These are difficult times; unfortunately, for many people, they are also physically painful times.
The need for Stevens Point Orthopedics to delay non-critical surgeries because of the COVID-19 virus has meant that some individuals, who were counting on surgery to relieve their pain, are faced with the prospect of dealing with that pain for an extended amount of time.
If you’re faced with an extended period of dealing with pain, here are some things to try that could help.
This is a good time to just rest for a while. As the rest of the world slows down, there may not be a better time for you to slow down as well.
Yes, it’s important to stay active and yes, an extended period of doing nothing but rest may be detrimental in the long run, but if you’re in pain, there’s something to be said for just relaxing for the time being.
This is especially helpful after being on your feet for a while. Try spacing your daily activities throughout the day to allow for periods of rest.
It’s certainly worth a try.
Avoid Painful Situations
You’ve probably seen or heard the old joke that starts with a patient telling his doctor, “Hey, doc — it hurts when I do this [moves body part].”
At that point, the doctor, or the comedian telling the story playing the doctor’s part, says, “Well, don’t do that!”
It may be a joke, but it’s no joke when it comes to treating pain. Often the best way to avoid pain is to avoid doing whatever it is that’s causing the pain.
Pain, after all, is a result of inflammation and irritation of nerves. If you can avoid inflaming or irritating the nerves, you should be able to avoid at least some of the pain.
Obviously, this has limits. You need to move around — and as we’ll discuss later, it’s important in many cases to move around.
But for instance, if you’re a tennis player and serving a tennis ball makes your shoulder hurt…stop serving a tennis ball. If you must play games involving serving, serve underhand. Otherwise, just rally with a partner.
Another way to approach this is to do an activity just to the point where it starts to get painful, then stop. If you can detect that point at which something is just starting to get painful, and stop the activity at that point, you can have the best of both worlds — you can stay active and avoid pain.
Maybe a better way of stating this point is “Avoid Painful Situations…But Stay Active.” Because that’s your goal.
Do Gentle Motion Exercises
Especially in cases where rough cartilage may be causing pain, gentle motion exercises are great for smoothing and polishing painful joints.
The key here is to do non-load-bearing exercises. That can mean spinning on an exercise bike with little or no resistance, or doing arm circles without weights or bands.
If you decide to try some gentle exercises, be sure to let your doctor or physical therapist know, and stop if it hurts. But if you think of these exercises as joint polishers, just the way you’d polish your car or your furniture, you may be able to make some progress toward alleviating your pain.
Physical Therapy Exercises
Perhaps your doctor or physical therapist gave you some exercises to help you manage your pain. Perhaps you haven’t been keeping up with the program as well as you should.
Now’s the time to get back on track. Review any exercise program you may have been given. If you haven’t been doing your exercises, or haven’t been doing them as regularly as you should, pick back up.
This is also a great time to review any exercise material to ensure you are doing exercises correctly. It’s easy to fall into bad habits with exercises, especially with no one there to guide you. This is the perfect time to make sure that whatever exercises you’ve been assigned, you’re doing them correctly.
For strengthening exercises relating to hip, shoulder or knee pain, please reference the downloadable handouts on the Joint Journey page via the SPO website.
This may sound a little funny, as medications aren’t a cure-all; however, they can absolutely help in some instances with some conditions.
Non-steroidal medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, or other medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help control your pain. Remember to follow dose instructions on the bottle and never exceed the maximum daily limit.
The important thing with NSAIDs is to keep a steady and appropriate dose in your system. Follow dosing guidelines regularly; don’t vary dosages or the times you take your medications.
If you have a prescription medication for your pain, be sure to take only the prescribed amount. Too little may not be helpful and too much can be harmful.
If you need a refill for prescription pain medication, talk to your doctor about your pain, your need for pain medication, and ways you might be able to wean off prescription medication.
Braces and Other Supports
Braces can help increase the stability of joints, can maintain alignment, and can help with pain from arthritis and other sources.
A variety of braces can help with pain and joint stability, ranging from lace-up braces to unloader braces to post-operative boots to simple elastic sleeves.
If you have a brace as part of your pain-management regimen and you haven’t been wearing it, now might be a good time to start wearing it again.
There’s generally no issues with returning to wearing a brace; however, it’s important to check with your doctor’s staff or your physical therapist before wearing a brace again for extended periods.
If pain is severely impeding your ability to get around, you may also want to consider supportive devices like a cane or walker.
Pain is caused by inflammation, and unhealthy diets can make inflammation worse.
Switching to a healthy fat, quality protein and vegetable diet can help reduce inflammation. You may not see the results right away, and they might not be significant. But diets like these can improve your overall health, which is tremendously important if you’re dealing with pain.
For more information regarding inflammation and a fostering a healthy diet visit Sweet Spot Nutrition.
Pain can be hard to manage, and one approach by itself might not be enough to help you deal with pain while you’re waiting for surgery. However, a combination of multiple approaches may make your pain easier to bear, and may help you better navigate the days until your rescheduled surgery takes place.
Questions? We’re always here to help.