieve neck and back pain. Their PureContour dual pillow is made with memory foam, contoured to best support the cervical neck region. It’s especially well-suited for back sleepers with neck pain.

Type: Memory Foam | Price: $119.00

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

Best pillow for stomach sleepers with neck pain

20. ExceptionalSheets’ Extra Soft Down Filled Pillow

While we don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach if you have neck pain, ExceptionalSheets does offer one of the best pillows for stomach sleepers with neck pain if you can’t kick the habit. This is a down-filled pillow that is hypo-allergenic and machine washable. Some reviewers call this pillow the best they’ve ever slept on.

Type: Down | Price: $54.99

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

21. Primaloft Down Alternative Pillows

Primaloft offers another pillow for neck pain that many stomach sleepers love. The pillow comes in three density options to provide support and comfort during the night.

Type: Down alternative | Price: $100.00

21 Of The Best Pillows For Neck Pain |

Next steps

We hope you’ve found a pillow that provides some relief from your neck pain. Once you’ve found the pillow that works for you, though, don’t expect it to be magic the first night. PhysioWorks notes that:

“Your neck may feel different or uncomfortable during the first few nights of using any new pillow. This is because it is still adjusting to the healthy support. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll look forward to extreme comfort within a few days. However, a pillow that does not ease your neck pain within a week is probably not supportive or you have a neck condition that requires professional treatment.”

The Arthritis Foundation also suggests making time for neck pain exercises and physical therapy to help relieve pain. If using a pillow, along with some gentle neck pain stretches, don’t work, it’s likely time to call in a neck pain doctor. A trained neck pain doctor can suggest interventional and focused treatment options for your neck pain condition.

What do you think is the best pillow for neck pain? Which one do you use? 

Tropical Pitaya Smoothie Recipe

Tropical Pitaya Smoothie Recipe |

Tropical Pitaya Smoothie Recipe

Pitaya, or dragon fruit as it is more commonly referred to, boasts a hot pink hue and a thick outer skin that resembles the scales of its mythical namesake. The fruit is primarily found in certain regions of Asia and South America, but has recently made its way to the mainstream, popularized by restaurants that specialize in fruit-based “bowls” and smoothies, similar to this tropical pitaya smoothie recipe.

Tropical pitaya smoothie recipe (serves 2)

Dragon fruit is low in calories but high in nutrients including calcium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. In this recipe, the frozen fruit is blended with coconut water and pineapple for a tropical treat. Consider this tropical pitaya smoothie recipe a vacation in a glass! You can find pitaya smoothie packs in the freezer section of most grocery stores.


  • 2 frozen pitaya smoothie packs
  • ½ cup coconut water
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Optional toppings: Additional coconut flakes, chia seeds, or drizzle of honey


  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Would you try this tropical pitaya smoothie recipe?

Why Pregnancy Back Pain Occurs (And What To Do About It!)

Why Pregnancy Back Pain Occurs (And What To Do About It!) |

Why Pregnancy Back Pain Occurs (And What To Do About It!)

It’s no secret that pregnancy brings sweeping changes in a woman’s body from head to toe, but what about from front to back? Approximately 75% of pregnant women experience some degree of pregnancy back pain. Here’s why, and here’s what to do about it.

Why pregnancy back pain occurs

It seems obvious to state that growing a child brings about tremendous changes in a woman’s body, but pregnancy back pain is not only about the what, but also the where. Pregnancy shifts a woman’s center of gravity as the baby grows. The average woman gains between 25 and 40 pounds during pregnancy. A growing baby puts pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and lower back. Little by little, weight shifts forward. Without thinking about it, it is common for women to compensate for this shift by moving their shoulders back. After nine months of this compensation, the lower back begins to feel compressed and tight.

Ligaments and connective tissues are also getting more fluid and relaxing to make way for shifts in the pelvis that occur during childbirth. This results in tremendous structural instability within the body, including the spine.

Another reason for pregnancy back pain is muscle separation in the abdomen. As a woman’s belly expands, the rectal abdominis muscles (two parallel muscles on the abdomen) separate to make room. This separation weakens the abdominal muscles in general. Weak abdominal muscles increase the chances for pregnancy back pain.

What to do about pregnancy back pain

While it is common, pregnancy back pain does not have to be inevitable. There are several things pregnant women can do from the moment they see two pink lines to prevent pregnancy back pain.


In the first trimester of pregnancy, when hormones are coursing through your body and wreaking havoc, it can be difficult to get motivated to get moving. Add fatigue to hormones and it’s a perfect storm of zero motivation.

Exercise, however, is imperative for a healthy pregnancy in general and to prevent pregnancy back pain specifically. When fatigue is high and hormones are raging, simple pelvic tilts to keep the muscles of the abdomen toned may be the only thing you can do. As you begin to feel better and more energetic, increase your exercise. Aim for low-impact workouts that engage the entire body. Think swimming, walking, and biking for full-body toning.

Prenatal yoga is also a great way to keep the back strong and healthy and to prepare for childbirth. Prenatal yoga focuses on breath as well as movement and can also help deal with the stress that may arise throughout pregnancy.

Improve your posture

Exercise will help with energy levels and keeping stress levels low, but poor posture when you aren’t exercising can still result in a sore back. If you are used to standing with poor posture, it can be challenging to re-train your body to stand correctly, but since it is already changing, pregnancy is a great time to make adjustments.

As a general rule, imagine that, when viewed from the side, there is a straight line that connects the ears, top of the arm bones, hip bones, knees, and ankles. Many of us slump forward, removing the curve in our backs, but pregnant women often have an exaggerated curve due to the weight of the baby. Learning how to stand correctly aligned helps the spine do the major work of supporting the body and allows the muscles to work more effectively with each other.

Try chiropractic care

Chiropractic care during pregnancy can be a great tool to help treat pregnancy back pain when it arises. When looking for a practitioner, ask if they have experience treating pregnant women, both before and after giving birth. Labor and relaxed, loose ligaments and tendons allow bones to actually shift during the powerful contractions of labor. Quality chiropractic care can help relieve back pain during pregnancy and may also help shorten labor, delivery, and recovery time post-partum.

Consider acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that works with energy flow in the body. Practitioners believe that any sign of illness or pain in the body is a result of blockages in energy. These blockages are released when acupuncturists place hair-thin needles into specific points on the body to release the energy and allow it to move freely.

There is evidence that acupuncture can help with back pain, so it stands to reason that acupuncture could provide relief from pregnancy back pain. Large scale studies have shown that at the very least it provides relief similar to some medications. This is a plus for pregnant women who don’t want to (or can’t) take certain types of medicines. Additionally, acupuncture has few, if any, side effects and is rated as safe for people of all ages and conditions.

Consider drug-free post-partum solutions

Even if you have not experienced pain during pregnancy, pregnancy back pain may occur postpartum. Major shifts occur in the musculoskeletal system during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. A new study has found that osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMTh) in postpartum women can help reduce their back pain by as much as 70%.

Jennifer Caudle, DO, assistant professor of family medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, pointed out that this type of care can relieve pregnancy back pain with little or no risk to the new mother, improving quality of life for both mother and child. She noted:

“Women who’ve recently given birth are rarely studied beyond screening for postpartum depression and delivery complications, even though it’s well documented that low back pain is a common issue that hinders their quality of life during an already stressful time. This study shows that osteopathic manipulative therapy can relieve their pain without medication that could be passed to a breastfeeding infant.”

Pregnancy back pain is common but not inevitable. If you have experienced (or are currently experiencing) pregnancy back pain, what worked to help you find relief?

What Herniated Disc Treatment Works?

What Herniated Disc Treatment Works? |

What Herniated Disc Treatment Works?

Herniated disc is one of the most painful, debilitating lower back pain conditions that a person can experience. The pain caused by herniated disc is different for each person who experiences it and can even change as the condition progresses. Because this condition can be unpredictable, a herniated disc treatment that works can also vary from person to person.

Herniated disc treatment – What is herniated disc?

The spine consists of 33 individual vertebrae, each stacked upon a fluid-filled sac that keeps the bones cushioned from rubbing against each other. This fluid-filled sac is called an intervertebral disc. It is made up of a jelly-like interior (the nucleus pulposus) and the outer layer that contains the nucleus pulposus (the annulus fibrosis). When an intervertebral disc herniation occurs, the outer layer becomes weakened, allowing the nucleus pulposus to leak out. The cushion between the bones is gone, and the result can be very painful.

A herniated disc can be caused by a number of different factors:

  • Time: The continued action and pressure of gravity as people age can begin to wear down the annulus fibrosis.
  • Injury: If the spine is injured (i.e., as a result of a car accident or other trauma to the back), the intervertebral disc may be weakened and begin to leak.
  • Improper use: A sudden, awkward movement such as lifting a heavy object improperly can cause a herniated disc.

Symptoms of a herniated disc are as varied as the condition itself.

  • Pain: Pain location varies depending on which disc is herniated. A herniated disc in the lower back can produce pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf (and possibly the foot). If the disc is herniated in the neck, pain may be shooting in the arm and shoulder area.
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Weakness

Over time and left untreated, disc herniation can cause permanent nerve damage.

Herniated disc treatment – Risk factors to watch out for

There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood that a person will experience a herniated disc.

  • Age: Because herniated discs can be caused by bone deterioration, older adults have a higher incidence.
  • Genetics: There is a potential hereditary connection to disc herniation.
  • Weight: Being overweight or underweight increases an individual’s risk for developing herniated disc.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking contributes to bone density loss and can increase the spine’s vulnerability to fracture, either from injury or wear-and-tear. Excess consumption of alcohol and prolonged use of steroids can also contribute.
  • Occupation: Occupations that feature repetitive motion and twisting or bending increase a person’s risk of a herniated disc.

Herniated disc treatment – What works?

What herniated disc treatment works varies widely depending on many different factors. These include:

  • Location of the herniation
  • Activity levels
  • Other health conditions
  • Severity of the herniation

For some patients, a course of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) combined with targeted exercise and strengthening may be all that is necessary. Most treatment plans are guided by the following steps.

Step 1: Anti-inflammatory medications

Whether over-the-counter or prescribed, a herniated disc treatment generally begins with a period of anti-inflammatory drugs used to control pain and inflammation. For some patients, this is enough to allow them to begin exercise or other activities to heal the herniated disc.

Step 2: Injections

Epidural steroid injections or nerve blocks may be recommended for those patients who find no relief with NSAIDs. These injections target the affected nerves directly. Steroid injections are anti-inflammatory and offer pain relief but have only been proven effective for approximately 50% of patients. Nerve blocks numb the nerve so that other treatments can begin.

Step 3: Physical therapy or chiropractic care

Because a herniated disc can be the result of decreased space between the vertebrae, doctors may recommend chiropractic care to help lengthen the spine and physical therapy to strengthen the supporting muscles. Physical therapists may design an exercise plan, offer manual therapy, apply hot and cold treatments, or administer electrical stimulation.

Step 4: Surgical options

Surgery is an option that is exercised only after all other options have been tried. If pain and numbness persists, the pain management specialist may recommend a surgical procedure called a discectomy. This procedure removes the herniated material that is pressing on the nerve and causing pain.

For more serious and unresponsive pain due to a herniated disc, the entire disc may need to be removed. This is a rare procedure that also includes inserting metal hardware to connect the remaining vertebrae for stability.

If a patient experiences sudden loss of bowel or bladder control, this is considered a medical emergency that is often addressed with surgery. This condition can become very serious very quickly, and patients should go to the emergency room if this arises.

Prevention before treatment for a herniated disc

As with many lower back pain conditions, the best way to treat a herniated disc is to take steps to prevent it from occurring in the first place. There are ways to keep your lower back safe and healthy.


Regular exercise that focuses on strengthening the abdomen and lower back is the best way to prevent a herniated disc. Rather than spending hours doing crunches, exercises that focus on the whole body are just as valuable. Swimming, standing poses in yoga (including planks), and targeted exercises for the back are excellent ways to help strengthen the muscles that support the spine.

Eat well

A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods helps maintain strong muscles to support the spine. A healthy diet also helps maintain an appropriate weight for your frame.

Stop smoking

Among other things, smoking contributes to a loss of bone density that can contribute to spinal fractures and herniated discs. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, with benefits that start just 20 minutes after your last cigarette. It may be difficult, but there are many resources out there to help.

Herniated disc treatment can be as varied as the herniated disc itself. Have you ever experienced herniated disc? What treatments worked for you?

Cortisone Shot In The Knee – What To Expect

Cortisone Shot In The Knee - What To Expect |

Cortisone Shot In The Knee – What To Expect

With any type of machine, the longer you use it, the more stress and strain is placed on its moving parts. This holds true with our bodies as we age. A common feature of aging is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis affects our joints and is seen as a “wear and tear” condition that is simply a function of our joints being used repetitively for a long period of time. We feel osteoarthritis most keenly in our weight-bearing joints. Knees in particular can be very painful. There are many different types of treatments for knee pain related to osteoarthritis or other conditions. A common procedure after rest, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is to get a cortisone shot in the knee. If you are considering a knee joint injection, here’s what to expect.

What is a cortisone shot in the knee?

A cortisone shot in the knee is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves injecting a corticosteroid into the knee. Corticosteroids help to suppress the immune response that is triggering inflammation. This inflammation is caused by the rubbing of bone on bone in the knee joint. Rubbing occurs in the joints as cartilage naturally wears thin over time.

A cortisone shot is just one type of knee joint injection. Others may include hyaluronic acid (HA) or platelet rich plasma (PRP). HA injections are generally aimed at restoring lubrication in the knee joint. PRP works to use the patient’s own red blood cells to repair damage. A cortisone shot in the knee focuses on relieving pain and inflammation specifically.

Conditions treated with a cortisone shot in the knee

Osteoarthritis is the most common source of knee pain, but there are other conditions that can affect this complex joint. Four bones make up the structure of the knee: the patella, fibula, tibia, and femur. Cartilage and ligaments connect all of these bones and keep them stable.

The posterior and anterior cruciate ligaments (the PCL and ACL) connect at the center of the knee joint and help stabilize the knee through rotation. The lateral and medial ligaments also help stabilize and support the joint, while the medical meniscus cartilage provides cushioning.

Damage, injury, or deterioration in any part of this joint can cause knee pain. In addition to pain caused by osteoarthritis, some of the most common pain conditions treated with a cortisone shot in the knee include:

  • Cartilage tear
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Gout

Each of these conditions causes inflammation, pain, and limited mobility.

The procedure

Before any treatments occur, a pain management specialist will take a complete medical history. A thorough physical examination that includes range-of-motion tests will be conducted.

In some cases, the doctor may request imaging such as X-ray or MRI to confirm a diagnosis. A cortisone shot in the knee may not be the first treatment offered if the pain is mild and can be managed in other ways.

If a cortisone shot in the knee is recommended, the knee will be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. A local anesthetic is used most often, but patients may request mild sedation if that is more comfortable.

The pain management specialist uses fluoroscopy (live X-ray) to guide a very thin needle into the joint space of the knee. Proper placement of the injection is important for both patient safety and pain relief. Once located, a corticosteroid is injected into this space.

The entire procedure takes between 15 and 30 minutes. In many cases, pain relief is dramatic and occurs within 24 to 48 hours. Patients need only take minimal time off (usually just the day of the procedure).

Effects from knee cortisone shots

A cortisone shot in the knee is most effective for the first shot, with its pain-relieving effects diminishing slightly with each shot after. The effects of a shot can last from four to six weeks. Results can be improved if other lifestyle and supportive changes are made to manage knee pain.

Cortisone shots will not be injected directly into a tendon. If the pain management specialist believes that an inflamed tendon is the cause of pain, they may choose to place the injection near the tendon instead.

Potential side effects

Although a cortisone shot in the knee is minimally-invasive and non-surgical, there is a slight risk of side effects. Side effects are rare and generally mild. Short-term, less serious side effects can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling, pain, or bruising at the site of the injection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Face flushing
  • Synovium inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Temporary increase in blood sugar

Over time and with more injections, side effects can become more prevalent and serious. Tendons and cartilage may become weaker. Other long-term side effects of cortisone shots in the knee are:

  • Easy weight gain and puffiness
  • Easy bruising
  • Acne
  • Thinning skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Cataracts
  • Bone damage (avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis)

Is a cortisone shot in the knee effective?

A meta-analysis of high-quality studies in the UK found that a cortisone shot in the knee was effective for relieving inflammation and pain in both the short and long term. The analysis also found that although there is concern for cartilage damage due to the corticosteroids, most cases of damage were due to the underlying disease, not the cortisone shot in the knee.

Another study compared the results of knee injections versus placebo groups and found clinical and statistical evidence that cortisone shots in the knee offered more pain relief at one week than placebo.

Finally, a meta-analysis in 2015 looked at all types of treatments for knee pain and found that a cortisone shot in the knee was the most effective. This meta-analysis included 137 studies with over 33,000 study participants total. The focus was on short-term pain relief, with the reviewers noting that long-term data is not robust enough to include.

In all of the research above, researchers are careful to note that a cortisone shot in the knee may address the symptoms of pain and inflammation in the short-term but underlying causes must be addressed for proper treatment. A knee joint injection may allow pain patients to begin other treatments, such as physical therapy, so that a holistic pain management plan can be implemented.

As with all potential treatments, talking to your doctor is the first step. Have you ever had a cortisone shot in the knee? Was it effective for your knee pain?

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