chronic pain

Why is Chronic Pain Worse in Winter?

If you’re like many people living with chronic pain, you feel worse when the cold weather sets in. While there’s not as much scientific evidence as you’d think that connects weather changes and chronic pain, some studies have shown slight associations between pain and temperature, humidity, wind speed and barometric pressure. Most evidence is linked to weather’s effects on those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

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What’s the Difference Between Acute Pain and Chronic Pain?

At first glance, pain doesn’t appear to be a complex idea. Something hurts, that’s all. However, pain conditions can be extraordinarily difficult to understand and diagnose.

By learning about pain, it’s easier for you to communicate with your physician and get the best possible care for arthritis or any other pain condition.

One of the most important things to know about pain is that it comes in two different forms – acute and chronic.

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How to Get Physical Therapy Patients to Move

Lack of motivation to perform at-home exercises represents a common problem among physical therapy patients. According to a 2013 report by Michigan Technological University (MTU), two very different factors – visual media and stress-reduction – could improve patient compliance with the assignment of exercises to be conducted between appointments.

MTU cognitive science professor Philart Geon and his graduate students found that individuals receiving pain relief therapy often don’t perform “homework” tasks given by practitioners. Common reasons include a busy schedule, confusion over specific expectations, or lack of a sense of forward motion. The study revealed that video typically enhanced a patient’s grasp of the therapist’s instructions, while anxiety was reduced in everyone who completed the at-home tasks.

Basic setup of the study

The research group gathered information from three different populations: physical therapy patients, physical therapists, and college students. The two groups that were directly involved with physical therapy were interviewed to determine the needs of each party and the extent to which they were being met. The college students were used to test possible improvements to materials provided by therapist to patients.

The hypothesis was that better visual media – such as video or high-quality pictures – would raise compliance with therapist instructions.

Discussions with the physical therapy patients and professionals found that video is not commonly used with stretch and exercise instructions. The researchers created various ways to provide instructional materials to almost 5 dozen college students: video alone, video with text, text alone, images with text, and images alone.

After experiencing each of the different pain relief therapy instructional methods, the students completed questionnaires. In this way, the professor and his team checked the students’ stress levels, how pleased they were with the materials, and the likelihood that they would comply with the instructions on their own.

Findings & effective treatment strategies

The group that received their instructions as a combination of video and text were the most pleased with the method. Those participants also scored the highest likelihood to perform the tasks and the lowest degree of stress. Generally speaking, two factors that had a strong correlation among all the students were high compliance with low stress. To summarize, the researchers found that video can be helpful as an instructional method to motivate physical therapy patients; they also found a simple intellectual motivation, that willingness to performing the tasks is itself a stress-reducer.

At Atlantic Medical Clinic, our team of physical therapists and other specialists custom-design a treatment strategy to fit you as an individual. Get a free consultation today.

Healing Pain with the Speed of Light

“Laser acupuncture” is the simplified name biochemistry expert Luc Duchesne, PhD, has given to low-level laser therapy (LLLT), a.k.a. cold laser therapy. Duchesne, an Ottawa-based speaker and author, noted that whatever term is used for the treatment, its effects are powerful: LLLT can be used to alleviate pain, combat inflammation, and instigate healing in compromised tissue. In April, Duchesne interviewed a CEO of one of the companies that creates the machines for the procedure – Roger Dumoulin-White of Theralase – to garner a better understanding of the technology and its potential applications.

The Theralase equipment, like the Erchonia cold laser technology adopted by the Atlanta Medical Clinic, is used in the treatment of pain and cancer. In the case of cancer, the revolutionary treatment operates in conjunction with photo dynamic compounds (PDC’s), the latter of which can eliminate cancerous tissue if they are introduced to certain light waves. Cold laser serves a similar healing capacity in pain management treatment: by penetrating deeply into the skin, the laser is able to promote healing and healthy cellular function without raising the temperature of the targeted area.

LLLT versus “hot” lasers

Lasers come in a wide variety of types: some are used in industry to cut through metal, while others – such as the cold laser therapy variety – are far more subtle. The lasers that health practitioners use for cold laser applications are 100% noninvasive and low-intensity: unlike hot lasers, which use high-intensity light to destroy unwanted tissue during surgery, the cold-laser approach allows treatment specialists to gently stimulate healing.

Duchesne mentions that he is personally a veteran of this novel pain management treatment. He advocates for the modality because he has experienced the positive impact of low-level laser therapy in recovery from his own chronic back and neck pain.

Furthering LLLT science

Like all forms of medical treatment, cold laser therapy benefits from continual analysis and development. Some researchers are becoming particularly interested in the way that the cold laser treatment affects the behavior of enzymes within cellular organelles (specialized portions of cells responsible for designated activities). Since LLLT was invented, scientists have observed the power of this treatment to alleviate pain related to tendinitis, neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other disorders.

The advancements made within this field of medical technology are of interest to any multidisciplinary pain management practice. We have seen thousands of patients respond positively to Erchonia cold laser at Atlanta Medical Clinic, bolstering our confidence in the treatment’s efficacy. Schedule a free consultation today.

How to Avoid & Treat Muscle Strains

Working out can be a great way to stay connected with our bodies, keep fit and active, and maintain optimal health. However, straining our muscles can be a common and frustrating part of the process. Finding ways to avoid muscle strains, and to treat them properly when they arise, helps remove these interruptions from our exercise regimens.

Muscle strain: what it is & prevention

A muscle pull or muscle strain may seem like little more than an annoying pain, but it’s nothing to take lightly. A strain is actually an incidence of tearing of the fibers (1). It can come about during physical exercise or even when stretching. In either case, it arises when we “overdo it,” pushing our bodies beyond the threshold they can handle at a given time.

Here are a couple of techniques from you can use to avoid strain:

  • When aiming for weight loss or otherwise trying to tone the body, always be patient. Be careful to slowly and incrementally build up your workouts.
  • Use a 15-minute warm-up strategy to prepare your muscles for exercise.
  • Consistency in working out is great for your health, of course; but the regularity with which you exercise will also keep you strong and less likely to pull muscles.

How to treat muscle strain effectively

WebMD offers an approach called PRICE that can be used, both for pain relief and to get back to peak condition, following a strain (2). Here are its components:

  1. Protect the muscles that are injured with a bandage or other type of device, containing the muscle and restricting motion.
  2. Rest for 24 to 48 hours, respecting the damaged tissues.
  3. Ice as soon as you realize that your muscle has been pulled – the sooner, the better. Ice for 10 minutes per hour, as possible. Weight loss and general activity can’t continue until you have reduced the swelling.
  4. Compress the injury with a loosely fitted bandage. Make sure that it is not excessively constricting the body part.
  5. Elevate the strained region. Make sure to get it higher than your heart. Perform elevation as often as possible during recovery.

Pain Relief & Recovery Solutions

Sometimes, unfortunately, the pain of an injury doesn’t quickly resolve. In that event, the Atlanta Medical Clinic can help to alleviate your pain and get you back into action. Get your complimentary consultation for our non-surgical, pill-free treatments today.