Conditions Breakdown

We understand that every individual’s condition is unique and complex, and we take that into account as we evaluate our patients. We hope that by providing you with some basic information, you may be better informed about your own health. You can also learn about the different kinds of injury and pain by clicking here.

We will carefully evaluate and, if necessary, run any tests (such as an MRI or X-ray) to help us get to the root of your problem. A proper diagnosis is critical to establishing the most effective treatment plan so that you can live a healthier, happier life.

Lower Back
Wrist, Elbow and Shoulder
Hip and Knee
Foot and Heel

Lower Back Pain

Back pain has become increasingly prevalent, not helped by the simultaneously stressful and sedentary lives many of us lead. Pain in the low back is the most common as it supports the most weight.

Causes and Contributing Factors

There are many different issues that can contribute to or cause back pain. Oftentimes, the pain either comes on gradually or is preceded by the progressive weakening of the structures in the back. You may have been sitting or standing in a way that is detrimental to your spine, and this stress builds up and eventually becomes painful (see more on Cumulative Trauma). Lifting or a sudden movement may trigger a sudden increase in the severity of pain. This is often the point where a chronic irritation (such as a degenerated disk) becomes a more urgent disability (ruptured or herniated disk).

Sources of back pain include:

  • Degenerated, ruptured or herniated disk
  • Muscle strain or spasm
  • Small fractures in the spine (often resulting from osteoporosis)
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Injury
  • Stress


Symptoms vary and depend on the source of your pain. Nerve problems often cause a tingling or burning sensation where musculoskeletal or structural problems generally cause more of an aching pain. Back pain may be dull or sharp and can be accompanied by weakness in the legs or other extremities.



Sciatica refers to pain beginning in the lower back and radiating down the buttock area, leg and sometimes all the way to the toes.

Causes and Contributing Factors

The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down through the lower leg. You begin to feel pain when this nerve is irritated or compressed, either as a result of an acute injury or long-term stress, [such as muscle tightness or poor posture. (See more on Cumulative Trauma Disorders) The compression is often a result of a herniated disk in the lower back.


  • Numbness and/or tingling beginning in the lower back and extending to the leg
  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, and/or various parts of the leg and foot


Neck Pain

Neck pain is similar to back pain in that its causes and symptoms vary depending on the source of the problem. Most
neck pain results from repetitive straining and consequent minor injury to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) of the neck. (See more on Cumulative Trauma Disorders) It may also be due to joint inflammation, or a degenerated or bulging disk.


Neck pain due to disk or nerve problems may cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, hand, or elsewhere. If your pain is due to a muscle strain or tension, you may feel stiff or sore.



Headaches can be broken down into four categories, and treatment methods will depend on your particular symptoms and condition. Marin Spine and Sports has had great success in treating headaches that were previously thought to be chronic.

Tension Headaches are the most common type of headache. They tend to be dull and achy and are often accompanied by tight muscles in the head, neck, scalp and jaw. This kind of headache can often be attributed to stress, anxiety and/or lack of sleep.

Migraines often cause people significant pain and distress and can be unpleasantly recurring. This kind of headache is associated with throbbing pain that can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. It can be so severe as to cause impaired vision, nausea and sensitivity to light and noise.

Cluster Headaches are less common headaches that strike fairly suddenly and can last anywhere from several minutes to a few hours. These headaches tend to occur in “cluster patterns,” meaning that they can come and go over a period of weeks. The pain has been described as sharp or penetrating and is usually localized to one side of the head. They can also be accompanied by teary eyes and congestion.

Sinus Headaches are, as indicated by the name, tied to sinus symptoms. These headaches are associated with pain and pressure in the head, neck and face along with sore throat and sneezing.


Wrist, Elbow and Shoulder Pain

Pain in the shoulder, elbow or wrist can be attributed to any of the three main causes of pain: Acute Trauma, Repetitive Stress or Other Illness/Condition.

Symptoms include

  • Pain exacerbated by movement extension of your arm or wrist
  • A painful grip
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Weakness in the arm or wrist
  • Stiffness or limited movement
  • Clicking or popping

Examples of common conditions that cause shoulder pain:

  • Adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder” – stiffness and reduced range of motion, usually resulting from an overuse injury
  • Impingement syndrome – abrasion or inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons
  • Examples of common conditions that cause wrist and elbow pain:
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow
  • Rotator cuff Tendonitis
  • Golfers Elbow


Hip and Knee Pain

Hip and knee pain is very common among athletes. It can be attributed to any of the three main causes of pain: Acute Trauma, Repetitive Stress or Other Illness/Condition.

Symptoms include

  • Pain exacerbated by walking or running
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Instability, feeling like your knee or hip “gives out”
  • Stiffness or limited movement
  • Clicking or popping

Examples of common conditions that cause hip and knee pain:

  • Iliotibial band syndrome – a hip disorder related to injury of the thick band that runs from your hip to the outside of your knee.
  • Patelleofemoral pain syndrome – pain under or around your kneecap
  • Torn Cartilage (Meniscus, ACL, MCL)
  • Tendonitis or Bursitis


Foot and Heel Pain

Foot pain is very common among athletes. It can be attributed to any of the three main causes of pain:
Acute Trauma, Repetitive Stress or Other Illness/Condition.

Symptoms include

  • Pain made worse when standing, walking or running
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Instability, feeling like your ankle “gives out”
  • Stiffness or limited movement
    Clicking or popping

Examples of common conditions that cause foot and heel pain:

  • Achilles tendonitis – pain along the Achilles tendon (tendon that runs along the heel to the base of your calf)
  • Plantar fasciitis – pain along the base of the heel and bottom of the foot
  • Metatarsalgia – pain at the ball of the foot associated with numbing, tingling and pain in the toes
  • Stress Fractures

To learn about the services we offer to treat these and other conditions, click here, or to make an appointment please call our office, (415) 924-1010.