Hydrate

Chronic Pain: What We Know And How To Manage It!

Chronic Pain

It’s important to note that all pain is real! Chronic pain is not “all in your head.” It is pain that persists beyond the acute stage (greater than two months). It often occurs independent of actual tissue damage, meaning that there is no damage to muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, etc that is causing the pain.

Chronic pain involves changes that occur within the brain in response to pain that lasts for long periods of time. Areas in the brain that are not associated with perceiving pain begin to perceive signals as pain – meaning that activities that should not cause pain are now painful! This can significantly affect the quality of one’s life.

Chronic pain affects almost 1 in 3 people worldwide! The cost in the US is about $600 billion annually for medical treatment, lost wages, and lost work time. Chronic pain is the most common reason to seek treatment and the most common reason for disability and addiction. The cost of treatment for chronic pain in the US is even greater than those for cancer, heart disease, dementia, and diabetes care.

Currently, chronic pain is not managed well by healthcare providers. A common treatment is the use of opioids. Opioids (e.g. codeine, morphine, hydrocodone (Norco), oxycodone, fentanyl) are meant for short term management of acute pain. They are not meant for long term management of chronic pain. Medication alone cannot treat chronic pain. When other treatments are added in addition to medication, outcomes are shown to be better. Some people on long term opioid treatment actually experience the side effect of hyperalgesia (or hypersensitivity) which increases pain!

How to Manage

There are several other ways to manage chronic pain in addition to medication.

Exercise – start with light, painfree activities and increase as you are able

Reduce stress as stress causes increased inflammation which can lead to increased pain

Learn more about your condition – learn how others manage to control their pain and maintain their function

Keep up with normal activities as much as possible

Improve your overall health

Avoid bed rest and inactivity – Bed rest will not improve your pain and may make it worse, as it leads to other problems such as weakness, weight gain, and poor circulation.

Consume an anti-inflammatory diet
– Emphasizes plant-based foods and anti-inflammatory spices: turmeric, ginger
– Nutrient deficiency is common in chronic pain and can be worsened by long term use of analgesics (common deficiencies include vitamin D and magnesium)
– Make sure you have the correct intake of omega 3 fatty acids

Make sure you are hydrated
– Dehydration can amplify chronic pain symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, joint stiffness, and fatigue
– Proper hydration is key in managing pain and improving our body’s function
– Caffeine intake to address loss of sleep, fatigue, and headaches can contribute to dehydration
– The recommendation for appropriate amount of water varies but 64 oz is a great place to start

Make sure you are getting enough sleep
– Position modification
– Stretching before bed
– See if there are other factors other than pain that are contributing to loss of sleep
– Caffeine intake
– Stimulants such as light or noise
– Use of cell phones or other electronics prior to bed

Physical therapy or occupational therapy to increase strength, increase mobility, and improve function as well as to address pain

Be your own advocate when seeking treatment. Only you know what you are feeling and how it affects you. Work to find the treatment that is best for you!

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!

Six Trainer Tips for Maximizing Your Program

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

~ Stephen King

Your trainer can do a lot for you, and well they should – that is what you pay them for after all! But there are some things that YOU must do in order to maximize the benefits from the work you putting in, before you can display any dissatisfaction with your program or lack of results.

Six Things You Must Do To Get The Most Out Of Your Program!

#1 – Foam Roll!

Before. After. At home while you watch TV. On the weekends. Foam rolling is maybe your best tool for preventing injury during workouts, improving your mobility so you can ingrain new functional movement patterns that will last, and improving recovery after workouts! Roll muscle bellies, avoid ligaments, tendons, bony processes and soft areas.

#2 – Do Your Homework!

The buck does not stop with foam rolling before sessions, consider adding mobility work into your daily routine to help open up your problem areas and allow you better movement. Your trainer should already know your tighter, less mobile areas so just ask for some suggestions. Froggers/Quad Rocks for tight hips; Inchworms for hamstrings; Lat Activation for shoulder mobility, etc.

#3 – Acknowledge Your Limitations!

There is ALWAYS a way to regress a movement pattern so that you can be more successful at it. It’s one thing to challenge yourself – and of course you should; it is another to force yourself into an injurious position you are not ready for! To push yourself beyond your limits will reduce and not expand them, working within the edge of your ability is how we get stronger without setbacks, complications and extreme hardship! It has to feel like work, but it doesn’t have to feel like suffering.

#4 – Ask for Progressions!

If you find yourself complacently meandering through a movement wondering why you are wasting your time, point it out to your trainer! We know sometimes people don’t want to be spotlighted or viewed as a show-off, but more than likely if it’s THAT easy you are probably missing a key point of the exercise. Help us help you by keeping open communication about what you’re feeling. Which brings us to our next tip…

#5 – Give Us Feedback!

Let us know what you like or don’t like, and WHY – If you don’t like it because it just feels too hard, maybe it’s time to talk about regressions so you can feel successful. If it hurts your back, knees, neck etc most likely something has gone awry with your movement pattern or a latent injury is rearing its head – both of which your trainer may be able to figure out ways to work around and ultimately help you overcome!

#6 – Do Your Part In The Kitchen!

All the training in the world won’t compensate for poor diet, and we have numerous blog posts that can help steer you in the right direction there. Whether you want to lose weight, bulk up, improve your athletic performance or just reduce your risk of developing the major diseases (CVD, Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, etc.) a major component of reaching your goals is going to be what you put into your body when you are not with your trainer.

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We can’t push you to be your best if you are dehydrated or if you are dizzy due to low blood sugar or sluggish due to a belly full because you ate 20 minutes before your session. Get to know your body, try different things and see what works best for you! Below are some resources for more information on nutrition!

What to Eat, When to Eat and What it Means for Your Workouts.

Junk Food Disguised as Health Food

Clean Eating With Convenience

Water and Weight Loss