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Oxford Valley Pain & Spine Center's Blog

Cupping – the “hot” Olympic treatment

ABC Olympic Photo

Anyone who has watched the Rio Olympics has noticed that a fair number of the athletes have red circles on their skin.  The red marks come from an ancient form of medicine known as cupping. The Egyptians used cupping as far back as 1,550 B.C.

In cupping, the doctor or health provider places unique cups on your skin for several minutes. The cups can be made out of glass, bamboo, silicone, or earthenware.

Cupping IS used for pain management, stress, better flow of blood, and for deep level massages. Cupping can be dry or moist.

The main steps of cupping are these:

  • The use of fire. The health provider uses alcohol, paper, herbs, or some flammable substance which is placed in the cup and seat afire. As the fire subsides, the therapist places the cup upside down on the patient’s skin.
  • When the air in the cup cools, a vacuum is created which causes the blood vessels to expand. The blood vessel expansion is what creates the red marks. The cup stays on your skin for about three minutes. Today, a rubber pump is sometimes used to create the vacuum instead of fire.

The vacuum is supposed to draw up non-circulating blood and sticky fluids so the healthier blood, cells, nutrient, and oxygen can circulation underneath. This shift in circulation helps people who have muscle pain and bruises.

In wet cupping, the doctor or therapist makes small cuts in the skin with a scalpel – after the cup is removed. A second cup is then used to draw out some of the blood.

Patients normally get 3-5 cup treatments per session. The treated areas are also treated with an antibiotic salve and/or a bandage to prevent infection.

For questions about cupping, please all our Oxford Valley Pain and Spine office in Langhorne, PA. We do cupping treatments. We can be reached at 215.741.4410.

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Lumbar Steroid Injections – Results and Side Effects

Lumbar Steroid Injections – Results

Injections can help relieve pain for a short period of time. They are not a long-term solution.


As with all medical procedures, there can be side effects. Side effects can include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and tearing of fluid that surrounds the spinal cord.

Because steroid injections can cause soft tissue damage, they are usually only given 3-4 times in the same spot in any given year.

The procedure is an out-patient procedure that takes about 30 minutes. You will be monitored for an additional 15-20 minutes after the procedure and then told to rest at home. We perform the procedure at our own ambulatory surgery center.

Women who are pregnant should be sure to inform their doctor before considering this procedure.

If your back is hurting, a lumbar steroid injection procedure may help manage the pain. Please call the Oxford Valley Pain and Spine Center at 215.741.4410 to schedule an appointment. We are located in Langhorne, PA. We treat patients from Levittown, Newtown, Doylestown, Norristown, Philadelphia, Trenton, and the surrounding regions.

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Lumbar Steroid Injections

Why is the procedure used?

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is used to relieve the pain from lumbar spinal stenosis.

What is the procedure?

An ESI consists of two parts:

A corticosteroid. This is a strong anti-inflammatory medicine. It can help relieve swelling and reduce inflammation which, in turn, can reduce nerve and soft tissue pressures. Reducing these pressures reduces pain. It takes longer than the anesthetic to provide relief.

A local anesthetic pain relief medicine. This medicine is aimed to provide immediate pain relief.  It does not reduce the inflammation.

An ESI is injected into the space around the spinal cord (within the spinal canal) and nerve roots (epidural space).

Before the ESI is performed, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests and CT (Computed Tomography) scans are often done to help determine the exact location where nerve roots are being squeezed. During the injection, an X-Ray machine (called a fluoroscope) is often used to guide placement of the needles so the injection can be properly targeted.

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Herniated Disc – Causes and Symptoms

What is a herniated disc. A herniated disc happens when the soft, spongy material that cushions (shock absorbs) the bones of the spine (vertebrae) slips out of place, breaks open, or becomes. damaged. Other names include slipped disc or ruptured disc. The most common place for a herniated disc is in the lower back.

When a herniated disc presses on a nerve, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness.

What are the causes of herniated disc? The two main causes are aging and injury. As we age, the discs can become dry and less flexible. An injury causes the gel in the disc to escape through the tears and cracks caused by the injury.

What are the symptoms? If the herniated disc presses on a nerve; then the nerve contact can cause pain, weakness, and tingling in the nerve area. Some patients experience back ache. In severe cases, you may lose bladder or bowel control. Pain in the buttocks and legs is called sciatica.

How is a herniated disc diagnosed? Through the oral examination with your doctor and usually through an MRI or CT Scan.

What are the treatments? Treatments vary.

  • Sometimes rest and waiting until the injury heals can remedy the problem. Rest should be monitored since too much rest can weaken muscles.
  • Exercises and physical therapy can help.
  • Medications don’t cure the problem but they can help manage symptoms.
  • Heat in the form of heating pads, hot showers, heat-packs and sometimes ice-packs may help.
  • About 10 percent of people with a herniated disc need to have a surgery.
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3rd Set of Pain Management Definitions

Here is the 3rd set of pain management definitions. As with all definitions, and all our posts, the information provided is educational only. Patients should contact our office and make an appointment with our doctors. Postings do not create a doctor-patient relationship.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A diagnostic procedure that uses magnetic fields, radio waves, and a computer. It may be used to help determine the source of the pain.
  • Myelogram: X-Ray procedure where a dye is injected into the spinal canal to determine the nerve roots.
  • Nerve Block. The injection of a nerve-numbing substance into a group of nerves.
  • Neuropathic. A nerve-related condition
  • NSAIDs. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. These help to reduce inflammation and manage pain. NSAIDs are available over the counter and through a prescription.
  • Opioids. Narcotic pain relievers.
  • Palliative Care. Palliative care (also known as comfort care) aims to offer relief to chronically ill or terminally ill people through pain management and symptom management.
  • Pharmacotherapy. Medication-based therapy.
  • Physical modalities. Physical methods, such as heat, cold, massage, or exercise, used to relieve pain.
  • Prosthesis. An artificial replacement of a body part. The goal of a prosthetic device is to mimic natural form and function.
  • Psychological Approaches. Techniques or therapies used of or in addition to medication to help you manage your pain. The focus is on the emotional triggers of pain. Examples of this approach include biofeedback, relaxation, stress management, and cognitive-behavior therapy.
  • Rehabilitation. Treatment plan used to help you regain function or relieve pain caused by an injury. Exercise is often a key component.
  • Tolerance. When the initial dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time.
  • Yoga. Complementary medical technique. It exercises the mind and body with meditation, postures, and breathing techniques that help manage pain. Stretching is a key component.


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2nd Set of Pain Management Definitions

Here is the second of three sets of pain management definitions.

If you need help with any pain management problems, please do not hesitate to call Oxford Valley Pain and Spine in Langhorne, PA. We offer comprehensive medical care for back, neck and spine pain. Please call 215.741.4410

  • Complementary Medicine. Treatment that falls outside the standard medical approaches. Complementary medicine techniques for pain include acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbs, and yoga.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan. Diagnostic procedure that uses computers and X-Ray technology.
  • Cryotherapy. Therapeutic use of cold to decrease discomfort, reduce swelling, or break a muscle spasm.
  • Conservative Management. An approach to treating pain that uses physical therapy, medications, and injections instead of surgery.
  • Fibromyalgia. Chronic disorder that causes pain and stiffness throughout the body including muscle pain, fatigue, and often depression.
  • Disc. The soft pad positioned inbetween each of the veterbrae of the spine. The vetebral disc acts as a shock absorber.
  • Hyperalgesia. Increased sensitivity to pain or enhanced intensity of pain sensation.
  • Inflammation. A reaction of tissues to injury or disease. Symptoms include swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
  • Joint. The junction of two or more bones. The joint allows for varying degrees of motion between the bones.
  • Ligament. Fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone at or near a joint. The ligaments provide joint stability. Torn or sprained ligaments can cause pain.
  • Lumbosacral. Relating to or near the small of the back part of the pelvis between the hips.
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Glossary of Pain Management Terms

Here are the definitions for a few common pain management terms. We will post more in subsequent blogs.

  • Acute.  Pain that can be intense but usually lasts for a short period of time, usually shorter than six (6) months. It usually relates to a bodily injury and ends when the injury heals.
  • Acupuncture. A medical technique that uses tiny needles inserted into the skin at certain points along the body to help manage pain, produce anesthesia or promote therapy.
  • Analgesic. A medication or treatment that manages or reduces pain.
  • Arthritis. A generic term that describes over 100 different conditions; a disorder  of a joint where two bones meet creating swelling, redness, warmth, or tenderness. It includes a loss of joint space and formation of spurs, erosions or cysts in the bone.
  • Cancer Pain. May be acute or intermittent pain. It is often related to tumor recurrence or treatment.
  • Central Nervous System. The brain and the spinal cord.
  • Chronic Pain. Pain that lasts months or years. It may get worse with time.

For questions about any pain issues, please contact our Langhorne pain management office by calling 215.741.4410. We treat Pennsylvania and New Jersey patients – mostly from Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia, and Mercer County.


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Chronic Pain. You are not alone.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than three (3) months or past the time of normal healing of tissue. Chronic pain can be caused by a medical disease, an injury, inflammation, or unknown causes.

The numbers and percentages of people who experience chronic pain in the United States are staggering. There are a variety of statistics and data that confirm that large numbers of people suffer from chronic pain. Here are just a few of the statistics:

  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002). This survey estimated that 14.6% of the population had widespread or localized pain lasting 3 months or more.
  • Centers for Disease Control. According to a survey noted by the CDC for the years 2001-2003, close to 43% of adults suffer from some sort of musculoskeletal pain such as arthritis, rheumatism, chronic neck pain or chronic back pain.
  • National Health Interview Study (2012). This study showed that 11.2 % of people suffer from some sort of daily pain.
  • American Academy of Pain Medicine. According to this organization, 100 million people suffer from chronic pain (Source. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies)
  • National Institute of Health Statistics. Chronic pain sufferers said that back pain was the most common pain (27%). Migraine pain (15%), neck pain (15%) and  other types of pain were also common.Back pain was the leading cause of disability for people under 45.
  • American Pain Foundation. Over 1/2 (51%) of the people with chronic pain felt they had little control over their pain.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, please contact our office. Our doctors are ready to help you diagnose and treat your pain. Our office is in Langhorne, PA. We see patients from Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia, the Trenton area.

You can call 215.741.4410 to schedule an appointment.

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Tips for Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by disc degeneration, spinal stenosis, or arthritis. Sometimes you just wake up one day with a stiff neck. Often neck pain happens over time as the wear and tear on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons mount.

If your neck pain is severe, please contact our office for medical advice. You can reach our Langhorne office by calling 215.741.4110.

Some tips that can help you if you have neck pain are:

1. Choose the right pillow. A good pillow should keep the natural curve of your neck and spine in place. A key factor is what position you use. If you like to lie on your back, then a flat pillow may help.

2. Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back generally stabilizes the spine the most. Placing small pillows under the arms may help. A wedge pillow may help if you sleep on an incline.

For people who sleep on their side, the pillow should be comfortable. It shouldn’t be too high.

3. If you work with a computer, the monitor should be eye-level. Moving your head up and down while you work puts a lot of strain on the neck. If you work with a laptop, consider connecting the laptop to stand-alone monitor. Laptops users tend to look down which strains the neck.

4. Minimize cell phone use and texting use. Like laptops, looking down is the norm for smartphone use. It’s better to work at eye level

5. Do neck exercises and stretches. A chin tuck exercise or turning the neck left, then right, then up, then down can help

6. Drink plenty of water. Fluids help keep the discs hydrated. Discs are made mostly of water. 8, yes eight, glasses of water each day are recommended. 2 glasses of water with each meal plus 2 others adds up to 8.

7. Minimize the weight you carry and distribute it evenly. Carrying a heavy briefcase or purse can put strain on the neck.

8. Watch your posture. Poor posture is another source of neck pain.

9. Try massages. Our office offers massage to our patients. Massages can lessen irritations to the facet joints.


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Workplace Safety Tips

Most companies should have a workplace safety strategy. It is best to review the workplace safety tips that your business has in place.

When companies fail to have plans of fail to enforce their plans, accidents can happen. At Oxford Valley Pain and Spine, our doctors are experienced pain management doctors who help employees who are injured on the job – if their injuries encompass the neck, back, or spine.

Some of the general workplace safety guidelines are as follows:

1. Existence of a well-thought out safety plan. All types of employees should be considered. Employees should have an avenue to point out problems to their supervisors.

2. Training of employees. Workers  should be trained on each element and phase of the safety plan.

3. Companies should study the likely dangers. This can include a thorough walk-through of the work location. It can include examining OSHA guidelines. It can also include researching safety studies for the service or industry involved.

4.  Proper safety equipment. Construction workers should have access to helmets, goggles, and the right clothing. Gloves, ear-muffs, and other equipment may be useful – depending on the types of work.

5. Proper staffing. Too much overtime work can lead to injury because the workers are exhausted. Additional part-time, seasonal, or full-time work can help.

6. Maintenance. Vehicles, heavy machinery, and all the equipment that is used should be regularly inspected.

7. Keep the workplace orderly. Loose objects, insecure railings, shelves that aren’t sturdy – can all cause an accident.

Our job as pain management doctors is to help injured workers manage their pain so they can work or properly diagnose their pain if they are unable to work again. For work safety advise, please speak to a lawyer or your employer. For medical help, please contact us at 215.741.4410. Our office is in Langhorne, PA.

We treat all types of workers. We see patients from Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.



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