The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Arthritis Pain

The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Arthritis Pain

  • arthritis pain management

Arthritis can be calamitous, especially if you have always enjoyed an active lifestyle. Joint inflammation can not only have an impact on your flexibility and movement, but can result in chronic pain that affects your quality of life. Thankfully, there are ways to manage your arthritis, but there are also things you should avoid. Here are a few important dos and don’ts when it comes to arthritis pain management.

Definite Dos

Posture, physical activity, and a good mindset are at the heart of a number of arthritis management “dos.”

Stay Active

Weak muscles can aggravate points in your joints, and weak muscles are often the result of inactivity. While you may be tempted to avoid physical activity because of joint pain, constant joint movements actually work to strengthen the muscles around your knees and other joints and ease the pain of arthritis. People have asked if walking makes arthritis worse. Actually, lower impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and stationary cycling can do all this as well as enhance joint flexibility and improve range of motion. If you are just starting out in a physical therapy program or have not been a fitness junkie historically, you can start with gentle stretching exercises and work your way up.

Mind Your Posture

Bad posture puts undue stress on your joints and can lead to further arthritic progression. You may not have noticed any posture problems pre-arthritis, but there’s no time like the present to remedy your posture issues. Train yourself not to slouch. Open your shoulders and keep your back straight as you walk or move. It may help to try posture-enhancing insoles in your shoes to help you hold your body in a balanced way and to avoid putting pressure on your knees.

Quit Smoking

While the link to arthritis may not be obvious, smoking does have a negative impact on your joints. Not only do harmful substances in cigarettes and cigarette smoke tend to irritate connective tissues around joints, but certain toxins may cause other joint problems. Also, it is a lot easier and more comfortable to exercise with greater lung capacity and better breathing.

Get to and/or Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, you may be putting extra pressure on your joints, which will increase the pain you feel from arthritis. Regular exercise will definitely help, but you should also look at your diet; not just for weight loss, but to get optimal nutrition for your joints and muscles. Vitamin C, for example, can help regulate inflammation and prevent damage to cartilage. Foods like fish, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, ginger, and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties.

Stay Positive

This is not so much about maintaining a cheerful outlook as it is about not giving up on arthritis pain management. There are a variety of ways to manage arthritis pain. In addition to diet and physical activity, there are medications for pain relief and to reduce joint swelling. There is also physical and massage therapy. Stay the course, and you will notice a difference.

Decisive Don’ts

Knowing what activities make arthritis worse and what triggers arthritis attacks will go a long way in terms of arthritis pain management. Here are a few important “don’ts.”

Avoid Strenuous and High Impact Activities

While regular exercise, as described in the “do” section, can help with arthritis pain, overdoing it can make things much worse. Avoid exercises with a lot of jumping and running, such as tennis, skiing, and gymnastics. Activities that involve your feet leaving the ground may also result in injury, which will only exacerbate your arthritis symptoms. You should also avoid exercises with repetitive motions, which increase stress on joints. 

Don’t Eat Foods That Trigger Inflammation

Just as there are foods and substances that reduce inflammation, there are foods and substances that cause it. It is best to avoid things that are high in sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), as well as meat cooked at high temperatures (such as grilled and fried meat dishes). 

Do Not Engage in Heavy Alcohol Consumption

Apart from encouraging weight gain through empty calories, drinking a lot of alcohol can increase your risk of medical conditions and counteract certain medications. 

Effective Arthritis Pain Management

Arthritis pain management doesn’t have to be onerous. By following these simple dos and don’ts, you can stave off arthritis attacks and decrease the joint pain associated with arthritis. Talk to our pain management experts for more ways to manage your arthritis pain

 

Understanding How Weight Affects Chronic Pain

  • obesity and chronic pain

There are many ways to treat chronic pain, even if the exact source of the pain is unclear. If you’re obese, making lifestyle changes to lose weight could significantly reduce or even resolve your chronic pain. There is considerable evidence linking chronic pain and obesity, as the two conditions can negatively impact each other. 

Not all chronic pain is caused by obesity, but obesity can certainly aggravate chronic pain conditions. Before we explore how obesity can cause pain in the feet, legs, and elsewhere in the body, it’s important to clearly explain the link between chronic pain and obesity. 

The Link Between Chronic Pain and Obesity

Obese people have a higher prevalence of chronic pain comorbidities. This is partly because they are more likely to generate excess inflammation, which can cause several diseases. This includes heart disease, multiple cancers, type 2 diabetes, and much more. The inflammation itself can be very painful, with acute inflammation often causing redness, swelling, and warmth around joints. 

So, will losing weight help with chronic pain? If you’re obese, it’s quite likely. Studies have found weight loss to improve inflammation, which may improve symptoms of chronic pain conditions like migraines and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Of course, inflammation isn’t the only concern when it comes to obesity and chronic pain. The physical inactivity and excess mechanical stress associated with obesity may also be causing pain in various parts of the body. 

Obesity Can Cause Chronic Pain Throughout the Body

Suspect that obesity may be the cause of or aggravating your chronic pain condition? Here are a few of the most common areas where your weight could be causing pain and discomfort. 

Feet, Ankles, and Legs

Your weight can cause leg, ankle, and feet pain. This is largely due to the extra strain and increased pressure put on these body parts, which can increase your risk of developing pain, arthritis, and skin problems. Obesity can also impede lymphatic flow, which may lead to pain, redness, warmth, and swelling in the legs. 

Lower Back, Hip, and Knees

Obesity can cause an increase in mechanical stresses on the body, which may increase your risk of musculoskeletal and joint pain. This is most likely to be felt in the lower back, hip, and knee joints. The increased stress, paired with inflammation, can cause pain, injury, and possibly osteoarthritis. 

Pelvis and Bladder

Research has found a link between obesity and pelvic floor disorders. This list of disorders includes pelvic organ prolapse, chronic pelvic pain, incontinence, and an overactive bladder. The issue is that the increase of intra-abdominal pressure that often results from excess belly fat can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leaving you more prone to developing pain or one of the aforementioned conditions. 

Obesity May Lower Your Pain Tolerance

There is a myth that obese people have a higher pain tolerance or pain threshold due to having an extra layer of fat. However, this isn’t the case. To first establish the two terms — pain tolerance refers to the maximum level of pain one can handle, while a pain threshold is the amount of time that passes before one starts to perceive something as painful. Excess weight will not improve one’s pain tolerance or threshold. Excess body fat can actually lead to an increase in pain sensitivity, which might make chronic pain symptoms feel worse.

Receive Professional Help Free of Shame and Stigma

Your weight is not a reflection of your worth. If you struggle with weight management, you’re far from alone. Almost half of U.S. adults are obese, with many suffering from chronic pain as a result. Of course, your chronic pain could be the result of multiple factors. That’s why the pain specialists at Carolinas Pain Center take an individualized and multidisciplinary approach to treat your pain.

With Carolinas Pain Center, you’ll receive a personalized plan that may include various treatment options, including assistance with weight loss. If you’d like to make an appointment with us or have any questions, please call 704-500-2332, email info@carolinaspaincenter.com, or fill out our contact form. You can learn more about our treatment options from our informative resources page. 

Top Reasons You Should See a Pain Specialist

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Pain can impact every area of your daily life. Its snowball effect can magnify your pain levels. Unlike with injuries where the pain has a sudden onset and goes away in a few days or weeks, chronic pain is something you feel each day. Simply visiting an emergency room or the primary care physician may not give you lasting relief.

This is where visiting a pain specialist comes into play. This is a physician who knows how to manage chronic pain and work with people who sustained injuries from significant accidents to help them recover. At Carolinas Pain Center, we have a team of pain management specialists who can manage your care by working to correct whatever causes your chronic pain. If you’re wondering if a trip to our office is necessary, we’ll explain below the top reasons you should consider booking an appointment.

1. Find the Root Cause of Your Pain

A pain specialist can diagnose and treat any underlying chronic conditions you may have that are the root cause of your pain. For example, maybe you have arthritis that causes swelling and pain in your joints. It may seem like only a simple fix is needed. However, deeper issues could contribute to this chronic health condition. For example, maybe obesity is partially to blame for your arthritis, and you have depression that contributes to the obesity. You’ll get a tailored and comprehensive treatment plan by pinpointing and addressing each component.

2. Multidisciplinary Treatment Approach

Since the pain can affect your entire body, treating chronic conditions requires a multidisciplinary approach. So, you’ll most likely have multiple services and providers on your care team. This could mean that you have appointments for phycological therapy, physical therapy, interventional injections or procedures, or medication management. Since pain levels will vary from person to person, the treatment plan will depend on your symptoms and situation. 

3. A Referral Is Usually Not Needed

Unlike with many specialists, you usually don’t need a specific referral from your primary care physician to book an appointment with a pain doctor. This can make getting an appointment much quicker because you won’t have to wait days or weeks for the referral to come through before you set up an appointment. So, you’ll be able to start getting a tailored treatment plan to help manage your chronic pain faster, even if it’s for something more complex, like fibromyalgia.

4. Treat Many Chronic Conditions

There are several different chronic conditions, just like there are various kinds of chronic pain. A pain doctor has unique qualifications that allow them to diagnose and treat many conditions. These can include pinched nerves, chronic back or neck pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, etc. They can also assist with anxiety, obesity, stress, and depression.

Book an Appointment with a Pain Specialist at Carolinas Pain Center

If you’re ready to start managing your chronic pain and you want an experienced and professional medical team to help, book an appointment with us. We’re ready to sit down with you, go over your medical history, and get to the root of your pain to help build a tailored treatment plan to reduce your pain levels.

Exercises to Manage Your Back Pain

  • back pain exercise

Do you suffer from back pain? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world experience back pain on a regular basis.

While there are many different causes of back pain, one of the best ways to manage it is through exercise.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best exercises for relieving back pain. We’ll also provide tips on how to stay safe while exercising and some other options you can consider if you’re still experiencing pain.

The Importance of Exercise for Preventing and Treating Back Pain

If you’ve found this article, you’re probably looking for a solution to back pain that you’ve had for a while. But regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent back pain from happening in the first place.

Exercise helps to prevent back pain in several ways:

  • It strengthens your core and the muscles that support your spine.
  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight, avoiding excess pressure on your spine.
  • It improves your posture.
  • It increases blood flow and flexibility in your muscles and joints.
  • It can help to reduce stress, which can contribute to or exacerbate back pain.

All of these things together can help you to avoid some of the most common causes of back pain, including muscle strain, poor posture, and obesity.

If you’re already experiencing back pain, exercise can still help. While it may seem counterintuitive to move when your back is hurting, exercise is often one of the best things you can do for back pain relief.

When you’re in pain, your natural inclination may be to rest and avoid movement. But this can actually make your pain worse. Exercise helps to loosen tight muscles, increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation.

All of these things together can help to speed up your recovery and get you back to your normal activities as soon as possible.

Of course, it’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine, especially if you’re already in pain.

Lower Back Strengthening Exercises

Lower back pain is one of the most common types of back pain. Weak core muscles and poor posture when sitting at a desk or driving can put your lower spine under pressure and cause pain.

There are several exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your lower back and core. This will help to take the pressure off of your spine and reduce the risk of strain or injury.

Superman Pose

Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Raise your arms and legs a few inches off the ground and hold for three to five seconds.

Pelvic Tilts

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Flatten your back against the ground and hold for five seconds.

Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Raise your hips off the ground until your thighs are in line with your torso. Hold for three to five seconds.

Squats

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands at your sides. Lower your hips and buttocks toward the ground as if you were going to sit in a chair. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground and hold for three to five seconds.

Stretches for Back Pain Relief

In addition to strengthening exercises, there are also several stretches you can do to relieve back pain. These stretches can help to loosen tight muscles and improve your range of motion.

Shoulder Shrugs

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Slowly raise your shoulders as high as you can before lowering them back down.

Neck Rolls

Sit up straight in a chair or stand with your shoulders relaxed. Slowly lower your chin to your chest and then roll your head until your ear is over your right shoulder. Pause for a couple of seconds before rolling back down and repeating in the opposite direction.

Overhead Arm Reach

Sit upright in a chair with your feet on the floor. Slowly reach your right arm above your head and reach to the left until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, lower, and repeat on your other side.

Cat-Cow Pose

Start on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position. As you inhale, arch your back and look up to the ceiling. As you exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin towards your chest. Repeat this sequence a few times.

Knee to Chest Stretch

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands around your right knee and pull it towards your chest. Hold for a few seconds before releasing and repeating on the other side.

Walking & Aerobic Exercise for Back Pain

In addition to specific back pain exercises and stretches, it’s also important to stay active in general. Walking is one of the best exercises for back pain relief. It’s low-impact and accessible to anyone, whatever your fitness level.

Walking is excellent for strengthening your back and leg muscles, improving your posture, and reducing stress.

Start with short walks around the block. You can gradually increase the distance and intensity of your walks as you start to feel better. Just be sure to listen to your body and take breaks when you need them.

Swimming is another great option for aerobic exercise because it’s low-impact and easy on the joints. Start with a few laps around the pool and build up from there.

Exercises to Avoid with Back Pain

While there are many exercises that can help relieve back pain, there are also several exercises that should be avoided. These exercises can put additional strain on the spine and make your pain worse.

  • Sit-ups and traditional crunches: These exercises can strain your back and neck.
  • Standing toe touches: This exercise can overextend the lower back, especially if you’re using a “bouncing” motion to touch your toes.
  • Leg lifts: Lifting both your legs straight up in the air can easily strain your lower back if your muscles are not strong enough to support the motion.
  • High-impact aerobics: Exercise like running and jumping can jar the spine and make the pain worse.

Tips for Staying Safe While Exercising

Exercise is a great way to relieve back pain, but it can also lead to further injury if you’re not careful. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while you’re working out:

  • Warm-up before you start your workout or do stretches. This will help loosen your muscles and prepare them for activity. You can warm up with 5 minutes of gentle cardio exercise like a brisk walk.
  • Listen to your body. Don’t do anything that’s painful or makes your pain worse. If an exercise is too difficult, try an easier version or skip it altogether.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain muscle strength and flexibility. This will help reduce the risk of further injury and keep your back healthy in the long term.
  • Use proper form when exercising to avoid injuries. Make sure you’re using the right technique for each exercise. If you’re not sure, ask a certified trainer or your doctor for help.

If your pain isn’t improving or is severely affecting your life, consider seeing a pain specialist. These doctors can help to find the root cause of your back pain and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

The pain specialists at Carolinas Pain Center are experts in diagnosing and treating all types of back pain. We offer a wide range of treatments, from medication to physical therapy, alternative therapies, and surgery. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can help you find relief so you can get back to living your life.

Tips to Relieve Sciatica Pain

  • sciatica pain relief

Sciatica pain radiates along the sciatic nerve, which you may feel through your lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by bone spurs, piriformis syndrome, a bulging disc, and several other conditions. In any case, the result is often symptoms like shooting pain, inflammation, and numbness. 

The pain caused by your sciatic nerve, even if relatively minor, can negatively impact your quality of life. Thankfully, there are easy ways to get your sciatic nerve to stop hurting. Before we discuss the many ways you can relieve your sciatic pain at home, let’s explore sciatica flare-ups and the consequences of ignoring your symptoms. 

Understanding Sciatica

Sciatica typically goes away on its own, improving in 4-6 weeks after symptoms begin. The flare-ups during this period may last between 1-2 weeks at a time. During these weeks, you’ll likely experience many of the symptoms described above, including shooting pain and inflammation. You can ease your pain and discomfort while you recover by making a few changes to your lifestyle and routine. 

Please note, if your sciatica doesn’t go away after 6 weeks, you should speak to a doctor or pain specialist. If you neglect your symptoms and allow them to escalate, you could be at risk of developing permanent nerve damage and cauda equina syndrome (CES). CES is caused by damage to the nerve roots at the lower end of your spinal cord, which can lead to permanent paralysis. 

If you’re still in the early weeks of sciatica pain and simply want to relieve your symptoms, there are many ways of doing so.

How to Relieve Sciatica Pain at Home

Adjust Your Posture

Staying in the same posture for an extended period can worsen your sciatica pain. To ease your symptoms, use proper posture and adjust every 20 minutes or so to take pressure off your spine. When sitting, try to sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor. Avoid crossing your legs, leaning to one side, or sitting near the front of your chair. 

Go for a Walk

There’s been much debate about whether bed rest or walking is better for easing sciatica pain. The answer varies from person to person. Rest is typically a good choice for the first stage of sciatica, immediately after symptoms start. After a few days, however, you should start stretching and then begin walking to reduce inflammation and strengthen your spine. Mobility exercise is ideally the last stage of sciatica recovery before symptoms go away entirely. 

Use Both Heat and Ice

Many assume heat, typically in the form of hot showers, to be the best way of relieving sciatic nerve pain. While heat can help stimulate blood flow and loosen muscles, it could potentially increase inflammation. That’s why you should alternate with an ice pack, as ice therapy can reduce inflammation. 

Do Some Gentle Stretching

Make gentle stretching a part of your daily routine. The right stretches can help improve your range of motion, along with your spinal strength and flexibility. Two of the best stretches to do for sciatica pain are lower trunk rotations and pelvic tilts. Pelvic tilts, in particular, are great for stretching your lower back. 

Remember not to push yourself and to go slowly if you haven’t stretched in a long time or are in considerable pain. If your pain is so severe that you can’t stretch, that’s likely a sign that you need to see a pain specialist. 

Visit a Pain Specialist for Prolonged Sciatica Symptoms

While these tips can help your sciatica pain in the short term, you should seek professional help for prolonged or severe symptoms. For a personalized treatment plan, please visit the pain specialists at Carolinas Pain Center in Charlotte and Huntersville, North Carolina. Our team takes a multidisciplinary approach to treat your sciatica pain in the safest and most effective way possible. 

If you have any questions about our services or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by calling 704-500-2332, emailing info@carolinaspaincenter.com, or filling out our contact form. You’re also welcome to consult the many resources on our website to learn more about your treatment options. 

Benefits of Lower Back Stretches

  • lower back stretches

Your lower back is the area below your ribs and above your buttocks and tailbone. This part of your body has a lot of muscles and tendons and is often prone to injury or stiffness.

Lower back pain can come from trauma, such as a fall. Poor posture, heavy lifting, or unnatural movements, such as twisting your body when bending over to pick something up, can also cause pain.

Lower back stretches are one of the most useful tools for dealing with pain. To get the most benefits, you need to do these stretches daily for at least 15 minutes.

Here is a closer look at the benefits of lower back stretches. 

Why Stretching Is Good for You

Lower back stretches loosen your muscles and reduce the tension around your spine. When it is more relaxed, the lower back is better able to support your upper body and spine. 

Stretching is a non-invasive option for treating lower back pain. You can get relief without injections, medication, or surgery. Also, the more you stretch, the less pain you will feel from tension and tight muscles. You can enjoy steady improvement. Medication or injections will address the symptoms, but not the underlying tightness causing the pain. Stretching, on the other hand, addresses the root of the issue, leading to lasting improvements. 

Lower Back Stretches to Try

The best lower back stretches for your condition or pain prevention goals will depend on your current level of fitness and movement abilities. You will want to start slowly and avoid stretches that could cause other injuries. You can consult a physician or physical therapist to decide which stretches are best for your needs.

Here are some of the most common and effective lower back stretches.

  1. Knee to chest stretch: To perform this stretch, you lie down on your back and slowly bring one knee to your chest. If you can, hold your knee in against your chest for as long as possible. Then, you lower the first leg and raise the other one to your chest, holding it there for the same amount of time as the first leg. This exercise reduces tension and increases motion in the lower back, and it targets the buttocks as well.
  2. Twist your back: To perform this stretch, lie down on your back and bring your knees up at a right angle from your waist. Put your arms out until they form a T-shape with your body. You then turn your knees to the right as far as they can go before repeating with the left side.
  3. Cat and camel: To perform this stretch, get down on all fours and push your back into a hump (like a cat arching its back), then push it back down as far in as it can go. Hold each position for a few seconds before repeating the cycle.
  4. Other exercises like cycling, swimming, walking, calisthenics, and lifting light weights can help strengthen your back muscles to increase support and improve posture.

Tips for Lower Back Stretching

Whenever doing lower back stretches, it is important to observe the following tips in order to achieve the best result.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes to achieve full flexibility when stretching. Sweatsuits or other exercise-specific clothing is preferable, but you can wear any clothing that allows for a full range of motion.
  • Stretch on a clean flat surface. It should be hard enough to support your body. If you have access to a yoga or exercise mat, you can use it for stretches that require you to lay on the floor.
  • Hold your stretches for as long as possible. Harvard Medical School recommends holding each stretch for 60 seconds total. It’s okay to break this minute up into several sets. For example, you could hold your knee to your chest for 20 seconds at a time and repeat the stretch three times.
  • Try to stretch daily for the best results.

You do not have to hurry when stretching. You should move into each position slowly to avoid straining your muscles or causing further pain.

Benefits of Lower Back Stretches

Lower back stretches can bring both direct and indirect benefits. 

  • Stretching helps relieve pain. If you go to a physiotherapist for back pain (or any other type of musculoskeletal issue), they will teach stretches to reduce acute pain and help you avoid chronic issues.
  • Lower back stretches bring results without reliance on medication or invasive treatments. 
  • Some people with back pain change their posture to avoid worse pain. This change could lead to misalignment that could actually cause worse issues in the future. Stretching can deal with the pain that causes this unwanted posture change. If you continue lower back stretches, they can keep help keep your spine and lower back aligned.
  • Stretching can also indirectly impact your overall health. Less tension and better posture can help keep your internal organs properly aligned and ensure proper blood flow from your upper to lower body.
  • Also, extra tension and soreness in the lower back can affect your mental health and overall sense of well-being. If you have chronic pain, you will focus on it instead of enjoying your work, social life, or free time. This can lead to a lower quality of life overall. However, consistent lower back stretches can alleviate the pain and improve your overall mental outlook.

How to Deal with Chronic Back Pain

Carolinas Pain Center can offer treatment for acute pain and support to help you deal with chronic pain and improve the quality of your life. 

Contact Carolina Pain Centers today to find out if they are able to treat your lower back condition. 

How Often You Should Exercise with Chronic Pain

  • chronic pain exercise

Sometimes known as persistent pain, chronic pain describes pain that lasts beyond the expected healing time for an injury. However, the label tends to be applied when someone has been experiencing pain for longer than three to six months. It is one of the most common medical issues in the United States. Left untreated, it can lead to anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, disability, crippling healthcare costs, and overall poor quality of life. 

This chronic pain leads to people wanting to rest and avoid any activity, and until recently, this was the treatment that most doctors advised. However, a growing body of research shows that exercise can actually help with minimizing both the impact and severity of chronic pain. But the wrong exercise can aggravate it, so in this article, we’ll be laying out the most important things you need to know.

Types of Exercise for Chronic Pain

Exercise can help relieve the symptoms of chronic pain by decreasing inflammation, increasing mobility, and lowering your overall pain levels. And because exercise causes the release of natural endorphins, which are the chemicals that improve your mood, it can also ease the depression that dealing with pain on a long-term basis can lead to.

But too much of the wrong exercise can make it worse. This is why anyone suffering from chronic pain should stick to low-impact exercises such as:

  • Walking
  • Swimming and/or water aerobics
  • Stretching and relaxation exercises like yoga
  • Strength training
  • Daily living activities

Which of these is most suitable for your particular circumstances will vary depending on several factors. So, it is always best to consult with your doctor or a pain management specialist before undertaking an exercise regime.

Benefits of Exercise for Chronic Pain

The general health benefits of exercise are well known. It can help with weight management, lead to stronger bones and muscles, reduce the risk of a variety of diseases and ease the symptoms of others, improve mental health, and more. But individuals suffering from chronic pain can enjoy these specific benefits:

  • Reduced inflammation – Exercise can lead to muscles releasing chemicals that reduce pain signals as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines that promote tissue healing.
  • Higher pain tolerance – Some research has found that exercise can change how the brain responds to pain and promote the production of natural analgesics such as serotonin and built-in pain relievers.
  • Reduced fatigue – Physical activity can improve sleep quality and cause the release of endorphins, both of which help reduce feelings of fatigue caused by chronic pain.

Warnings

Factors such as the origin of your chronic pain, your current mental health, level of flexibility, and degree of pain can all affect which type of low-impact exercise is best for you. A qualified pain specialist like the experts at Carolinas Pain Center has experience with chronic pain and developing personalized exercise programs that will benefit your overall health without aggravating your chronic pain.

Exercise can increase the pain associated with some conditions such as fibromyalgia. But this doesn’t mean that exercise is not a viable treatment option — it only means that you will need to start slow and monitor your symptoms over time.

How Often to Exercise with Chronic Pain

There is no consensus on how much exercise is just right for the treatment of chronic pain. This is because chronic pain is as unique as the people who suffer from it. However, the general recommendation is that doctors prescribe exercise the way they would other medication and that any movement is beneficial — even if that is just getting up and walking to the end of the hall, the garden, or the street every day.

Start Managing Your Pain with Carolinas Pain Center Today

Even though people know how many benefits come with regular exercise, the thought of undertaking any physical activity can be overwhelming when you suffer from chronic pain. But being physically active doesn’t mean that you have to get a gym membership, join formal exercise classes, or start training for the average Olympics.

At Carolinas Pain Center, you’ll have access to specialists with highly specialized training, the latest pain management technologies, and an unrivaled range of pain relief options. Our experts are dedicated to providing comprehensive, caring pain relief and can help you develop a pain management program that is personalized to your needs and abilities.

Book an appointment today to find out how we can help you develop a better quality of life and overcome your chronic pain.

Causes of Chronic Abdominal Pain

  • chronic abdominal pain

Abdominal pain occurs anywhere from your ribs to your pelvis, especially in the stomach area. Acute abdominal pain can be quite common, but when it has been going on for longer than three months, it is considered “chronic” or “ongoing.” Not only can chronic abdominal pain cause serious discomfort and pain, but undiagnosed, it can be worrisome. Here are some of the common causes of chronic abdominal pain and what to do about it.

Symptoms of Chronic Abdominal Pain

Chronic abdominal pain is experienced differently from person to person and may not always have the same symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the belly or around the belly button can feel like a dull ache or sharp pain and can last minutes or hours
  • Pain that occurs any time of the day or night and may or may not be connected to eating
  • Pain in the abdomen that’s accompanied by headaches, vomiting, or pain in the limbs
  • No longer feeling hungry, leading to skipping meals but without losing weight
  • Severe abdominal pain that makes you sweat, bend over in pain, or cry

Even if your symptoms are mild, your abdominal pain may be an early sign of a serious health issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome, which is why you should monitor your symptoms and let your doctor know what you are experiencing.

People also ask, “Is chronic abdominal pain normal?” “How long should abdominal pain last?” What can cause long-term abdominal pain?” About 2% of adults experience chronic abdominal pain, more commonly in women than men. As for how long the pain should last or whether it is “normal,” it depends on the cause. For example, regular abdominal pain could be caused by lactose intolerance or frequent constipation. In which case, a few lifestyle changes may fix the problem. In other cases, it may be pancreatitis causing stomach pain. What does pancreatic pain feel like? Usually, you will feel upper abdominal pain that feels worse after you eat. Acute cases result in abdominal pain radiating to your back and an abdomen that’s tender to the touch. Women can also experience abdominal pain as the result of menstruating, miscarrying, or reproductive complications.

In many cases, the patient has what’s called “centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome” (formerly known as “functional abdominal pain”), which is chronic abdominal pain that doesn’t appear to be caused by any serious health condition. The doctor may suggest dietary changes or other recommendations. 

Can anxiety cause chronic abdominal pain? Yes — and it can exacerbate the abdominal pain that you have.

What Are the Three Types of Abdominal Pain?

Abdominal pain can be visceral, parietal, or referred. When the pain feels like a dull ache and isn’t really localized, it is visceral pain — caused by nerves running through the organ walls getting stretched. Parietal or “somatic” pain can start as visceral pain. As the disease or condition continues, you can feel sharp, localized pain caused when the parietal peritoneal wall is irritated. Referred pain is when your brain thinks pain is occurring from one place when, in fact, it comes from a different region of the body.

When to See a Doctor for Chronic Abdominal Pain

Many people ask, “When should I be concerned about abdominal pain?” If you experience the following symptoms along with your abdominal pain, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • A high fever
  • Pain or cramping strong enough that it wakes you up
  • Blood in your urine, stool, or vomit
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, and/or inability to keep food down for several days
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in the legs or abdomen
  • Marked loss of appetite or otherwise unexplainable and rapid weight loss
  • Pain lasting for several days or is the result of injury to your abdomen within a few days
  • The abdomen is tender to the touch
  • This abdominal pain occurs during pregnancy

These symptoms may indicate internal infection, inflammation, or bleeding that need to be treated as quickly as possible. Though less common, some of the symptoms could be caused by abdominal, ovarian, or colorectal cancer. That’s why it is best to see a doctor and to discern the cause of your abdominal pain.

Treatment Options for Chronic Abdominal Pain

How do you treat chronic stomach pain? It really depends on the reason for your abdominal pain. If your chronic abdominal pain is caused by a medical condition, you may need to treat the underlying condition. An infection will likely be treated with antibiotics. Ulcers, inflammations, and gastroesophageal reflux disease are usually treated with medicine. Appendicitis, hernia, or other serious conditions may require surgery.

If, however, your doctor has given you tests and can’t find a particular cause, the treatment is focused on minimizing discomfort and can include:

  • Dietary changes to add more fiber or fiber supplements
  • Stress management and managing anxiety with relaxation and mindfulness, medication, counseling, or other methods
  • Medications for pain relief

People also ask, “What is the best painkiller for abdominal pain?” and “What is the best medicine for abdominal pain?” Most over-the-counter medications work just fine. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Chronic abdominal pain can be confusing because there are so many possible causes. Do not wait to “see what happens”. Schedule an appointment to get checked by a physician to rule out any serious causes. 

 

What To Do When You Feel a Migraine Coming On

  • Migraine pain

Migraines are headaches with more intense and potentially debilitating symptoms, as they can last anywhere from hours to days. People who suffer from regular migraines may feel a sense of hopelessness. Thankfully, there are several preventative measures you can take if you feel a migraine coming on! 

This article will discuss multiple ways of managing migraine pain and addressing the issue immediately — before it worsens. This information is essential for anyone that struggles with migraines, as we offer both short-term and long-term migraine treatment options. So why suffer through migraine symptoms when you can take action?

What Does a Migraine Feel Like?

Symptoms of migraines include severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. This pain usually begins on one side of the head, around the eyes, or in the forehead. Migraines worsen with time, and the pain can escalate with movement, bright light, loud noises, and other external factors.

You’re probably wondering, what causes migraine pain? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. Migraines are very complex and still not fully understood. Knowing how to treat and manage migraine symptoms is typically more productive than determining an exact cause.

 

Migraine Symptoms

It’s important to note that migraines may feel different depending on what stage of the migraine you’re experiencing. Therefore, to effectively address your migraine pain, it helps immensely to understand the various phases and their identifiable symptoms.

Please note, not all migraines will follow all four phases.

Prodrome

The prodrome phase takes place one or two days before the actual migraine attack. You may experience seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as constipation, neck stiffness, mood changes, increased urination, and frequent yawning. Knowing these signs can give you a day or two’s warning of an oncoming migraine attack.  

Aura

Some people experience a migraine aura right before or during migraines. Auras are reversible visual symptoms that include vision loss, trouble with speaking, and optical phenomena like seeing bright spots. These symptoms build up over several minutes and are usually a more prominent indicator of an oncoming migraine than the prodrome symptoms. 

Attack

The symptoms of the actual migraine attack, which may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, vary. However, the most common migraine symptoms include throbbing or pulsing pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and less frequently, smell and touch. 

Post-drome

After the attack has ended, you may feel tired, confused, or euphoric. The former is more common than the latter. You may still experience a few of the symptoms in a way that’s much less intense, with sudden head movement potentially bringing the pain back for a brief time. 

 

Migraine coming on

Managing Migraine Pain

The key to managing migraine pain is to try and stop it before it starts. Using the information provided above, you may be able to determine when you’re experiencing the aura phase preceding the migraine attack. During this time, the best thing for migraine relief is to take an over-the-counter medication like Advil. Medication is the fastest way to get rid of a migraine when you feel it coming on. You can also take medication during a migraine attack, though it typically won’t be as effective. 

There are also natural ways of reducing the frequency of your migraines and the severity of your symptoms. The first is stress management, such as a long bath after a busy day or anything else that helps you unwind. Regarding diet, you should avoid skipping meals and be consistent with the times of day that you’re eating. 

 

It would be best to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, which means getting enough sleep without oversleeping. If you’re in the midst of a migraine, you may be wondering if it’s unsafe to fall asleep. It is safe to sleep with a migraine, but it’s wise to try and treat your symptoms before falling asleep. Otherwise, they may be worse when you wake up. 

 

Migraine Treatments

If you experience chronic migraines that don’t improve much with over-the-counter medications, you may need to see a specialist. They can offer information regarding other treatment options, including acupuncture, massage therapy, botox, trigger point injections, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more. 

 

What Not To Do

You should avoid doing certain things when managing your migraines, as you could accidentally trigger a migraine or worsen your symptoms. For example, drinking lots of alcohol and caffeine can bring on migraines. The same is true for foods with strong smells.

Also, don’t take pain medication for more than 3 or 4 days. While over-the-counter medications can ease migraine symptoms, taking them too frequently can result in a type of rebound headache. If you feel the need to take these medications for more than a few days in a row, that’s a strong indicator that you need to speak with your doctor. 

 

Carolinas Pain Center Is Here To Help

There are ways of treating migraines on your own through over-the-counter medication and natural remedies. However, there are times where professional intervention becomes necessary, mainly if your migraines are overly frequent, severe, or resistant to medication. 

Our specialists at the Carolinas Pain Center can create an individualized personal treatment plan to help you manage your migraines and improve your quality of life. With our multidisciplinary approach, our services have changed people’s lives all across Charlotte and Huntersville, North Carolina.

If you have any questions or want to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to call 704-500-2332, email info@carolinaspaincenter.com, or fill out our contact form. You can also find other educational resources on our website. 

Foods That Contribute to Your Chronic Pain

  • Foods that cause pain

Chronic pain is a lingering pain lasting more than 12 weeks. The pain can occur in nearly every part of the body, with varying intensities depending on the area affected or the cause. It may feel like a sharp, dull, burning, or aching sensation deep in muscle tissues or joints.

Cases of chronic pain vary from person to person. And various treatment methods can’t seem to agree on relieving or eliminating chronic pain suffering. But one thing for sure is the effect food has on chronic pain. Studies have found a close correlation between chronic pain and diet. Some foods can promote chronic pain relief, while others can worsen the pain. Let’s identify the foods that cause pain and those that help alleviate it.

 

Chronic Pain Triggers

What causes chronic pain in the first place? Chronic pain can be due to many different factors and is linked to various conditions and illnesses. Common causes and triggers of chronic pain include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Inflammation
  • Traumatic injury
  • Bad posture
  • Degenerative changes due to aging
  • Surgery
  • Illnesses such as cancer, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), fibromyalgia, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes, etc.
  • Certain medications and treatments such as chemotherapy

 

Foods to Avoid

Here is a list of foods to avoid with chronic pain:

  • Sugars: Sugar and chronic pain go hand in hand. Sugar increases inflammation and nerve sensitivity to pain.
  • Bad fats: Avoid saturated and trans fats found in red meat, margarine, fast foods, and cream. Such fats exacerbate chronic pain from heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • Dairy products: Dairy contains lactose, a type of sugar that may cause inflammation. Also, the protein in dairy products, particularly casein, is difficult to digest and may lead to discomfort in the gut.
  • White flour: Processed white flour contains gluten, a common inflammatory ingredient.
  • Nightshade vegetables: Veggies such as green peppers, eggplants, and potatoes can increase chronic pain, especially for those with arthritis.
  • Processed foods: Most processed foods are packed with a lot of sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives, many of which can increase inflammatory pain.
  • Alcohol and caffeine: Cut down on alcohol, caffeine, and other strong stimulants if you suffer from chronic pain.

 

The Best Foods for Chronic Pain

foods for chronic painSome foods have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that give them therapeutic properties. Such foods include:

  • Leafy and cruciferous greens: Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and arugula combined with cruciferous greens such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are good for chronic pain sufferers.
  • Healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. Natural fats and oils from fish, avocados, olives, and nuts can reduce inflammation.
  • Fresh fruits: Dark-colored berries, cherries, and pomegranates are good at preventing inflammation.
  • Wholegrains: Unprocessed whole grain foods such as nuts, legumes, and grains are nutritious, high in fiber, and promote anti-inflammation.
  • White meat: Lean meat from fish and poultry is an excellent replacement for unhealthy red meat.
  • Herbs and spices: Many spicy herbs such as black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, herbal tea, and ginger are rich in antioxidants and organic anti-inflammatory chemicals.

 

Conclusion

You can control chronic pain, to some extent, by adjusting your diet and some lifestyle habits. However, no diet can directly substitute conventional pain treatment. But you can at least relieve or avoid chronic pain by eating more of certain foods and less of others.

Get lasting relief from chronic pain at Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists will help make your daily life more tolerable by managing muscular and joint aches and pains, regardless of the cause. Browse our service page to learn more about chronic pain and the solutions available to you.