back pain Archives - Back in Shape Chiropractic

Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, Pain Management

Do You Have Fibromyalgia? Learn About Your Pain Management Options Do you have chronic muscle pain, especially abdominal and back pain? What about overwhelming fatigue? Numbness or tingling in your extremities? Stiffness? Insomnia? Headaches? Anxiety? Do these symptoms constantly shift Read more

7 Negative Effects of Poor Posture

Poor posture is more than just a pain in the neck. Poor posture can affect the body in a number of odd and unexpected ways. Other than the well-known cases of backaches and the serious unnatural spinal curvature, here Read more

What Different Kinds of Back Pain Are There?

Back pain seems like it should be a fairly simple concept—your back hurts, you want it to not hurt, you go to a professional where they fix you up and send you on your way. Except, like with most Read more

Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, Pain Management

Dr. Leo Potetti Chronic Pain , , , ,

Do You Have Fibromyalgia? Learn About Your Pain Management Options

Do you have chronic muscle pain, especially abdominal and back pain? What about overwhelming fatigue? Numbness or tingling in your extremities? Stiffness? Insomnia? Headaches? Anxiety? Do these symptoms constantly shift and come and go?

As much as all of that might seem unrelated and you may just consider yourself to be always in poor health for some reason or another, it may all be symptomatic of the same one condition: fibromyalgia.

This affliction affects about 5 million Americans aged 18 and older, 80-90% of whom are women. And yet, with its wide range of symptoms, inconsistent intensity, and unknown root causes, fibromyalgia remains poorly understood by patients and medical professionals alike.

So, what do we know? Let’s go through the symptoms and potential causes, as well as the treatment options for pain management.

Symptoms of FibromyalgiaPain Management for Fibromyalgia

One of the things that makes fibromyalgia such a difficult condition to live with is how broad the range of symptoms is.

The symptoms that most define fibromyalgia, though, are chronic widespread pain and fatigue.

By chronic widespread pain, what is meant is a dull, constant, aching pain that affects both sides of the body, as well as both above and below the waist, continuing for longer than three months.

People with fibromyalgia also typically feel a constant fatigue, and report feeling it when they first wake up regardless of how long they’ve slept. Their sleep is also often disrupted by factors including pain, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. As a result, many fibromyalgia patients experience chronic insomnia.

These and other factors can additionally contribute to a set of cognitive difficulties known as “fibro fog”. This involves difficulty with being able to remember things, pay attention, stay focused, concentrate on simple mental tasks, etc.

There’s a long list of other potential symptoms as well though, including:

  • Muscle spasms and/or tightness
  • Stiffness when you first wake up or stay in the same position too long
  • Irritable bowel syndrome—abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • Migraine or tension headaches
  • Tenderness of the jaw or face
  • Numbness or tingling of the face, arms, legs, hands, or feet
  • Sensitivity to noise, bright lights, cold, odors, certain foods, or medication
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Irritable bladder—increased frequency or urgency of urination
  • Reduced ability to tolerate exercise, and muscle pain following exercise
  • Feeling of swelling in hands and feet without actual swelling present

These symptoms can come and go, all together or switching out for one another, from month to month. This is why it’s hard for a patient to realize that these symptoms can all be connected, and why medical professionals have trouble making a confident fibromyalgia diagnosis.

So, what could be the cause of a condition with such a diverse range of symptoms?

Possible Causes of Fibromyalgia

The truth is, we don’t really know. Just like with many other forms of chronic pain, there isn’t an identifiable anatomical cause for the symptoms which together characterize fibromyalgia.

There are theories, though.

Researchers believe that the pain associated with fibromyalgia stems from repeated stimulation of the nerves, which leads to a change in how the brain interprets, experiences, and reacts to pain. An abnormal increase in the neurotransmitters that signal pain, increased sensitivity of pain receptors, and decrease in the brain’s pain management through natural painkilling endorphins are all possible factors.

Lowered serotonin levels in particular are associated with fibromyalgia. Serotonin is a big factor in pain management. It has the effect of calming and reducing anxiety, and a reduction in its levels leads to a lowered pain threshold similar to that of fibromyalgia patients. Men produce serotonin 50% faster than women, so this may explain why women are so much more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men.

But how does this happen? Well, some believe that because fibromyalgia appears to run in families, the problem is at least partly genetic. This in itself wouldn’t directly cause the condition, but would make you more sensitive to environmental factors that do.

Those environmental factors include infections and traumatic physical injuries that can damage the spinal cord or other parts of nervous system, like severe car accidents. However, some researchers also believe that factors like sleep disorders, stress, and depression may also lead to lowered serotonin levels, and can similarly trigger fibromyalgia.

None of this is entirely proven, however, and medical professionals continue to research and speculate.

Pain Management for Fibromyalgia Patients

Since fibromyalgia can’t be cured, treatment revolves around minimizing the pain and fatigue that it causes. And since bed rest doesn’t seem to alleviate the fatigue, and the pain is often what keeps sleep from being restful, pain management is the real focus.

In this regard, the treatments of fibromyalgia are similar to those for most other chronic pain conditions.

The first option which many practitioners push is the use of drugs. There are many kinds that are used to try and treat fibromyalgia, but none that stand out as particularly effective at pain management. Some of these drugs include antidepressants like duloxetine (Cymbalta), as well as the anticonvulsant pregabalin (Lyrica).

However, like all drugs, these chemicals have consequences in the form of side effects: nausea, dry mouth, and constipation, insomnia, and dizziness for Cymbalta, and dizziness, sleepiness, swelling, weight gain, and impaired ability to drive for Lyrica.

Many other more natural treatment methods provide pain management for fibromyalgia patients and don’t carry the negative side effects that drugs do.

Exercise for example is a great pain management option. It increases endorphins which reduce pain and boost mood. However, those suffering from fibromyalgia often feel intensified pain after working out, and avoid it. So exercise is something that has to be slowly worked toward, and there are initial barriers that have to be passed before a fibromyalgia patient can enjoy exercise without pain.

As a result, other methods provide better starting points for pain management. These include:

  • Chiropractic, which can reduce pain and increase range of motion
  • Acupuncture, which can stimulate the nerves to alter brain chemistry and improve pain tolerance
  • Biofeedback, which helps people learn to control their stress responses and minimize their pain
  • Deep-tissue massage and neuromuscular massage, which help reduce muscular and soft-tissue pain
  • Physical therapy, which can reduce muscular pain and stiffness and improve posture and confidence of movement
  • Meditation, which can reduce stress and anxiety and produce a calming effect
  • Tai Chi and qi gong, which have evidence of helping with pain in fibromyalgia patients

To figure out which of these might be right for you, you should consult with a professional who can examine your condition and recommend which treatment options might work best. Back in Shape Chiropractic has been helping patients with pain management in Gurnee, IL for decades, and is licensed to provide quality chiropractic, acupuncture, and other health services.

So if you’re suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, give us a call at (847) 249-2225—we’ll do our best to find a solution and get you Back in Shape!
Back in Shape Chiropractic
4673 Old Grand Ave
Gurnee, IL 60031

7 Negative Effects of Poor Posture

Dr. Leo Potetti Infographic , , ,

Poor posture is more than just a pain in the neck. Poor posture can affect the body in a number of odd and unexpected ways. Other than the well-known cases of backaches and the serious unnatural spinal curvature, here are 7 surprising negative effects that poor posture can cause.

  1. Chronic Headaches
    Poor Posture Back in Shape Chiropractic

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    Poor posture causes muscle strains and poor oxygen flow which will leave you with headaches. Next time you have a headache, straighten up before you reach for the Advil.

  1. Added Stress
    A Harvard study compared the hormone levels of people that developed a strong posture and of those who continued slouching. It was determined that the participants with good posture showed a 20% increase in testosterone levels and a 25% cortisone level decrease. Whereas, the slouchers showed a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisone levels. Besides the fact that slouching can lead to a hormone imbalance, it was also shown to lead to poor oxygen flow and increased heart rate. You will ultimately find yourself having lower self-confidence and high-stress.
  2. Constipation
    Continuous poor posture has a huge impact on the digestive system. As you slouch over at your computer desk throughout the work week, you are actually compressing the digestive organs and hindering their job of breaking down food. This could lead to a dangerous long-term issue with processing the food you eat.
  1. Increases Risk of Death and Disease
    Over time, constipation will lead to dangerous metabolic issues possibly leading to death. Other studies from several countries found that those who had consistent poor posture showed a 147% increase in developing cardiovascular disease along with an increased risk of diabetes.
  1. Depression

Researchers directed a study involving over 100 university students in which the students were asked to rate their depression. They were then split up into groups and asked to either slouch or skip down the hall and then after reporting their experience they would switch and do the other. Overall, the results concluded that those who slouched had a negative impact on their mood and the skippers had a positive impact on mood and energy levels. The students who reported chronic depression rather than situational depression showed a much more negative impact. It was determined that slouching leads to low energy levels and depressive thinking. If this is something you struggle with try fixing your posture.

  1. Spider Veins

Slumping over all day makes it difficult for the blood in the body to properly circulate. Poor circulation will actually lead to the development of varicose veins (spider veins).

  1. Appearing Overweight
    Sitting and slouching will cause you to look overweight because you are forcing your organs to squish down into a smaller space. The organs will push forward and make you look fat.

 When we stand rather than sit we actually burn 20% more calories, develop stronger muscles, boost our metabolism, look better and feel better along with countless other benefits. You must practice having good posture – your life depends on it.

Call Back in Shape Chiropractic today to learn more about how chiropractic care can help you to develop good posture.

Back in Shape Chiropractic
4673 Old Grand Ave
Gurnee, IL 60031

What Different Kinds of Back Pain Are There?

Dr. Leo Potetti Uncategorized , , , ,

Back pain seems like it should be a fairly simple concept—your back hurts, you want it to not hurt, you go to a professional where they fix you up and send you on your way. Except, like with most things in life, and especially with your health, back pain rarely has a one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone. Back pain is individualized, with each person having potentially distinct types of pain—dull aches or sharp pain, lower back or upper back, constant or sporadic, etc.

Before you’re prepared to adequately address your back pain, you and your healthcare provider need to identify what sort of back pain it is. This involves figuring out its root cause as well as evaluating the frequency, intensity, and “feel” of the pain.

To assist you in this task, here’s a breakdown of the ways that back pain is classified in determining the best avenues for treatment, as well as some potential underlying causes.

Acute, Chronic, and Neuropathic Back Pain

The first and most basic division in types of pain is the distinction between acute, chronic, and neuropathic cases. These are categories of pain in general, but back pain can fall into any one of them and so it’s a good starting point for understanding back pain.

Acute pain is the pain which is most commonly experienced by people from such causes as burns, cuts, scrapes, sharp blows, bruises, childbirth, etc. These are instances where the pain is relatively short-lived, only a few months at most, and stems directly from tissue damage. With back pain, acute pain comes from pulled muscles, injuries, and other causes. If acute back pain continues for a prolonged period of time, it can eventually turn into chronic back pain.

Chronic pain is pain that has gone on for longer than three to six months or past the point of tissue healing, continuing what seems like perpetually. There are two types of chronic pain: chronic pain with an identifiable anatomical cause, and chronic pain without an anatomical cause. With back pain, potential identifiable generators of chronic back pain include ongoing conditions such as fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis.

Often though, there is no identifiable cause. This isn’t well understood yet, as there’s a lot about pain that we’re still figuring out, but it’s believed that prolonged constant pain can imprint itself on the nervous system. Then, even long after the injury itself has healed or the condition treated, the nervous system misfires and keeps sending pain signals through those pathways.

Finally, there’s neuropathic pain. In many ways, this type of pain is similar to chronic pain that has no identifiable cause, and some even place it in that category. Neuropathic pain exists in the absence of any remaining physical musculoskeletal injury; the pain at this point is totally unconnected to any ongoing damage. However, there are ways in which neuropathic back pain is distinct from other chronic pain. For one, it stems from damage that has been inflicted on motor or sensory nerves in the peripheral nervous system, rather than from long-term pain becoming imprinted in the pathways. The major way that it differs though is in how it feels—sharp, severe, stabbing, shooting pains that can be felt travelling along the nervous pathways, as well as ongoing weakness, numbness, or tingling.

These types of back pain require different treatments—neuropathic pain, for example, often isn’t helped by NSAIDs like ibuprofen or opioids like hydrocodone, and calls for a different set of treatments.

Causes of Back PainBack Pain

There are many initial causes that may be the root of your back pain.

There are a variety of structures that can undergo damage that leads to back pain. The spine contains joints, bones, and ligaments which can sustain all sorts of injury. The nerves within the spinal discs and the larger nerve roots that lead to the arms and legs can also become irritated, and the back muscles which support the spine can also be strained. Discs can wear down or rupture, and muscles can spasm or tense up under stress. Any of these problems, alone or in combination, can contribute to the development of back pain.

There’s also a wide range of diseases and conditions which can cause back pain. Some of these may be familiar—you might know, for example, that arthritis (specifically osteoarthritis) is when the cartilage in your joints wears down, scoliosis is when the spine curves to one side, and pulled back muscles get inflamed, all of which are potential causes of back pain. Work related injuries can also lead to pain in both the lower and upper back. Similarly, whiplash from an event like a car crash can often result in back pain. Even kidney stones, infections, and pregnancies can create a lot of back pain.

Other conditions that might be the culprit are less commonly known. We touched on these briefly when discussing possible causes of chronic back pain above. Spinal stenosis, for instance, is when the spinal canal is narrowed, compressing and irritating the nerve roots. Spondylolisthesis is when a vertebral bone slips forward over another bone. Fibromyalgia, a condition believed to be caused by some combination of genetics, trauma, and infections, is characterized by widespread muscular tenderness that can include back pain.

Many other conditions can also cause back pain in ways you might not expect. Endometriosis, a condition where tissue meant to grow inside the uterus grows outside of it, results in pain that can often spread to parts of the body that include the back.

As you can probably already tell, the process of figuring out the specifics of your back pain, including the type of pain, the underlying cause, and how you should proceed in terms of treatment, can all be quite complicated, as there’s such a vast number of factors that can contribute to an end result of back pain. That’s why you can’t diagnose the problem on your own.

You need a qualified healthcare professional—and Back in Shape Chiropractic is just the right candidate for providing that professional evaluation and care. We’ve been treating back pain in Gurnee for nearly 30 years, and continue to be the trusted source for chiropractic treatment in the area. Simply call us at (847) 249-2225 and we’ll work with you to diagnose and treat your back pain—no matter the type.
Back in Shape Chiropractic
4673 Old Grand Ave
Gurnee, IL 60031

Do I Have Sciatica?

Dr. Leo Potetti Infographic , , , , ,

Between the ages of 30 and 50 years old we spend most of our time working. It’s no coincidence that these are the years we are most likely to develop back pain and conditions like sciatica. Whether we are on our feet 12 hours a day or we spend that time sitting in a chair, we are likely to fight the battle of back pain and or nerve damage.

As sciatica is generally self-diagnosable, “Back in Shape Chiropractic” would like to save you the initial trip to the physician by telling you everything you need to know along with the symptoms and causes.


Sciatica pain can affect the lower back, hip and extends through one leg and sometimes down to the toes. Sciatica generally does not affect both sides of the body at the same time.

Common Types of Sciatica Pain

The type of pain or discomfort you feel may vary from mild to severe, radiating, jolting or sharp.

Sometimes you may feel a tingling or numbness throughout one of your legs. Other times you may feel a quick, sharp or burning sensation with an intense discomfort.

Some sciatica patients describe it as an “electric pulse” or “searing pain” from the lower back down through the thigh of one leg.

Other Signs you may have Sciatica

  1. Lower back pain
  2. Weakness or numbness in one leg, knee or foot
  3. Hip pain
  4. Shooting pain down one leg
  5. Pain on one side of buttocks when sitting
  6. In severe cases, loss of bladder control


Sciatica may be the result of the degeneration of an intervertebral disc which are the cushion between vertebrae. However it is most commonly caused by compression of spinal nerves in the roots of the lower lumbar spine. In other words, a pinched nerve. This may be caused by either a herniated or slipped disc or as a result of an injury.

Things that may worsen sciatica

  1. Being overweight
  2. Lack of exercise
  3. Using a mattress that is not stiff enough
  4. Wearing high heels


While you may have heard that sciatica requires surgery, it doesn’t. Chiropractors are trained to help your body heal itself without any medication or surgery, even for sciatica. With a non-invasive and drug-free treatment you can get your back in shape in no time. Depending on the severity of your sciatica, you may require one of the following treatments:

Types of Chiropractic Treatments

  1. Ice/Cold Therapy
  2. Ultrasound
  3. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  4. Spinal Adjustment
Do I Have Sciatica by Back in Shape Chiropractic

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How Feet Cause Back Pain and Affect Total Health

Dr. Leo Potetti Spinal Decompression , , , ,

We’ve all been there—you’ve had a long day on your feet, and when you get home and sit down to take your shoes off you find your feet sore beyond belief. But while your feet aching is bad enough, have you considered what other effects stress on your feet has?

You may remember that old song, “foot bone connected to the heel bone, heel bone connected to the ankle bone,” and so on and so forth. While the mechanics of how the foot supports your body are a bit more nuanced than that, there’s a basic truth here that all of your body is connected, and something going wrong with one part will affect the others. And your feet have a particularly strong influence on the rest of your body, especially on the back, potentially causing painful conditions that require spinal decompression therapy to remedy.

Here are the basics of how your feet affect your total body health, and what you can do to prevent health issues they may cause.

How Feet Support the Body

back-pain-caused-in-feetAbout 25% Of All The Bones in your body are in your feet. The feet are a complex network of structures designed chiefly for one thing: for minimizing the impact of every footstep.

Each footstep creates a shockwave that travels up your feet and disperses throughout your skeleton. The structures of your foot are made to facilitate maximum shock absorption so that less stress is placed on the rest of your body, especially on your spine. But an irregularity in your gait or in the form of your foot can impede this shock absorption.

Excessive shock, poor joint function in the feet and ankles, and collapsed arches can all affect how your spine moves as you walk and how it absorbs shock. These conditions can lead to chronic back pain, while your feet don’t hurt at all. Alternatively, if you do get a pain in your foot you will naturally Alter Your Gait To Minimize The Pain. This shift in the way you walk can also negatively impact the way walking affects your spine. In many cases, you’ll never even suspect that this is the root cause of your back and neck pain.

Spinal Decompression and Other Solutions

If these irregularities persist, they can cause serious problems with your spinal health. Eventually you may need corrective procedures, such as Spinal Decompression. Spinal decompression is a nonsurgical procedure where the vertebrae are gently separated to create negative pressure to realign herniated or bulging discs and relieve pain in the back and neck.

But while spinal decompression is an effective treatment, in the chiropractic profession we prefer to advocate for prevention over reaction. Treating pain is all well and good, but if you continue to allow the issues with your feet to continue, the pain will only return. Instead of treating these conditions that have developed over time by addressing the symptoms, it’s better to treat the root cause.

Getting your feet looked at and potentially treated can help alleviate many issues. If you have an irregularity like a collapsed arch or irregular leg length, a professional can provide you with special inserts to minimize the impact this has on how your feet absorb shock, as well as teach you proper walking posture. Shoes are important as well—shoes with Rigid Heel Counters and good arch support, particularly sneakers, are your best bet, and women should avoid wearing tall heels too often.

If you’re experiencing back and neck pain, maybe your feet are what’s causing you so much hurt. If you suspect this to be the case, or if you’re considering spinal decompression therapy, it’s good to get it checked out by a healthcare provider who can give you the attention you need. Back in Shape Chiropractic has been providing quality care in northern Illinois for 27 years and are capable of finding out what’s really causing your condition. Simply give us a call at (847) 249-2225 and we can schedule an appointment. From your feet to your neck and everything in between, we can get your body Back in Shape.
Back in Shape Chiropractic
4673 Old Grand Ave
Gurnee, IL 60031
(847) 249-2225