Category Archives: Pain Management

Foot Orthotics And Lower Back Pain

Would you believe it if we told you that simply using shoe inserts could help alleviate your lower back pain? It’s time to start believing because foot orthotics and lower back pain have a proven link. Research has shown that foot orthotics (shoe inserts) can help manage lower back pain, depending on the cause of the pain.

Foot orthotics are used to correct abnormal or irregular walking patterns by changing the angle your foot strikes the ground. Ideally, while walking or running your foot should strike the ground completely level. However, some people naturally have a gait that’s pronated (your feet hit the ground more on the inside edge) or supinated (your feet hit the ground more on the outside edge).

If you’re asking yourself how the way you walk could have anything to do with your lower back pain, we have one question for you. Have you ever heard of the domino effect?

Your feet are the foundation of your entire body. Pronated or supinated feet cause your knees to shift inwards or outwards, respectively. Once your knees are out of alignment, your hip posture becomes unsteady, resulting in a destabilized spine. And all of the sudden, all of the dominos have fallen.

The only difference between the game of dominos and your walking pattern’s influence on your spine is the speed in which things occur. It would take years of an irregular walking pattern to cause lower back pain, while a game of dominos is over in a few minutes. Years of an irregular walking pattern can cause lower back pain. Click To Tweet

Spinal Conditions Foot Orthotics May Help

Foot orthotics can only help manage pain caused by non-neurological causes. Below is a list of some of the conditions that may benefit from the use of foot orthotics:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Muscle strain – lower back
  • Facet syndromes
  • Sacroiliac joint syndromes
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis – without nerve root damage

If you are experiencing lower back pain, we urge you to look at the soles of your favorite shoes. By looking at the wear on the treads, you can often determine your walking pattern. If you discover your feet are pronated or supinated, foot orthotics may just help you manage your lower back pain.

Neck Pain From Looking Down

Did you know that neck pain is the third most common type of chronic pain? Over 25% of Americans suffer from this condition and, nearly 60% of them don’t tell their physicians about the pain.

One of the most common causes of neck pain is simply looking down too often. We know that might sound absurd. You cannot live your entire life without looking down at all, and we’re not asking you to.

When a patient comes in complaining of neck pain, we generally ask them what activities they look down most often for. The main culprits are cell phones and laptops. In fact, neck pain caused by looking down is often referred to as ‘text neck’. neck pain caused by looking down is often referred to as ‘text neck’. Click To Tweet

Even though the action of looking down is small, the amount of pressure placed on your neck increases with the frequency of the action. Meaning, looking down to write a check shouldn’t cause you pain, but looking down to work from a laptop eight hours a day, five days a week will.

The pressure from looking down will begin to build in your neck, leading to damage such as neck pain, soreness, upper back muscle spasms, and even premature degeneration which can lead to arthritis.

But don’t fret. There are certain measures you can take to prevent developing neck pain. Below are four simple ways to reduce the likelihood of experiencing this type of pain.

Prevent Neck Pain

  1. If you believe cell phone usage may be to blame for your pain, try holding your phone higher. Having your phone at eye level eliminates the need to look down at all.
  2. If you believe working from a laptop may be a contributing factor, adjust your workspace. You can either place your laptop at eye level and use a separate keyboard, or you can hook your laptop up to a monitor that is at eye level.
  3. If you cannot avoid looking down for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stretch. To relieve neck pain, gently tilt your head from right to left, holding for about 20 seconds on each side.
  4. Heat therapy may be effective in relieving your pain. Try either a heating pad or ice pack on the affected area for 10-20 minutes, 4-6 times per day.

The measures above may help you in relieving neck pain. If the pain persists, we urge you to reach out to your physician. Chronic pain is a pain in the neck that no one should have to be content living with.

Truck Driving And Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is often the result of your profession. Did you know that 25-40% of all truck drivers suffer from chronic back pain? Did you know that 25-40% of all truck drivers suffer from chronic back pain? Click To Tweet

So, why do so many truck drivers suffer from chronic pain? Mix long hours in the driver’s seat with a body part designed to be in motion, and you have the perfect recipe for pain. When you don’t exercise regularly or spend long periods of time in the seated position, your spine doesn’t receive key nutrients it needs to stay healthy, causing frustrating back pain.

Common Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Over the years, we’ve noticed that the most common form of back pain for truckers is compression of the joints. This is largely due to the lack of movement mentioned above from so many hours on the open road.

The second most common cause of back pain is sciatica. This also occurs due to the lack of movement and prolonged time in the seated position. The sciatic nerve runs down the back of your leg. When pinched, can cause pain to radiate up and down your legs and back.

Preventing Chronic Back Pain

Luckily, there are certain measures truck drivers can take to to help ward off back pain. Truck drivers should try to plan more short breaks in their routes and spend a good portion of those breaks stretching and exercising their spine. See, the muscles surrounding the spine are just like any other muscle in the body, they become tighter the longer they aren’t utilized.

One stretch truckers can do from their seat is a simple spine twist. While facing forward, slowly twist your torso to the left, bringing your right hand around to grip the left side of your seat. When you feel a gentle stretch in your back, hold for ten seconds and repeat on the opposite side.

Even when truckers aren’t out on the road, it’s a good idea to incorporate more movement and stretching into their daily routine. Consider adding these yoga moves for a strong, healthy spine. An active spine is a healthy spine.

Most importantly, we urge you not to ignore chronic back pain. Doing so can create a vicious pain cycle that can greatly diminish your quality of life. Please seek help if you or a loved one is experiencing chronic pain.

Six Tips For Sleeping With Chronic Pain

The majority of people suffering from chronic pain have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep. It makes sense; chronic pain makes it difficult to get comfortable and who can regularly fall asleep when they’re experiencing discomfort?

The trouble is that poor sleep can actually worsen your chronic pain, which in turn makes it harder to sleep. This is one example of a dangerous pain cycle. To prevent this from happening to you, we’ve compiled some tips below that have worked for our patients in the past.

Remember, not every tip will work for you so it’s important to refrain from becoming frustrated as you find the best way to lull yourself to sleep every night.

Only go to bed when you’re tired.

We know that having a regular sleep schedule is important to maintaining your health, but going to bed just to toss and turn doesn’t help anyone. If you do turn in before you’re tired, you may end up lying awake stressing about why you can’t fall asleep.

Have trouble falling asleep with your chronic pain? Only go to sleep when you're tired. Click To Tweet

Instead, only go to bed when you’re tired. If you’re already in bed and haven’t been able to fall asleep for 20-30 minutes, get up and do something. Maybe pick up where you left off in the book by your nightstand. Chances are, within a half hour you’ll falling asleep over the pages.

Consider changing your sleeping environment.

Are your mattress and pillow the optimum choices for your sleeping position? If not, you might want to consider splurging on a new one.

You may also want to consider turning down the temperature in your bedroom. Cooler sleeping conditions can often lead to deeper, more restorative sleep.

Watch what you consume before you go to sleep.

Try to avoid caffeine and other stimulants like alcohol and nicotine after dinner. Instead, opt for some chamomile tea to help you relax.

Get your exercise.

How many times have we told you to fit regular exercise into your routine? At this point, it would be nearly impossible to track, which should let you know just how important exercise is to your health!

Not only does regular exercise promote your body’s healing process and help relieve pain but, you guessed it, it tires you out which helps you to fall asleep at night.

Jot down your worries before bed.

If you’re the type of person who seems to worry about anything and everything the moment your head hits the pillow, you may want to consider writing down your worries before bed. Doing so should help to take those worries off your mind, leaving them in your notebook to be fretted over in the morning.

Go to your happy place.

Visualizing something peaceful often helps people fall asleep. Did your family have a serene cabin in the woods you spent every summer at? Let your mind wander there before bed and you may find yourself snoring before you can open the front door.
If the sleeping tips above don’t help you fall asleep, it’s important for you to contact your physician and let them know about your sleeping problems. Most likely, they will have an idea on how to further manage your pain to make falling asleep easier.

Narcotic Pain Medications and Chronic Pain

What if we were to tell you that narcotic pain medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine can actually worsen your chronic pain? Not that great of news, huh?

Studies have found that to be the case.

“A brief treatment with a pain killer, like morphine, doubled the duration of chronic pain.”

Let’s talk about the things we knew about narcotic pain medication prior to this finding. We’ve always known they’re an extremely high-risk drug because they’re highly addictive. That’s why your doctor is always a bit wary of prescribing you too many.

We’ve also known that people who take narcotic pain medications can develop a tolerance within two to four weeks. Meaning, they need to take a higher dosage to feel the same effect as before.

Couple just those two facts together, and you can see how they often become a recipe for disaster. In fact, in 2014 alone, 14,000 people overdosed on their narcotic pain medications.

Now, studies are discovering that these medications can actually increase a patient’s sensitivity to pain, a condition known as hyperalgesia, and decrease their ability to tolerate pain. This means that even after the original cause of pain has been healed, many people keep having pain or even an increase in pain.

That’s some scary stuff.

Luckily, this problem can be solved by simply stopping use. At first, it may seem as though the original pain is still there, but that’s only because withdrawal from narcotic pain medications can often mimic the original pain.

So, if these prescription pain medications are ruled out for treating chronic pain, what are you supposed to do? The following methods have proven effective in managing chronic pain:

  • Exercise to both maintain motion and release feel-good endorphins
  • Cognitive therapy to develop coping techniques
  • Meditation to help distract the brain from pain
  • Massage
  • Other low risk or non-habit forming pain medications

Whatever you do, if you’re experiencing chronic pain, a pain that persists longer than two to three months, never try to treat yourself. Please seek a professional medical opinion. And we urge you to never take prescription drugs not prescribed to you, whether they are narcotic pain medication or something else.

Finally, we encourage you to come forward if you or someone you know is suffering from a dependency or addiction to narcotic pain medications. With the proper treatment, it is entirely possible to overcome.
To seek help, please call the national helpline for substance abuse at (800) 662-4357. The helpline provides you with free, confidential information and can refer you to a local professional for further assistance.