Happy 4th of July! Hopefully you had a wonderful long weekend with friends and family. If you’re like most Americans, you probably did some traveling over the long weekend. Traveling can be a lot of fun, but not if your chronic pain flares up. Today, we share nine tips from our friends at Cleveland Clinic for managing chronic pain when you’re traveling and throughout your daily life.
The changing seasons can make inflammation and chronic pain flare up, and autumn is no different. Fall brings a host of new activities, like cleaning out the gutters, raking the leaves and putting up Halloween decorations. All of those activities are difficult on their own, let alone if you’re battling chronic pain.
Today, we’re going share some tips for managing chronic pain in the fall.
Autumn and Chronic Pain
Here are some ways to prevent chronic pain flare ups this season.
Stretch and Exercise – Before you jump into an activity, make sure your body is warmed up. If you don’t give your body time to get ready for physical activity, you’ll notice it in your joints. Even it’s something as simple as walking around your house or yard for five minutes before you begin, give your body time to warm up.
Dress Warm – Speaking of warming up, make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. As we saw in the last few weeks, autumn can bring 90 degree temperatures and 50 degree weather, so don’t just assume you’ll be warm enough with a T-shirt and shorts. It’s always easier to overdress and take a layer off than to find more layers if you’re away from your home. Keeping your appendages warm will ensure your blood circulates properly and your fingers and toes get the oxygen they need to avoid cramping or pain.
Ask For Help – If you’re having a particularly painful day, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member for help. Attempting to rake the whole yard can exacerbate pain if you overdo it. Additionally, it’s always nice to have a friend nearby if you have to get up on a ladder to reach the gutters or put up decorations. Not only can they stabilize the ladder, but they can take over if the pain is too great.
Pain Relievers – If you know you’re in for a day of physical activity, consider an over-the-counter pain reliever. Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Naproxen can help control inflammation, which is often the root cause of chronic pain. Be sure you know how your body reacts under these medications, and consult with your doctor if you are currently on any prescription medications before taking anything else.
Stop if you Feel Pain – If you’re dealing with chronic pain, odds are physical activity will bring about some discomfort, and that’s actually a good thing. You’re strengthening your muscles and naturally combating chronic pain, but if you start to feel dizzy, nauseous or sharp pain, stop what you’re doing. Take a break for a bit and see if a little rest helps the pain subside. If pain is just too much, schedule a consultation with a pain specialist.
September is Pain Awareness Month, and as the name implies, the goal of the month is to help raise awareness and spread the word about chronic pain. As we’ve stated before, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. We want to help share their stories and explain what they go through on a regular basis, so here’s more information about one of the leading causes of disability in America.
Chronic Pain Problems
Chronic pain can affect any part of your body. Below is a closer look at some areas that are commonly affected by chronic pain, and some of the symptoms that accompany those painful areas.
Chronic Arthritis – Arthritis pain is caused by inflammation in your joints, and millions of Americans suffer from chronic arthritis in their fingers, knees and toes. Most people associate arthritis pain with older individuals, but nearly 300,000 children suffer from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Chronic Headaches – Headaches and migraines are another chronic condition that can make it hard to go about your daily routine. Crippling or shooting pain in your head can be caused by a chemical imbalance or a poor diet. If exercise and diet modifications don’t stop the headaches, pain injections or other treatment options can provide temporary relief.
Chronic Back Pain – Chronic back pain is probably the condition I treat most at my clinic. Whether chronic pain develops from overuse or acute injury, it can make life extremely painful for the patient. Luckily, modern medicine continues to improve how we diagnose and treat back injuries. Through physical therapy, injections or even surgery, most people find some sort of pain relief.
Chronic Leg Pain – Chronic leg pain typically occurs when there is an issue with nerves in your legs and feet. Nerve issues in your leg can cause shooting pain in your legs and spine. Again, physical therapy and injections can help treat the issue, as well as surgery to remove the damaged nerves.
Chronic Neck Pain – Chronic neck pain typically sets in after an acute injury, like whiplash from a car accident or a sports injury. Neck pain can make it extremely painful to turn your head or preform routine activities. Treatment of whiplash typically involves rest, physical therapy, injections and strengthening exercises.
If you or someone you know deals with chronic pain on a regular basis, encourage them to seek out professional help. You shouldn’t have to live life in pain, so speak to a pain specialist today.
A pinched nerve is one of the more common reasons people experience back pain. Because your back is such a complex structure, it doesn’t take much for it to get out of whack. When there’s too much pressure on the nerve – be it from bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons – it can get compressed and cause pain. Although your back is one of the more common places for a pinched nerve to occur, compressed nerves aren’t isolated in your back. You can also suffer pinched nerves in your neck, legs and arms.
Symptoms of Pinched Nerve Pain
Common symptoms of a pinched nerve include:
- Numbness or decreased sensation in the affected area.
- Sharp, tingling or burning pain in the area.
- A tingling or a “pins and needles sensation” in the area.
- Muscle weakness.
- Shooting pain or sensation in the back, neck, arm or leg.
- Worsening pain while sleeping.
Movement can exacerbate or alleviate symptoms, but exercise and activity is almost always recommended. Movement will usually help loosen the tissues that are pressing on the affected nerve. As we’ve mentioned before, exercise and physical activity is great for combating pain-related conditions.
Treating Pinched Nerves
Unless pain is severely debilitating, most people try to let the condition heal on its own. As you might have guessed based on the above paragraph, physical therapy is one way people try to correct their pinched nerve. A PT can teach you specific exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles to relieve pressure on the nerve.
In additional to physical therapy/activity, a common treatment option for those suffering from a pinched nerve is anti-inflammatory medications. If inflammation is the root cause of the pressure, NSAIDs can be the perfect remedy. More often than not, though, anti-inflammatory medications need to be paired with other treatment options to fully fix the issue.
One final non-surgical treatment option for pinched nerves is a corticosteroid injection. The injection can minimize pain and discomfort as well as reduce inflammation in the area. If you have a fear of needles, the steroid can be taken orally as well.
Pinched Nerve Surgery
If your pinched nerve doesn’t improve after several weeks of conservative treatment, surgery may be your best bet. Surgery will free the nerve from its compressed state, and your doctor can remove scar tissue or problematic bones spurs that might be causing the condition.
As you might have guessed, the type of operation depends on where the nerve is located and what’s causing the compression. For example, a pinched nerve in the arm could be relieved by removing bone spurs, a compressed nerve in the back could be alleviated by removing a herniated disc, while a nerve issue in the wrist could be treated by cutting ligaments to give nerves more room to “breathe.”
If you have pain in your back, or you are experiencing similar symptoms in another part of your body, swing into a physical medicine specialist right away!
The Boston Marathon is underway, and although the winners have already crossed the finish line, thousands of other runners will soon complete their own 26.2 mile trek. Even if you’ve trained for months, running a marathon is sure to leave you feeling aches and pains in the coming days. To combat post-race pain, we’ve come up with a few tips to help prevent and alleviate pain after a long run.
Right After The Race
Although you’ll likely be looking for family and friends after you cross the finish line, there are also some steps you’ll want to take to within a few minutes of finishing. The first thing you’ll want to do is refuel, but it’s easier said than done. Your body isn’t going to be able to handle a big meal, but if you can get your hands on a banana, orange or energy bar, you’ll be able to help prevent post-race cramping. Once you’re back home, consider taking a cold bath to help destress your muscles. After that, you’re due for some much needed R and R, but try to get up and walk around a bit to keep your legs loose.
The First Few Days After The Race
You’re going to be pretty sore in the first few days after your marathon. To keep your muscles loose, soak in a warm bath for 10-15 minutes every day, and do some light stretching once you’re out of the tub. Feel free to use a muscle roller to massage your muscles as well. As for nutrition, reach for fruits, proteins and a few carbs. The fruit will help boost your immune system, and the carbs and protein will help your muscles mend.
A Week After The Race
Now that you’re a week out, you’re probably itching to get back out there and go for a run. If you’ve followed the above tips, you’re probably feeling pretty good, but you’re not quite fully back. The first thing you’ll want to do a week after the race is to continue eating a healthy diet. Avoid a bunch of junk food and stick to fruits, veggies and a balanced diet. Get a lower body massage, pour yourself a warm bath, and soak for 15-20 minutes. Once that’s complete, do some stretches. If everything feels good, feel free to try a short 3-5 mile run.
Those are some good tips to follow, but if you know something is wrong after a race, swing on in to a doctor. A professional will be able to conduct a full examine and tailor a rehab plan to your exact injury.