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D.I.Y. Pain Management

It may sound weird coming from someone in my profession, but you don’t always need to visit a medical professional every time something hurts. Though I cannot stress enough the importance of having experienced medical professionals on your healthcare team, believe it or not, the vast majority of everyday aches and pains are completely manageable without the aid of injections, prescriptions drugs, surgery, or other medical intervention.

Before continuing, however, I’d like to discuss when you DO need to visit a medical professional. The following is a general list of warning signs. This list is not complete; if in doubt, always seek medical attention.

• Sudden, intense, or unusual pain and/or bleeding
• Difficulty breathing
• Any injury accompanied by sounds/sensations of snapping or popping
• Head/neck/back injuries followed by headache, nausea, numbness, confusion, unconsciousness, etc.
• Minor injuries that show no improvement within 5-7 days

Most everyday aches are due to either overuse syndromes or aging. Overuse syndromes cover everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to bad posture, while aging is usually responsible for things like arthritis and other “feeling old” symptoms. Here’s a list of do-it-yourself pain management techniques that you can begin implementing today.

Rest: Rest is extremely important for all overuse syndromes. Whatever activity is causing your pain, stop doing it and don’t resume until your symptoms have subsided. Depending on the severity of the overuse injury, this may take weeks.
Move it: Though it may seem contrary to the first point, your body needs to move in order to be healthy. Gentle stretching and motion exercises do wonders for rebuilding weakened joints and muscles. Just be sure to start slow and build gradually to avoid reinjury.
Ice/Heat: Temperature therapy is extremely beneficial in pain management. Use heat before activity to loosen stiff muscles and joints, and use ice after activity to reduce pain and inflammation.
Sit up Straight: Bad posture contributes to a host of painful complications, including headache, sciatica, back pain, and many more. For proper posture, make sure your ears, shoulders, and hips are all in alignment, and your abs are gently engaged.

While you should never hesitate to seek the advice and treatment of your healthcare team, it’s good to be able to take charge of your own pain management. Use these techniques today for a less painful tomorrow. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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