Chronic pain comes in a variety of forms. Joint pain is a common one. If you suffer from stiff, achy joints, you’re not alone. Twenty-seven million Americans have osteoarthritis — leader of the pack when it comes to joint-pain culprits. Whatever the reason, there are special steps that can help ease painful hip, shoulder, spine and knee pain. Here are 5 of them: 1. Eat to relieve joint pain. Food can’t prevent or cure joint pain, but certain nutrients not only enhance muscle and bone strength, they also take a bite out of joint pain. Fill your plate with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, pain-fighting polyphenols, and vitamins C, K, and D. 2. Move to improve joint pain. Resist the urge to hit the couch when your joints hurt. Move through the pain instead. Why? Exercise triggers the production of lubricating synovial fluid and feel-good brain chemicals, and improves joint pain, function, and range of motion. 3. Watch your weight. If you’re overweight, ask your doctor for a safe weight-loss plan. Every excess pound you shed takes 4 pounds of pressure off your knees, and can reduce hip and back pain, too. 4. Work with your doctor. Ask your primary care physician if a specialist can help you with your joint pain. An orthopedic specialist and/or physical therapist may be better equipped to tailor an effective pain-treatment plan. 5. Don’t ignore joint pain. Pace yourself and avoid activities that aggravate your joint pain, such as running long distances, lifting heavy objects, or kneeling for hours pulling weeds. Use a daily pain diary to note the activities that worsen or improve your joint symptoms.
A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may reduce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache. Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort. The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.
Deep Tissue Massage is applied in a systematic way, concentrating on the deeper layers of the body’s soft tissues. It aims to release chronic patterns of tension in the body, through slow strokes and deep pressure on the contracted area(s). Deep tissue massage therapy is therapeutic as well as corrective, and done properly should cause neither excessive pain for the client nor strain for the therapist. Working deeply does not equate with working harder or with more effort, but is the result of specific deep tissue massage techniques combined with knowledge of the different layers of the body’s soft tissues. The term often used by therapists to indicate that they use strong pressure, and won’t just be stroking oil onto the skin. However deep tissue work is not just about the amount of pressure used; it’s true intention is to work on all the layers of the body’s soft tissues and particularly the structure which covers and encases them – the fascia. Injury, illness or prolonged immobility can cause fascia to become stiff, hardened or stuck to adjacent structures. This in turn causes pain, reduced mobility and impaired function. Portions of a treatment can be uncomfortable at times with the possibility of pain, however, a good massage therapist should always respect your pain tolerance levels, and will work with you to find a level of pressure that is comfortable for you.
Massage techniques for include the use of knuckles, fists, elbows, and forearms. The pace of a deep tissue massage session is usually slower than that of other massage work, to enable the therapist to pick up information from the client’s tissues, assess the best way to address the tension and contractions found, and apply careful and sensitive pressure in order to achieve a comfortable and lasting release.
Migraine headaches often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. Migraines may progress through four stages, including prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome, though you may not experience all the stages.
One or two days before a migraine, you may notice subtle changes that signify an oncoming migraine, including: -Constipation
-Uncontrollable yawning Aura
Aura may occur before or during migraine headaches. Auras are nervous system symptoms that are usually visual disturbances, such as flashes of light. Sometimes auras can also be touching sensations (sensory), movement (motor) or speech (verbal) disturbances. Most people experience migraine headaches without aura. Each of these symptoms usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes, and then commonly lasts for 20 to 60 minutes. Examples of aura include: -Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light -Vision loss
-Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg -Speech or language problems (aphasia)
Less commonly, an aura may be associated with limb weakness (hemiplegic migraine). Attack
When untreated, a migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours, but the frequency with which headaches occur varies from person to person. You may have migraines several times a month or much less often. During a migraine, you may experience the following symptoms: -Pain on one side or both sides of your head -Pain that has a pulsating, throbbing quality -Sensitivity to light, sounds and sometimes smells -Nausea and vomiting -Blurred vision -Lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting Postdrome
The final phase, known as postdrome, occurs after a migraine attack. During this time you may feel drained and washed out, though some people report feeling mildly euphoric. Video: Joint Pain
Angina symptoms include: -Chest pain or discomfort -Pain in your arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back accompanying chest pain -Nausea -Fatigue
-Shortness of breath
The chest pain and discomfort common with angina may be described as pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. Some people with angina symptoms describe angina as feeling like a vise is squeezing their chest or feeling like a heavy weight has been placed on their chest. For others, it may feel like indigestion.
The severity, duration and type of angina can vary. It’s important to recognize if you have new or changing chest discomfort. New or different symptoms may signal a more dangerous form of angina (unstable angina) or a heart attack. Stable angina is the most common form of angina and typically occurs with exertion and goes away with rest. If chest discomfort is a new symptom for you, it’s important to see your doctor to find out what’s causing your chest pain and to get proper treatment. If your stable angina gets worse or changes, seek medical attention immediately. Characteristics of stable angina -Develops when your heart works harder, such as when you exercise or climb stairs -Can usually be predicted and the pain is usually similar to previous types of chest pain you’ve had -Lasts a short time, perhaps five minutes or less -Disappears sooner if you rest or use your angina medication Characteristics of unstable angina (a medical emergency) -Occurs even at rest -Is a change in your usual pattern of angina -Is unexpected -Is usually more severe and lasts longer than stable angina, maybe as long as 30 minutes -May not disappear with rest or use of angina medication -Might signal a heart attack
Chiropractic adjustment is a procedure in which trained specialists (chiropractors) use their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. The goal of chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, is to correct structural alignment and improve your body’s physical function.
Low back pain, neck pain and headache are the most common problems for which people seek chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic care is an outgrowth of belief in these concepts: -Your body has a natural ability to heal itself. -Your body’s structure — nerves, bones, joints and muscles — and capacity for healthy function are closely intertwined.
-Chiropractic treatment helps balance your body’s structure and function and promotes self-healing.
In developing a treatment plan, your NY Spine Medicine physician will assess the type of disease or condition you have and its impact. A team approach for the treatment of back problems is often the most effective. Medical treatments include surgical or nonsurgical care and self-care strategies. The goal is to restore function and prevent re-injury. Self Care: We believe that most back pain resolves with self-care measures such as rest, ice or heat, massage, over-the-counter pain relievers, or gentle stretches. Applying ice and then heat is helpful to relax the muscles and decrease muscle inflammation. We generally recommend that you apply an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 hours. A warm shower or a heating pad on the low setting may help relax tight muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If home treatments aren’t working within the first couple of days, it is time to see one of our physicians. Medications: We may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. If you have spasms, a muscle relaxant may be prescribed for 3 to 4 days. If the pain is severe, an analgesic that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant may be prescribed.
Steroids can be used to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally in a tapering dosage over a five-day period or as an injection directly into the source of pain, such as an epidural steroid injection or facet injection. Steroids may provide almost immediate pain relief within 24-hours. Physical therapy: The goal of physical therapy is to help you return to full activity as soon as possible and prevent re-injury. Our professional physical therapists will instruct you on proper lifting and walking techniques, and they’ll work with you to strengthen and stretch your lower back, leg, and stomach muscles. Stretching and strengthening exercises are key elements to your treatment and should become part of your life-long daily routine. Massage, ultrasound, diathermy, heat, and traction may also be recommended for short periods of time. Surgery: We believe that surgery should only be used after exhausting conservative treatment options. Before major “open back” surgery, we have many minimally invasive procedures that should be tried prior to making a decision to have surgery.
First, the difficulty with the results of an MRI scan, as with many other diagnostic studies, is that the “abnormality” that shows up on the MRI scan may not actually be the cause of back pain. Numerous clinical studies have shown that approximately 30% of individuals in their thirties and forties have a lumbar disc herniation on their MRI scan, although they do not have any back pain.
Therefore, an MRI scan cannot be interpreted on its own. Everything seen on an MRI needs to be well-correlated to the individual patient’s situation, including: -Symptoms (such as the duration, location, and severity of pain) -Any neurological deficits on their physical examination
Another important consideration with MRI scans is the timing of when the scan is done. The only time an MRI scan is needed immediately is when a patient has either: -Bowel or bladder incontinence -Progressive weakness in the legs due to nerve damage.
Fortunately, both of the above situations are rare.
Frequent use of a personal computer and sitting at your desk for extended periods of time can cause chronic physical problems that you can hardly imagine. Neck and shoulder stiffness can lead to chronic headaches, numbness and weakness in the limbs and joints and eventually progress to Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) or work-related musculoskeletal disorders. These common ailments affect many of us who work long hours and more than 60% of us don’t receive the correct therapies and treatments. RSI is treatable with physiotherapy, and Computer Stress Therapy has been created to relieve stressed musculoskeletal areas. Using our myofascial relief technique, soft tissue release, and upper body massage with superficial heat applied on the whole arm, Stress Therapy can help to increase blood circulation and relieve tension that manifests itself in the upper body. The treatment ends by applying an herbal compress to the eyes and facial area to relax soft tissue around the eyes. Video: Physical Therapy
Neck pain is discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include the muscles, nerves, bones (vertebrae), and the disks between the bones.
When your neck is sore, you may have difficulty moving it, especially turning to one side. Many people describe this as having a stiff neck. If neck pain involves nerves, you may feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, hand, or elsewhere. Home Care
For minor, common causes of neck pain: -Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). -Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied with warm showers, hot compresses, or a heating pad. To prevent injuring your skin, do not fall asleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place. -Stop normal physical activity for the first few days. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation. -Do slow range-of-motion exercises, up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear. This helps to gently stretch the neck muscles. -Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas.
-Try sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow. -Ask your health care provider about using a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort. Do not use the collar for a long time. Doing so can make your neck muscles weaker.
You may want to reduce your activity only for the first couple of days. Then slowly resume your usual activities. Do not do any heavy lifting or twisting of your back or neck for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins. After 2 to 3 weeks, slowly begin exercising again. A physical therapist can help you decide when to begin stretching and strengthening exercises and how to do them.