This is a tough time for everyone, and people with pain conditions may find themselves struggling. We are very eager to get back in the office so we can assist you! In the meantime, here are several tips for helping yourself at home.
1. MOVE! We may find ourselves slouching on the couch binge watching our favorite shows significantly more than normal lately. Feeling stiffness, soreness, and/or pain when you get up is your body saying, “I want to move more.” The reason this happens after we’ve been sitting or laying down for a while is the accumulation of inflammation (swelling/edema) in the joints and other injured tissues. While we don’t want to strain an injured area, therapeutic movements like exercises or just plain walking can significantly reduce our pain. At the time I wrote this, the temperatures are climbing and will be in the 50s today, so it’s a great time to go outside for a walk. Fresh air and the sounds of nature are inherently soothing, so take it outside if you’re able.
Dust off those exercises I gave you and consider doing them 3 times per day now. (Remember, you should never have any pain with therapeutic exercises, mild muscle soreness is to be expected, but pain is not, so discontinue any specific exercise that increases your pain, make a note of it and let me know.) If you’re missing them or don’t remember, I will post the most common ones ASAP.
2. ICE OR HEAT? Yes. You can use ice or moist heat, whichever you prefer, whichever you feel works best for your situation. If you have an acute (new) injury with sharp pain, you might want to consider the numbing power of ice. Proper ice use is:
- Use a towel or paper towel between your skin and the pack.
- Apply until CBAN numbness or 20 minutes, whichever comes first (CBAN = Cold Burning Aching Numbness, the stages of sensation after applying ice, once you reach numbness, remove the pack)
- Wait 40 minutes until the next application
For aches and general discomfort, moist heat (not dry heating pads) may help. Apply for 20 minutes, off for 40 minutes. During the “off” time, refer to #1!
3. TOPICALS Compounds like Elginex, Biofreeze, Icy Hot, etc. stimulate superficial nerve endings in your skin and temporarily decrease pain. They are safe to use and a recent study found that compounds like these are just as effective as NSAID drugs like Aleve and Advil without the side effects. One caution: do not apply immediately before or after heat application or a shower or bath, the effects can be unpleasant when your pores are open.
4. HEALTHY DISTRACTIONS: Focusing on your pain only makes it seem more intense. Find an enjoyable activity to focus on, here are a few suggestions:
- Art-you don’t have to be good at it for it to be enjoyable. Order a paint by numbers from Amazon, believe me, it’s really therapeutic! (see below)
- Puzzles-you probably have one around the house.
- Read a novel-fiction requires us to put ourselves in another environment, distracting us from reality.
5. EPSOM SALT SOAKS Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and magnesium has both a calming effect and muscle relaxing properties as this vital mineral is absorbed. It also helps post workout soreness.
6. EAT RIGHT In particular, certain foods promote inflammation, most commonly sugar, dairy, and excessive meat consumption. Minimize intake of these types of foods, balance out meat intake with fish or fish oil supplements.
These are some general recommendations, coming up soon: condition specific exercises!