The New Year brings renewed focus after a fun holiday season filled with family traditions, celebrations, and time to relax. At the start of each New Year, many people are now turning their attention to resolutions and goals: fitness, diet, organization, education, home maintenance, and more.
What are your priorities for 2022? If you are experiencing any type of physical pain, you might feel like all of your attention focuses on your health. Yet, it seems impossible to think about anything else when you have a hard time making it through the day because of chronic pain.
The good news is that there are options to reduce the pain and help you enjoy life as much as possible. Working with a pain management team is an important step to finding treatment solutions. Additionally, your daily lifestyle choices will contribute to your healing and recovery.
If you want to live your best life, then consider committing to these New Year’s resolutions to help you manage your pain and improve joint health:
Muscle strength is one factor that will influence joint pain and function. When you improve the muscles around the joints, these stronger muscles boost overall stability. As a result, the improved stability minimizes pressure on the joints.
Additionally, muscle strength helps to reduce the risk of painful injuries and tissue tears in the joints. If you are already experiencing joint pain, then remember that the pain is sending a message for a reason. Instead of pushing through the pain, talk to a doctor and physical therapist to identify the optimal form of exercise so you can build your strength without causing additional damage.
Both acute pain and chronic pain are often associated with inflammation. When the joints, tissues, and muscles are inflamed, it signals that there is some sort of injury or irritation in that part of the body.
Inflammation can attack joint tissue, increase tenderness, and result in stiffness and a loss of function. Whether it’s an injury or a chronic health condition (such as arthritis and other autoimmune conditions), inflammation can be a result that harms the joints.
Chronic inflammation affects joint fluid and can also cause damage to the bone and cartilage. As function decreases and mobility is limited, many people also experience muscle loss.
Joint inflammation can be managed with at-home remedies, such as anti-inflammatory medications or using hot and cold therapy.
The joints carry a lot of burdens when your body is moving. If you have excess body weight, it puts more strain on weight-bearing joints, such as the back, hips, knees, and ankles. According to the Arthritis Foundation, each pound of extra weight on your body results in four pounds of additional pressure on weight-bearing joints.
Losing weight isn’t only about appearance. Dropping the extra pounds is essential to reduce the stress on your joints, decrease wear and tear and minimize chronic pain.
Crash diets aren’t recommended for weight loss because these dietary changes aren’t sustainable. Instead, it’s better to focus on incremental changes in your daily habits to help you lose weight at a healthy rate. Weight loss tips include:
If needed, talk to a pain management doctor, personal trainer, or nutritionist to help you develop a weight loss plan that will work for your individual needs.
When you are experiencing pain, the last thing you want to do is get off the couch or the bed and start moving. But the truth is that regular exercise is critical to decreasing joint stiffness.
Instead of high-intensity workouts at the gym, look for ways to incorporate more movement throughout the day. Avoid staying in one position for too long. For example, if you spend the day at the computer for work, set a timer so that you get up from the computer at least once an hour to move.
Low-impact exercise options include stretching, light strength training, cycling, swimming, yoga, and walking. These exercises offer the benefit of improving joint mobility while also helping you lose extra weight.
Be proactive about protecting your joints by considering the current condition of your joints. Take it slowly at first with light, slow movements and short intervals. Wear protective equipment if necessary, such as a brace. Then, you can increase the intensity and time as you build up strength and endurance.
Popping a pain pill might provide immediate relief, but it isn’t a long-term solution to help you get to the root of your pain issues. Eventually, you build up a tolerance to pain medication and need to use it more often to manage the symptoms. Work with a pain management team and incorporate modern medicine with alternative therapies.
For example, some people find adding acupuncture and massage to their treatment plan helpful. However, be sure to choose licensed and certified providers to ensure optimal results.
Other options might include supplements, topical creams or gels, electrical stimulation, and more.
No matter your age or pain level, it’s essential that you are proactive about caring for your joints. Damage to joint tissue can lead to lifelong pain and functional concerns. Start small and work joint management into your routine.
Our pain management team takes a holistic approach to finding effective, lasting solutions for our patients. The goal is to get to the root of the issue instead of simply masking the pain with temporary options. This personalized approach matches the unique preferences and needs of each patient.
Do you have joint pain, back issues, or other types of chronic pain? Our pain management doctors are here to help you find an effective solution for managing your pain. Learn more by scheduling a consultation with our team at Texas Partners Healthcare Group to discuss available services.