Chronic pain isn’t an easy condition to handle, but you can take control.
Simple changes in your lifestyle, diet, and exercise routines can help ease your pain. After all, you can be your own best physical therapist!
Try these techniques to experience relief:
1.Manage stress.Stress can increase chronic pain and make it more difficult to manage. Try a variety of strategies to relax and reduce stress to see which ones work the best for you.
·Yoga and meditation are two stress-reduction strategies that can help.
2.Try breathing exercises.
By simply focusing on your breathing, you can relax your muscles and reduce pain.
Deep breathing exercises can also reduce blood pressure, eliminate stress, and decrease heart rate. When you breathe in, breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth with a semi-pursed lip, slowly to allow better gas exchange in the lungs.
3.Find fun distractions.Instead of concentrating on the pain, try distractions that help you forget about it.
·Hobbies and activities such as watching your favorite movie or reading a new book can help. You may also want to try drawing or other ideas that help you fill your time and avoid thinking about the pain.
4.Increase your water intake.Dehydration can make chronic pain worse. Have you tried coconut water? Choose the pure coconut water, not from concentrate, no sugar added kind. Many brands are available in the market. I know it’s an acquired taste but it is rich in natural electrolytes and potassium. Muscle cramps? Coconut water can help. You can find many different brands at your favorite grocery or health foods store.
5.Avoid inflammatory food. Fast food and processed food can increase inflammation in your body, so your chronic pain also increases. Foods with a lot of sugar and salt also contribute to inflammation and increased pain.
6.Add more anti-inflammatory food.On the other hand, nuts, leafy greens, fatty fish, berries, and other items can help you fight inflammation and reduce pain.They have antioxidants that fight damage on the cellular level.
7.Focus on posture.Posture can help reduce the stress on your back and cut down on chronic pain.
·Consider the way you sit and stand. Experts recommend that you avoid slumping your shoulders and lowering your head. The spine should be straight, so circulation is better.
8.Discuss your health.Researchers have found that talking about your health can reduce pain. The American Psychological Association points out that talking about your pain can help you discover management techniques.
9.Try massage.Massages can reduce chronic pain by improving circulation and blood flow.
·Massages help reduce back, shoulder, and neck pain. They can also help your overall health. Improved circulation, looser muscles, helps uplift your mood from the endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, being stimulated.
Try using heat or cold packs over sore muscles and joints. See which one gets you the best relief.
TIP:Heat expands: meaning, more blood flow into the area due to blood vessels and the lymphatic system more open. COLD constricts, used mostly with acute bruising or injury. Ask your physical therapist which one to use best for your condition.
10.Find support. Health experts recommend finding support groups that focus on chronic pain. These groups give you the chance to meet others who suffer from chronic pain.
·They can offer advice and tips for managing pain. They can also provide doctor and clinic reviews or recommendations. By talking to others who have chronic pain, you can learn new techniques to deal with your pain.
·Chronic pain is linked to anxiety and depression. The social aspect of support groups can also help in coping with these side effects.
·Support groups are less formal settings, and online groups offer privacy and anonymity, so you can feel comfortable sharing your experience.
Even if you take medication for your pain, you can further, reduce it with these techniques.
Follow your doctor’s advice, reduce stress and inflammation, and find support.
Life is worth living. And we do need to take charge if we want the pain relief we seek.
A Hip and Knee Replacement or other surgeries can be a lifesaver…..Working closely with an orthopedic surgeon who is exceptional in performing knee and hip surgeries, I came up with a quick guide that can prove helpful to persons who are facing the possibility of a knee or hip replacement.
More than 7 million Americans are living with an artificial knee or hip, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and those figures are likely to keep growing. Total knee replacements more than doubled between 2000 and 2009, and total hip replacements increased almost as much.
Severe Osteoarthritis is the common reason why a knee replacement or a hip replacement is indicated. Arthritis causes degeneration and erosion within the joint that erodes the soft tissues including the meniscus.
This causes both the bone of the thigh and the lower leg to rub against each other, resulting in a bone-to-bone contact between these two structures that can be very painful. This can also cause severe inflammation, stiffness, and pain. The result can be very debilitating making standing, walking difficult, so with the inability to tolerate simple tasks of daily living.
Hip and knee replacements can provide a new lease on life for patients who experience severe arthritis pain that doesn’t respond to conventional treatments, medication, or lifestyle adjustments. Surgery often restores joint function and makes many daily activities possible once again.
However, what you do before and after surgery will play a big role in the outcomes you experience.Read this guide before you decide on joint surgery.
Steps to Take Before Your Joint Surgery:
1.Explore other alternatives. While surgery can be very beneficial, it’s a major undertaking. Try less intensive treatments first, including drugs, physical modalities such as heat or cold packs, and exercise. You may also want to ask your doctor about cortisone injections.
Cortisone injections work by treating the inflammation that can cause knee pain, swelling, stiffness, and warmth. The effects of a cortisone injection can last from three weeks to three months. I have had patients who report relief for up to a year. Arthritis sufferers who want quick, temporary relief from knee arthritis pain may choose to have a cortisone shot. Ask your primary physician or orthopedic surgeon.
2.Understand your options. If surgery is indicated, your doctor may recommend total or partial joint replacement or other types of operations. That may include arthroscopy, which often takes as little as one hour, or joint fusion surgery, which can be used when joint replacement isn’t feasible.
3.Consider your timing. Deciding when to act can be tricky. You want to have joint surgery as soon as necessary but as late as possible to minimize additional damage and the need for replacement procedures.
4.Lose weight. Your doctor may suggest you take off excess weight to make surgery safer and put less strain on your knees and hips. Maintaining your new figure will also be important.
5.Work out. Exercise plays a big role before and after you’re in the hospital.
Being fit will speed up your recovery and increase your mobility.
6.Review your medications. Let your doctor know about any drugs or supplements you use. Substances like glucosamine can interfere with anticoagulants that reduce the risk of blood clots.
7.Plan your finances. While insurance will probably cover your surgery, it may not extend to other expenses like home health care and medical supplies. Ensure you budget for the total cost.
Steps to Take After Your Joint Surgery:
1.Prevent infection.You can reduce your risk of infection by keeping wounds clean and taking antibiotics as recommended. Contact your doctor if you see warning signs like fever, redness, or drainage from a wound.
It is common to experience swelling days after surgery. Cryotherapy, or using cold packs regularly throughout the day can help ease discomfort and pain. It also keeps the swelling or edema, under control. If left alone, the leg can swell up all the way to the ankles as gravity tends to pull fluids down when we are up on our feet.
Patients always ask how long do they have to apply ice packs each time. Orthopedic surgeons have their specific protocols regarding icing schedules. I recommend for the first 3 days to hourly as feasible, then every two hours once swelling and pain are more controlled. About 20 to 30 minutes should do it, but always check your skin to make sure you don’t freeze your knee or hip! No frostbites!
Most hospitals will send you home with special ice packs, and some even send you with an ice device such as Game Ready, Aircast Cryocooler, Don Joy iceman, or Polar active ice device. There are many available in the market. Basically, it is a device for an ice circulation system. These products are available on the market, even Amazon that can cost anywhere from $75 to $2,700 plus on the high end.
For home use, if one does not have access to these fancy ice devices, here’s a real homemade ice pack you can use that is very effective, just as cold as expensive ice packs and you can make it yourself!
CORN SYRUP COLD PACK: Buy the KARO brand LIGHT (not the dark) corn syrup at your grocery.
Place syrup in an airtight largest freezer ziplock bag you can find. Make sure you double bag it to avoid any leakage. Once frozen the syrup solidifies but is moldable over the joint. Use a pillowcase as a cover, not a towel to ensure maximum coldness needed for symptom relief.
If preferred, check Amazon and search for “Cold Packs”. You will find an array of cold packs with different sizes and shapes. Read the reviews and find one that does not harden and gets stiff once frozen. I have found that some of these cold packs actually harden once frozen and are hard to mold over the hip or knee.
2.Do physical therapy. Of course, I am impartial to this, being one.Your surgeon will surely refer you for Physical therapy that will start at your home for a few weeks. You will then be referred to outpatient Physical Therapy soon after, where you can work on an advanced therapeutic activities program.
Expect to work a little harder with your outpatient PT who will help with you regaining more knee flexion and strengthening the hip or knee. This will allow you to progress towards being able to walk again on your own, or with the least restrictive walking device like a cane. Plan to start physical therapy before you leave the hospital. Some orthopedic clinics provide a pre-op consult or even therapy itself for a few visits to prepare you for surgery.
A Physical Therapist can teach you the appropriate Pre-Op exercises or Anti-embolic exercises (Simple exercises that are aimed at preventing blood clots common after any surgical procedure) right after surgery. A home exercise program can be prescribed by your physical therapist which you can probably perform safely on your own at home once you receive proper instructions.
3.Prepare your home. Be ready for departure day. Clear away clutter and area rugs that could lead to falls. Install grab bars in the bathroom and move your sleeping arrangements to the ground floor if necessary. Stairs can be tough to manage early on after your surgery.
4.Dress comfortably. Select loose garments. When doing physical therapy, it is easier for your therapist to access your knee or hip for manual therapy if the therapist so prefers. Elastic waist pants and pull-on tops will save time. Wear slip-on shoes until you can bend your legs.
5.Bathe carefully. Keep your incision dry until the stitches, sutures, or staples are removed. Some surgeons use Aquacel dressings for knee and hip replacements. This is a sterile dressing with an inner non-woven pad made of Hydrofiber technology and ionic silver.
Take sponge baths or use a stool and shower hose. Keep the surgical site dry. If Tegaderm, a transparent dressing is used, you can take a shower without having to cover the area as it is waterproof. Tegaderm is a sterile, breathable, waterproof, germ-proof barrier dressing commonly used in surgical procedures due to its stated qualities.
6.Buy assistive devices. Your physical therapist, medical supply stores, and online catalogs can help you find various items to aid in your recovery. Crutches and walkers can be delivered to the hospital or your home. The use of a walker may be temporary as many of my patient s can pretty much walk on their own once outpatient therapy has started.
TIP: Check your local thrift shops including Goodwill and Salvation Army. I seem to always find barely used walkers in these places for about $8 to $15. Ask your physical therapist to adjust and check it for you for your ideal fit.
Ideally, the walker height should be about the level of your wrist joint when your hand hangs on your side. A good fit can save your back from having to slouch so much forward while walking. Practice the heel/toe walking pattern even before your surgery. This allows better gait patterns and avoids excessive loading on just the surgery side. Ask your physical therapist.
7.Arrange for help. Ask a family member or close friend to bring you home from the hospital and stay with you for the first few days. It is safer for you when there is someone else who can help you while you are recovering and unable to move around well just yet. That knee or hip will feel heavy, stiff, and uncomfortable making walking difficult. If no one is available locally, see if your church has a homebound ministry.
Joint replacement or other surgeries can be the start of an active and fulfilling new life. Being prepared will help you work with your health team to find the appropriate options for your condition.
Feel free to ask me more about joint surgeries and exercises you can do to help feel better and recover faster.
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I came across a patient who we see for joint pains. This prompted this article to also hopefully reach those with the same condition: Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA: When your immune system attacks your own joints. Individuals with RA know the impact of this affliction on daily living. Waking up with swollen, painful, and stiff joints making even the most menial task of dressing, getting out of bed, tedious.
When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, sore fingers, hands, knees, and stiff hips and legs may be the first thing that comes to mind. There are invisible symptoms however that can be just as troubling. About 75% of patients say they experience fatigue, weakness, and insomnia. Restlessness and waking up at night from pain can lead to sleepless nights having one wake up already tired and dreading the day ahead.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition that affects the whole body and not just the joints. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent joint damage such as crooked hands and fingers, nodules on the joints of the fingers and wrist making gripping, grasping, lifting painful and difficult. Patients also report this condition heightens stress levels which can even affect relationships due to limited ability to perform tasks of daily living.
Patients report fatigue which experts believe is caused by antibodies that circulating through the blood and triggers inflammation.
A troubling cycle is triggered where physical discomfort interferes with sleep. Lack of sleep makes daily activities more difficult to bear. Patients report feeling “dense” in the head, sluggish, or drowsy during the day. This often results in fatigue where an individual is less likely to do daily chores and become sedentary. As we know, a sedentary life further causes weakness which ultimately results in poor balance and inability to walk better or far. In a worst-case scenario, this is another major cause of falling in older adults.
Do not let Rheumatoid Arthritis hold you back, however. There are ways to take care of yourself despite this progressive condition. As I always tell my patients, it is your health. Take charge!
Learn more about lifestyle changes and medical treatments that can boost your energy.
Simple lifestyle changes can make rheumatoid arthritis easier to deal with.
Self-care can help you manage pain, fatigue, and other symptoms:
Regular Exercise. Many dislike exercise. How can you motivate yourself to work out when it’s a struggle just to stand up? Remember that physical training provides long-term relief as you strengthen your muscles, extend your range of motion, and brighten your mood.
A simple walk daily around your neighborhood or simple stretches before getting out of bed can make a difference. Here are a few easy tips you can do easily:
A. Heel and Toe Raises – Hold on to your kitchen counter, dresser, back of the chair, or anywhere to steady yourself. Go up on your toes. Hold this for 5 seconds. Then go on your heels and raise your toes up and hold the same for another 5 seconds. Repeat this move 10 times, or more as you are able. You can do these exercises as many times as you can throughout the day.
B. Seated Marching –Sit towards the edge of a chair with good upright posture. Begin by raising up one arm and the opposite side leg as shown. Lower arm and leg back down and then raise the opposite sides as you alternate back and forth.
C. Hand Exercises. Hand movements are very important for daily tasks. We use our hands so much in everything we do. With RA or rheumatoid arthritis, if left alone, finger and hand joints can become very stiff especially early morning upon waking up. These hand exercises can help move the fingers of the hands to alleviate stiffness.
Finger Walking (Hand OA/RA Exercise)
Place the hand flat with the fingers spread. Start by moving the thumb outwards. Then move each finger towards the thumb, joining the fingers together one at a time. The palm can come off the table.
There are many more exercises that a Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist can help you with exercises. Ask your primary physician for a referral to any of these professionals.
(If you want me to send you more of the Rheumatoid exercises by email, message me at:
Healthy eating. Choose foods that have anti-inflammatory effects. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, kale, etc. Tomatoes, olive oil are also good to have in your diet. Almonds and walnuts are also known to fight joint pain and inflammation. Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel). That also includes most fruits like strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries, and others. WHAT TO AVOID: Processed meats, sodas, fried foods, refined carbs, and lard.
Stay hydrated.Fatigue is a common sign of dehydration. It’s especially important to drink enough water. (Rule of thumb is 8 x 8 rule, eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon a day.This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember. when you have a condition like rheumatoid arthritis that can worsen such symptoms.
Reorganize your home. Energy can be conserved by making your living space more efficient where you can easily access things when you need them. These are called energy conservation strategies. By making your home and office more user-friendly and accessible, you are able to do your daily tasks with less exertion. Place items that you use frequently within reach. Get a small cart with wheels for moving supplies from one room to another. You can also use your walker with a seat, or a rolling office chair where items can be placed instead of carried. Be creative and innovative within your home environment. 👉👉👉 6 Quick Stress Relief Tips With Reflexology
Make time for your ZZZ’s. Sleeping more may not eliminate fatigue, but it can help. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. If you are a music lover, lull yourself to sleep listening to peaceful, meditative type music or instrumentals. Youtube has many collections which can play for hours. If you are the techie type, have Alexa do your music selection.
“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life. –Joel Osteen
***Your attitude also plays a major role in how rheumatoid arthritis affects your life.***
See how transforming your outlook can boost your energy levels:
Lighten up. Treat yourself with compassion. You may need to cut back on your responsibilities so you can protect your health. Focus on your own abilities instead of trying to keep up with others.
Prepare for setbacks. The road of a person with rheumatoid arthritis is a rollercoaster ride. It is ups and downs. No day is the same as the previous day. Make the most of it. Take it easy on days that you have more pain or fatigue. On good days, make the most of it. Be flexible and accepting of your limitations. Frequent and dramatic fluctuations are typical with rheumatoid arthritis. You’ll probably have easy days and times that are much more challenging. Give yourself permission to rest when you’re feeling under the weather. 👉👉👉4 Easy Tips for Stress Relief
Avail of support. Even your closest family and friends may find it difficult to understand your fatigue. Look for support groups or online forums where you can meet others who share similar experiences.
There are new and more effective options for treating rheumatoid arthritis that has been introduced during the past two decades. Consult with and follow your doctor’s recommendations to help you to reduce the inflammation that causes fatigue.
Strategies to Consider
Review and Change your prescription. Definitely have your physician or rheumatologist review your medications. There are now several categories of drugs for rheumatoid arthritis. Discuss the side effects with your doctor and ask about trying a different medication if you experience excessive fatigue.
Increase mobility. Physical therapy can increase your strength and overall fitness. Your doctor may be able to provide a referral, or you can find someone who specializes in rheumatoid arthritis through the American Physical Therapy Association.
Manage depression. Rheumatoid arthritis doubles your risk for depression. This is a fact. Let your doctor and loved ones know if you need help. Medication and counseling have a high success rate.
While there is no current cure for rheumatoid arthritis, appropriate self-care and medical treatment can increase the quality of your life. Reduce fatigue so you can feel happier and return to doing the activities you love. Hope this helps! I would love to hear from you!
Write any questions at the comments section below or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
The enormity of the problem has prompted diverse programs involving over 70 national organizations involved in Fall prevention, The Falls Free National Action Plan by the NCOA.
The plan includes action steps of reducing the impact of medications as a risk factor, promoting physical mobility, and improving home safety. Fall risk assessment and screenings, promoting evidence-based programs also is a major component of this national initiative.
More Fall Prevention Programs have surfaced and a majority of these promote exercise programs designed to reduce falls in the elderly. Tai Chi has been widely recognized as an effective exercise program for fall prevention.
Key elements to incorporate into a Tai Chi program:
> relaxes muscles > lowers the center of gravity Lowered center of gravity > increases load on lower limbs > over time increases sensation and awareness of lower limb movement.
• Transfer of Weight:
Shifting body weight from leg to leg through incremental movements. Start with a small range of movement and gradually build up to a wide, square base stance.
• Muscle strength
Muscle bulk and therefore strength decrease with age. A bent-knee stance and movement work to strengthen lower limb muscle (particularly the quadriceps muscles) (however, always work to an individual’s limitations. If a bent knee stance is too difficult, then do the movement without bent knees).
This involves issues such as increased body sway, low mobility, and postural instability. Increasing age is also associated with reduced sensation in lower limbs and is consequently associated with a loss of righting reflexes and an increase in body sway, which can lead to falls.
Decreased stepping height and decreased stride length. Women tend to have a narrow walking and standing base, closer foot placement, erect posture > difficulty to step down from stools/benches. Men tend to have a small-stepped gait, wider walking and standing base and stooped posture.
Tai Chi addresses gait problems by teaching the “correct” movement of lower limbs. This is done by lifting lower limbs from the knee rather than the foot; lifting lower limbs without misaligning the pelvis, and teaching to place heel down first when moving forward (toes first when moving back). Also, teaching movement with appropriate weight transfer, posture, and slightly bent knees improves stride length
Tai Chi also teaches participants to maintain a relaxed posture with an elongated spine.
I felt compelled to share a simple guide about this affliction that plagues many individuals: most of whom, are still in their productive years.
My most recent patient 57-year-old Kathryn (not her real name), was diagnosed with chronic fibromyalgia since she was 25 years old. She is deaf. She lip reads however and is also obese. She lives alone and has a baby dog weighing over a hundred pounds that she had to walk daily.
She complains she aches all over after walking her dog, but she still does it daily. When I first saw her for an evaluation, I just really thought she hated me on sight.
She complained about everything: how she had physical therapy before many times and it never helped. She added that she had been reading on the internet about fibromyalgia and that she knows that there is no cure for it. She saw pain management doctors and the shots she received did not help her either, as she stated. “Nothing worked, NOTHING will work, and you can’t help me either!”
There was only one question I asked her: “Have you ever tried letting KATHRYN, help …. KATHRYN?
This lady did a turnaround and took charge. First, we corrected her posture. I gave her exercises and instructions on how to correct her posture. We made it fun. She completed her physical therapy program just a few weeks ago. She made me so proud. What a difference she made in her life by working on changes herself.
Kathryn is not the only fibromyalgia patient that I had the privilege of working with. The ones who made a decision to make a change and stick with it were winners in my eyes.
The smallest of victories as being able to drive again,being able to carry a grandchild, or attend a son’s wedding? It meant the world to them.
Most of all, it means a lot to me.
Fibromyalgia is the 2nd major “rheumatic” disorder. Its prevalence is about 2 to 8% of the population. It has a woman and man ratio of 2:1. It resembles some chronic pain diseases. Fibromyalgia may affect individuals of any age, including children. Its prevalence is the same in different regions, cultures, and ethnic groups.
Fibromyalgia patients complain about chronic pain in their entire body. Fibromyalgia patients have a history of irritable bowel syndrome, dysmenorrhea,headaches,fatigue, and some gastrointestinal disorders including interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, etc.
It is a lifelong disorder that begins in adult age or young age manifested by pain. It is observed in different areas of the body.
Studies have found that there is about 50 percent of the risk of developing fibromyalgia due to genetic reasons and the remaining 50% risks are due to environmental causes. Environmental factors may initiate fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia or similar disorders, like chronic fatigue, can be initiated by different kinds of infections (e.g., Lyme disease, EB virus, viral hepatitis, Q fever) and trauma. Psychological stress can initiate fibromyalgia too.
***The most efficient way to approach fibromyalgia is to integrate pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments to engage the affected person to participate actively in this procedure. ***
There are various methods are developed to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia.
In chronic conditions, non-pharmacologic methods are used to reduce symptoms.
These methods enhance control over the condition. Studies have found that by regular exercise/yoga and following nutritional, behavioral, and physiological interventions, we can reduce the symptoms such as fatigue.
Some pharmacological therapies that address pain, depression, and sleep can manage the symptoms significantly. However, fibromyalgia patients are also advised to avoid short-acting drugs because it may lead to drug dependency.
5 STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED TO MANAGE FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS
Self-initiated activities: It includes management strategies. i.e distraction, prayer, planning, and exercising.
Professional treatments: It includes acupuncture, physiotherapy, group or psychotherapy, and ultrasound therapy.
Escape behaviors: Avoiding pain medication and alcohol.
Resignation: Reflecting hopelessness and lack of control.
Passivity: It includes ignoring pain, self-care methods and comparing current circumstances to others.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR FIBROMYALGIA
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that fibromyalgia affects approximately 2 percent of the adult population in the USA.
There is no complete cure for fibromyalgia: but we can reduce and manage the symptoms by natural remedies, lifestyle changes, and medication.
For patients with fibromyalgia, it is difficult to exercise regularly. But such a condition can be managed by gradual and persistent exercise.
By building strong muscles, pain and discomfort can be reduced. Before starting any type of exercise, the patient should consult the doctor or physical therapist.
Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and cycling are very beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia. These help improve the health and the overall well-being of the body. It may also result in reduced pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Neurological studies have found that a program of a 15-week exercise can lead to better brain functioning in people that are affected by fibromyalgia.
PHYSIOBALL EXERCISES FOR PAIN RELIEF THROUGH SELF STRETCHING
Although there are many exercises one can search for online, I will share a simplified routine that has worked great with my fibromyalgia patients. Why do I like to use a physioball? I want to keep it simple and easy to get started with. Especially so with fibromyalgia patients.
The ball provides good support to the heavy lower extremities and supports the back when laying down on the back (supine position).
A SIMPLE TIP: When lying down flat on the back, always keep knees bent, or place pillows for support under the knees. This takes the stress of the lower back. It is important to maintain the natural curve of the low back (lumbar lordosis).
More of this type of exercise is discussed in the book. With the chronic muscle pains from Fibromyalgia, it is important to maintain flexibility, decrease muscle tone for better tolerance to functional activities.
Scoliosis can develop from the degeneration of the lumbar spine caused by normal wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is also a common cause. It is also common in the elderly as the spine deteriorates from degenerative disc disease. This will also have developed since adolescence but was undetected. furthermore, most cases of scoliosis have no known cause,
A common problem due to degenerative changes in the spine and common in the adult population, I see this a lot in the clinical setting. Complaints from individuals including back pain, sciatica, and functional decline due to anxiety with functional activities from anticipating pain.
Here, I want to share Ms. Carol’s story about her personal journey with this condition. I admire her tenacity as she continues to take charge of her own wellness despite her physical problems. Carol L., has been a patient of mine for over a decade. She is very active in life. She volunteers at a local zoo engage in social and community service activities, joins exercise classes and continues to live her life to its fullest. As told to me, this is her story, verbatim. This is exactly how she wrote it.
“I am 74 years old, and I have been living with scoliosis for the last twenty years or so. A recent x-ray described my spine as follows; “Marked thoracolumbar scoliosis convexity to the left, some 74 degrees.” I’ve been told that I could have been in a wheelchair with this kind of curvature. Instead, I am active, healthy, and flexible.
But, I’ve had to work – consistently – over the last 20 years to maintain my strength and flexibility.
Scoliosis is degenerative, so things change. Scoliosis itself doesn’t hurt – it’s the way it pulls the rest of the body (spine, pelvis, hips, shoulders) out of alignment, causing sore everything and often pinched nerves. It hurts to move, so you don’t! That’s the problem.
My first major episode was a pinched sciatic nerve in about 1995, and I thought I would never walk again. Doctors wanted to prescribe drugs and bed rest. I chose to see a chiropractor. The adjustments would not hold, and I was referred to a physical therapist. After about three physical therapists, I finally found someone who understood my problem and said – Ha! Your pelvis is out of alignment! Let’s work on core strength and stabilize the pelvis.
It’s essential to work on physical therapy, understand the problem, and continue to do the exercises. But, life happens, so you slack off your workouts, you get older, and your curve gets worse. So on and off, I’ve been back in real therapy-each time focusing a little differently on scoliosis, and of course, arthritis!
I have been fortunate to see the same physical therapist – someone who understands the problem and is not afraid to make me work! Staying active – moving – is critical. I’ve tried almost every medication in the market without much success – so I’ve not taken any medication for a long time.
The last episode had been complicated by moderately severe stenosis (according to my MRI), causing nerve pain, and I finally got a steroid injection. With that relief, and some new strengthening and stretching exercises from my physical therapist, I’ve been able to manage the pain reasonably well and achieve much better posture! Now, my focus is on maintaining strength AND flexibility, AND posture! I do a little routine in the morning to get ready for the day. You know when you are out of alignment – you hurt!
The June 2017 issue of Consumer reports says that growing research shows that a combination of ‘hands-on therapy’ (Yoga, Tai Chi, massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic) is more effective than drugs or surgery. I do them all (well, almost all), and it works!
Am I pain-free?? No. Have I been pain-free for the last 20 years? No. But it’s manageable with the exercises, I can do pretty much anything I want to do – walk, climb stairs, stand for hours, volunteer, travel, etc. My therapist warns me I’m getting old and have to be more careful about breaking bones and causing serious injury – so I’m trying to take it a little easier – but not too much!”
– By Carol L. (written 5/31/2018)
It is always possible to make adjustments to inabilities, and one can still live a productive life despite physical challenges. I have so much admiration for this hardworking lady who grabs the bull by its horn and just so inspiring to know!
She was back again for PT this year, for back pain; not a lot of complaints this time, mostly concerned with her R hip and leg. As always, she always gets better and returns to usual activities. She still actively goes to the gym and does her usual volunteer work at the Brevard Zoo 2 days a week.
It was a great pleasure to see her again overcome her difficulties..