Chronic Pain

Ways to Treat Chronic Back Pain Without Surgery

  • chronic back pain

Back pain is extremely common, with a majority of Americans experiencing either acute or chronic back pain after the age of 30. Chronic back pain, which is discomfort that lasts for 12 weeks or more, can be especially debilitating. People may avoid exercising or other activities that can worsen existing soreness. The pain can harm your quality of life, limit career options, and even cause depression.

If the ache is severe enough, you may think surgery is the only option. A physician can help you decide if this is really the case. However, they may also tell you that you can treat chronic back pain without having an invasive procedure.

Here is a closer look at back pain and how to treat it without surgery.

What Causes Chronic Back Pain?

Back pain could come from a variety of health problems or injuries.

  • Pain from bone or spine development. Issues like scoliosis (a severely curved spine) or spina bifida (malformed vertebrae) can cause ongoing back pain, especially in the lower back.
  • Pain from injuries. Injuries can include muscle or tendon strains or sprains. Overuse of specific muscles could also lead to spasms, cramps, or joint pain.
  • Pain from trauma. Severe trauma could cause misalignment in the spine or compressed discs. These acute symptoms could lead to chronic pain if not properly managed.
  • Arthritis in the back. Arthritis causes inflammation in the back, making you feel stiff and causing pain when you move. Arthritis is usually an age-related condition, though some people can get osteoarthritis at a younger age.
  • Nerve issues. The spine has many nerves, and if one becomes compressed, it could cause pain. Sciatica, a compressed nerve problem, is a common source of lower back pain.
  • Illnesses. Infections or viruses can cause temporary stiffness or pain in your back. Some infections can move into your vertebrae, causing chronic pain that won’t go away until you treat the infection.


Unless you have a severe injury, you may be able to try non-surgical treatments to eliminate chronic back pain.

Non-Invasive Chronic Back Pain Treatments

Here are the most common examples of non-surgical treatments you can try.

Physical Therapy

If your back pain is related to posture, an injury, or repetitive motion strains, physical therapy may be the best choice. PT involves stretches, strength exercises, and posture correction. You work with a therapist and may use equipment, braces, or other tools to assist in your therapy. A PT specialist may also show you exercises that you can perform at home to prevent future injuries.


Your diet can affect your back health in several ways. First, eating anti-inflammatory foods can help relieve arthritis in back joints. Dishes including colorful vegetables, leafy greens, berries, nuts, and whole grains can offer these benefits. Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, have beneficial omega-3 acids that can counteract inflammation.

If you are overweight, you may be putting extra strain on your spine. A diet that helps you shed extra pounds can also bring some relief, especially if you suffer from lower back pain.

Acupuncture and Acupressure

Acupuncture uses small needles, placed just under your skin, to stimulate pressure points throughout your body. The goal is to stimulate the body’s natural responses to pain. Acupressure focuses on the same points, but it relies on hand pressure instead of needles for stimulation.

Heat or Topical Treatments

You can use heat for back pain. A heating pad can be especially useful for a muscle strain in your back. It loosens tight or stiff muscles and boosts circulation, which can speed up healing and recovery.

Topical lotions and gels can also help reduce acute or chronic back pain. Some of these treatments provide a circulation-boosting heating sensation, while others contain gentle numbing agents that offer short-term pain relief. Some topical medications have anti-inflammatory ingredients that can help relieve pain from arthritis in the back.


Injections may also provide relief from chronic back pain. There are several types of shots that you can get. Muscle relaxants or local anesthetics can loosen knotted muscles.

This may help correct posture issues related to overtightening. A doctor can also give you a steroid injection to reduce inflammation caused by an injury, illness, or arthritis.

Back Manipulation

A chiropractor or osteopathic doctor can apply pressure and manipulate your back to improve alignment. This can help with posture, relieve pain, and relax muscles. You may need a series of these non-invasive treatments to see full results.

Some specialists may use devices to aid in your chiropractic treatment. For example, they could put you into a traction device, which can gently stretch your spine, muscles, and ligaments with the goal of improving alignment.

Massage therapists also manipulate muscles, but they are not qualified to perform the same structural manipulations as licensed chiropractors and osteopaths.

Get Help for Your Chronic Back Pain

Carolinas Pain Center offers treatments for chronic pain. If you are suffering from issues such as back arthritis or a muscle strain, please reach out. Our medical experts can offer diagnoses, treatment options, and pain management solutions. We can offer choices that can bring you relief and help you perform your daily activities without discomfort.

If you are ready to address chronic back pain, make an appointment with Carolinas Pain Center today. 

A Guide to Chronic Pain Management

  • chronic pain management

Chronic pain management is crucial. Everyone experiences pain at some point in their lives. Whether it’s a sharp shoot after banging your elbow or the aches of an upset stomach, pain is an unfortunate aspect of existing. When you start to experience chronic pain, life can become unpleasant. 

By definition, chronic pain lasts for 12 weeks or more. It can arise without any history of an injury or operation. If you’re experiencing it, chances are you’re undergoing some significant mental and physical strains. Alongside making an appointment to manage your pain, it’s worth learning more about how you can address it. 

What chronic pain feels like

Everyone’s experience of chronic pain is different, so it isn’t easy to pinpoint exactly what it feels like. However, many describe it as sharp, dull, aching, or burning. You may also notice painful tingles in some areas or an overall unpleasant sensation accompanied by fatigue.

Alongside the physical sensations that come with chronic pain, it’s important to acknowledge the other ways it can make you feel:

  • Persistent tiredness or an inability to complete everyday activities
  • Anxiety and signs of depression
  • Feeling stiff
  • A sensation that your bones and muscles are weak

When you discuss every aspect of your condition with a professional, they’ll form a chronic pain management plan that addresses everything. It may help you to keep a diary of your symptoms so you feel confident discussing them with the people who provide your treatment.

Self-help for managing chronic pain

Chronic pain management can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. However, by routinely engaging in self-help measures, you can gain control of your condition. Doing so alongside seeking help from a professional can be empowering and life-changing.


Exercise plays an important role in chronic pain management. You don’t need to do anything too strenuous. Instead, focus on gentle exercises that boost endorphins and stretch your muscles. Popular forms of exercise include swimming, walking, yoga, and stretching. It may help to speak to a physiotherapist who can recommend specific approaches for your condition. It’s also important to know that doing small amounts of exercise on your bad days is as important as reaching your goals on your good days.

Staying in work

Staying away from work may result in your symptoms worsening. You might also increase your risk of depression if you quit your job. If you’re finding that work is difficult, speak to a medical professional so they can discuss useful occupational adjustments. You may also want to speak to your boss or supervisors so that they have the chance to assist you. If you feel especially fatigued, it may be useful to reduce to part-time hours.

Professional help for chronic pain relief

If you’re seeking professional help for chronic pain, it’s best to take a multidisciplinary approach. Chronic pain can benefit from the attention of doctors, physiotherapists, and counselors. The type of treatment you’ll use may vary according to where you are in your journey and the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Medications for chronic pain

Medications for pain range from everyday off-the-shelf products to specialist targeted therapies. The types you’ll benefit from will vary according to the symptoms you’re experiencing. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and prescription from someone who understands chronic pain well. The team caring for you may also want to review your medications from time to time.

Mental health support

Battling with chronic pain can sometimes affect your mental health. For example, you may feel anxious about everyday activities. You might also experience signs of depression. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression can worsen your symptoms. It’s for that reason that seeking counseling is important. With the right techniques, you can bring a sense of balance to your well-being and feel confident in managing your condition.

Chronic pain physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can become one of your most useful tools in managing chronic pain. An experienced physiotherapist can guide you through exercises and give you advice on using them at home. With the right approach, you can improve your function and your movement.

Living with chronic pain

Chronic pain can easily touch every area of your day-to-day life. Fortunately, having the right support in place and emboldening yourself with knowledge can make a big difference. Whether the cause of your pain is unknown or has clear medical roots, our team is ready to support you.

Understanding the Symptoms of Neuropathy

  • symptoms of neuropathy

Do you know if you are experiencing symptoms of neuropathy? Neuropathy is a complication within the nervous system. It is caused by the degeneration of the nerves situated outside of the spinal cord and brain. While this problem is irreversible, you can take action to help fend off neuropathy or control it through treatment, lifestyle, and diet.

Symptoms of neuropathy are usually unpredictable and differ greatly from person to person. The symptoms are influenced by the group of nerve fibers affected and the severity of impairment.

There are four main types of neuropathy, each with its own type of symptoms and diagnosis.

1. Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral nerves are located outside your spinal cord and brain. They are part of the peripheral nervous system that includes neuromuscular junctions, spinal nerves, their branches and roots, and cranial nerves.

Peripheral nerves transmit signals from the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body. They are vulnerable and can be damaged easily. Peripheral nerve injuries can hinder the brain’s ability to communicate with organs and muscles. As a result, these injuries present various problems to patients, varying from life-long impairment to mild discomfort.

Damage to peripheral nerves is commonly associated with:

  • Uncontrollable muscle twitching
  • Painful cramps
  • Muscle weakness

Muscle spasms and twitches will manifest in the arches of the foot, ribcage, belly, arms, hands, calves, and thighs. Most muscle twitches are inconspicuous and aren’t a reason for worry. However, muscle spasms can make breathing, eating, talking, and walking difficult.

A muscle cramp occurs when a muscle contracts uncontrollably and suddenly. A cramp can go on for varying durations and mostly resolve by itself. There are many causes of cramps, but compression of nerves in the spine is the main cause of cramp-like pain in the feet.

The doctor may conduct electromyography to evaluate the state of the muscles and the nerve cells that manage them.

2. Proximal neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy is a disabling and rare type of nerve injury in the thigh, buttock, or hip. It typically affects one side of the body initially, but gradually, the symptoms will worsen and spread to both sides. Diabetes mellitus is the most common cause of proximal neuropathy.

Your doctor will diagnose proximal neuropathy by inquiring about your symptoms and conducting tests like nerve conduction studies. If the proximal neuropathy is suspected to be caused by diabetes, your doctor will check your glucose level through a blood test.

Symptoms of proximal neuropathy include:

  • Pain in your thigh, buttock, and hip, which is severe and sudden
  • Loss of reflex response — as a result, your muscles may be so weak that you won’t be able to complete everyday activities
  • Serious foot problems, like ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone and joint damage
  • Unwanted weight loss — this happens when your body starts burning muscles and fat at a quicker pace because it is not receiving signals in time
  • Weakness in the legs

While the specific causes of diabetic neuropathy remain a mystery, multiple factors may give rise to the disorder. Diabetic neuropathy is generally caused by high blood sugar levels experienced over a long period. This leads to chemical changes in nerves and makes it more difficult for the nerves to transmit signals. Other causes are obesity and high triglyceride, smoking, and low “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

You can manage proximal neuropathy pain with the same medication used to treat peripheral neuropathy pain. Similarly, regular exercise can successfully restore nerve function and boost nerve regeneration. Consequently, it would be best if you prioritized these exercises:

  • Low-impact cardiovascular exercises
  • Strength training
  • Balance and stability work
  • Mind-body exercise

3. Autonomic neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy happens when the nerves that manage involuntary body operations are destroyed. This has a negative impact on sexual function, bladder function, digestion, temperature control, and blood pressure.

Autonomic neuropathy has varying symptoms depending on the type of nerves that are damaged:

Blood pressure and heart rate symptoms

When the nerves that control blood pressure and heart rate are injured, they are unable to respond to changes in breathing patterns, sleep, physical activity, stress, and body position quickly. As a result, your blood pressure may decrease when you stand or sit. Moreover, your heart rate will remain too low or high rather than changing with body exercise and functions.

Digestive symptoms

Damage to the nerves that control the digestive system will result in multiple gastrointestinal symptoms. You may feel constipation that may be accompanied by diarrhea. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, bloating, vomiting, and nausea.

Urinary symptoms

You may not be able to initiate urination or incontinence when you develop autonomic neuropathy. Sensing a full bladder may also become a significant problem. Similarly, you may have difficulties emptying the bladder, which may cause urinary tract infections.

Body temperature symptoms

Autonomic neuropathy can interfere with the body’s ability to detect temperature changes in the atmosphere. This can lead to sweating abnormalities, like sweating too little or too much. Consequently, your ability to regulate body temperature will become ineffective.

Sexual symptoms

Autonomic neuropathy is punctuated by damage to the nerves that control blood flow to the vaginal area and enable smooth muscle relaxation. Therefore, the onset of autonomic neuropathy can lead to multiple sexual difficulties, such as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection in men. Women also experience issues like difficulties reaching orgasm, low libido, and vaginal dryness.

Lung symptoms

Damage to the autonomic nervous system can cause problems with your lungs. The result is shortness of breath that may be accompanied by fainting.

Vision symptoms

Autonomic neuropathy has a negative effect on your eyes’ pupils. The pupils will be unable to adapt quickly to changing light. This may be a problem, especially when you are driving at night or moving into a brightly lit area.

4. Focal neuropathy

Focal neuropathy is a condition in which you experience damage to a single nerve, primarily in your leg, torso, head, or hand. It is less common than other types of neuropathy and manifests in different ways:

Carpal tunnel syndrome

The median nerve is a sensory nerve that offers motor functions to the three middle fingers and the thumb. Compression pressure on the median nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition usually affects the narrow passageway in the palms of the hand.

In most patients, carpal tunnel syndrome will worsen if left untreated for a long period.

Carpal tunnel syndrome’s main symptoms are weakness, tingling, and numbness in your hand. You may also experience shock-like feelings that move into your fingers. These symptoms usually come and go, and they are often more prominent at night.


Mononeuropathy refers to damage to a single nerve that is located near a bone or close to the skin. If the symptoms develop suddenly, it is called acute mononeuropathy. However, if the symptoms develop slowly, it is called chronic mononeuropathy.

Mononeuropathy is generally caused by injury or diseases that affect the entire body. For instance, a prolonged cramped posture, cast, tumor, and any form of compression against a hard surface can induce mononeuropathy.

Mononeuropathy leads to abnormal sensations, such as loss of sensation and pins-and-needles, in the region supplied by the affected nerve. You may also experience numbness, paraesthesia, and a stabbing sensation. Other symptoms of mononeuropathy are loss of coordination and muscle mass in the affected region.

Plexus neuropathy (brachial plexus)

Plexus neuropathy is a condition that involves the damage of nerves in the upper shoulder area. It leads to severe pain in the arms and shoulders and may restrict movement. Plexus neuropathy is also characterized by loss of sensation or extreme pain in the nerves that carry signals from and to the spinal cord and brain.

Plexus neuropathy is common among athletes, especially footballers. Babies can also develop the condition if they are injured during birth.

The main symptoms of plexus neuropathy are weakness, tingling, and numbness in the shoulders and chest. You may also experience unusual sensations and poor muscle control in the region around the shoulders.


Radiculopathy refers to a series of conditions that are caused by the compression of a nerve root in the spinal area. The main symptoms of radiculopathy include pain, weakness, and numbness. You may also experience a loss of sensation, decreased motor skills, and pain associated with neck straining or movement.

Let us help you

At Carolinas Pain Center, we help patients struggling with symptoms of neuropathy. In particular, we focus on unique pain management techniques. You can be sure of a customized holistic approach to treatment and care at our health facility.

Our health experts will diagnose the causes of your pain and recommend the appropriate treatment. We can also implement a lifestyle change plan to help manage your neuropathy pain. Contact us today to book an appointment.

How to Recognize Arthritis Pain

  • arthritis pain

Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints, causing pain and inflammation. It is a common condition, and there are many different types of arthritis. 

If you are experiencing joint pain, it’s important to know how to recognize arthritis pain so that you can get the treatment you need. This article will discuss the different symptoms of arthritis pain and how to treat them.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Let’s go through some of the most common symptoms of arthritis:


The most common symptom of arthritis is also known as arthralgia. It can range from a mild ache to severe pain that limits your ability to move and perform activities of daily living. Arthritis pain is often described as a deep, throbbing, or dull ache. The pain may be worse in the morning or after periods of rest. It can also be aggravated by too much activity or weather changes.


Joint stiffness is another common symptom, especially in the morning. The stiffness may last for several hours and can prevent you from moving your joints through their full range of motion.


In some cases, arthritis can cause deformity in joints. This may result in visible changes, such as knobby fingers (called Heberden’s nodes) or a hunched back (called kyphosis). Arthritis can also cause the nails to become brittle and thin.


Arthritis can cause fatigue, which makes it difficult to do everyday activities. 

Inflammation and Swelling

Arthritis can cause inflammation, which can lead to pain and can be felt as swelling, redness, and warmth in affected joints. Swelling may also be a sign of other conditions, such as infection. If you have swelling in your joints, it’s important to see a doctor so that the cause can be determined.

Types of Arthritis and Their Symptoms

If your symptoms become an issue, your specific situation can be assessed to identify what type of arthritis you have. Below are some of the most common forms of arthritis and their early symptoms:

Early Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the larger joints. The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the joint, which may be accompanied by stiffness, swelling, and loss of range of motion. In the early stages of osteoarthritis, these symptoms may come and go and may not be very intense. As the disease progresses, however, it can become more constant and more severe. 

Other symptoms of osteoarthritis include warmth and redness in the affected joint, numbness or tingling in the hand or feet, and a feeling of grating or crunching in the joint when moving it. Exercise and losing weight are two recommended ways of lessening the effects of osteoarthritis. Low-impact exercises, along with over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, are some of the best ways to keep osteoarthritis at bay.

Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints and surrounding tissues. Early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, loss of appetite, and low-grade fever. These symptoms may be mild at first and come and go over time. As the disease progresses, the symptoms may become more severe and persistent. Joints may become swollen, red, and warm to the touch.

In advanced cases, joints may be severely damaged, resulting in deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other organs in the body, including the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis typically involves a combination of medication and changes in lifestyle. The first medicine that patients are typically given is a DMARD called methotrexate. Patients can also take steroids or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

Early Gout Symptoms

Early gout symptoms can be difficult to identify, as they can resemble those of other conditions. However, there are some telltale signs that may indicate the presence of gout. It often attacks the large joint of the big toe.

The most common symptom is intense pain in the joint, which may be accompanied by swelling, redness, and heat. In some cases, people may also experience a tingly sensation or a feeling of pins and needles in the affected area. Other symptoms may include fatigue, fever, and nausea. Gout can be a very painful condition, but with early diagnosis and treatment, patients can be released from a lot of the pain that comes with it. Typical treatments include cold packs, over-the-counter pain relievers, and corticosteroids.

Getting Treatment for Arthritis

If you are experiencing arthritis pain, it’s important to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. There are many different treatments available for arthritis, and the sooner you start treatment, the better. Arthritis is a progressive condition, meaning it will only get worse over time. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of arthritis and prevent further joint damage, even though it may be hard to notice the symptoms at first.

There are many different types of arthritis, so it’s important to see a doctor who can properly diagnose your condition. Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor will develop a treatment plan that is specific to your needs. Treatment plans for arthritis pain may include medication, physical therapy, exercise, weight loss, joint surgery, or lifestyle changes.


Arthritis is a degenerative disease, and while there are many different kinds of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Treatment for arthritis depends on the type you have and how severe your case is. There are many treatments available that can help reduce pain and improve mobility, so if you are looking to explore your options for treating arthritis, contact Carolinas Pain Center today!

Bracing and Splinting for Chronic Pain

  • chronic pain management

When you have chronic pain, you want to alleviate the ache as much as you possibly can. Tendinitis, arthritis, or repetitive stress injuries can cause pain, and splinting or bracing can help improve your function, decrease pain levels, and reduce irritation. But, which one is the best support system for your needs? Braces and splints offer different levels of control and support, depending on how long and how you choose to wear them. We’ll outline both below. 

Braces vs. Splints for Chronic Pain Management

One of the first things you have to do is decide if you need a brace or a splint. These are both assistive medical devices that can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, but they work in slightly different ways. While both braces and splints can help with chronic pain, one may work better over the other for your situation. 


A brace is a device that you wear to stop any further agitation in your joint by immobilizing whichever part of your body you wear it on. Braces usually feature a rigid stay or have rigid fabric that helps to treat minor injuries or pain flare-ups. You can use a brace to treat minor sprains or carpal tunnel syndrome. You can choose from different braces, including: 

  • Ankle and foot braces
  • Back support
  • Elbow braces
  • Hand and wrist braces
  • Knee braces
  • Shoulder braces


A splint is something you’ll use to treat more serious conditions or injuries as it acts like an immobilizer. Very similar to a brace, splints have a stiff fabric design to them. However, splints also come with a rigid piece of plastic or metal built in to strengthen them more. Since this gives splints more stability, you’d use them to treat fractures, major sprains or flare-ups, and carpal tunnel syndrome. There are a few types of splints, including: 

  • Ankle stirrup
  • Finger splint
  • Nasal splint
  • Posterior elbow
  • Posterior full leg
  • Posterior lower leg
  • Sugar tong
  • Thumb spica
  • Ulnar gutter
  • Volar wrist splint
  • Wrist or arm splint

How to Use Braces and Splits for Chronic Pain Management

Now that you know the most popular splints and braces available, we’re going to touch on several ways you can use them for your chronic pain management. 

Low Back Pain

You can use soft or rigid braces to help with your low back pain. Soft braces will increase your abdominal core’s pneumatic mechanism, and this gives your back internal rigidity to support your spine. A rigid brace provides external support for your spine and back muscles. They’re useful for helping manage spine conditions that cause low back pain, and you can use them to stabilize the area. 

Muscle Sprains or Strains 

Ankle, knee, elbow, and foot braces are common assistive devices with tendon or ligament sprains or strains. They can provide just enough support to allow you to use it on a limited basis. Additionally, having a brace on your strained or sprained area can help prevent you from overusing it and causing irritation. 

Neck Pain

There are rigid and soft collars that can help treat neck pain. The soft brace works best for whiplash-type injuries, and you usually wear them for two to four weeks. Rigid braces offer dynamic tension that will eventually change your neck on a mechanical level to get you to a thoracic spine orientation. It’s common to wear a neck brace after neck surgery to help keep the cervical spine stable. 

The Carolinas Pain Center Can Help With Chronic Pain Management 

If you have chronic pain, it’s essential that you have a dedicated team on your side to help treat and manage your day-to-day symptoms. We can also help decide if a brace or splint would be more appropriate for your needs. Book an appointment with our team today. 

Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Your Chronic Pain

  • chronic pain management

If you suffer from chronic pain, there’s no single method to relieve it. Instead, it’s best to combine multiple tactics as part of a comprehensive chronic pain management plan. Here are eight lifestyle changes you can embrace to relieve pain. Try using them in combination for pain relief. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also help fight lower life expectancy that is associated with chronic pain.

Improve Your Diet

Eating more cleanly will help your overall health and reduce inflammation in the body that causes or exacerbates pain. What is clean eating? It’s simply consuming food in its most natural state, closest to its origins. For example, instead of eating foods made with refined flour (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.), eat whole grain products. Rather than drinking juice, have an orange or an apple.

One tip you can use when grocery shopping for clean eating is to try to buy most of your products from around the perimeter of the store, where you’ll find perishable foods like eggs, fish, and fresh produce. The less you eat from a bag, box, or can, the better. Try making things like soup or spaghetti sauce from scratch.

Get rid of sugar as much as possible. Sugar is one of the most inflammatory things you can eat. Not only will your joints and muscles appreciate the change, but your skin, digestion, and cardiovascular system will also function better. Avoid artificial sweeteners in lieu of stevia. In recipes, try using naturally sweet elements, like fruits.

The great thing about clean eating is it’s adaptable to whatever kind of diet you eat. You can be a vegan, a pescatarian, or an omnivore and still eat clean. When you start eating clean, you can also typically increase the volume of food you’re eating because you’re eating things like leafy greens and lean proteins. It might surprise you to know that low-calorie diets can contribute to low back pain. When you don’t get enough nutrients, it doesn’t matter if you’re only consuming a small number of calories. Your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs, and pain can be a symptom.

Stay Hydrated

Everyone’s hydration needs are different, so you have to figure out how much water you need to stay fully hydrated. You don’t want to become dehydrated because this saps the natural lubricants in your joints and deprives cells of the fluid they need for optimum function.

Follow these tips to improve your water consumption:

  • Keep a refillable water bottle with you, so you have access to water no matter where you go.
  • Set an alarm on your phone if you tend to forget to drink water.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to consume water – stay ahead of the game.
  • Watch out for alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, which are dehydrating.
  • Look at the color of your urine; it should be a pale yellow, like straw. Anything darker means you’re probably dehydrated.

Lose Excess Weight

Every step you take puts pressure on your lower extremities. If you are overweight, you are adding even more impact to your movement. That can take a toll on your back, hips, legs, and feet.

Losing weight can make a huge difference in how you feel on a day-to-day basis. And the more weight you lose, the easier it becomes to exercise, which also helps with pain management (see “Reduce Stress” below).

If you’re already exercising a lot, but those pounds won’t budge, it may help to consult with a nutritional specialist, like a registered dietician. Also, check with your primary care provider to make sure you don’t have any medical conditions, like hypothyroidism, that could be slowing down your metabolism.

Reduce Stress

Chronic stress can lead to or provoke mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, that actually cause physical pain. When the chemicals in your brain are out of balance, you can experience body aches and fatigue that make other pain worse.

If you’re already dealing with chronic pain, psychologically caused pain can further isolate you and cause feelings of hopelessness. But managing stress can help reverse that. Some ways to reduce stress include:

  • Get plenty of exercise without overdoing it.
  • Spend time in nature, around pets, or with friends and family you enjoy seeing.
  • Join a support group or find a counselor to talk through issues bothering you.
  • Get long-term problems under control (money management, career objectives, etc.)
  • Take up a relaxing hobby, like painting, music, or cooking.
  • Try traditional Eastern therapies, such as tai chi, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, or massage.
  • Learn to say “no” to too much, both at work and at home.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going to avoid classic stressors like rush hour traffic jams.
  • Avoid substance abuse, which seems like an escape but actually makes stress worse.

Quit Smoking

If you thought eating sugar was bad, smoking is a million times more harmful to the body. Quitting smoking will affect virtually every body system in a positive way. You’ll get better blood flow throughout the body, which helps with the circulation of both natural pain relievers and any medications you take. You’ll be able to exercise more and enjoy the foods you eat.

Work on Sleep Hygiene

All the healthy eating and exercise in the world won’t help you if you aren’t sleeping well at night. Sleep hygiene is the medical term for creating an environment that’s conducive to restful slumber, so you wake up refreshed in the morning. Follow these suggestions to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, giving yourself enough time for the sleep you need, whether that’s six hours or nine hours.
  • Don’t bring stress into the bedroom, such as doing work in bed.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine that you practice every evening, like taking a warm bath and having a cup of herbal tea.
  • Get rid of screens about an hour before you intend to go to sleep, or use screen shaders or blue-blocking glasses if you must use an electronic device.
  • Make sure your room isn’t too hot or too cold (slightly cool is good for inducing sleep and has other benefits too). Use layers of blankets to get the comfort you need throughout the night. Wear comfortable pajamas of natural fabrics that breathe well.
  • Keep kids and pets in their own spaces as much as possible.
  • Try using white noise if silence or ambient sounds are disturbing your sleep.

If you try all these tips and feel tired when you arise, you could have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if this is a possibility.

Be Conscious of Your Posture

Your posture when you sit, stand, or move can have a huge influence on your chronic pain. You could be putting stress on your spine and joints by not positioning yourself correctly. Make sure you sit and stand up straight and use proper support and ergonomics, whether you’re at your desk at work or reading in bed.

Use footwear with good arch support, and avoid high heels and shoes with pointed toes. Engage your abdominal muscles for extra help when exercising or lifting objects. If you’re not sure how to do this, a personal trainer or physical therapist can show you how.

See a Qualified Pain Specialist

Chronic pain management can be challenging without a pain specialist to help you. You may not even know what’s causing your pain or where to start with treatment. That’s where Carolinas Pain Center can assist you.

We are a group of providers who are pain specialists in North Carolina. We can help you get relief and learn how to manage pain so you don’t feel overwhelmed by it and can get back to loving life. You don’t have to accept the chronic pain you’re experiencing now when there are many options available to you. Start with the tips above, and reach out to Carolinas Pain Center today to learn how you can do more.

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, or fill out our contact form. You can learn more about our treatment options from our informative resources page. 

Tips to Relieve Sciatica Pain

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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, 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.


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.