Pain

Everything You Need To Know About Managing Neck Pain

  • managing neck pain

Neck pain is a common medical condition that often causes patients frustration. Living with and managing neck pain can be difficult and even prevent you from participating in your favorite activities. While the good news is that neck pain does not often suggest a serious problem, it must still be addressed.  

If you’re experiencing neck pain, keep reading to learn more. Whether your pain is from poor posture or tightness from looking down at a computer to more serious conditions, Carolinas Pain Center can help. With many treatment options available, you don’t need to live in pain! Our team helps patients with neck pain feel better in no time!

Types and Causes of Neck Pain

Whether you turned your head too quickly to answer a question or you were in a car accident, neck pain can have a variety of causes, depending on the location of the problem. For example, some neck pain can come from issues with the spinal cord, ligaments or cervical discs, cervical vertebrae, or the blood vessels, muscles, or nerves in the neck region.

Neck pain may also be due to trauma or whiplash, arthritis, nerve root irritation, poor posture, cervical herniated discs, or other medical conditions. Other common causes of neck pain include muscle spasms, osteoporosis, fractures, sprains or strains, and degenerative disc disease.

Some neck pain may be acute, meaning it is short-term pain that lasts less than four weeks. Other neck pain is considered subacute, which is pain that lasts up to 12 weeks. In addition, many chronic neck issues cause pain that lasts over three months.

Preventing Neck Pain

Prevention of neck pain is just as important as the treatment. When engaging in high-contact sports, use appropriate equipment to protect yourself. When driving, always wear a seat belt to prevent or reduce whiplash injury. If you work on a computer, it’s important to make sure the screen is at the correct height to protect against neck strains and muscle spasms. 

Here are other ways to prevent neck pain:

  • Practice good posture when sitting and standing.
  • Take breaks from working at your computer or driving. Move around and stretch your neck.
  • Don’t tuck your phone between your neck and shoulder when talking on it. Try a headset or use a speakerphone.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Don’t carry heavy bags with shoulder straps.
  • Sleep in a comfortable position with your head and neck aligned with the rest of your body. Use a small pillow and sleep on your back to flatten the spinal muscles.

Symptoms

Depending on the source of the pain, neck pain can cause patients to have many uncomfortable symptoms. These include feelings of a stiff neck, where you feel it’s difficult to move or experience sharp pains when trying to move. Generalized neck soreness or headaches may also occur with your neck pain.

Some patients with neck pain also have pain that radiates along a nerve from the neck to the shoulder or arms. You may also have difficulty lifting or gripping objects.

Treatments

How your doctor will choose to treat your neck pain will depend on the severity and type. First, non-surgical approaches may be deployed to help you in managing neck pain. Physical therapy may help as you learn exercises to strengthen the neck and correct postural issues. Heat, ice, or electrical stimulation may also be used in combination with physical therapy.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, often helps patients reduce their neck pain. Another type of targeted therapy uses traction to gently stretch the neck under the supervision of a doctor.

Several medications are also available to manage neck pain. If over-the-counter medications are not enough, your doctor may need to prescribe stronger medications. These medicines include muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants, and more.

How a Doctor Can Help

If you’re living with neck pain, it is important that you see a doctor promptly. Remember, there are many approaches to managing neck pain beyond surgery. Your doctor can help you manage neck pain through other approaches first, such as steroid injections, medial branch blocks, epidural injections, and much more.

Tired of living with uncomfortable neck pain? Is your neck discomfort impacting your quality of life and ability to enjoy every day? If so, make an appointment today with Carolinas Pain Center to learn more about neck pain treatment. Our specialists use a multidisciplinary, individualized approach to manage neck pain in a way that works for your specific needs.

How to Tell if You Have Bursitis in Your Knee

  • bursitis of the knee

Do you think you could be suffering from bursitis in your knee? Perhaps you’re experiencing knee pain, but you don’t remember twisting it or knocking it. Or maybe you have experienced a twist or impact, but the swelling and discomfort feels unusual and is localized in a specific area. All of this could indicate that you have bursitis in your knee. 

So, what do you need to do next? Read on to discover more about how to identify bursitis, what this means, and how it can be treated. Remember to reach out to the experts at Carolina’s Pain Center if you have any questions or worries about your knee.

Understanding Bursitis in the Knee

Your knee is a complex joint, complete with a number of different bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as other elements. One of these other elements is the bursa, or bursae of the knee. These are small sacs that are filled with fluid, providing protection for the joint and preventing excessive friction or impact.

Unfortunately, these bursae can become inflamed, resulting in pain and discomfort. Bursitis literally refers to inflammation in the bursa and can occur in various locations around the body. In the knee, bursitis used to be referred to as housemaid’s knee, coal miner’s knee, or carpet layer’s knee simply because it is commonly associated with the action of kneeling for an extended period of time.

The Symptoms of Bursitis

There are three general symptoms of bursitis in the knee:

  • The knee will be painful to touch, and you may feel pain while moving the joint.
  • The knee will become swollen, particularly around the area of the inflamed bursa.
  • The knee will feel hot and appear red.

Other injuries and complaints can also cause these symptoms. These are just things to look out for, and may indicate bursitis or another complaint. It’s important to seek medical diagnosis and further advice if you are unsure.

Bursitis Knee Treatment

A doctor, medical professional, or rehab specialist will generally prescribe an anti-inflammatory treatment, reducing some of the swelling around the knee. This will help you to eliminate much of the pain and discomfort associated with bursitis.

The best bursitis knee treatment, however, is rest. Bursitis may go away on its own, but only if the joint is properly protected and given time to heal. Rehabilitation services may be required if problems persist, or if there are other underlying conditions at work.

Bursitis of the Knee: Common Questions

How can you check for bursitis?

You can check by gently pressing your knee to identify any areas of pain, swelling, or heat. You may also want to look for areas of redness, or instances of pain when you move the knee. Always seek professional diagnosis if you are unsure.

Is it OK to walk with knee bursitis?

Bursitis does not affect the structure of the knee joint, so light walking should not cause problems. Don’t do anything that causes pain in the knee, however.

Is knee bursitis serious?

Some types of bursitis can be serious. If there is a bacterial infection, for example, this will require immediate treatment. This is why it is important to get your painful knee checked out by a professional.

Should I wear a knee brace for bursitis?

You don’t need to brace the knee joint if you have bursitis, as it is not a structural problem. You may want to use a light compression bandage to reduce swelling.

Does knee bursitis show up on X-ray?

No, the X-ray will not pick up bursitis. However, medical professionals may use an X-ray to determine if there are any other underlying conditions affecting the knee, such as a bone injury.

What do doctors prescribe for bursitis?

Doctors generally prescribe some sort of anti-inflammatory medication for bursitis, accompanied by rest and protection for the joint. Rehabilitation may also be required, particularly if there are other forms of damage to the knee.

Get the Treatment You Need for Bursitis or Other Knee Pain

The team at Carolinas Pain Center has the skill and understanding required to provide effective treatment, as well as rehabilitation for other knee and joint complaints. Get in touch today to book your appointment or to chat with a member of our team.

10 Common Causes of Hip Pain

  • causes of hip pain

Do you or a loved one struggle with hip pain? Wondering what it might be? Below, we’ll explore some of the most frequently seen causes of hip pain and what to do about them. Some conditions that result in hip pain may be minor, while others require more immediate attention.

What Is Hip Pain?

Hip pain is a general term that refers to any type of pain or discomfort felt in the hip. This could be muscular pain, internal pain, pain with ligaments or tendons, or soft tissue pain surrounding the hip joint.

Where Is Hip Pain Felt?

Hip pain can be felt in areas beyond the hips themselves. You may feel pain or discomfort in your thigh, buttocks, groin, or inside or outside of your hip joint. In some cases, pain from other parts of your body, such as the groin or back, can also radiate to the hip, causing hip pain (sometimes called referred pain). Hip pain causes a reduced range of motion in some people.

10 Leading Causes of Hip Pain

The causes of hip pain are quite diverse. If you’re experiencing hip pain, it’s important to seek medical care to determine the underlying cause. Below are some of the most seen reasons for hip pain:

1. Dislocation

Dislocation of the hip joint can cause serious hip joint pain. Often, dislocation is due to blunt force trauma, such as a car accident or other injury. A dislocated hip joint forces the bones in the hip to move positions, leading to significant pain. It can be exceedingly difficult or impossible to walk with a dislocated hip. This medical condition should be treated promptly.

2. Labral Tear

Your hip joint has cartilage that surrounds it, known as the labrum. When this is damaged, hip pain can start. This can happen through trauma to the area, repetitive motions, and some genetic conditions. This important structure holds the ball of your thighbone into the hip. If it is torn, the pain will persist.

3. Osteoarthritis

One of the most frequently seen causes of hip pain is known as osteoarthritis. This condition affects both men and women of any age. However, it is mostly seen in older adults. This form of arthritis happens slowly over time from age or could result from trauma.

The cartilage that surrounds your hip bone begins to break down, causing the bones to rub directly against each other. In turn, this friction results in uncomfortable hip pain. This condition is often a primary factor for many hip replacements.

4. Tendonitis

Tendonitis affects tendons that surround a person’s hip joint. These tendons are important, as they join the muscles to the bone. This condition causes the tendons to become swollen or inflamed, leading to hip pain.

5. Snapping Hip Syndrome

This medical condition causes the IT band to snap outside of the thigh and a person’s deep hip flexor to snap over the front of their hip joint. In addition, tears of the surrounding cartilage may cause snapping. This can result in serious hip pain.

6. Stress Fracture

Anyone can get a stress fracture of the hip; however, they’re frequently seen in athletes who participate in high-intensity sports. Stress fractures can improve on their own with rest and recovery.

7. Hip Fracture

Elderly patients that fall frequently experience hip fractures, though this can happen at any age. A hip fracture causes severe hip pain and will need to be treated with surgery. To repair a hip fracture, surgeons may replace the broken portion or repair it using metal plates and hardware.

8. Muscle Strains

Muscle strains, such as groin pulls, and hamstring strains, can lead to spasms and hip pain. These may range from mild to severe. You may also notice bruising or swelling in the area, along with difficulty walking.

9. Osteonecrosis

This hip condition causes less blood flow to reach the bone, leading to the death of cells. It frequently happens in the hip joint, causing the bone to collapse or weaken.

10. Trochanteric Bursitis

This fancy name may sound complex; however, this is a common problem. This condition causes inflammation of the bursa, the fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between your bones, muscles, and tendons. When the bursa is inflamed, it causes degeneration of the hip soft tissues, resulting in pain.

How Do I Know if My Hip Pain Is Serious?

Some conditions that cause hip pain are mild and will resolve with rest and recovery. However, certain conditions may require that you seek immediate medical attention. If you see a joint that appears deformed or are unable to move your legs or hip, this is a sign to seek prompt medical attention.

In addition, if your hip is suddenly swollen or you have intense pain, see a doctor right away. Any signs of infection, such as redness or chills, along with hip pain, also may indicate that prompt medical attention is needed.

What Is the Most Common Hip Problem?

According to Johns Hopkins, arthritis is the most common hip problem. 

What Medical Conditions Cause Hip Pain?

Medical conditions that commonly cause hip pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Injuries and overuse
  • Pinched nerves
  • Cancer 

Is Walking Good for Hip Pain?

Yes, walking will help keep the muscles strong and flexible to control swelling and relieve pain.

Struggling with hip pain? Make an appointment today! The pain specialists at Carolinas Pain Center can help you manage your pain, no matter where the cause of your pain lies.

We feature an individualized approach to treatment, with the core belief that no two patients are the same. You’ll receive an individualized treatment plan that will help you manage your hip pain. Want to learn more? Be sure to look at our pain services.

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.