Chronic 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. 

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. 

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.

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.

What Could Be Causing Your Chronic Pain?

  • chronic pain causes

Chronic pain is an ongoing pain that persists for three months or more. It can come and go from hour to hour or day to day, but it never completely disappears. Unlike acute pain, such as when you cut your finger or bang your knee, chronic pain can last for months, years, or even a lifetime.

Read on to learn more about the most common causes of chronic pain, types of chronic pain, chronic pain symptoms, and treatments for chronic pain. For most people, chronic pain changes their lives and the lives of those around them in a negative way. However, there are ways to manage or eliminate chronic pain today so it doesn’t take over your life. Once you understand more about chronic pain, you can take the steps you need to get it under control so it doesn’t become the focus of your life.

 

Causes of Chronic Pain

There are dozens of possible causes of chronic pain. Knowing the source of your pain is helpful for treatment, although it’s not always necessary. There is such a thing as idiopathic pain, which is pain from an unknown cause.

We can divide chronic pain into two basic types: neuropathic and nociceptive. Neuropathic pain is a cause of damage to or dysfunction of the nervous system, such as neuropathic pain associated with diabetes. Nociceptive pain happens when pain receptors in the body are activated, often due to an injury or degenerative condition like arthritis.

Types of chronic pain

 

Chronic pain can fall into one of five types:

  • Nerve pain (neuropathy, sciatica, etc.)
  • Muscle pain
  • Mechanical or compressive pain (from a tumor or spinal disc pressing on the spinal cord or a nerve)
  • Inflammatory pain (arthritis, soft tissue injury, infection, etc.)
  • Psychogenic pain (not caused by one of the four types above, such as pain with depression that is often due to inadequate serotonin or norepinephrine)

 

 

Within those four types of pain, medical practitioners find many different unique causes of chronic pain. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Back pain due to slipped or bulging discs, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), soft tissue injury (strain or trauma), fractures (including those related to osteoporosis), and spinal deformities like scoliosis or lordosis
  • Headaches due to eyestrain, migraines, tension, hormones, or enlarged blood vessels
  • Joint pain caused by various types of arthritis (osteo, rheumatoid, psoriatic, etc.), tendinitis, bursitis, and repetitive motion (such as walking, typing, sports, or physical labor)
  • Nerve pain, such as sciatica, pseudo sciatica (also known as piriformis or deep gluteal syndrome), diabetic neuropathy, and postherpetic neuralgia after having had shingles
  • Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or another poorly understood chronic pain syndrome
  • Post-surgical pain after an operation, including phantom pain after amputation
  • Cancer and compressive pain caused by other types of lesions
  • Post-trauma pain from an injury (anything from a car accident to a broken bone years ago)
  • Endometriosis (growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) irritating the digestive tract
  • Interstitial cystitis that results in pain due to bladder pressure
  • TMJ or temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)

Risk Factors of Chronic Pain

While it may seem that chronic pain came out of nowhere, risk factors predispose people to long-term pain or a pain disorder. If you have had these health concerns, you may be more likely to suffer from chronic pain:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Work involving strenuous physical labor or repetitive motion, especially in an environment without good ergonomic support (including driving)
  • Participation in high-impact sports involving running, jumping, or physical contact
  • Diabetes and kidney disease
  • Diagnoses with certain disorders, like endometriosis, IBS, or TMJ
  • History of physical trauma, injury, or major surgery
  • Work that entails long hours reading or using a computer
  • High-stress lifestyle
  • Inadequate sleep for long periods or chronic fatigue
  • Poor nutrition, including eating disorders
  • Chemotherapy or certain medications that stress internal organs
  • Being in the military or being a veteran
  • Excess alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Genetics (family members with a history of chronic pain)
  • Lack of regular sunlight and vitamin D
  • Being overweight
  • Aging (chronic pain is more common in the elderly)

Many of these risk factors link with chronic pain symptoms. For example, people who work in high-stress jobs are already prone to chronic pain. When their work stress impacts their sleep, diet, alcohol intake, and exercise, chronic pain symptoms can worsen, leading to even worse sleep, overeating, more drinking, and obesity.

 

Treatments for Chronic Pain

A treatment plan for ongoing pain first looks at the cause and chronic pain symptoms, as different methods work best depending on the individual situation. Also, everyone’s threshold for pain is unique. Therefore, doctors may reserve some treatments, such as surgery or prescription medication, for when the pain becomes unbearable. A more conservative approach is to avoid costly operations with long recovery periods or the risk of addiction to pharmaceuticals like opioids.

Fortunately, there are many options for treating chronic pain today, and there is a wealth of technology available to help diagnose pain and assess treatment progress. Some of the most common chronic pain treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which work well for chronic pain and inflammation
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Sleep aids
  • Other classes of prescription medication, such as antirheumatics, anticonvulsants, and opioids
  • Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine
  • Massage
  • Application of heat or cold
  • Deep brain or spinal cord stimulation
  • Diet modification
  • Nerve blocks
  • Surgery
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit that interrupts pain signals between the body and the brain

 

chronic painLiving with Chronic Pain

Sometimes practitioners cannot wholly eliminate chronic pain symptoms, even with the treatments listed in the previous section. Nevertheless, they do their best to relieve symptoms while helping patients learn to live with chronic pain, which in some cases can be a lifelong disability.

Other modalities help people manage their pain, especially those involving fostering a mind-body connection. For some people, meditation, gentle yoga, tai chi, and music or art therapy are very effective. Animal therapy is another growing area of assistance with chronic pain, such as small pet therapy or grooming horses.

Talk therapy with a counselor can be essential in helping those with chronic pain. It gives them an outlet for discussing pain-related psychological issues and can provide direction for managing stress, dealing with family, and handling work.

 

Take the First Step Toward Managing Chronic Pain

If you have chronic pain, you can take steps to make it better, and in some cases, you can eliminate the pain. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis to understand the cause of your pain. Then, you want to work with a medical professional to reduce risk factors and try treatment methods that may work for you. Sometimes you may attempt multiple treatments before you find one that relieves your pain, and you may need to pair several treatment modalities to get the best results.

Don’t let chronic pain ruin your life or assume that you can do nothing about it. Carolinas Pain Center is here to help empower you regarding chronic pain, particularly if you haven’t been able to find relief elsewhere. We offer various services for the different types of pain listed here, and we understand your pain requires a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at 704-500-2332. Or reach out online to let us know how we can help.

Tips for Dealing With Chronic Back Pain

  • chronic back pain

Back pain is so widespread that 8 in 10 adults will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. People who suffer from this condition will face disruptions in their personal and work life.

More than 40 million Americans suffer from back pain. Some let the condition go away on its own, others use homemade remedies, and the rest opt to seek medical attention.

If you are experiencing chronic back pain symptoms, you may want to know the best chronic pain management techniques. This article will provide important details about chronic back pain.

 

What Is Chronic Back Pain?

Chronic back pain refers to a feeling of discomfort in the five vertebrae that lasts for more than 12 weeks. The pain usually persists even after the underlying cause has been treated.

Chronic back pain occurs when the vertebrae move in an unnatural way. For instance, the intervertebral discs, muscles, or spines can collide or overstretch. Chronic pain can also occur if the vertebrae develop abnormal sensations or malformation.

When you get injured, your back may get sprained or strained. This can tear the muscles and ligaments in your lower back. In some instances, a traumatic injury can compress the vertebral discs or even the spine. Your vertebrae can also become inflamed if you have arthritis or other inflammatory diseases.

Symptoms

So, how do you know back pain is serious? You will know your back pain has become chronic if you have the following symptoms:

  • There is an achy or dull pain in the lower back.
  • Your feet, lower legs, thighs, and lower back become numb or have stinging pain.
  • There may be spasms in the hips, pelvis, and lower back.
  • You have difficulty completing simple activities, such as sitting, standing, and walking.

When these symptoms persist for a couple of weeks or days, then you are experiencing acute pain. You will only have chronic pain if your back keeps hurting for more than three months. By this time, the pain will be severe and you will have trouble sleeping.

 

back painCauses of Chronic Back Pain

Injuries are the primary cause of chronic back pain. The injury can sprain the back, pull a muscle, or damage the nerves. This pain will remain even after you have received back pain treatment. Other medical conditions that lead to chronic back pain are:

  • Endometriosis: This is a disorder where the uterine wall grows abnormally.
  • Fibromyalgia: This type of pain starts in the muscles and bones before spreading to the rest of the body.
  • Fatigue syndrome: This condition causes extreme pain and weariness.

Chronic pain may also not be related to a physical illness or injury. Instead, the pain may be a result of stress, anxiety, or depression.

 

How Common Is Chronic Back Pain?

Chronic back pain is one of the most common ailments among adults. As stated earlier, approximately 80% of adults will have back pain at some point in their lives. About 10% of these back pain cases will develop into chronic back pain.

This means that 8% of all Americans are suffering from chronic back pain. 

 

Treatments for Chronic Back Pain

So, can chronic back pain be healed? It is possible to treat most cases of chronic back pain, especially when the cause is known. While you can choose to undergo a surgical procedure, you can also try one of the following treatments.

Physical Therapy

When you first see a physician, they may recommend physical therapy. This is usually an exercise routine that is tailored to your specific condition. Some of these exercises will test your pain tolerance levels. Your therapist will also prescribe exercises that will improve your posture and physical form. If you follow your exercise routine, you will gradually increase your core strength.

Medications

Several types of medications can treat chronic pain, although some have side effects. The recommended medication will depend on your overall health and pain level. Since drug interactions can lead to severe side effects, your doctor should know all the supplements that you are taking.

The most common medications are COX-2 inhibitors, such as Meloxicam. In some instances, the doctor may recommend temporary opioid therapy.

Injections

If the physician can pinpoint the cause of the chronic pain, they may prescribe an injection. Steroid injections, such as nerve blocks and nerve ablations, may also help to rule out suspected causes of pain. Your physician will inject the medication into the area surrounding the spinal cord. Since the medication must end up in the right area, the physician will guide the needle with the help of an X-ray machine.

Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)

Nerve tissues can stop sending pain signals to the brain if their temperature increases. One of the ways to increase the temperature of the back tissue is to use an electric current from radiofrequency ablation.

The process starts with injecting intravenous medication and numbing a small section of your skin. The physician will then use a microelectrode to send an electric current to the affected tissue. Once the process is complete, you can expect the treatment to be effective for at least six months.

Other Back Pain Management Techniques

There are also back pain management techniques, such as:

  • Acupuncture: This is the insertion of thin needles at specific parts of the body.
  • Chiropractic care: This is the improvement of joint motion by the use of controlled force.
  • Yoga: Upper back pain can go away after doing yoga for an extended period.
  • Massage therapy: This can increase endorphin levels and reduce chronic pain.

Final Words

If your back has been hurting for more than three months, you may be suffering from chronic back pain. Several factors, such as injuries, can cause this condition. Fortunately, there are several treatments for chronic back pain, including physical therapy and injections.

You can also visit our medical center to try a new treatment for back pain. Contact us for more information.

What Does a Pain Specialist Do?

  • pain specialist

Pain specialists are doctors who specialize in treating chronic pain caused by various diseases and disorders. They generally operate at pain clinics that employ doctors from many different fields of medicine. This allows the pain specialists to create well-rounded treatment plans based on various pain-relief therapies tailored to the patients’ needs.

But what does all this mean for the patient? If you have your first appointment booked with a pain clinic or are thinking about seeing a pain management doctor, you’re probably wondering what it’s like to see one and what a pain specialist will actually do for you. Here’s everything you’ll need to know about seeing a pain specialist.

 

When to See a Pain Specialist

Anyone dealing with chronic pain should see a pain specialist. If you’ve been dealing with pain intense enough or long enough that you’re wondering if you should see a pain specialist, the answer is probably yes. For a more concrete answer, here are some indications that you should see a pain specialist:

  • Your pain persists with a specific motion or movement.
  • You’re struggling to perform day-to-day activities that you didn’t struggle with before. At this point, you’re experiencing debilitating pain. Seeing a pain specialist can make it so you can resume normal activities.
  • You find that pain radiates throughout parts of your body, or that the pain is accompanied by tingling and numbing sensations. This indicates a pinched nerve, and it is something pain specialists can help relieve.
  • You find you can only get through the day with pain medication. While this may seem like the only answer right now, it’s incredibly unhealthy to do this, and a pain specialist will be able to provide pain relief therapies that don’t solely rely on drugs.
  • Your pain is preventing you from sleeping well. The pain itself is bad enough, but a lack of sleep will cause many other health issues. Poor sleep is something that needs to be treated whenever possible.

If you’re still not sure that you meet pain clinic requirements, you can always start by visiting your primary care physician to get their opinion.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

Your first appointment with a pain specialist will be used to learn about your pain and the source of your pain so that the doctors can create a treatment plan for you. You can expect plenty of questions, such as:

  • Where is your pain?
  • What does your pain feel like?
  • How often do you feel pain?

Because pain isn’t something that doctors can objectively measure, these questions (and many more like them) are used to better understand what you’re feeling. You can also expect questions about your medical history and a variety of diagnostic tests and imaging. It can also help for you to bring any copies of imaging you have done in the past.

Prepare for your appointment by starting a pain journal.

In the moment, trying to recall everything about your pain and accurately answer those questions can be difficult. We can struggle to correctly remember things in stressful situations, and we’re not always aware of when and how we’re feeling pain. If you have an appointment booked or are planning to book an appointment, now is the time for you to start a pain journal.

A pain journal is something that you can use to record your pain as it’s happening. Just write down a short description of the pain, where it’s coming from, and rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. You’ll be able to bring this with you to your appointments, which will provide the pain management doctor with an accurate description of your pain.

This may seem like a hassle, but it’s beneficial for your treatment. You can use an easy-to-carry journal that fits in your pocket, which you can readily bring out whenever you feel pain.

 

Pain management near meTypes of Pain Treated by Pain Specialists

Pain specialists can treat pain of all kinds, whether it’s from injuries, disorders, or diseases. As long as the pain is persistent or chronic, it’s something that a pain specialist will help with. Here are some common causes of pain that specialists help treat:

  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Broken bones
  • Migraines
  • Cancer

 

Treatment Offered by Pain Specialists

While it’s easy to assume that pain specialists rely on pain medication to treat their patients, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Pain relief therapies are as diverse as the causes of pain, and treatment plans are put together from multiple disciplines to create healthy and sustainable ways for clients to live their lives free from debilitating pain. There will commonly be more than one type of treatment on a single plan so that patients can maximize their pain relief.

Here are just some of the treatment options that pain specialists can prescribe:

  • Drug Therapy. Drugs are sometimes used, although specialists won’t only rely on them. Specialists will generally get patients to start with over-the-counter medication and see if that relieves the pain. If that doesn’t work, they’ll move on to prescription medication.
  • Trigger Point Injections. This is a procedure meant to treat painful muscles using a local anesthetic injected into trigger points in the body. This treatment usually results in lasting relief.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy. Commonly known as TENS, this procedure relieves pain by stimulating nerves with a low-voltage electric current. This sort of scrambles the messages sent to your brain so that it isn’t correctly receiving pain signals.
  • Psychological Treatment. Chronic pain can easily affect your mental health. As part of pain treatment, it’s common to include psychological therapies to improve the effects the pain would have had on your health while it wasn’t being treated.

 

Treat Your Pain at the Carolinas Pain Center

If you deal with pain regularly and it’s affecting your quality of life, you owe it to yourself to go to a pain clinic. They’re trained to relieve pain of all kinds, and pain management will be able to help you live a better life. You can easily set up an appointment online. Take a look at our resources page if you want to learn more about pain and how it’s treated.

Can I Manage My Chronic Pain?

  • Chronic pain management

Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that can seriously diminish a person’s quality of life. Living with chronic pain will often lead to other health issues that can exacerbate the pain, resulting in a negative cycle of worsening conditions. Managing chronic pain means breaking out of this cycle and gradually improving your health.

If you’re living with chronic pain, it can easily feel like there’s no way of making it better. However, this article is here to help you break out of that cycle. We’ll talk about how chronic pain can affect your body and mind and give you tips on how to improve your quality of life. Instead of your pain controlling you, you can learn how to control pain.

 

Effects of Chronic Pain

Physically, chronic pain creates a lot of challenges. Day-to-day activities can gradually become more and more difficult to do on your own, and you may find that you no longer partake in hobbies you once loved. Pain can also easily affect your ability to exercise. All of these together can have a serious effect on your physical health as you won’t be moving as much as you used to.

Chronic pain can also be hard on you because of how your body responds to it. Pain triggers the stress response in the body, preparing your body to run away from the situation. Unfortunately, you can’t run from your pain, and your body’s stress response is active far longer than what’s healthy. This prolonged stress response leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues.

On top of the physical issues, chronic pain often leads to poor sleep and mental health issues. It’s common for those suffering from chronic pain to experience a change in their mood, increased anxiety, and a heightened risk of depression. Because of this, pain management and treatment may involve psychological care.

 

Living With Chronic Pain

Suffering from chronic pain doesn’t have to mean that you aren’t living your normal life anymore. While there may be a temporary halt on some of the activities you once did, proper chronic pain management can help you return to your regular routine.

Managing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain management isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding. Here are some of the ways that you can manage your own pain:

1. Exercising

When we’re in pain, exercise becomes more difficult, and it’s much more tempting to just avoid it altogether. However, not using our muscles weakens them, and we lose our stamina. After some time, this can make physical activity even harder and more painful to do, creating a downward spiral. So, make sure to continue exercising. Regular exercise can also ease your pain by keeping your muscles strong and your joints flexible. If you find what you would normally do for exercise too difficult, you can speak with your doctor or a physical therapist to look into workouts that will be less strenuous and easier for you to do.

2. Stretching

Stretching is another effective way to keep your body healthy and minimize your pain. Stretching helps to improve posture, blood flow through the muscles, flexibility, and range of motion. All of these can help reduce muscle and joint pain and overall stiffness. Here are some simple stretches you can try out. If you find it difficult to get started, try taking a hot shower or soak in the tub first.

3. Balanced Diet

Ensuring you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet isn’t likely to directly impact your pain, but it does come with benefits that will improve your health and indirectly reduce your pain. It’s easy to fall into bad habits and start eating poorly. However, a poor diet can lead to more health issues that will make chronic pain management even more difficult. A poor diet combined with difficulty exercising can also lead to weight gain, which can directly worsen chronic pain. The extra weight on your joints will create more pressure, which can increase pain. A balanced diet will make sure that you stay healthy and can help you lose weight if you need that.

4. Relaxation

Some of the health issues caused by chronic pain are a result of the body’s stress response. An effective way to counteract that response is to actively relax. Our bodies cannot be stressed when we’re relaxed, so relaxing will stop the stress response. On top of that, relaxing will also release muscle tension, which can contribute to your pain. There are plenty of ways you can relax, but we would suggest one of the following relaxation techniques: progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, or meditation. These are all techniques that will take a bit of learning to do well, but the benefits are worth the bit of effort to learn one or more of these techniques.

5. Support

Going through something difficult like chronic pain on your own is hard and can contribute to mental health issues. We would encourage you to seek support from friends and loved ones who are able to help you. It would also help to seek out others dealing with the same condition. You’ll be able to share your struggles with someone who truly understands you. If you don’t personally know anyone else suffering from chronic pain, you can check out some support groups.

Treatment for Chronic Pain

There’s only so much that you can do on your own. If it feels like chronic pain is killing you, consider getting treatment on top of doing things on your own to manage your pain. Chronic pain treatment will often consist of medical interventions that will be able to diminish your pain more than you’d be able to on your own. This will make learning to manage your pain and take care of your health much easier.

 

Finding Care for Chronic Pain

When chronic pain becomes too much, it’s time for you to seek treatment at a pain clinic. There, you’ll meet with pain specialists who will be able to devise treatment plans to minimize your pain and return your life to normal.

To get chronic pain treatment at a pain clinic, you can start by speaking with your primary care physician. If they believe a pain clinic will be helpful for you, they’ll refer you to one. However, you can just start by contacting a pain clinic directly. That would speed up the process if you’re looking for care as soon as possible.

The Carolinas Pain Center Can Help

If you need help managing your chronic pain, reach out to us at the Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists will create a treatment plan specifically for you so that you can go back to a fulfilling life without constant disruption. Visit our resources page to learn more about chronic pain, what it means for you, and what you can do to manage it.

What Happens if Chronic Pain Is Left Untreated?

  • chronic pain treatment

If you’re one of the millions of people that suffer from chronic pain, you should be undergoing chronic pain treatment. Why? Because persistent pain decreases quality of life, often significantly. Moreover, untreated or even undertreated pain can lead to serious consequences.

Treating chronic pain is extremely important, as untreated pain can have profound impacts on your body. It can affect all the major organ systems, causing immense discomfort and interfering with essential daily activities. In some cases, chronic pain that has gone untreated may even threaten your life.

In this post, we cover the basics of chronic pain and provide chronic pain examples and information to help folks from all walks of life reduce discomfort and avoid the consequences of untreated chronic pain.

 

Types of Chronic Pain

So, what happens if chronic pain is left untreated and you don’t get chronic pain treatment? Well, pain can intensify and complications can occur, which could be dangerous. But, before we get into that, we will answer the question, “What is chronic pain?” and look at the types that can affect people.

Chronic pain is pain in the body that persists for three months or longer. It may be constant or intermittent, as well as mild, moderate, or severe. Sharp, dull, aching, stinging, gnawing, nagging, throbbing, pounding, shooting, stabbing, and radiating are words commonly used by sufferers to describe their pain.

There are various types of pain that can affect an individual chronically. These include back pain, neck pain, headaches, testicular pain, and pain from diseases such as arthritis or cancer. People may also experience neurogenic pain, muscular pain (e.g., from fibromyalgia), and pain from injuries.

As mentioned, chronic pain can affect the major systems of the body, including the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the neurologic system, and the musculoskeletal system. When this occurs, pain may spread and intensify. Harmful conditions can develop, along with new symptoms.

 

 

Consequences of Untreated Chronic Pain

What can chronic pain lead to? Why do you need chronic pain treatment? Can chronic pain lead to death? These are questions that people suffering from persistent pain frequently ask, and they should. Knowing the answers to them can help avert potentially fatal complications and improve life quality.

Chronic pain, when it affects the mechanism inside the body that regulates blood pressure, increases the risk of developing hypertension. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. When the pain affects the endocrine system, the immune system may weaken, reducing the body’s ability to prevent and fight infections.

“Deconditioning” is another reason why chronic pain management is necessary. Pain affecting a particular part of the body, such as an arm or leg, often causes persons with pain to limit the movement and use of it. This can result in mobility issues and injuries due to weakness of the muscles, nerves, and joints.

In many individuals, there can be neuropsychiatric problems from untreated chronic pain. Issues such as memory loss, attention deficit, anxiety, and depression are common in long-term pain sufferers, and some increase the risk of suicide. Brain disorders and sexual dysfunction can also result from enduring pain.

 

Treatment for Chronic Pain

Typically, chronic pain does not go away. Chronic pain treatment is required to reduce discomfort and prevent complications and other symptoms. Treating lasting pain generally involves identifying and addressing its cause.

Medical professionals treat and manage chronic pain in a variety of ways. The approach that is taken depends on the type of pain you have, the cause of the pain, and your age and overall health. Often, healthcare providers will use a combination of treatment methods and strategies to alleviate pain.

Healthcare specialists may prescribe lifestyle changes (e.g., stress, exercise, diet, sleep, etc.) and medications to relieve chronic pain, such as corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, opioids, muscle relaxers, and NSAIDs. Medical marijuana can also be useful, and sedatives can help with insomnia and anxiety.

Other medical treatments for chronic pain include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, and specialized therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and talk therapy are the main therapy treatment options. Additionally, some people may find alternative pain treatments helpful.

Finding Treatment

chronic pain treatmentFinding chronic pain treatment isn’t hard; it’s just a few clicks or phone call away. However, prolonged pain can be a complex medical issue that is difficult to diagnose and treat. When that is the case, chronic pain sufferers may have to see one or more specialists. In severe cases, a multidisciplinary treatment team may be required.

Different types of specialists are available for treating chronic pain. They include pain medicine specialists, orthopedic doctors and surgeons, osteopathic doctors, and rheumatologists. Your GP can refer you as appropriate. There are also various types of therapists and neurologists that can help with the pain.

What does a neurologist do for chronic pain? They can diagnose and treat neuropathic pain caused by nerve disease. Pain signals are sent by the nerves, and neurologists can prevent pain signal generation and keep pain signals from reaching the brain using advanced medical techniques and technologies.

Depending on where you live, there may be pain centers and clinics that you can visit. These are healthcare facilities that focus on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain and provide physical, behavioral, and psychological therapies.

 

Don’t Leave Your Chronic Pain Untreated

Chronic pain can last for years and make it difficult or impossible to work, enjoy life, and take care of yourself or others. And because untreated and undertreated chronic pain has a tendency to get worse and can have dire consequences, chronic pain treatment is not something that you want to put off.

How long can you live with chronic pain? That depends on the patient and cause of the pain. But why put yourself at risk and suffer unnecessarily when there are life-altering treatments available? If you’re a chronic pain sufferer, seek treatment. There are ways to reduce, manage, and possibly eliminate your pain.

At Carolinas Pain Center, we specialize in dealing with all kinds of pain and have successfully treated hundreds of patients. If you’re interested in getting professional chronic pain treatment, make an appointment today. Alternatively, you can browse our website and learn more about us here.