Common Causes of Neck Pain

Neck PainMany of us will experience neck pain one time or another in our life. Whether it feels like a minor “kink” in the neck, chronic stiffness or severe pain from an injury, it’s always important to address the source.

As a very vulnerable part of the spine, the neck is susceptible to injury. Sources of neck pain are typically due to spine, muscle ligament and nerve injuries. Neck pain can be acute or chronic. Acute neck pain comes on suddenly due to an injury and the pain usually resolves within several days or weeks as the injury heals. Chronic neck pain, on the other hand, lasts longer than three months and may be the cause of structural changes in the spine from degenerative diseases.

Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of neck pain:

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Stinger from a Sports Injury

A stinger, also known as a burner, is an injury to the nerves that are located from your neck down into your arm most commonly occurring during contact sports, such as football.

Symptoms include a burning or stinging feeling, arm or shoulder numbness, weakness or a tingly sensation. They usually get better on their own within a few days, but additional therapy may be necessary to aid in recovery.

Strain from Whiplash

Neck strains often occur when the head and neck are forcibly moved during a car accident causing whiplash injury. Whiplash can also occur from sports injuries or amusement park rides. Pain may start immediately after the injury or it could even take up to a few days to develop. Additional symptoms of whiplash include stiffness, headaches and feeling dizzy.

Fracture from Impact

As the most serious neck injury, a fracture means that a vertebra has been broken. Fractures occur from a high-force impact, such as from a car crash, fall or serious sports impact and can cause serious pain, numbness or even paralysis.

But even without a specific injury, neck pain can occur.

Strain from Sleeping

Sudden minor neck movements usually cause minor ligament sprains or muscular strains where the muscles become tight and painful. But this can also be caused by sleeping with your neck in an awkward position at night.

Stress Spasms

When stressed, some people respond by tensing up the muscles of their neck, shoulders, and upper back. Chronic spasm in these muscles can cause neck pain and even lead to headaches.

Degenerative Disease

Breakdown of spinal structures from arthritis and other degenerative diseases can cause pressure on the spinal cords or nerves leading to chronic or occasional neck pain.

Bulging Spinal Disk Pressure

Pressure on spinal nerves can be caused by bulging spinal disks. As a natural result of aging or repeated small injuries to the neck, this kind of pressure causes tingling, pain, or numbness that spreads throughout the neck into the shoulder, arm, or hand on one side.

Treatment for Neck Pain Available at eMedical Urgent Care

As always, a medical examination by a qualified physician is necessary to identify the cause of your pain and determine the appropriate course of treatment. Be prepared to discuss symptoms and your medical history as well as perform simple neck movements to assess muscular strength, join motion and stability.

Additional tests, such as X-rays, bone scans, CT or MRI scans, may by ordered to identify the source of your neck pain. And although neck pain is typically treated with non-surgical methods such as medication, rest and physical therapy, but if neck pain symptoms progress, there are a variety of other treatments we can discuss with you.

Treatment for Neck Pain is available now at eMedical Urgent Care. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, and Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

7 Secrets Every eMedical Urgent Care Physician in NJ Wants You to Know

Urgent Care Physician in NJWhether you wake up sick on New Year’s Day, take a spill on the ice or need a fast physical eMedical Urgent Care is your best bet to get treated quickly. But there are probably some things you didn’t know about us. Here are seven secrets every eMedical Urgent Care physician in NJ wants you to know:

7 Secrets Every Urgent Care Physician in NJ Wants You to Know

1. You Don’t Need an Appointment

The next time your regular doc tells you it will be months before you can get an appointment, walk-in and see us; we may be able to help. We offer complete urgent care, onsite laboratory and X-ray services at both of our centers and we’ll even electronically send your visit information to your primary care doctor on request. No appointment necessary.

2. We’ll Even See You on a Holiday

Illnesses and injuries don’t take a holiday vacation. Which is why we’re open seven days a week, including holidays! Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and other national and religious holidays, we’re open!

Our Berkeley Heights clinic is normally open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week. The Middletown clinic is normally open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

3. You May Be Surprised By What We Can Treat

If you’re concerned about a fracture or broken bone, the ER is not your only choice. We are equipped with state-of-the-art X-ray technology so our staff can explore every possible source of your pain during the visit. We’ll also provide IV fluids for dehydration and routine annual physicals that you may need to get quickly for work, school or a sports team.

4. We Provide Workplace Health Services

As a full-service, physician-staffed resource for workplace medicine, we’re here to support New Jersey employers. From medical exams and pre-employment testing to D.O.T. physicals and worker’s compensation services, we’ll help you custom-design a workplace program, provide compliance support and manage costs.

5. You Won’t Wait Long

At eMedical, you’ll receive the same quality care you’d receive at an emergency room…but without the long wait and expenses. Since emergency rooms attract people with life-threatening ailments, you could be waiting as long as 4 hours before being seen by a physician. Our pledge is that you’ll be seen by one of our professional providers within 30 minutes on average.

6. We Offer Autism-Friendly Services

eMedical Urgent Care has specially trained staff and an autism-friendly urgent care examination room located away from the bustling nurses’ station and public waiting area. Our autism-friendly urgent care room is equipped with iPad apps that help our staff communicate with patients who have autism as well as others who may have verbal impairments.

7. No Insurance? No Worries.

If you don’t have insurance, we offer affordable prices though our eCard membership. This discounted cost for your office visit is only $89 (compared to the usual office visit cost of $140-183).

Find Your Trusted Urgent Care Physician in NJ at eMedical

Looking for a trusted Urgent Care Physician in NJ? eMedical Urgent Care has two locations in New Jersey, both of which are prepared to handle the full spectrum of you and your family’s urgent care needs. From pediatrics to work physicals to those unfortunate accidents that may result in a sprain or even broken bones, we provide the best medical care. Fast.

Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, and Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

Tips for Identifying and Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration

Some say, “By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.” Staying hydrated is very Heat Exhaustionimportant in the hot New Jersey summer months, especially if your body is trying to fight off an illness, if you’re engaging in physically activity, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

eMedical Urgent Care can help you understand and identify the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses, how to treat them and (most importantly) how to protect yourself and your child against the dangers of becoming dehydrated in the first place. So, grab your water bottle and read on to enjoy a hydrated and happy summer.

Dehydration

Signs of dehydration do in fact include the sensation of thirst and a dry mouth (cotton mouth) as well as dry skin, decreased or yellow urine, headaches and dizziness. Severe dehydration also can cause extreme thirst, fatigue, irritability and confusion. Since your body can lose fluids through sweat, urination, diarrhea or vomiting, it’s best to replenish before activity, at regular intervals during and continue drinking water after exercise.

Dehydration can be expressed as the loss of percentage of body weight. Scientists define dehydration as fluid losses greater than only one percent. Water is lost first from the blood, which is 90% water. (Dehydration can become fatal when 9-12% of your body weight is lost via fluids.) On the average, water makes up 60 to 70% of your body weight. Different cells contain different percentages of water, for example: muscle cells are 70 to 75% water whereas fat cells are only 10 to 15% water. Therefore, a muscular person will have a larger percentage of his or her body weight coming from water.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is a condition that generally includes intense sweating and an increased heart rate due to your body’s response to overheating. It is usually caused from a prolonged exposure to hot temperatures (especially when involved in physical activity and high levels of humidity).

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Intense sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness / fainting
  • Significant increase in heart rate
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Sudden headache

Other Heat-Related Illnesses

In addition to heat exhaustion, untreated dehydration can lead to two other heat-related illnesses including heat cramps and heat stroke. Heat cramps are the least aggressive of the three and include painful cramps of the abdominals, arms or legs. Heat stroke requires immediate care and includes severe symptoms such as 104 temperature or higher, nausea, vomiting, seizures, disorientation, lack of sweating, shortness of breath, unconsciousness and could even lead to a coma.

Don’t Let Your Body Fool You, Stay Hydrated!

It’s even easier to dehydrate during the hot summer months when sweat evaporates faster and losing large amounts of fluids might not be as noticeable. According to the old rule of thumb, drink eight glasses of water per day (some experts recommend even more), but you also can quench your thirst by consuming hydrating foods (all of which are at least 90% water by weight) including: cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and cantaloupe.

Replenish Fluids and Electrolytes

Remember, anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. If you or a loved one experience any of the symptoms above, it is important to seek shade, rest and drink plenty of hydrating fluids. Extreme dehydration and heat stroke are medical emergencies that require immediate attention, possibly including a saline IV. Don’t ever hesitate to seek medical attention from the doctors at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Preventing the Common Cold

Although the common cold is not life threatening, it can cause a disruption in your daily routine, sleep and even work productivity…and yes, they even occur during the carefree summer months. Prevention is key.

Preventing Summertime Sickness

According to the CDC, proper handwashing can prevent the spread of microbes (also known as germs) that can cause disease.

Hand Washing Routinereading-sick-child-best-medicine-1 (1)

Always wash your hands before eating, after your children play outside and whenever coming home after being in public. Germs are everywhere and simply by washing your hands, you can prevent the common cold. It’s common knowledge that washing your hands often and well is the best way to prevent disease transmission, but unfortunately too many simply rinse with running water while ignoring the importance of soaping up. Proper hand washing should take at least 20 seconds of thorough soap scrubbing.

According to Global Handwashing, germs than can cause diseases lodge in dirt, grease, and the natural oils on hands. Water alone does not dislodge them, but adding soap helps break down germ-carrying oils, and soap facilitates rubbing and friction which can remove germs form the hands, and can then be rinsed away with water. Hand sanitizer can help for on-the-go cleanliness.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water! Especially during the summer months, staying hydrated is vital to staying healthy. Make sure your children are drinking at least 6-8 ounces of water a day; and remember to replace lost sweat with extra liquids. A healthy diet and proper hydration keeps your body’s immune system functioning efficiently. Staying hydrated also goes a long way in maintaining long-term health.

Be Aware

When you’re in public there’s no doubt you will come in contact with some foreign bacteria. If you’re in a crowded public area, be sure to take extra care of other people. Colds are contagious so be sure to avoid sneezers and coughers at all costs; wash your hands immediately after being in contact with an individual who may be ill.

Good Night’s Sleep

Make sure your children get a good night’s sleep to help prevent pesky summertime sicknesses. A recent study showed that those who get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep (10 hours for children) are more likely to become ill. Sleep is important for everyone and critical for your body to recover.

Visit eMedical Urgent Care

If your child is suffering from a summertime cold, you have options. eMedical Urgent Care is staffed with board-certified and pediatric-trained physicians who deliver friendly and compassionate NJ pediatric urgent care to patients of all ages. Most of our physicians are parents too – so we understand firsthand the importance of keeping our tiny humans happy and healthy! If your child has cold symptoms that won’t go away, it could be allergies or something worse than just a cold. Don’t take the risk; visit the eMedical offices in Middletown or Berkeley Heights NJ today.

6 Facts About Poison Ivy That You Didn’t Know

It’s summertime, which means we’re spending more time outdoors. But with the return of fun in the sun and the warm weather, we also must face the summer spoilers – mosquitoes, sun burn and those itchy, rash-inducing plants: Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac.

posion ivy poison oak poison sumacPoison ivy and poison oak can grow in numerous locations in the continental United States, including open areas, wooded areas and even in your own back yard depending on where you live. Hawaii and Alaska are the only states that do not have this irritating plant. It’s also becoming more prevalent and toxic over the past several years possibly due to climate changes. Researchers are trying to link higher levels of carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures as a cause.

Most Americans have either suffered from the itchy rash following exposure to poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac — or they know someone who has. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the population will have an allergic reaction when exposed to the oil, known as urushiol, found in the roots, stems, berries and leaves of the plant.

Once the urushiol touches your skin, it quickly penetrates and binds, causing a rash known as toxicodendron dermatitis. It usually begins as itchiness and redness, which then develops into a red, blistering rash. It can surface as early as one hour after exposure or take as long as 48 hours. Milder cases of the dermatitis can last five to 12 days, while a more severe case may take several weeks to resolve.

An allergic reaction can occur by direct contact with the plant or when you touch objects that are contaminated with the oil, like your clothes, gardening gloves, shoes or tools. Therefore, it’s important to wash contaminated clothes separately and to wash your tools after use.

6 Facts About Poison Ivy You Didn’t Know

  • Urushiol remains active up to five years — even after the plants have died and withered. Because of this, care must be taken when handling these plants, even in the cold months of the winter. The oil can even be found in smoke produced by burning plants and is extremely harmful to the lungs if inhaled.
  • Pets may not be allergic to urushiol but they can get it into their fur and unsuspecting owners can be exposed to the oil when they pet Fido.
  • Rarely does a rash occur with the first exposure to urushiol. However the second exposure can cause a mild to severe allergic reaction. Unfortunately, you won’t become desensitized to the allergen with repeated exposure.
  • The allergic reaction can’t be spread by scratching the rash and breaking the fluid-filled blisters. However, scratching can cause your skin to become infected.
  • It can’t be spread from person to person; only exposure to urushiol can start the rash.
  • The rash doesn’t spread on the body despite appearances. Instead, the areas that are more sensitive to urushiol or have been in contact with more oil will break out first, while the less-sensitive areas will take longer to develop the rash.

Treating the Rash
Treatment of toxicodendron dermatitis varies due to the severity of the allergic rash. Wash the affected areas as quickly as possible after exposure with isopropyl alcohol, if available, or cool water and a soap that breaks down oil, like a dish detergent. Don’t use hot water because it will allow the oil to penetrate through open skin pores. The oil can be removed in the first 10 to 20 minutes after contact but after an hour it has penetrated into your skin. Products like Tecnu and Zanfel also can prevent an allergic reaction.

If you have a mild case, after washing as described above, if you have a rash, apply a topical steroid cream after showering. Be careful using it on your face, however. You can calm the itch by taking Benadryl or other antihistamines like Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin. Calamine lotion or oatmeal baths also may offer some relief. NSAIDs, such as Motrin, Advil or Aleve, can help relieve the inflammation of the rash.

Signs You Should Seek Medical Attention
For moderate to serious dermatitis, you should consult with your doctor or seek help from eMedical Urgent Care. When the itching becomes intolerable, it’s time to see a doctor, who may prescribe a two- to three-week course of oral steroids.
Other signs you should seek medical attention include:

  • Severe blistering and swelling especially of your face, throat or the genitals
  • Fever, pus in the blisters, or red, painful swelling of your skin
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

How to Prevent Exposure
The best means of prevention is to learn how to identify the toxic plants and avoid them. Rhymes such as “Leaves of three, let them be” can help you identify poison ivy and oak, which can grow as a creeping vine with “hair-like” roots or as a shrub. Poison sumac grows in areas of standing water as a large shrub or small tree with leaf clusters of 7 to 13 leaves with black spots.

When working or hiking in areas that have these poisonous plants, decrease your exposure risk by wearing gloves, long pants, long sleeves and closed shoes. Use care when removing your clothing so you don’t rub the oil from your clothes onto your skin, and wash contaminated clothes separately.

A moment taken for prevention can prevent weeks of irritation.

Jane Sennett, DO, is the medical director for eMedical Urgent Care, formerly known as eMedical Offices (EMO). She joined eMedical Urgent Care in 2014. She is board-certified in emergency medicine. Dr. Sennett earned her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her emergency medicine residency at Union Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Sennett holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Rutgers University. She also is an attending physician at Overlook Medical Center- Union Campus and Robert Wood University Hospital at Rahway.

Common High Heel Injuries and How to Prevent Them

OK, we understand fashion comes with a price and fancy footwear is one of the ultimate accessories! Sure, they look great…but do they really feel all that great? Sometimes wearing the wrong shoe can even be dangerous. So, although they may be stylish, it’s important to understand the risks and potential harm that high heels can cause. Stats show that high heels are one of the biggest factors leading to foot problems in women – with a third suffering permanent problems from prolonged wear. Thankfully, the emergency physicians at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, New Jersey, can help you treat many high heel-related injuries including sprains and strains.

Injuries from High Heels on the Rise

Research shows that high-heeled shoe injuries have nearly doubled in the past 11 years in the United States. Sprains and strains to the foot and ankle are among the most common fashionable footwear complaints. Most injuries happen to individuals in their 20s and 30s, and it doesn’t take multiple studies to tell us that walking on high heels can cause discomfort in the lower leg, ankles and feet.

High Heel Hangover

The American Osteopathic Association states that one in 10 women wear high heels at least three days a week (and 1/3 have fallen while wearing them!). Heels can inhibit the movement of our ankle muscles and reduce our range of motion…and they’re also harder to balance. This day-after foot pain (“High Heel Hangover”) can cause all sorts of foot problems.

Ankle Sprains or Fractures

Ankle sprains and fractures occur most often when wearing high heels that are too tall and have a very thin heel. Foot fractures are pretty common in women who wear heels. Perhaps the streets are just a little too uneven and your new high heels aren’t quite as sturdy as you thought resulting in a tumble. Hopefully it’s just your ego that gets bruised—but did you know that falling in high heels can cause a misalignment in your mid foot, called a foot fracture?

Repeat after us: “higher is not always better.” When choosing the perfect heel for your night out, look for a shoe with a shorter, thicker heel.

A shorter high heel can be just as effective and stylish as a taller one. If you’re concerned that you may have fractured your foot after a fall, visit eMedical Urgent Care for an evaluation; no appointment necessary.

Chronic Back Pain

This may come as a surprise, but high heels do not fit the natural shape of your foot. Because high heels force your balance to the balls of your feet, your back has to make up for this shift in weight by throwing off your body’s alignment and adding extra stress and strain on your lower back. Over time, this can cause chronic back pain. Back pain ranks as the No. 2 reason people see a doctor but thankfully some of this pain can be prevented by simply choosing the proper footwear.

Don’t Pay the “High” Heeled Price

If you wear high heels day every day, it can take a toll on your entire body. But you don’t have to give up your heels completely, just choose sensible heels (1.5 inch or less) and a wide base to spread the weight more evenly. Your feet are literally your base of support, so if they’re not happy, nothing above them will be happy either! Consider an insole to reduce the impact on your knees, alternate your shoes from one day to the next and remember to take time to stretch your calf, leg and lower back muscles daily. And remember, eMedical provides great care when you need it (open 7 days a week, without the long waits and expenses) in two locations: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and Middletown, New Jersey.

Don’t Let Sports Injuries Sideline Your Season

By eMedical Urgent Care

Behind every good athlete is a great physician. During a sports physical at the Middletown EMO or Berkeley Heights EMO, any bone, muscle or head injury history to-date is thoroughly reviewed and examined to keep athletes in top shape for the upcoming season. However, tackles, tumbles and falls are bound to happen.

Stunts and plays don’t always go as planned and someone is left on the injured list. Sports-related injuries – minor or major – are inevitable, but how you react will determine the long-term effects of your injury. Often athletes try to finish the game by “pushing through” the pain. While determination and heart are commendable attributes athletes possess, it also is smart to seek medical attention; don’t let one game be your last game.
The following are three most common sports-related injuries, their symptoms and treatments.

Bone Fractures

A fracture is a break in a bone. Fractures can be simple or complex in multiple pieces. The fracture can bleed into the surrounding tissue, resulting in bruising and, in severe cases, a limb-threatening condition called compartment syndrome. The fracture also can injure adjacent nerves, tendons or blood vessels.

Signs of a Fracture

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Deformity
  • Numbness

If you experience any of these symptoms it is best to seek medical attention. During your visit to eMedical Urgent Care in Middletown NJ or Berkeley Heights NJ, a doctor will perform a physical examination. If a fracture is strongly suspected and not seen on X-ray, a CT scan may be recommended. If needed, the doctor will recommend seeing an orthopedic surgeon.

Concussions

Concussion occurs after head trauma and results in headache, confusion, loss of consciousness or other neurological symptoms without any abnormality on a CT scan. Second impact syndrome occurs when a second concussion takes place before the first improves and can result in severe or persistent symptoms and, rarely, brain swelling or death.

Signs of a Concussion

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Double Vision
  • Vertigo

After getting hit in the head it is expected that a headache would follow. However, when sustaining a head injury it is best to visit eMedical Urgent Care or your local emergency department to rule out a traumatic brain injury. When visiting our EMO office in Middletown or Berkeley Heights, a physician will perform a physical examination. A CT scan and/or MRI may be ordered to rule out any serious brain injuries as indicated.  If needed, our physician will recommend seeing a neurologist.

Lacerations

Lacerations are cuts to the skin. Lacerations can be simple, involving only the skin, or complex, with injury to tendons, nerves and/or blood vessels. With tendon lacerations there is weakness in the movement of the affected limb or appendage, and with nerve damage, numbness is experienced in areas away from the location of the laceration.

Signs of a Laceration

  • Cut
  • Bleeding
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

If you have a cut that won’t stop bleeding after being covered with a bandage for a few hours, you should head to either the Middletown or Berkeley Heights eMedical Urgent Care center.  A history and physical exam will be performed with special attention to blood vessels, nerve and tendon functions to evaluate the injury. An X-ray may be done to rule out a foreign body. Simple lacerations may require only a bandage or sutures may be necessary. More complex lacerations may require repair of tendons, nerves and/or arteries. A tetanus vaccination may be recommended.

As long as there are athletes there will be injuries. eMedical Urgent Care asks that you play responsibly. From pee-wee football to varsity to rec league, our doctors can treat a variety of sports-related injuries quickly and competently. And, should you need a sports physical for the next season, we can do that too.

If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care Middletown and Berkeley Heights are open during the evening hours to treat walk-in patients. If you have questions about medical conditions, download iTriage from the iTunes or Android Marketplace, or check out iTriageHealth.com for your healthcare answers.