Pain

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. 

Braces

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

Splints

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. 

Tips for Managing Cancer Pain

  • cancer pain

Unfortunately, 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States alone. A cancer diagnosis often brings a lot of pain from the illness itself to the patients’ treatments. Fortunately, there are ways to manage cancer pain, though, and this blog post will explore some of the best tips. We hope that these tips will help you manage cancer pain more effectively.

Assess the Pain

The first step in managing cancer pain is a comprehensive assessment of your condition and pain. This evaluation should be conducted by a healthcare professional experienced in treating cancer pain. During the tests, you will be asked about the location, intensity, and duration of your pain. You will also be asked about any other symptoms you may be experiencing. This information will help your healthcare team develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Manage the Pain

Pain is a common symptom of cancer and can be caused by the tumor itself, the treatment (chemotherapy), or other health problems. Cancer pain can range from mild to severe and interfere with routine daily activities. Fortunately, over the last 30 years, there have been many advancements in treating cancer pain. Below are some options:

Take Pain Medication

Your healthcare team may prescribe pain medications to help you manage your cancer pain. There are various types of pain medication, and your healthcare team will choose the ones that are best for you. However, it is important to take these medications as prescribed and not exceed the recommended dosage.

Try Pharmacologic and Anesthetic Approaches

There are several over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, and targeted cancer therapies that can be used to reduce cancer pain. In some cases, local anesthetics may also be used to provide relief.

Use Adjuvant Analgesics

Adjuvant analgesics are used to enhance the effect of other pain medications. They may be used when pain cannot be adequately controlled with a single medication. Some common adjuvant analgesics include NSAIDs, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Your healthcare team can help you decide if adjuvant analgesics are right for you.

Remove or Reduce the Cancer

If the cause of your pain is cancer itself, then removing or reducing the tumor may be the best approach. This can be done through surgery, radiation therapy, or other treatments. In some cases, chemotherapy can also be used to reduce the size of the tumor.

Go for Palliative Surgery or Radiation Therapy

Palliative radiation therapy is a type of radiation therapy used to relieve cancer pain without killing the cancer cells. Palliative surgery or radiation therapy can be used to relieve pain caused by cancer that cannot be operated on because it has spread to other parts of the body. 

Consider Nerve Blocks

Nerve blocks are injections that can be used to block the nerve impulses that cause acute pain. This can provide relief from pain that is not responding to other treatments. There are several different types of nerve blocks, and your healthcare team will work with you to find the one that is best for you. Some common types of nerve blocks include:

  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Peripheral nerve blocks
  • Nerve root blocks
  • Trigeminal neuralgia injections

Epidural and Intrathecal Pumps Can Be Effective

Epidural and intrathecal pumps can be used to deliver medication directly to the site of the pain. This provides rapid and effective relief from pain. These pumps can be used to provide a variety of medications, including opioids, local anesthetics, and corticosteroids. 

Neurosurgical Approaches

Neurosurgical approaches are associated with the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, etc. Neurosurgeons specialize in treating tumors and other diseases of the brain and spine. When drugs are not providing sufficient relief from pain, nonpharmacologic approaches can be used. For example, doctors can disable the nerves in the spinal cord that bring the pain impulses to the brain.

Psychological Approaches

There are several psychological approaches that patients utilize for cancer pain. They are an important part of effective pain management, as they can provide strategies to patients for relieving their stress and improving their quality of life. These include hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

These approaches can help patients deal with the stress and anxiety that often accompany cancer pain by allowing them to discuss their situation in group settings and improve their knowledge of their condition through cancer education sessions.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

In addition to medication, you may also want to consider complementary and alternative therapies. Several other approaches can be used to manage cancer pain. These include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis

Supportive Care Is Important

Finally, cancer patients need to receive supportive care, as it can improve their quality of life and help them manage their symptoms. This is achieved by preventing or treating a disease’s earliest signs and symptoms. Supportive care includes things like regular assisted physical therapy, psychological support, and nutritional counseling. Cancer can be a devastating diagnosis, but there are several effective treatments available, like surgery, chemotherapy, immune therapy, and more.

Do Cancerous Tumors Hurt?

There are many different types of cancer, each with its own unique set of symptoms. Some types of cancer may not cause any pain at all, while others may cause only mild discomfort. But other types of cancer can be very painful.

Cancers that grow quickly or spread to other parts of the body are more likely to cause pain than those that grow slowly or stay localized in one area. Cancerous tumors can press on nerves or other sensitive structures in the body, causing pain. They can also release inflammatory mediators that cause inflammation, which can lead to pain.

What Does It Feel Like to Be on Chemotherapy?

It’s hard to say what it feels like to be on chemotherapy because it varies so much from person to person. Some people feel very sick and tired, while others only have mild side effects.

The main side effect of chemotherapy is fatigue. This can range from feeling a little bit tired all the time to not being able to get out of bed for days at a time. It’s important to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Another common symptom is nausea and vomiting. This can be controlled with medication, but some people still have a lot of trouble keeping food down.

Some other possible side effects include hair loss, mouth sores, and neuropathy (tingling or numbness in the hands and feet). These are all temporary and should go away once treatment is finished.

Dealing with Cancer Pain

Overall, cancer pain can be well managed in the majority of patients. With the right tools and strategies in place, it is possible to keep the pain under control. By following the tips in this article, you can manage your cancer pain and live a more comfortable life. If you are dealing with pain from cancer, there are many ways that you can find some relief. Contact Carolinas Pain Center today for a consultation.

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.

Top Reasons You Should See a Pain Specialist

  • pain specialist

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

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

1. Find the Root Cause of Your Pain

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

2. Multidisciplinary Treatment Approach

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

3. A Referral Is Usually Not Needed

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

4. Treat Many Chronic Conditions

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

Book an Appointment with a Pain Specialist at Carolinas Pain Center

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

Exercises to Manage Your Back Pain

  • back pain exercise

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

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

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

The Importance of Exercise for Preventing and Treating Back Pain

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

Exercise helps to prevent back pain in several ways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Back Strengthening Exercises

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

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

Superman Pose

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

Pelvic Tilts

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

Bridge Pose

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

Squats

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

Stretches for Back Pain Relief

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

Shoulder Shrugs

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

Neck Rolls

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

Overhead Arm Reach

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

Cat-Cow Pose

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

Knee to Chest Stretch

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

Walking & Aerobic Exercise for Back Pain

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

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

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

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

Exercises to Avoid with Back Pain

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

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

Tips for Staying Safe While Exercising

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Lower Back Stretches

  • lower back stretches

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

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

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

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

Why Stretching Is Good for You

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

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

Lower Back Stretches to Try

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

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

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

Tips for Lower Back Stretching

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

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

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

Benefits of Lower Back Stretches

Lower back stretches can bring both direct and indirect benefits. 

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

How to Deal with Chronic Back Pain

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

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

Causes of Chronic Abdominal Pain

  • chronic abdominal pain

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

Symptoms of Chronic Abdominal Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are the Three Types of Abdominal Pain?

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

When to See a Doctor for Chronic Abdominal Pain

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

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

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

Treatment Options for Chronic Abdominal Pain

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

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

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

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

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

 

What To Do When You Feel a Migraine Coming On

  • Migraine pain

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

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

What Does a Migraine Feel Like?

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

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

 

Migraine Symptoms

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

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

Prodrome

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

Aura

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

Attack

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

Post-drome

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

 

Migraine coming on

Managing Migraine Pain

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

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

 

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

 

Migraine Treatments

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

 

What Not To Do

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

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

 

Carolinas Pain Center Is Here To Help

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

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

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

How to Find the Best Pain Management Treatment for You

  • pain management

Chronic pain is a complex medical issue, and it can, unfortunately, take quite some time to find a pain relief treatment or combination of treatments that work effectively. Chronic pain can develop as a result of an injury or a medical condition such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer treatments, and more.

Chronic pain has the potential to be a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s work and social life, as well as their mental health. Pain is defined as chronic if it lasts longer than three months or continues to be an issue longer than the usual healing time for the underlying injury or condition.

In this article, we will explore chronic pain, some pain management treatments, and the potential effects of chronic pain.

 

Pain Management Doctors

Pain management doctors, like the professionals at Carolinas Pain Center, are healthcare providers who help individuals manage all types of pain. The different chronic pain management approaches they might employ include exercise, therapy, injections, and other pain medications. A single pain management treatment may work for one person, while others may need a combination of several.

These pain management plans are designed to help people dealing with chronic or long-term pain feel better and enjoy a better quality of life.

Diagnosing Pain

The first step to finding the best pain treatment for you is to establish what is causing it. The pain management provider helping you with your pain will ask you a series of simple questions such as:

  • When do you feel pain?
  • Where do you feel pain, and does it stay in one place or radiate (move)?
  • Does your pain get better or worse when doing certain activities?

These questions will help your provider understand the type of pain you’re dealing with, hopefully, identify the cause, and use that information to develop the most effective treatment plan for you. Remember that chronic pain medication can lead to drug addiction, and so there are chronic pain management guidelines that every provider must adhere to.

This is why the best pain management programs will combine a variety of treatment methods that address your pain both in the short and long term. 

What should I tell my pain doctor?

When talking to a pain doctor, it is important to be as detailed as possible so that they can help you effectively. If your provider gets the wrong idea about the severity, location, and limits caused by your pain, it can have a detrimental effect on your chronic pain relief treatment.

Things that can help you make sure you’re getting the best possible care include:

  • Keeping a pain diary with details of when, the severity, location, and what you were doing when pain occurred or got worse
  • Learning more precise words to describe your pain such as aching, burning, cramping, dull, piercing, tender, tingling, and more
  • Explaining how your pain affects and limits your life
  • Being clear about what your pain scale means to you — not everyone’s 10 is the same!
  • Being aware of potential bias due to gender, race, body type, mental health issues, and more
  • Bringing someone who can verify what you’re saying

Treatment Plans for Pain Management

Many believe that the most effective treatment for pain is simply to take a handful of painkillers and get on with their day. But just enduring the pain is not the answer either, as both can lead to a range of complications. These include possible prescription drug addiction, an underlying and treatable condition going undiagnosed and worsening, and more.

The preferred treatment for chronic pain will combine a variety of techniques that treat both body and mind and consider a patient as a whole person rather than just medicating their pain and ignoring everything else. This is not to say that pain management doctors won’t prescribe medication when necessary, though, and some examples of the type of medication they recommend include:

pain medication

 

  • Acetaminophen (like Tylenol)
  • Steroids such as prednisone and dexamethasone to alleviate pain and inflammation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen
  • Anti-seizure medications, which can be effective when treating pain caused by injury or nerve damage
  • Beta-blockers that slow down the heart and can stop hormones, such as adrenaline, from being released
  • Antidepressants that can both improve sleep and alleviate pain in certain circumstances

 

 

Pain management programs will also often utilize therapy, which can be aimed at both mind and body.

Physical therapy is an incredibly important part of an effective chronic pain treatment plan, as pain can be exacerbated by exercise that isn’t done properly or overdoing exercises. With a proper exercise plan, you will be able to improve fitness, build tolerance, and reduce your pain over time.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help people learn about themselves, have a better understanding of what is causing their pain and the effect it is having, and what they can do about it. It is all about identifying the role that pain plays in your life and what that means for you personally.

Other pain management options that a pain management doctor may use include:

  • At-home remedies such as heat and cold therapy
  • Exercise including yoga, tai chi, swimming, walking, and a planned gym routine
  • Hands-on treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT)
  • Lifestyle changes including the use of biofeedback therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, diet changes, and more

 

Chronic pain managementEffects of Pain Without Pain Management

People with higher pain tolerance, especially those whose tolerance has built up over time due to suffering from chronic pain, tend to simply endure their pain, often using nothing more than over-the-counter painkillers to manage it on their worse days. But this is one of the worst things a person can do, as constant pain has been proven to lead to a number of sometimes debilitating side effects.

It often surprises people to learn that chronic pain has been linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression, opioid dependence, disability, and more. This is usually because people tend to misunderstand the difference between acute pain and chronic pain. Pain becomes something completely different when you are dealing with it day in and day out for months and even years.

 

Get Help for Your Chronic Pain

Living with pain on a daily basis can be one of the most challenging things a person can endure, both mentally and physically. If you’re in pain regularly — or even occasionally — speak to a pain management doctor about developing a personalized pain management plan. Remember to be completely open and honest about when you feel pain, as well as what helps to ease it or makes it worse.

It is also important to tell them if you are feeling anxious or depressed or even just suspect that you may be dealing with these serious mental health issues. Inform them about any treatments you have tried, as well as if a treatment isn’t working or the pain keeps returning.

A good healthcare provider who is skilled in chronic pain relief treatments will work with you to adjust your program and find a method that is more effective for you. If you would like more information on chronic pain, please visit our resources page.

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.