Can Cracking My Neck Cause Arthritis?

Can Cracking My Neck Cause Arthritis?

Can Cracking My Neck Cause Arthritis?

Can Cracking My Neck Cause Arthritis?

Do you often crack your neck? If so, you may wonder if this habit could be causing arthritis. Arthritis is a common condition that can cause joint pain and stiffness. While there are different forms of arthritis, the most common form is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage that protects the bones.

Experts can treat neck pain in (Chicago). Methods like spinal cord stimulation, epidural injections, and trigger point injections can be used to help relieve pain.

Read on to understand how cracking your neck can cause arthritis and what you can do to prevent it.

How Does Cracking Your Neck Cause Arthritis?

When you are constantly cracking your neck, you are putting a lot of stress on the joints and ligaments in your neck. It can cause the cartilage in your neck to degenerate, eventually leading to arthritis. Also, cracking your neck can damage your nerves, leading to numbness or tingling in your arms and legs.

What Kind of Health Conditions Cause Neck Arthritis?

Neck arthritis is also known as cervical spondylosis or cervical osteoarthritis. It is a condition that affects the joints and disks in your neck. The symptoms of neck arthritis include pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and arms. The pain gets worse with activity or at night.

Neck arthritis is most common in people over the age of 50. However, it will occur in younger people who have had an injury to the neck or a herniated disk.

Several types of arthritis can affect the neck. The most common type is a degenerative joint disease, caused by the joints’ wear and tear over time. Other types of arthritis include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This chronic inflammatory disease can affect any joint in the body, including the neck.
  • Osteoarthritis: This is the standard form of arthritis. It happens when the cartilage between joints breaks down.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: This occurs in people with psoriasis, which causes scaly patches on the skin.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: This is a form of arthritis that affects the spine. It can cause the spine to fuse in a rigid position.

Tips To Crack Your Neck Safely

If you crack your neck, do it safely to avoid further injury. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t force it. If you can’t crack your neck without forcing it, stop. Forcing it could damage the ligaments or disks in your neck.
  • Don’t crack it too often. If you crack your neck more than once a day, you could irritate the joints in your neck and cause nerve damage.
  • Don’t crack it for too long. Cracking your neck for more than a few seconds at a time could also irritate the joints in your neck.

If you’re concerned about cracking your neck causing arthritis, talk to Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, the experts for pain management in Chicago. Our pain specialists can help you find relief from your neck pain and other chronic pain conditions. Schedule an appointment today.

The Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain, Alignment Tips, and More

The Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain, Alignment Tips, and More

The Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain, Alignment Tips, and More

The Best Sleeping Positions for Lower Back Pain, Alignment Tips, and More

Do you suffer from lower back pain? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain anytime.

Strained ligaments, herniated disks, and spinal stenosis are common causes of lower back pain. And while there are many treatments available – from medication to surgery – one of the best ways to find relief is by changing your sleeping position.

We will discuss the best sleeping positions for lower back pain relief in Chicago and provide tips on achieving optimal alignment while you sleep.

1. The Fetal Position

The fetal position helps take the pressure off your spine, leading to pain relief. Lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. Draw them up as you tuck your chin toward your chest. It will help keep your spine in alignment while you sleep.

The fetal position protects your spine by keeping the natural curve in your lower back. It relieves pressure on your discs and muscles, which can cause pain.

If you have chronic pain or arthritis, this is a good position because it takes the pressure off your joints while you sleep and relieve pain.

If you’re pregnant, this is also an excellent position to help take the pressure off your back. It can also help prevent hip pain and sciatica.

2. The Log Position

You lie on your side with both legs extended straight out in front of you, like a log. This position can help take pressure off your spine and keep your hips and shoulders level.

It helps to place a pillow between your legs for extra comfort and to prevent your top leg from falling forward. You can also put a small, rolled-up towel under your neck for added support.

If you experience lower back pain, sleeping on your side is generally better than sleeping on your stomach or back. But if you sleep on your side, choose a semi-fetal position to keep your knees bent. It can help decrease the curve of your spine and minimize pressure on your hips and back.

3. The Soldier Position

The soldier position is one of the best sleeping positions for lower back pain. It is because it keeps your spine straight and aligned. It also helps to keep your head, neck, and shoulders in a neutral position. To sleep in the soldier position, lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides.

4. On the Stomach

Lying on your stomach with a pillow below your pelvis and lower abdomen can help alleviate lower back pain. If you can, prop yourself on your elbows to take some pressure off your back. This position can also help if you experience tension headaches or neck pain.

Contact Gateway Pain and Spine Physicians for the best pain management in Chicago. We are pain management experts and will help you find the best way to get rid of your back pain.

Headaches After Exercise: What You Need to Know

Headaches After Exercise: What You Need to Know

Headaches After Exercise: What You Need to Know

Headaches After Exercise: What You Need to Know

Do you often experience a headache after working out? If so, you’re not alone. You might feel pain in your temples or behind your eyes. The pain can vary from mild to severe and might last for a few minutes or up to a few hours.

There are several different causes of headaches after exercise, and it’s essential to understand the most common causes of headaches after exercising, their types, and their symptoms.

1. Migraine

In the US, more than 38 million people have migraine disease. For some, migraines may be brought on by physical activities like lifting weights or after cardio workouts.

When you have a migraine, you will experience a throbbing sensation or pulsing pain on one side of your head. The pain is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours or even days.

If you experience migraines after exercise, you must see a doctor. They can help you identify the triggers and develop a treatment plan.

2. Tension Headache

According to the World Health Organization, tension headaches are the most common type. They can be caused by stress, neck pain, or fatigue. Tension headaches usually feel like a dull ache or pressure around the forehead or back of the head.

If you suffer from a tension headache, you may also have symptoms like:

  • neck pain or stiffness
  • tired eyes
  • trouble concentrating
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness

For example, neck pain can further irritate the muscles and nerves already inflamed from a tension headache. It will cause more pain and discomfort in the spinal cord and head region.

Tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin. In extreme cases of chronic pain, spinal cord stimulation may be recommended. The process involves placing a small device near the spinal cord that sends electrical impulses to the nerves. It can help relieve pain signals from getting to the brain. If you need spinal cord stimulation in Chicago, contact Gateway Spine & Pain specialists.

3. Sinus Headache

After a run or workout, you might feel pressure on your forehead and temples. It is because exercise can cause inflammation of the blood vessels in these areas. The resulting pressure is called a sinus headache.

Sinus headaches are often mistaken for migraines. They can cause similar symptoms, including throbbing pain, sensitivity to light, and nausea. If you have a sinus headache, you might also have a fever, runny nose, and congestion. These symptoms are caused by sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses.

Gateway Spine & Pain offers the best pain management treatments for headaches after exercise. If you are seeking relief from chronic back pain, headaches, or other conditions, our team of experts can find the root cause of your pain and develop a treatment accordingly.

How to Sleep With Occipital Neuralgia: Expert Tips by Doctors

How to Sleep With Occipital Neuralgia: Expert Tips by Doctors

Does chronic headache and neck pain keep you up at night? If so, you may have occipital neuralgia – a headache originating from the nerves in the back of your head. It’s estimated that occipital neuralgia affects about three out of every 100,000 people yearly. One of the main issues with this condition is that finding a comfortable sleeping position can be pretty tricky. It happens mainly on one side and can cause intense throbbing or piercing pain in the back of your head.

Here are some ways to manage this condition and sleep better:

1. Use a Cold Pack

Occipital neuralgia happens by inflammation of the occipital nerves. These nerves run from the back of your head to your scalp.

A cold pack will reduce the inflammation and pain associated with occipital neuralgia.

To use a cold pack:

  • Wrap the cold pack in a towel or cloth.
  • Apply the cold pack to the back of your head for 15-20 minutes.
  • Repeat as needed.

You can also alternate between a cold pack and a heating pad to help reduce pain and inflammation.

2. Physical Therapy and Massage

Physical therapy and massage can help relieve the pain of occipital neuralgia. A physical therapist can teach you exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back of your head and neck. Massage may also help to relieve tension and pain. For example, a trigger point massage technique can help to release knots of muscle tension contributing to your pain.

3. Take Medications

Oral medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help reduce the pain associated with occipital neuralgia. If over-the-counter medications are ineffective, your doctor may prescribe more vital ones. Tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants are effective in treating occipital neuralgia.

Local anesthetics or steroids into the muscles in the back of your head can also provide relief. Steroid injections or nerve blocks contain a medication that helps reduce inflammation. It can help relieve the pressure on your occipital nerves.

4. Lifestyle Changes

You can make a few lifestyle changes along with medications and other treatments to help relieve your occipital neuralgia pain. For example, while working on the laptop, take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your neck and shoulders. If you have to sit for long periods, make sure your chair provides good back support.

Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians is one of the best pain management practices in Chicago. If you are struggling with occipital neuralgia and are looking for relief, our pain management doctors can help.

Steroid injections: Top 10 questions asked by new patients

Steroid injections: Top 10 questions asked by new patients

Many new patients who come to me have already seen a number of doctors for their back and leg pain. Often they have tried medications (pills, lotions, patches), physical therapy, chiropractor visits, or acupuncture. Many have also received injections for pain.

Here are their most common questions:

1. In the past, I had “cortisone shots.” Do I need these again?

It depends. When many people say they have had cortisone, they are referring to epidural steroid injections to the back. However, doctors can put this medication in a number of different areas in the spine (see article types of back pain). Your personal pain story, physical exam, and MRI/CT all help your doctor to figure out which of these locations is the best target to help your symptoms.

2. Will you give me the same injection I had before?

It is always helpful to know what you have tried before. However, we are confident in our ability to find the most effective injections for our patients. This may or may not be the same thing that was done in the past.

3. Will you do the procedure the same way as my other doctors?

There are a number of different “approaches” to injections, and it is our job to determine which has the best chance of success. You may receive an “interlaminar” epidural, a “transforaminal” epidural, or a “caudal” epidural injection, which is tailored to your specific pain.

5. How much will it help my pain?

We are always happy if pain scores drop as low as possible for our patients! In many cases it is just as important if your lifestyle and activities change as well. For example, if you can walk farther without sitting or if you are able to be busier doing what is important to you.

6. How long does it take to work?

Most injections include a steroid to help with inflammation, and a local anesthetic numbing medication. The numbing medication should work quickly, but steroids can take 3-5 days to kick in. For some patients, even a few weeks. This is why we often schedule your follow-up 2 weeks later.

7. How long does the relief last?

All patients are different. In general, we hope they last at least weeks to months. Some people have very few flares, meaning that they may need only one injection over a long period of time.
For many people, the changes in their back are gradually getting worse, meaning that they may need a few injections every year to control their symptoms.

8. What are the risks?

The risks are extremely low. However, anytime a needle is used, there is always a theoretical chance of bleeding, infection, nerve injury, and reaction to the medication. To make the risks as low as possible, it is important that we know your medication list, including blood thinners. We have to make sure you have no infections and take no antibiotics. During the procedure, we have many safety protocols, including use of an x-ray machine (fluoroscopy), contrast medication (to make sure the needle is in a safe position), and sterile preparation.

9. How many injections can I get?

Every patient is different. Generally speaking, patients can have about 3 – 4 injections safely a year. The steroid medications can increase blood sugar so we must be careful in patients with diabetes. They can also temporarily change how your body fights infection, which is another factor. If a patient receives too many steroids, there can be tissue weakening. As a result, we keep track of your procedures and try to give them when your pain is the most bothersome.

10. Will we have to do it again?

We will decide at your follow-up. If you have a partial response, it is possible we would consider a repeat. However, if your pain has changed, we may need to think about other procedures that are more appropriate.

For additional information regarding Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, please contact us or call (630) 226-1130.

“Fore” ways to Prevent Injury at the Start of the Golf Season

"Fore" Ways To Prevent Injury At The Start Of Golf Season

This is the year! Although I can’t promise you that this is the year your golf swing comes together, I can provide you with four tips on how to avoid injury while you try and get back into the “swing of things” at the start of the golf season.

Ways To Prevent Injury At The Start Of Golf Season

1. Warm up before you play

After a good night’s sleep or after spending many hours seated at work or school, key muscle groups used in the golf swing move less easily. Stretching and use of moderate repetitive motion before play increases muscle range of motion and muscle temperature – both of which prevent muscle injury and increase efficiency. Before your first swing, remember to try and warm up for approximately 10 minutes. Start by stretching your hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulder, back, hips and legs. After you’ve stretched these key areas, swing your golf club a few times, gradually increasing your speed and range of motion. This gradual repetitive motion will help coordinate and further stretch these muscle groups and help prevent injury.

2. Start slowly

If it has been several months since you have last swung a golf club, the first several club swings may not give you your desired result. Although it may be frustrating, remember to limit your initial time of play. It’s tempting to spend hours trying to fix that swing fault, but if your body isn’t conditioned for the strain, injury can easily happen. Remember to start slowly and work up to your desired level of activity.

3. Try to strengthen 2-3 times a week

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Americans should perform 2-5 hrs a week of aerobic exercise and 2 days of strength training. Strength training not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also helps prevent muscle injury. A great way to help achieve these goals and prevent injury in the golf swing is to focus on strength training golf swing muscles. Fortunately, you don’t need to build large muscles to have an injury free golf season or to have a great golf swing. After all, per PGA statistics, Rory McIIroy is the current FedEx Cup leader; he stands 5’10” tall, weighs 160 lbs and has an average driving distance of 312 yds.

4. Carrying the golf bag properly

Walking the golf course rather than driving a golf cart during play is a great source of aerobic activity that helps improve cardiovascular strength and stamina. However, carrying a golf bag improperly can lead to increased low back strain. Most carry golf bags have 2 straps; make sure that you wear both straps when carrying your bag to evenly distribute the weight of the bag across the back and reduce the chances of developing low back pain from an uneven load.

For additional information regarding Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, please call us at (630) 226-1130.

Minimize Pain & Maximize Life – How Our Company Culture Supports Your Health

Minimize Pain & Maximize Life -- How Our Company Culture Supports Your Health

When it comes to the modern healthcare system, do you feel like you’re really being heard?

Or, do your appointments feel more like a sprint to the finish line where your doctor–who can’t even pry his eyes away from the computer screen–simply prescribes the latest narcotic or suggests a one-size-fits-all treatment?

If you agreed with the latter, then it’s time for a second opinion.

At Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians, we believe it’s not about us or how many patients we can fit in before lunch–it’s about you.

Our company culture revolves around making you feel comfortable, heard, and confident in our custom treatment plans that minimize pain so you can maximize life.

Curious how we make this work?

We Are Dedicated to the Treatment of Pain.

For over a decade, we do one thing and one thing only–treat pain.

Our facilities are dedicated to pain treatment and our physicians have undergone specialized training in the field of Pain Medicine with an additional five years of internship, residency, and accredited fellowship training.

Believe in a Team Approach to Pain.

Successful pain practices understand the complexity of treating pain. Being in chronic pain can negatively impact the health of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and the brain. At Gateway, we have worked hard to create a close network of reputable, ethical, and caring medical specialists. We understand that there is no one treatment that works for everyone. We also understand that we do not always have the tools to treat every situation. Our network of providers allows us to find solutions for the most complex cases of chronic pain.

We Do the Right Thing

Since 2007, we’ve established a reputation for doing what’s right for our patients–not what pays.

We believe that everyone’s problem is unique and deserves a thorough analysis and tailor-made treatment plan. This doesn’t just give our patients more confidence, it also leads to better results.

We Keep Our Finger on the Pulse of Our Industry

Because we are so specialized, we are able to keep up-to-date on the latest cutting edge treatments and technologies for identifying and targeting pain.

Our treatments include minimally invasive procedures, physical therapy, counseling, holistic/integrative medicine, and more advanced surgical techniques. With the opening of our regenerative medicine clinic, Gateway continues to be a leader in using advanced treatments for pain.

With the spreading epidemic of pain medication addiction and abuse, we seek to minimize and even eliminate the use of potentially habit-forming medications wherever possible.

So, are you ready to experience the true meaning of specialized pain treatment?

For additional information regarding Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, please visit or call (630) 226-1130.

Alleviating Back Pain While Decorating for the Holidays

Alleviating Back Pain While Decorating for the Holidays

The holiday season brings joy, laughter and celebration, but along with it comes tasks that cause additional stress and worsening chronic pain. Holiday decorating, for example, can cause some people to become overwhelmed, which often intensifies their symptoms.

At Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, our goal is to provide you with simple, helpful tips to get you through the holiday season and allow you to begin the New Year feeling great.

1. Lift Correctly

Holiday decorating usually entails getting boxes from an attic or basement and hauling them to the main level. These boxes can get quite heavy after accumulating decorations year after year, so you need to focus on lifting properly in order to not damager your back or any fragile decorations. When lifting boxes, be sure to keep your back straight, utilize your abdominal muscles, and lift from your legs.

2. Always Use a Ladder

Although you may be able to stand on your toes and reach in order to hang a decoration, it is often safer to utilize a ladder or a stepladder instead of overstretching and risking getting back pain or neck pain.

Another helpful tip: use your ladder safely.  Before climbing up those stairs, ask yourself if your balance is good enough to stand on a ladder. If you decide it is, make sure that the ladder is stable and have someone hold the base to prevent it from tipping over. If changing positions laterally, be sure to move the ladder instead of trying to reach. Not only can reaching out put strain on your muscles, but it can also cause your ladder to tip over.

3. Make accommodations for decorating high and low surfaces.

If you’re decorating a surface lower than you can comfortably reach while standing, sit on a chair or stool if possible so you aren’t bending as often. For higher surfaces, consider placing the box of decorations on a table or chair so you are not constantly bending over to grab items. Again, always be sure to use proper lifting techniques.

4. Make it a family activity.

If the whole family helps out, the projects will get done quicker and you won’t be putting as much stress on yourself. For higher decorations, have one person stand on the ladder while another hands them the decorations. Getting help from the whole family also allows everyone the opportunity to take breaks and to switch activities so no one is stuck sitting or standing the entire time.

For additional information regarding Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, please visit or call (630) 226-1130.

Holiday Shopping and Alleviating Back Pain

Holiday Shopping and Alleviating Back Pain

Don’t Shop Until You Drop

Some patients have complained that they don’t know what hurts worse, how light their wallet gets during the holidays or the aches and pains associated with shopping. We may not be able to help you with your wallet, however we can give you some tips to avoid pain while shopping.

1. Dress Appropriately

Before you leave your house be sure you are wearing loose, comfortable clothing and supportive shoes. The type of shoe you choose drastically impacts your posture, therefore you should stray away from high heels or flip flops and consider tennis shoes instead. Also, be sure to leave your large bulky purses at home and opt for something smaller like a wristlet or cross-body bag. Heavy purses add extra stress to your muscles and cause you to shift your posture in order to compensate for the extra weight. If you must carry a lot of items, consider utilizing a back pack which will distribute the weight more evenly across your shoulders.

2. Pack Healthy Snacks

While you are at home, pack nutritious snacks that will help you keep energized and allow you to avoid the long lines at the food court. Fast food often leaves people feeling lethargic, so consider avoiding it altogether and opt for healthier options instead. Examples of snacks you could pack are almonds, dried fruit, string cheese, pumpkin seeds or an apple! Also, be sure to take time to drink water throughout the day so you can stay hydrated and feeling great.

3. Rest

Shopping for the holidays can be an all-day affair, so be sure to take breaks to sit down and relax. Consider taking a 10 minute break every couple hours to rest your feet and stretch. This is the perfect time to look over your shopping list and cross off items you already purchased.

4. Consider shopping online

Now that so many stores are offering online shopping, often you can find equal or better prices online than you can in the physical stores. Not only does this allow you to shop from the comfort of your own home, but it also alleviates the stress of going to the mall and carrying around all of your packages. Be sure to sign up for each stores email alerts in order to receive any coupons, free shipping, and discounts they may have.

For additional information regarding Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, please visit or call (630) 226-1130.

Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians earns AAAASF accreditation for patient safety

Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians earns AAAASF accreditation for patient safety

Bolingbrook, IL — Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians in Bolingbrook, IL has demonstrated its commitment to patient safety by gaining accreditation from the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). AAAASF is celebrating its 35th year of promoting the highest quality patient safety in the ambulatory surgery setting (office-based or outpatient), as well as rehabilitation and outpatient therapy agencies and rural health clinics.

AAAASF requires 100 percent compliance with all accreditation standards and does not offer partial accreditation. If a facility fails to meet any standard, it must correct the deficiency or risk denial or loss of accreditation.

“Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated team, we are very excited to receive AAAASF accreditation for our office based procedure suite. By achieving this benchmark, we ensure the highest level of care and safety within the comfort and convenience of an office setting,” stated founder and President of Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians, Dr. John Hong, M.D.

To earn its accreditation, Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians passed inspection on hundreds of important criteria concerning patient safety. AAAASF facility inspectors are board certified medical specialists trained to perform a thorough and complete facility inspection. AAAASF facility inspectors follow a regimented procedure to inspect an outpatient surgery facility in the following categories:

  •  General Environment
  •  Operating Room Environment, Policy and Procedures
  •  Recovery Room Environment, Policy and Procedures
  •  General Safety in the Facility
  •  Blood and Medications
  •  Medical Records
  •  Quality Assessment and Quality Improvement
  •  Personnel
  •  Anesthesia

“The AAAASF accreditation reflects a level of safety provided by a hospital setting, but at a fraction of the cost and with greater time efficiency.  We hope this adds another level of comfort and reassurance to our patients when choosing us for their care at a time of their greatest discomfort,” stated Dr. Nitin Malhotra, M.D.

Gateway Spine & Pain Physicians is a comprehensive pain management practice serving the greater Chicago region since 2007.  The physicians at Gateway are double board certified, fellowship trained pain specialists that provide individualized, compassionate care.  Their goal is to provide a level of care that exceeds expectations, accurately diagnosing and treating pain quickly and effectively to restore quality of life and functionality.  Gateway Spine & Pain Physicans has offices in Bolingbrook, Hinsdale, and Downers Grove.

For additional information regarding Gateway Spine and Pain Physicians, please visit or call (630) 226-1130.