Thursday, 02 November 2017 13:00

What’s Causing Chronic Pain Among Children?

Pain isn’t reserved for adults. In fact, between 20-35% of children and adolescents worldwide suffer from chronic pain.[1] Since chronic pain that appears in children often persists later in life, discovering the factors that lead to chronic pain and starting to address them may help the next generation lead a more pain-free life. A new study in the Journal of Pain[2] explored what these factors might be, hinting that childhood lifestyle habits may play a large role in the development of pain.

Overview of the Study

The findings, reported in the article “Associations of Sedentary Behavior, Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Body Fat Content with Pain Conditions in Children,” include the latest numbers from the ongoing Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study, which is being conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. The study as a whole is geared toward gathering extensive public health data on children’s lifestyle habits, health and well-being.

This study, in particular, looked at a sample of 439 children between the ages of 6 and 8. Researchers analyzed their physical fitness, exercise levels, physically passive hobbies and body fat percentages to determine what factors, if any, were linked to the development of chronic pain.

Key Findings

The researchers discovered that several lifestyle habits are, indeed, linked to the development of pain conditions. Sedentary behaviors, in particular, are likely to lead to pain problems. Compared to the least sedentary third of children in the study, the most sedentary were almost two times more likely to experience pain. Plus, those who were in the highest third in terms of cardiovascular fitness were 46% less likely to experience pain and 50% less likely to experience headaches (which were found to be the most common type of pain among children of this age group).

Although it may seem odd, it was also found that low body fat content can mean a higher risk of developing pain, experiencing pain in multiple locations and having lower limb pain. This may be because children of this age group need a specific amount of body fat in order to promote growth and not having enough can sometimes be detrimental.[3]

Implications for the Future

The goal of the study was to help inform strategies to prevent chronic pain in childhood. In doing so, they’re also working to lessen the number of adults who will experience chronic pain in the future.

The main findings from the study suggest that, unsurprisingly, increased physical fitness among children may go a long way toward warding off chronic pain conditions. Additionally, the authors suggest that introducing “pause” exercises into hobbies that are physically passive may also prevent the development of pain. Pause exercises involve children taking frequent breaks – from video games, television watching or other sedentary activities – and using the time to stretch and move their bodies, loosening up their joints and muscles and getting their blood pumping.

By moving slowly away from the sedentary lifestyles to which children are now becoming accustomed, maybe we can move toward a more active society with less pain – both now and in the future.

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

[1] The American Pain Society. “Assessment and Management of Children with Chronic Pain: A Position Statement from the American Pain Society” (2012).

[2] Vierola, Anu, Anna Liisa Suominen, Virpi Lindi, Anna Viitasalo, Tiina Ikävalko, Niina Lintu, Juuso Väistö, et al. “Associations of Sedentary Behavior, Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Body Fat Content with Pain Conditions in Children: The Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study.” The Journal of Pain 17, no. 7 (July 2016): 845–53.

[3] Corleone, Jill. “Body Fat Percentage for Children.” April 27, 2016. Accessed October 18, 2016. http://www.livestrong.com/article/194320-body-fat-percentage-for-children/.

When it’s about to rain, can you feel it in your joints? Or when the temperature starts to plummet, do your pain levels start to rise? Read on to discover the truth behind the theory.

Scientific Studies

People with various chronic pain conditions, including arthritis, back pain and migraines, often report that the weather has the ability to change their pain levels. But so far scientific studies haven’t found a definitive correlation between weather and pain.

A study released this year in the journal Rheumatology International concluded, “Contrary to common belief … precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure did not influence the intensity of pain reported by patients during an episode of low back pain.”[1] And a review of nine studies on the subject found no “consistent group effect of weather conditions on pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis.”[2]

But just because studies haven’t found a definitive connection doesn’t mean that the weather has no impact on pain. Additional studies have found that there may be more to the matter than simply “weather doesn’t affect pain” or “weather does affect pain.” It may be the case that there are two groups of people – those who are weather-sensitive and those who aren’t.[2][3] The aforementioned review of nine studies went on to say that there is “evidence suggesting that pain in some individuals is more affected by the weather than in others, and that patients react in different ways to the weather.”[2] This may be especially true for women and those who are prone to anxiety.[3]

So while all chronic pain sufferers may not experience pain due to weather changes, it seems that a distinct subgroup does.

Possible Causes

Since science disagrees on whether the connection even exists, there’s little concrete data on why pain may be affected by the weather, but there are several theories. The main one revolves around the idea of barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure, also called atmospheric or air pressure, refers to the weight of the air in Earth’s atmosphere. Since it changes based on the weather (lower pressure usually indicates oncoming cloudy or stormy conditions), barometric pressure is a key measurement used by meteorologists in their forecasts. The theory goes that decreased pressure in the air means increased pressure on the joints. This may be because there’s less atmospheric pressure holding the tissue back, causing it to swell more than usual and thus irritate the nerves.[4] Cold weather may also affect tissue, causing it to shrink and pull painfully on the nerves.

There may also be an underlying psychological aspect to the connection. It’s well-known that weather has the ability to change a person’s mood and mood, in turn, can help or hurt an individual’s ability to cope with pain.

The weather also affects our activity levels, which play a big part in the experience of pain. As physical therapists often say, motion is lotion. Staying active keeps our joints lubricated and our muscles loose. But inclement weather keeps us indoors, preventing many people from getting the exercise they need. This may also lead to weight gain, putting even more pressure onto the joints and causing increased pain levels.

Pain Relief Tips

There are a few simple things you can do to help offset the increased pain due to weather. Keeping active despite the cold or rain can make a big difference. While the weather may keep you from walking outdoors or riding your bike, consider adopting an indoor workout program, which could include swimming, track walking or an indoor sports league. Exercise won’t just help with pain and weight, but it will also help boost your endorphin levels, putting you in a better mood and making it easier to cope with pain.

Staying warm also plays a part in staving off cold-related pain. Dress in layers and keep your home well-heated to keep your body from getting too cold. For symptomatic relief, consider utilizing a heating pad or taking a dip in a heated pool or bath.

Of course if your pain condition doesn’t improve, or you’re interested in more long-term solutions to your pain, it’s advisable to see a pain specialist, who can provide a variety of minimally invasive treatment options to help you weather the storm.

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[1] Duong, Vicky, Chris G. Maher, Daniel Steffens, Qiang Li, and Mark J. Hancock. “Does weather affect daily pain intensity levels in patients with acute low back pain? A prospective cohort study.” Rheumatology International 26, no. 5 (May 2016): 679-684.

[2] Smedslund, Geir, and Kåre Birger Hagen. “Does rain really cause pain? A systematic review of the associations between weather factors and severity of pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis.” European Journal of Pain 15, no. 1 (January 2011):5-10.

[3] Timmermans, Erik J., Suzan Van Der Pas, Laura A. Schaap, Mercedes Sánchez-Martínez, Sabina Zambon, Richard Peter, Nancy L. Pedersen, Elaine M. Dennison, Michael Denkinger, Maria Victoria Castell, Paola Siviero, Florian Herbolsheimer, Mark H. Edwards, Ángel Otero, and Dorly Jh Deeg. "Self-perceived Weather Sensitivity and Joint Pain in Older People with Osteoarthritis in Six European Countries: Results from the European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA)." BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 15, no. 66 (March 5, 2014).

[4] “Fact or Myth: Weather Affects Arthritic Joint Pain,” University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Accessed September 2, 2016. http://specialtyclinics.med.sc.edu/joint_pain.asp

For some, seeing a behavioral health provider may seem like an odd way to treat pain. After all, the pain is in your body – your back, your neck, your joints – not all in your head. But studies have shown that incorporating a psychologist into a multidisciplinary pain treatment plan can actually result in much better outcomes than just seeing a doctor. So the question remains: How does psychology, a science focused on the human mind, help improve pain, a condition of the body? For many, the answer lies in a type of therapy know as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

Overview of CBT

CBT is based on the cognitive model, an idea that the way we mentally frame our experiences affects the way we feel and act. The goal of CBT is to identify distorted thinking (negative or erroneous thought patterns) and begin to challenge them and replace them with more realistic – and positive – thoughts. Unlike Freudian psychoanalysis, which explores childhood experiences to get to the core of issues, CBT focuses on thoughts in an attempt to improve mood, behavior and even pain levels.

For example, according to APM licensed psychologist Mary Papandria, pain sufferers may think such distorted thoughts as “I can’t live with this,” “This is too much,” “I’m being punished” or “I’ll never be happy again.” Being able to identify these thoughts when they occur and utilize effective methods to overcome them is the goal of CBT.

First Session

CBT typically takes less time than other behavioral therapies, with most patients receiving treatment for roughly 8-10 sessions, according to Dr. Papandria. The first session is similar to an initial doctor’s visit in that the provider will evaluate a patient’s history of pain and other medical issues. They will also delve into social and educational history and will evaluate the patient’s current psychological condition and coping strategies.

“During this evaluation, I often get a good sense of how the person deals and copes with their pain, their viewpoint on life and illness and how well they have adjusted to their pain,” says Dr. Papandria.

Recognizing and Challenging

Once the provider has a good grasp of the patient’s thought processes and cognitive distortions, he or she can provide exercises that allow the patient to identify these episodes on their own. Dr. Papandria uses a set of steps called Challenging Cognitive Distortions. This process allows individuals to identify erroneous or destructive thinking patterns, evaluate the proof for and against it, then begin to replace these thoughts with more realistic ones.

Dr. Papandria gives the example of “I can’t live with this pain,” a common thought among pain sufferers. When going through the Challenging Cognitive Distortions steps, a patient would provide proof against this idea, like that they have lived with this pain for a while, that they do take steps to minimize the pain, that they have had happy moments even with the pain and that they are actually adjusting to life with pain. Over time, doing this makes it easier for people to recognize – and refute – their negative thought patterns.

“For patients who use this exercise daily,” says Dr. Papandria, “they have less depression, rate their pain at a lower level and feel they are in control of how they feel both physically and psychologically.

Utilizing CBT can also lead to a plethora of other benefits, including helping you improve communication with loved ones and co-workers, allowing you to become more active, helping you re-engage in hobbies and improving your mood, sleep, appetite and overall ability to cope with pain. After CBT, says Dr. Papandria, patients “begin to believe that they are in control of their lives and that pain is not in the driver’s seat.

By combining interventional treatments with cognitive ones, multidisciplinary providers are able to address pain on multiple fronts, helping patients achieve a higher level of relief and function.

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

Repost from CBS 58: The state's top cop said Milwaukee is Wisconsin's biggest economic engine. When something good - or in the case of crime, bad - happens here, its impact is felt statewide.   

Schimel gathered law enforcement and health leaders together in Brookfield on Tuesday, June 7, 2016, to talk about what he called the state's biggest public health crisis. 

View the entire post at http://www.cbs58.com/story/32168677/wi-attorney-general-says-if-residents-are-unhappy-with-crimes-involving-juveniles-they-need-to-vote

 

Chronic pain, by its very nature, can make people feel alone. This oftentimes invisible illness can make it incredibly difficult to connect, especially with those who may not truly understand what you’re experiencing. But serious, chronic pain is more widespread than you might initially think – meaning you are far from alone in this struggle.

A Nationwide Issue

Overall in America, chronic pain affects roughly 100 million people, although it’s difficult to measure the full scope of the problem.[1] To put that number into perspective, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes combined affect 61 million people.[2] That means chronic pain is almost 40% more prevalent than all of those common conditions and illnesses combined. More data on underdiagnosed and undertreated populations is needed before we can truly understand the full scope and effect of the pain problem in the country.

What we do know unequivocally is that it is a problem – one that needs to be studied and addressed. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services, composed a blueprint for relieving the pain problem in America, which deemed pain a national challenge that would take a full cultural transformation to understand, treat and prevent. [1] IOM said that to address such a widespread problem, the public’s awareness of pain and its health consequences must be heightened, and both pain assessment and management must be improved.

Download your Free Back Pain Guide Improving Pain Management

“Among steps to improving care,” the IOM report said, “healthcare providers should increasingly aim at tailoring pain care to each person’s experience.” Pain can no longer be addressed similarly simply because it falls under the category of “pain.” Everyone’s experience with pain is unique – just as every patient is unique – and it should be addressed as such.

The physicians at Advanced Pain Management (APM) are dedicated to providing just such a personalized approach. Take, for instance, APM patient Sarah. As Sarah herself noted, “Many people that suffer from CRPS are prescribed pain medications.” But APM’s Dr. Patel took the time to understand her condition, her treatment goals and her wishes, and determined an individualized treatment plan that not only led to significant relief, but did so without the need for pain medications.

Collaboration in Care

The IOM report goes on to say that the best course of action in cases where pain persists is for “primary care physicians – who handle most frontline pain care – [to] collaborate with pain specialists,” like those at APM. The committee behind the report found that even among health professionals, there “are major gaps in knowledge about pain.”  Pain specialists, whose training includes a focus on pain physiology, diagnosis, management and treatment, understand the complex nature of pain and can help where other physicians may not be able to. Pain specialists, like those at APM, who offer referral-free appointments, are a clear part of the path to a more pain-free America.

“Given the burden of pain in human lives, dollars, and social consequences,” the report concludes, “relieving pain should be a national priority.” For those at APM, who see this burden daily, addressing pain on an individual and societal level is crucial. Only when pain becomes a part of the conversation – and people learn there are places they can turn to for help – can chronic sufferers stop feeling alone and start getting relief.

 

[1] "Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research." Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, June 2011.

[2] "AAPM Facts and Figures on Pain." American Academy of Pain Medicine. Accessed March 03, 2016. http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx.

Get moving. Call (888) 901-PAIN (7246) or click to schedule a consultation now.

BROOKFIELD, Wis. — On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, a group of lawmakers, doctors and recovering opioid addicts came together to show their concern for the current prescription opioid abuse epidemic.

To learn more about the event, follow this link to read WISN 12's coverage and watch a short video. http://www.wisn.com/news/recovering-addicts-lawmakers-doctors-team-up-against-opooid-abuse/39944772

Download your free opioids and pain in-depth guide

Thursday, 02 November 2017 12:37

Re-Tool your Garden Arsenal to Ease Aches

Gardeners are no strangers to aches and pains. The constant bending, kneeling and twisting can take its toll on even the toughest among us. But there’s an easy way to guard against garden injury, and it starts in the toolshed.

Focus on the Padding

Kneeling

Padding isn’t just for contact sports; it’s an important element of any gardener’s toolbox. To reduce knee pain and injury, turn to a padded kneeler or knee pad when weeding and planting. And tools need padding, too. Gardening expert Melinda Myers says she uses pruners, saws and trowels with a cushioned, ergonomic grip to lessen hand pain, cramping and fatigue.

Brace Yourself

There are a variety of braces available, including back, wrist and knee, which can help support your body when you bend and twist. Braces, which are especially effective for dealing with chronic pain, carpal tunnel and osteoarthritis, among other conditions, can reduce pain and help prevent further injury, while assisting in recovery and improving mobility. Myers, who suffered from knee pain, used a knee brace to stabilize and reduce pain, and currently uses a foot /ankle brace to reduce pain while standing for long periods or walking on uneven ground.

Lighten the Load

Heavy lifting in the garden — from rocks and fertilizer to water and hoses — is a common cause of injury. Consider using a wheelbarrow, wagon or garden cart to haul the heavy stuff, saving your back and knees from the strain. When loading in your gardening gear, though, remember to start from a kneeling or squatting position, with your back straight, and lift with your legs while holding the object close to your body.

Thursday, 02 November 2017 12:35

Save your Back from Hunting Pain

 Deer hunting season is finally upon us again. After months of sunshine and fair skies, the weather has at last turned cold, leaves clutter the ground and the deer are out in full force. That can only mean it’s once again time to grab your orange and camo gear, haul out your hunting rifle and take to your tree stand.

But before you hunker down for long days (and nights) in your stand, make sure you’re prepared for all the dangers of hunting. I’m not talking about dangerous animals or other hunters, but a far closer hazard: pain. Sitting in your tree stand, dragging your trophy buck to the car or even walking over uneven terrain can spell disaster for your hunting trip if done improperly. So before embarking on your yearly pilgrimage to the woods, consider these tips for avoiding hunting pain and injuries.

Sit Up Straight

No matter your skill level or stand location, sitting and waiting is nearly always part of a successful hunting trip. But sitting for long periods on a hard surface or improper chair can be detrimental to your body. According to Advanced Pain Management (APM) physical therapist Courtney Wack, “Ideally you want to be sitting in a comfortable chair that’s high enough so that when you sit your hips are higher than your knees. This allows for better posture.”

Unfortunately, low hunting chairs or cushions don’t allow your body to maintain proper posture, causing your back to curve more than it should, which puts more pressure on your spine. This, in turn, can lead to initial or worsening back pain.

If a comfortable chair with proper lumbar support is simply not an option for your hunting space, consider placing a rolled up blanket or sweatshirt behind your lower back to provide additional support.

Keep it Movin’

When you keep your body in the same position for hours, it’s inevitable that your joints will begin to stiffen, often causing joint pain. It’s a simple concept: Joints need movement, since that’s how they get lubricated. Less movement equals less lubrication. And, depending on your position, this could lead to pain in any of your joints. According to Courtney, prolonged time in a single position can actually flare up many chronic pain conditions.

The solution is an easy one: Get up and walk around every 30 minutes. But if walking around isn’t in the cards, you can at least stand up and walk in place for a bit, or do some stretches to loosen up your body. 

Stretch it Out

Just like your joints, your muscles can get tense and painful when you’re stuck in the same position for long periods. Thankfully, there are some simple stretches you can do even in the tiniest of tree stands.

  • Neck stretches: Sit on your right hand and slowly lower your left ear down to your left shoulder until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat two or three times on both sides.

  • Mid-back stretches: Pinch your shoulder blades together for three to five seconds. Repeat five times. This stretch can be done every 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Low back stretches: While in your chair, rock forward on your seat, arching your lower back forward as much as you can. Then rock back and curve your back, with your chest moving toward your knees. Repeat this five times. You can also do a seated turn, where you sit in your chair with your back straight and gently turn your head and shoulders to one side. If available, you can hold onto the chair arm or side of your tree stand to help you stabilize, and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat three times on both sides.

  • Hamstring stretches: While sitting on your hunting chair, extend one leg out straight, bend forward and reach toward your toes until you feel a stretch behind your knee. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

  • Ankle stretches: While sitting in your chair, bend your ankles up and down, pointing your toes first toward the sky, then down to the ground. This can be repeated 10 times every 15-20 minutes, helping increase blood flow and decrease cramping and leg pain.

The Dangers of Dragging

It’s happened: You’ve finally shot a good-sized buck. Now, all you have to do is get it to your car . . . half a mile away. But dragging it all that way can be damaging to your body. If at all possible, try to use a cart, ATV or some other piece of equipment to help you move the animal.

If you don’t have equipment readily available, try wrapping a rope around the deer before starting to pull it. This will add leverage so you don’t have to bend over. While pulling the deer, try to change your grip and positioning often. If you don’t, you’ll be relying on a single set of muscles, making injury more likely. And, just like every other task, make sure to take a break whenever you feel tired and hydrate well.

Build up your Strength

One of the best ways to protect your body from injury while hunting – and in other parts of your life – is to strengthen it. Specifically, says Courtney, “Strengthening your back and core can be very helpful not only when sitting for long periods of time or dragging deer, but even just walking on uneven terrain.” Your core, she explains, is what helps your back brace for impact if you step into a hole or twist to avoid injury.

Core exercises can help improve both balance and stability, and even help you maintain a proper posture. Plus, they’re easy to do in the comfort of your own home. This list of core-strengthening exercises, including planks, hip lifts and kneeling extensions, can help get your back and core up to snuff to help you avoid serious injury.

Stay Safe!

Taken together, these tips, exercises and stretches can keep you safe and help reduce hunting-related pain and soreness so you can focus on what really matters: your search for your best buck yet. 

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Thursday, 02 November 2017 12:27

Serve a Pain-Fighting Spread this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family, fun and, of course, food. So why not take advantage of that fact and serve some pain-fighting fare to your guests this year?

Cherry Goodness

Consider harnessing the anti-inflammatory power of cherries in your holiday cuisine. These bright red berries are full of anthocyanins – the compound that gives the berry its vibrant color and its punch of antioxidants. Anthocyanins actually block inflammation and pain enzymes in the same way as NSAIDs. They’ve even been shown to help athletes reduce muscle damage during long workouts, in addition to helping them recover faster.

For double the cherry goodness, why not consider this delectable Betty Crocker recipe for Cherry-Glazed Turkey with Dried Cherry Apple Stuffing. Altogether, it contains 2 cups of cherry goodness. That’s a lot of pain-fighting power, especially considering the fact that cherries have a higher antioxidant capacity than grapes, oranges, plums, raspberries and strawberries combined,.

You can also try pairing cherries with the other seasonal red fruit: cranberries. Like cherries, cranberries also pack a healthy punch, since they’re rich in vitamin C, fiber and, of course, antioxidants. Combining these two power fruits together makes for a truly pain-fighting – and delicious – dish. Try this simple, four-ingredient Martha Stewart recipe for Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish to get your antioxidant fix this Thanksgiving.

Grab some Ginger

Ginger’s nausea-reducing properties aren’t all this root has going for it. It also acts as an effective painkiller. It’s anti-inflammatory properties are particularly effective against migraines, arthritis and muscle pain. It’s also been proven to reduce chronic knee pain.

Whip up some pain-fighting vegetables with this recipe for Orange-Ginger-Glazed Carrots. Not only do you get the anti-inflammatory goodness of ginger, but also the biotin, fiber, potassium and vitamin C from the carrots.

For another nutrient-packed dish, try this Food & Wine recipe for Cranberry, Ginger and Orange Chutney, which has all the antioxidant goodness of cranberries and the anti-inflammatory power of ginger, along with a supercharged punch of vitamin C from the oranges.

Add Some Spice

While hot peppers aren’t generally a central part of holiday cuisine, maybe it’s time for a change. Hot peppers like chilies, jalapenos, habaneros and cayenne peppers get their spicy kick from an ingredient called capsaicin. Capsaicin, which is present in many topical creams, can be helpful for reducing pain related to backaches, arthritis and muscle pain.

If you’re ready to add a little kick to your meal – and help reduce your pain in the process – consider making this Serious Eats recipe for Habanero-Brined Roasted Turkey. Altogether, the recipe calls for 10 habanero peppers, so get ready for some serious heat.

Make it Minty

Mint is not only an extremely versatile ingredient – showing up in recipes for drinks, sides, main courses and, of course, deserts – it’s also great when it comes to fighting pain. Specifically, mint is useful in combatting headaches and back pain, as well as treating muscle spasms .

Mint works especially well when paired with corn, which contains fiber, vitamin B-6, vitamin C and antioxidants. Add in the pain-reducing kick of jalapenos, and you’ve got a wallop of pain-fighting power. This Food & Wine recipe for Charred Corn Salad with Mint, Parsley and Cilantro might just make the perfect side dish.

If you’re not sick of carrots – or you want to replace the carbohydrates found in traditional mashed potatoes – here’s a Fine Cooking recipe for Carrot Mash with Orange and Mint. Together, the orange, carrots and mint provide a healthier alternative to traditional potatoes, and help your body block the enzymes that cause inflammation and pain.

Bon appetit!

Taken together, these Thanksgiving recipes can not only spice up your traditional holiday foods, but also help you and your family members decrease pain and inflammation. This holiday season, focus on your friends and family – not your pain.

For more pain-fighting recipes, check back in December for our Winter Toolkit, featuring expert advice from horticulturalist Melinda Myers.

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Thursday, 02 November 2017 12:25

Shoveling Safety Tips to Prevent Pain

As the winter weather comes to the Midwest, keep these simple snow safety tips in mind as your grab your shovel! Being smart before you get to work outside can help prevent back pain and neck pain in the future.

1. Warm up – Shoveling uses many muscles in your body – arms, shoulders, legs, and upper and lower back. Warming up with a few gentle stretching exercises and a short walk around the block before you even pickup the shovel could save you pain tomorrow. Start with some simple back pain stretches.


2. Use proper tools – A shovel that is the appropriate height and weight will help reduce the need to hunch over when shoveling. Before buying snow equipment, test it out in the store to see how it feels, and make sure it is the proper size for you and the type of work that will be done.

3. Lifts with your legs, don’t twist or hunch – When shoveling, try to avoid lifting a full shovel of snow using your back muscles. Instead, bend your knees and lift with your legs, keep your back aligned, try to stand as straight as is comfortable with your knees bend and your feet hip-width apart. In addition, you should avoid twisting your upper torso because it can aggravate the muscles in your back. Instead, turn your whole body.

4. Switch sides while shoveling – Like dribbling a basketball, people tend to favor one hand or side of their body when they’re shoveling. To avoid using the same muscles to do the same movement repetitively, try switching sides every few minutes to avoid muscle fatigue.

5. Pace yourself and know your limits– Ease into winter clean up and take regular breaks every 15-20 minutes. Stop, walk around, stretch and enjoy some hot chocolate. These frequent breaks will give you time to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the winter weather.

6. Exercise year-round – People who exercise year round are less likely to injure themselves while doing outdoor chores, as their muscles are more accustomed to physical activity.

Advanced Pain Management Near You

Our diverse physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants provides patients with the most comprehensive approach to pain management. We have convenient locations across Wisconsin and Minnesota including Appleton, Chaska, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Mankato, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Waukesha, Wausau and many more.

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