Chronic Pain Conditions, Causes, and Symptoms

Pain is always a difficult aspect of life but for some, there is relief in the healing process. Unfortunately for some, pain is a constant plague. There are certain conditions in which the main symptom is long-term pain and those with these conditions have to navigate multiple avenues to manage their symptoms. Luckily most of these conditions are diagnosable and while not all can be cured, they can be managed with the right methods.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that most often affects those who have jobs that require a lot of standing throughout the day. Sciatica refers to pain in the sciatic nerve that runs from the tailbone along the back of the leg, down to the foot. Common symptoms include a burning or tingling sensation in the back of the leg, difficulty standing or walking, severe pain on one side of the body (it rarely happens in both legs), or worsening pain upon sitting. The sciatic nerve is actually the largest nerve in the body so when it hurts, it can be debilitating. Fortunately, sciatic pain is not a forever curse, with things like massage therapy, light exercise and stretching, most have found relief from sciatic pain.

Lupus

Lupus is a congenital disease that affects the immune system. Normally our immune system make antibodies that fight off infections, viruses and parasites. However, when a person has lupus, the body begins making autoantibodies that attack healthy tissue because the body cannot tell the difference between healthy and dangerous tissue. Lupus is considered a chronic pain condition, however it is not a continuous pain. Lupus is a disease that has flares. Lupus mostly strikes women between adolescence and pre-menopause with as many as 16,000 cases diagnosed every year. Pain is most often concentrated in the joints with these patients. Lupus pain can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, certain therapies like massage and acupuncture, and physical therapy.

Spinal Stenosis

Stenosis is a Greek word for “choking,” spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal column. This causes undue pressure on the spinal cord. The spinal cord relays most of the body’s signals and when there is pressure on certain nerves, pain signals can become hectic. Like sciatic pain, spinal stenosis usually happens in the lower back and travels along the back of the leg. There are different causes of spinal stenosis including age, trauma, genetic conditions, and arthritis. Spinal stenosis is usually diagnosed through medical imaging procedures such as spinal MRIs, CTs or myelogram, a form of X-ray in which dye is injected to highlight the narrowing. Like other chronic pain conditions, spinal stenosis can be treated with physical therapy, exercise, medication, or spinal stenosis surgery.

If you have more questions about diagnosing your chronic pain conditions or want to schedule an appointment, please use our Request an Appointment feature or call our offices in Metairie at 504-883-8111.

Could a Knee MRI help Solve Your Knee Pain Mystery?

There are areas of the body that you use every day without even realizing their importance. Sure, we know we need our hands and eyes, but do you ever thank your knees when you jump up to reach a shelf or take a knee to get that lost shoe under the bed? Knees, like our elbows, allow us to have a greater range of motion and to perform some of our most basic functions like walking, running and squatting. However, with all this movement, knees can take a real beating. Knee pain is one of the most common complaints orthopedic surgeons receive and because of how much we use our knees, knee pain can be debilitating with cures few and far between.

Knee pain can be the result of a number of conditions. Before we begin, some basic anatomy of the knee might be helpful in explaining these conditions. The knee is the connecting structure between the tibia and the femur bones, dependent on the fluidity and motion of certain elements, namely bone, muscle, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. When we do things like run or jump, our knees act like shock absorbers, taking the pressure of our movements and molding back into place. When there is pain in the knees, doctors must look at multiple possible causes and use knee MRI technology to find the answer.

1. Ligaments

In the knee, there are four crucial ligaments; anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate on the back of the knee as well as the lateral collateral and medial collateral on the sides of the knee. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissue that connect bones to other bones, keeping them stable. Stretched or torn ligaments are extremely painful and make it almost impossible to walk. Commonly experienced in athletes, torn ligaments require surgery and physical therapy in order to regain full range of motion.

2. Worn Cartilage

Cartilage is another kind of connective tissue in the knee but cartilage acts at the shock absorber for the different activities of the knee, protecting the bones and ligaments in the knee. We have cartilage in many different parts of the body like ears, joints, and the nose. It is a soft material that can be worn down with overuse. Professional athletes, football players and soccer players in particular, are known for worn down cartilage in the knee. The problem with worn cartilage is that once it is gone, it is gone. When people speak of torn cartilage they are usually referring to a torn medial meniscus, a band of cartilage that lies between the tibia, femur, fibula and patella.

3. Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis that can affect people of all ages. Uric acid fills up in the blood and then inflames the body’s joints, particularly the feet. It is very painful to perform normal everyday acts like walking or running. Often it will look like a bunion on the side of the foot except that it will be more malleable from fluid rather than bone.

4. Tendinitis

Tendons attach muscles to bone or in some cases to structures like the eyeball. When they become torn or inflamed, movement is impaired. The quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon connect the patella or kneecap, to the muscles of the leg, allowing our knees to bend and the patella, which is totally disconnected without these tendons, to move and still protect the interior of the knee.

5. Arthritis

Arthritis is a painful hardening of the joints. A common occurrence for us as we age, as the bones in the joints continue to harden, movement becomes more impaired and painful. There are therapies, prescription and holistic approaches to dealing with the condition but there is currently no cure for arthritis.

The pain you are experiencing could be any one of these conditions. Make an appointment with your local orthopedic physician about what kinds of treatments you might need to help alleviate or manage your knee pain. Most will recommend that you have an knee MRI performed in order to rule out some of these conditions because MRIs are highly accurate for examining the soft tissues of the body in great detail.

You have a choice when it comes to deciding where to have your MRI performed. For more information about MRIs at Doctors Imaging in Metairie, Louisiana, visit our MRI Service Page or call us at 504-833-8111 to speak with our office representative.

Understanding Arthritis Treatment and Medical Imaging

Arthritis is a common and painful condition that affects millions of people. For most, arthritis begins its onset after one has reached a certain age but for many, it can begin much earlier. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but there are medications, therapies and topical solutions that can help alleviate the pain and help people continue to have a respectable standard of living.

What exactly is arthritis? Arthritis, in essence, is the hardening or calcification of the joints of the body. Arthritis can affect any part of the body that has a jointed connection. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Arthritis or osteoarthritis is defined as a painful inflammation or stiffness of the joints commonly caused by age, genetic condition, or health problems. Every movement that is made with your body is calibrated by joints. They help your muscles and bones move and stretch the way you want them to. When arthritis takes over these areas, inflammation and painful swelling causes the bones to move, stiffen and twist.

As one can imagine, this is a very painful condition. Because joints are necessary to most movement, when arthritis affects areas like hands, feet and knees, many people have difficulty staying mobile, keeping their jobs or just maneuvering through their daily activities like making food, opening doors or walking down the street.

Most people think that the elderly are the only ones that can fall victim to arthritis. In actuality, people of all ages can develop the condition. The most common form of arthritis for younger individual to notice is rheumatoid arthritis. RA happens when the body’s antibodies begin to attack the body’s joints. There is no cure so many people find it difficult to hold down steady job and family interactions without some form of assistance.

Since there is, unfortunately, no cure for arthritis, what can those who are afflicted do to relieve their pain and pressure? Many doctors and studies recommend exercise a very beneficial way to promote energy and to decrease the painful swelling. As the body’s heart rate increases, so does blood flow. Blood flow entering these arthritic joints is key to help alleviating the pain.

Swimming is another great option for arthritis treatment. The buoyancy of the water and the coolness or warmth of your pool or hot bath can help relieve pain and allow for movement. In addition, if one has arthritis in the ankle or feet, floating on the water can help with pain management, mobility, weight control and general mood and energy improvement. Some use topical creams and pain relief salves to help with their pain, others use pharmaceuticals or holistic approaches. Whatever works to help you feel better, do so.

For many, keeping an eye out on the progression and changes of their arthritis can be helpful toward learning about new medication and therapies that may provide comfort. Surgery can sometimes help with arthritic joints like the shoulder, knee, the spine and the hips. This can be done with medical imaging procedures such as X-rays and MRIs. With X-rays, doctors can see how arthritis is progressing, how it is affected the others bones in the area and what the effects will be in the future of this condition. Remember that arthritis is common, most people have it in some part of their body. For many that lived a rambunctious life as a teenager they will find later on in life that the area in which a break occurred, now has arthritis. It’s a painful lesson but it can also help to reinforce the importance of safety equipment like helmets and shin guards.

MRIs are another form of medical imaging that could a lot of benefits for those searching for arthritis solutions for when the condition increases in degree, the pain and swelling can cause blood vessels and muscles to become blocked and tensed. By using magnetic science  combined with computer technology, MRIs are a non-invasive, non-radiation procedure that help doctors determine whether a surgical procedure may bring relief from severe arthritic pain.

Living a life with arthritis is difficult no matter what age or what type of arthritis you have. While a cure is still on the horizon, the best thing that those who have this condition can do is to carefully monitor it as well as to find the safest solutions to help you manage your pain and continue on with your quality of life.

Visit us at Doctors Imaging in Metairie or make your appointment online to get an MRI or X-ray for your arthritis.

What is better at Evaluating for Heart Disease and Stroke? MRI or CT?

With the constant advertisements about what is “heart healthy” or “preventative” it can be difficult to decipher what is actually beneficial to your health and what is just clever marketing. Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Everyone knows that a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are some of the best ways to keep your heart well and to offset the chance of developing a stroke, but what else can be done? If you have a history of heart disease or stroke in your family, or if you are high-risk for these conditions, a good way to determine your probability of developing these conditions is for you and your doctor to consider having medical imaging procedures performed regularly. The two most recommended for these conditions would be an MRI or CT scan. Read more to find out which of these procedures or others will provide the most warning if you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

MRI

MRIs or magnetic resonance imaging is a medical imaging procedure that uses a combination of magnets, radio waves and computer technology to create highly detailed images of the body’s internal organs. MRIs are particularly beneficial for the detection and diagnosis of cardio-vascular disease because of the ability of the machinery to see the difference between healthy and diseased tissue which can be symptomatic of heart disease or blood clot.

MRIs can be performed on both the brain and the heart. Images will be taken of the aorta, and surrounding blood vessels to determine the functionality and condition of these structures. These procedures are the easiest ways for your doctor to see if there are areas for concern. If there is an alarming image or if your doctor just wants to be thorough, he may recommend you have an echocardiogram or further cardiac testing.

CT Scan

CT scans are another extremely beneficial medical imaging test that doctors use to help determine the probability of heart attack, stroke and other conditions. CTs or computed tomography use computers and x-ray technology to produce cross-sectional images of the body. If you are concerned about the condition of your heart or the possibility of a stroke, having a CT scan performed is recommended because they can image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at once in order to determine the functionality of all of these elements together.

CTs can be performed on every part of the body but if the possibility of heart disease or stroke is worrying you, you can ask your doctor to order a screening Calcium Score test and if abnormal to consider a CT angiogram (CTA) or a standard angiogram. During a CTA, contrast material is injected into the body in order to highlight the functionality of the blood vessels and arteries in the chest. If there is a blockage in this area, the contrast will allow doctors to see the exact location so that imaging can be localized to that area. If your doctor is concerned about the possibility of stroke in the brain, they may order a perfusion CT, a new imaging technique that draws maps of the blood flow in the brain, the blood volume and the time blood takes to travel throughout the brain. Using these technologies, doctors are better equipped to find problem areas in the brain and access the risk of stroke.

Which Should I get then?

In conclusion, CT scans are not as proficient at seeing the details of soft tissue as MRIs are but MRIs and CT are some of the best imaging procedures that a patient can have if they are concerned about stroke or heart attack. Speak to your physician or radiologist about having these imaging tests performed to better understand the possible risks and results.

Looking for a CT scan or MRI near New Orleans, Louisiana? At Doctors Imaging, our radiologists are concerned with patient care. You can schedule your imaging exams online, or by calling 504-883-8111.

I think I broke a bone. What test should I get?

Humans are not perfectly designed machines. They get sick, fall down and get broken quite easily and more often than they like. Getting broken bones is never fun. It’s painful, may require a hospital visit and can be uncomfortable for several weeks afterward. Auto accidents, sports, and falls are some of the most common ways breaks and fracture occur. Regardless of age, bone fractures and breaks are always alarming because if not properly examined, muscles, ligaments, and nerves can become damaged as well. So after the shock and the excruciating pain of a bone break fades slightly, here are the tests your Radiologist will schedule to determine the extent of your damage.

X-rays

X-rays are the oldest and one of the most commonly used forms of medical imaging. X-rays use small amounts of radiation aimed at the body and in turn, the excited atoms relay the location and density of the internal structures of the body to the X-ray machine. Most facilities and hospitals use digital X-rays today which have much lower doses of radiation if that is a concern of the patient. Bones in particular become very prominent when using this method of medical imaging. Radiologists use X-rays so they can clearly see the area that has been broken, if there is an object lodged within the area or for determining if a patient needs to have surgery. Radiologists will primarily use an X-ray when examining a bone breakage because of the non-invasive nature of the procedure. The most uncomfortable part of this scan will likely be remaining still and relaxed especially if it irritates the area with the bone break. But it is important for patients to remain as still as possible so the image is not distorted.

MRI

In addition to the X-ray, your Radiologist may schedule a CT or MRI to better look at a potentially broken bone. Is this a reason to become worried? Certainly not. Radiologists like to be thorough and patients usually appreciate the extra effort. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a procedure that is commonly used for musculoskeletal disorders and concerns. MRIs use magnetic and radio waves to create their images. There is no radiation used but once again the patient will have to lie down on an examination table in order to have the MRI performed. This can be painful but necessary because when a bone breaks, there can be other damages surrounding break site. In order to determine if there are any ligaments, tendons, or nerves damaged around the break, Radiologists need to see more than just the bone.

Having a broken bone will never be considered an enjoyable experience, but with the advances in medical imaging technology, Radiologists will have more detailed images to help heal their patients. If you have a fracture or break, be sure to ask your doctor if you need these procedures so that you can be sure your therapy and healing process can be completed as quickly as possible.

Did you break your bone in Louisiana? We’ll provide you with the imaging tests you need to know the full extent of your injury. You can schedule an imaging appointment online, or call 504-883-8111. We’re conveniently located in Metairie, LA.

What Could this Chest Pain Be?

Chest pain can be symptomatic of several different conditions. Some are easily treatable problems and others require more medical attention. Either way, if you are experiencing  frequent chest pains, then speaking to your doctor about testing and diagnosing should happen immediately. Sudden and severe chest pain warrants an immediate visit to the Emergency room. Staying in the dark concerning your physical health is a serious mistake that many make because of the fear of what could be uncovered, but with the advances in medical imaging and technology, you can at least have a fighting chance of battling whatever illness or affliction you may have.

Scheduling a CT scan with your doctor may be a useful tool in the diagnosing of chest pain. If you have symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or fever these could be indicators of more serious problems. A CT scan can help to reveal certain lung diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and emphysema. It can also help doctors to diagnosis problems such as pulmonary embolism, injuries, and tumors within the chest cavity.

Your doctor may order a MRI for further examination of chest pain. MRIs can provide more detailed information for doctors in order to make the most thorough diagnosis. MRIs can be useful in determining heart and vascular disease as well as chest abnormalities. MRIs are particularly helpful in illuminating the structure and functionality of the heart as well as the flow of blood through arteries, veins and vessels. MRIs can help to show growths such as cysts and tumors in the heart and lungs as well as any bone or tissue abnormalities.

An ultrasound procedure can be a great tool for determining the cause of chest pain. Ultrasounds are useful in examinations because doctors are able to see the machinations of the internal organs in real time. This is extremely useful in determining the heart valves and the blood flow through the heart. Ultrasounds can reveal problems like aortic aneurysm, heart valve blockages, blood vessel narrowing and the presence of tumors.

An X-ray can be another useful tool in the diagnosis of chest pain. The aforementioned procedures can be more detailed and specific, but X-rays are the oldest form of medical imaging and in certain instances they can also be the most effective. X-rays are helpful in revealing arterial blockages as well as highlighting the lungs, heart and chest wall. X-rays can also help doctors to examine or monitor conditions like heart failure and disease, lung failures and collapses, and diseases such as pneumonia.

Symptoms such as sudden or frequent chest pain, recurrent cough, tightness in the chest or shortness of breath can be indicative of more serious conditions that require medical attention. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if you have a history of cardiovascular disease or cancer, you should speak to your doctor about scheduling imaging procedures as soon as possible in order to better determine the cause of your pain find a way to heal and keep you healthy.

Located in Metairie or New Orleans, Louisiana? Don’t waste any more time, and ask you doctor to schedule your chest scan today via our web site form, or by calling 504-883-8111.

Learn the Signs You Have a Concussion to Prevent Long-Term Dangers

More than likely, you have had some sort of head injury occur at one point or another. It’s almost inevitable.

Most head injuries are minor—bumps, headaches or the occasional fall. These types of injuries happen with few repercussions. When they’re not, though, they can lead to serious short-term and long-term problems, including dizziness, headache, memory loss and slurred speech, to name a few. These are most commonly caused by concussions.

If you think you might have a concussion, it is crucial that you contact a professional as quickly as possible. This is far easier said than done, though. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Some symptoms may last for days, or even longer.

Before you learn the symptoms, though, it is crucial that you know what a concussion is. In layman’s terms, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body. This can come from a fall, a hit or any other injury that violently shakes the brain inside of the skull.

Basically, your brain is surrounded by spinal fluid and protected by your skull. The fluid normally acts like a cushion, but when your head gets hit too hard, the brain can crash into the skull and get injured. This typically results in a concussion.

Sometimes concussions are immediately apparent. Other times, the symptoms are not as obvious. Here are a few signs you should look for in a concussion:

  • Not thinking clearly
  • Slow reaction time
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of memory
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling tired or lack of energy
  • Sad
  • Nervousness
  • More emotional
  • Different sleep patterns

Many of these symptoms may occur without a concussion, which means they can be especially difficult to determine. If you have several of these symptoms, though, you should contact a physician immediately. Even if immediate attention isn’t needed, having a concussion without proper medical attention can lead to long-term problems.

Fighting Common Lung Disorders with Preventative Screening

Preventative screening is used in all aspects of the medical profession to prevent growth of disorders, to assess diseases and try to stop them.  One of the more common areas where screening is used is in lung health.  According to the American Lung Association, an estimated 160,340 Americans were expected to die from lung cancer in 2012, which accounts for around 20% of all cancer deaths.

Smoking is a leading cause of chronic respiratory diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  These diseases are major conditions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  COPD, and also lung cancer, could become uncommon in future generations if smoking rates were reduced, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of lung disorders include, but are not limited to, worsening cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and back pain, among others.  The symptoms are not very specific, and can often be attributed to other ailments.  This, therefore, makes screening all too important.

Early detection for these diseases is crucial to any patient’s health.  With any disease, the earlier it is detected, the earlier it can be fought.  With lung disorders, it is highly beneficial for patients who have a history of smoking or chronic lung issues to get regularly tested.

Depending on the stage of lung disease, mainly cancer, doctors have the option of going through with treatments such as radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, and medications.  The earlier the stage, the more options the doctor has to treat the condition effectively.

While the reduction of smoking rates is the best solution for lung diseases, early screening is the best way to catch the diseases early, and to reduce the chances of fatality.  A widely accepted screening tool for early detection for lung cancer has not been available until recently.  A newly accepted method of screening for lung cancer is an annual screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).

In August of 2011, the results of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) found that screening with low-dose spiral computed tomography scans compared to chest X-ray reduced lung cancer deaths among older heavy smokers by 20%, according to the American Lung Association.

The study also found that there are also risks to screening for lung cancer, but suggests that those who fit certain criteria, based on medical history, should get tested.  While it may argued both ways whether the costs outweigh the benefits or not, the point here is that preventative screening may help find diseases early.  The earlier they are found, the easier they are to treat.

Looking for a Low Dose CT Lung Screening in Louisiana for under $100? Give us a call at 504-883-8111 between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, to complete our screening questionnaire. Qualified candidates may be scheduled for their LDCT lung screening following the survey.