Whenever you go into a doctor’s office they always ask you to describe your pain. Whether it is bearable or not, it truly helps to describe your pain as accurately as possible for a proper diagnosis.
Here are some terms that may be helpful:
- Dull pain- A slow or weak pain, not very sudden or strong.
- Throbbing pain– A pain that surges, beats, or pounds.
- Steady pain- A pain that does not change in its intensity.
- Sharp pain- Pain that causes intense mental or physical distress, that may feel “knife-like.”
- Acute pain- Severe pain that lasts a relatively short period of time.
- Chronic or persistent pain- Mild to severe pain that is present to some degree for long periods of time.
- Breakthrough pain- When you are taking medication for chronic pain, moderate to severe pain that occurs between doses is pain that “breaks through”.
The holidays are always fun and stress-free…for kids. For anyone in charge of making the magic happen, the holiday season can be stressful. The holidays can be a trigger for pain flares. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help prevent pain flares:
- Don’t Indulge Too Much: Taking a few bites of those holiday goodies isn’t necessarily a bad thing. To help from over-indulging eat healthy snacks before your favorite holiday goodies. This will help you from possibly gaining a few extra pounds that could put stress on your joints and spine.
- Have a Light Schedule: Don’t double book yourself or book too many back to back activities. Avoid over working your body from rushing from party to party. Also keep in mind the time you spend in a vehicle sitting down. This could cause back pain flares. Just pace yourself and take breaks to relax. This will help release tense you might be building up on your body from stress.
- Remember to Sleep: After a long day of holiday cheer remember to give your body a break. Try your best to stick to your normal sleep schedule. Having a poor night’s sleep can cause more pain the following day. Your grandparents were not lying when they said a good night’s rest does the body wonders.
- Avoid Heated Topics: Getting into a heated argument with friends and family members can add stress to your body resulting in a pain flare. Steer clear of stressful situations by having an escape plan or coming up with topics to help transition the conversation. There is no complete way to dodge your Aunt’s side comment but we can control how we react to it.
The best way to help avoid pain flares is to try to reduce the stress you place on your body. Remember to enjoy the holidays, but know it is ok to take a break from all the activities.
From watching your favorite team play or going to your kid’s sports games it is always exciting but sitting in the stands for hours can be a painful experience! There are things you can do to prevent what’s called “bleacher back”.
At the next big game you attend, keep your back health in mind by remembering to:
- Maintain good posture and sit up straight.
- Bring along or purchase a stadium chair, blanket or lawn chair to cushion the bleacher and better support your back.
- Stand to cheer as often as you can. This encourages movement to keep things loose.
- When you feel pain, get up and move around or stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors.
- Work on strengthening your core before the game
- Have half of your body weight in fluid in ounces per day
By following the steps above and actively keeping yourself hydrated, you are going to have less inflammation and can sit for a longer period of time.
The new guidelines also state if the pain lasts longer than three months then it is considered chronicpain. If the pain is chronic then medication can be prescribed for treatment. These new guidelines areset to help the patient and reduce America’s painkiller addiction. If a patient grows accustomed topainkillers they could be increasing their sensitivity to pain. The less time spent on pain killers the betterit is for the body.
Painkillers may be an easy option but not always the best. Speak to your physician to find the besttreatment for you.
Why waiting is worse.
From weeks to months, pain can start and grow. Tiny aches and pains are seen as minor and unimportant. Is it normal to put off going to the doctor for pain complications?
The answer is yes. The average person waits 6 months to see a doctor about pain. If your pain is effecting your mobility, and hasn’t decreased in 4 weeks, it’s time to get help. Some symptoms of not receiving proper treatment includes depression and brain shrinkage.
Is exercise not working for you? Trying slow movements rather than fast ones. This can help your body ease into being more active, especially if done in water. Be alert of the narcotics you are taking and how they might react in result of physical activities.
Natural treatments aren’t working? Natural remedies can leave nasty side effects that can affect other parts of your body. Having a professional observe your problems is the safest way to go.
Once you have found a specialists that can treat you, stick to that specialist unless you feel they are treating you improperly. Flopping between specialists can rack up unnecessary bills from test and appointments. If you are confused about the options between surgery and therapy, talk to your specialist.
Your pain is your own – it is unique, and it can be hard to express because only you can feel it. No matter how intense, know your pain is real. There are many ways to deal with pain to supplement treatment. Whether you find these tips helpful or not, we are not trying to minimize your pain or what you go through; we are only offering suggestions for distracting your mind from this unfortunate part of your life.
- Know that distraction can be an unhealthy response.
Distraction can be a mechanism used to avoid dealing with difficulty in our lives. Some distractions that might be considered unhealthy include eating when you are in pain or feel stressed, or self-medicating with recreational drugs and alcohol.
- Acknowledge the feeling that you’re having.
If your pain seems to be more intense than it should be, then it’s time to get it checked out. You never know what that pain could mean. Your body has a very complex way of reacting to issues within. Distracting yourself can be a great way to reduce the pain, but ignoring it completely could result in more serious problems later on.
- Recognize that distractions can help you through unhealthy responses.
Once you realize that you are managing your pain in a healthy way, distractions can be a very helpful supplement. Studies have shown that drinking coffee, watching scary movies, and finding ways to laugh can help put thoughts of your pain on the backburner.
- Better yet, find distractions that can be productive
Sometimes, if moving doesn’t worsen your pain, people find comfort in cleaning or organizing things. Knitting has been known to be very calming, and as a result you will have a new blanket or sweater. Cooking can be therapeutic, too.
- Try deep breathing techniques
When you focus on breathing deeply, you can help your body release stress and anxiety. Your mind will start to clear as you think only about breathing. 
- Breathe in for a count of four. Hold for a count of four. Exhale for a count of four. Place your hand on your stomach to feel it moving in and out with the breath.
The most effective and medically efficient relief for lower back pain can be found at Norman Interventional Pain Management. However, as a supplement, these simple natural remedies can provide additional relief.
Release your inner endorphin’s
Endorphin’s are hormones made naturally in your body. A lot of people don’t realize the strength of endorphin’s – they provide the body with its own homemade “medicine!” When endorphin’s are released into the body, they help block pain signals from registering with your brain. Endorphin’s also help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, which can all be associated with lower back pain and make it worse.
Try these activities to help release pain-blocking messengers:
- Aerobic exercise
- Massage therapy
Get enough restorative sleep
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia – which refers to difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic back pain suffer from some type of sleep disorder. On top of that, inadequate sleep can make your back pain even worse. This vicious cycle can make lower back pain even harder to treat. There are many treatments to help with sleep trouble.
Exercise your core
The muscles in your abs and back play a critical role in supporting your lower spine. These muscles do not get adequately stretched and worked out throughout an average day; they need to be specifically targeted through exercise. There are many core workouts that can be completed in 20-30 minutes as part of your daily routine.
Soothe the pain with cold and/or hot
Many underestimate the power of simply placing a heating or cooling pack on the ailing section to help the pain and healing process.
Cold application has two primary benefits:
- It reduces inflammation, which is usually a culprit in any type of back pain.
- It acts as a local anesthetic by slowing down nerve impulses, which keeps the nerves from spasming and causing pain.
Heat application has two primary benefits:
- It stimulates blood flow, which brings healing nutrients to the affected area of the low back.
- It inhibits the pain messages being sent to the brain.
It is important to determine which solution works best for you.
Stretch your hamstrings twice daily
One often overlooked contributor to lower back pain is tight hamstrings. If your hamstring muscles are too stiff, your lower back joints will become stressed, leading to more pain. Hamstring stretching should be done carefully and twice per day.
Engage your brain
Pain specialists have long understood that pain is not absolute – it is more complex than just a physical sensation. The way your brain interprets pain signals has a lot to do with what you feel and the way you feel it. You can develop skills that help your brain ignore or reduce the pain signals it receives.
Bonus Tip: Find activities that make you happy!
Some people find that even doing 3 things per day that make them happy can have a hugely positive impact on their battle with pain – whether it be walking the dog, watching a favorite TV show or movie, a cup of tea, gardening, or knitting, taking time to do your favorite things can help distract from the negative and focus on the positive.
- Your Pain is Real
Having chronic pain sometimes means that you are treated as if you are over exaggerating or even making your pain up. While it is sometimes true that people use pain for attention, that doesn’t mean that yours is not real or present. It can be a problem because pain can be hard to diagnose – it can’t be seen on a scan like a tumor or broken bone. When it comes to measuring and understanding pain, science is still a little behind. However, great strides are being taken and a lot of pain is still very manageable.
- Chronic Pain Often Leads to Disuse Syndrome
Chronic pain has been known to lead to a long-term lack of physical activity and a condition known as disuse syndrome. This syndrome can negatively impact your musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, and psychological and emotional processes. Pain leading to more pain? No thank you. Treating your chronic pain can help prevent disuse syndrome from developing.
- Pain Leads to Difficulty Sleeping and Depression
Thoughts and feelings related to your pain can make the pain itself even worse. In other words, being in pain all the time can make you depressed about being in pain all the time. Lack of sleep caused by pain can intensify said pain – it’s a vicious cycle. Often all symptoms related to the pain must be treated in order for the pain to see alleviation.
- Pain Is Deeply Personal
Everyone experiences and expresses pain differently. Even if two people have identical conditions, they could act and present symptoms in very different ways. Everyone expresses their pain on their own terms based on a number of different factors.
- Chronic Pain is Lonely
After an extended period of time, a person with a form of chronic pain (especially one that can’t be seen) can start to feel very isolated. The Internet has made a huge difference in helping with this with the popularity of online forums and support groups. Having a clear understanding of your pain as well as the role your mind plays in it can help improve a mindset as well.
There are so many related issues to chronic pain that it would be hard to list – this is simply to get the conversation started. Once you realize these things, it’s time to get help. Norman Interventional Pain Management devotes their entire practice to alleviating pain – it’s time to see how they can help you.
Sometimes, the one thing you need most in your life, is a distraction. Most of the time we try to avoid them, like when trying to focus on personal priorities, but in certain instances they can do a lot of good. One of these instances is when we’re in pain. Whether it be emotional or physical pain, taking your mind off of it can sometimes be the best treatment. A lot of times it helps if these distractions are enjoyable or fun, yet relaxing so as not to worsen your pain. The idea is to lessening it. Many people enjoy turning to nature to find tranquility and escape their troubles.
Gardening can be a very rewarding hobby. Not only does it give you an outlet for your idle hands, but you get to watch something that you are responsible for grow and blossom. Working outside can double as a way to take your mind off of your ailments and soak in the relaxing
attributes of nature.
When trying to find a distraction from your pain, consider gardening, or at least spending time in a garden. Sometimes, the aforementioned “nature relaxation” factor can be enough to soothe you in some way. Read a book, knit, solve a crossword puzzle, or spend time with friends and family in a garden and forget about your pain in no time.
For some inspiration, check out this article. It might not feature any in Oklahoma, but it can give you a peek into how some other folks enjoy gardens.
Summer is here, and you know what that means: vacation time! While the prospect of summer vacations is an exciting one for most, to those with chronic pain, it can be a real source of stress. Planning ahead for ways to enjoy your vacation and manage your pain simultaneously can alleviate that stress and allow for a fun-filled experience! Here are 10 ways to improve your trip from the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association website. http://www.fmcpaware.org/lifestyle-resources/travel-tips-for-chronic-pain-illnesses.html
- Plan for pleasure – and make sure to remember it!
- Plan ahead of time the activities or excursions you want to take part in – ones you really know you’ll enjoy. Don’t forget to document your vacation so that you will have pictures and videos to look back on when you return home.
- Get your prescriptions and supplements stocked ahead of time.
- Make sure you get your prescriptions filled at least 10 days before you leave so that you aren’t caught without your medicine away from home.
- Prepare for comfortable sleep.
- The last thing you want is to lose sleep on vacation. This is your chance to relax and rejuvenate! Pack a mattress topper or air mattress to cushion unfamiliar beds. Many prefer to sleep with their own pillow, so go ahead and take yours with you!
- Ask for assistance.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for special accommodations or help while on vacations. Most hotels are happy to fill your specifications – such as a room closer to the elevator, or a bathroom with a shower but no tub. Making sure these details are in order can make all the difference in your level of satisfaction on vacation.
- Do your stretches!
- A lot of the time traveling will include sitting or staying in one place for extended periods of time, such as in the car or on a plane. Make sure to stop driving and stretch your legs every two hours or so, and on a plane you can make a walk to the bathroom really count.
- Sleep is NOT overrated.
- Do all the fun activities on your trip that you want to do, but don’t forget about your 8 hours of sleep. Like we said before, it is important to feel rested after your vacation even if you have a full itinerary planned. Nothing ruins a day faster than feeling exhausted.
- Take good care of your feet.
- Make sure to wear good, supportive shoes especially if you are going to be doing a lot of walking. Sore feet are a nuisance no one wants when trying to enjoy a vacation, so be sure to kick back and put them up at the end of the day.
- Be careful of what you eat.
- Enjoy the local fare, but maybe only one meal a day. Keep the other two simple and easy on the stomach.
- Don’t try to see it all.
- It’s better to see what you truly want to see and see it fully than try to see everything you vacation spot has to offer. Don’t overdo it!
- Allow plenty of time.
- Delays when traveling are almost inevitable. Make sure you plan for unexpected detours or slip-ups so that you aren’t rushing from place to place. Building extra time into your schedule can really be a stress-saver later on.
Overall, planning is the key to an enjoyable vacation, despite pain. Don’t let it ruin all your fun.
If your pain has been around for a while and is getting to be unmanageable, give us a call at Norman Interventional Pain Management and let us help get to the bottom of it.