Pain Management Made Easy

For most, the term “pain management” creates haunting visions of pain medicine, drastic lifestyle changes and expensive doctor bills. In the sports medicine world, that same phrase paints a much rosier image.

“Not all pain is created equal.”  Different types of tissue in your body can generate varying types of pain. Here’s a list of body tissues, which can all be located in the same small part of a joint, and the different types of “pain” sensed in each:

Nerves – Burning, numbness, shooting, weakness.

Bone – Stabbing, deep ache, shooting.

Muscle – Cramping, stabbing, shooting, aching.

Ligament – Instability, snapping, stabbing.

Cartilage – Catching, stabbing, pinching.

I never really thought about how many different type of pain I can feel“, you’re probably thinking.

One of the biggest challenge facing a physical therapist, athletic trainer and doctor is asking the right types of questions and interpret their tests to find the source of pain in their patients.  Pain management starts with finding where the pain is coming from.

Think about it this way: If we, the sports medicine specialist, can quickly determine that 90% of your pain is coming from, say, your supraspinatus muscle of your shoulder’s rotator cuff, we can quickly develop a rehab plan to reduce your specific pain.

Pain Management Plan

It’s time to stop focussing on pain pills as the solution for reducing pain in orthopedic injuries.  Sure, check with your doctor to get his/her thoughts but know there are many safer, cheaper and effective ways to use physical therapy to reduce your pain.

Ice

Ice will reduce pain and swelling.  Ice will hurt at first but it works.  Toughen up and try icing your pain for at least 6 times before judging it’s results.  Ice can change your life.

Methods of icing:

Ice Bucket – Place the injured/sore body part into a bucket of ice water. It’s an aggressive way to ice but the benefits are quick and lasting. Timing: 10 minutes max.

Ice Bags/Packs – Wrap with an ace bandage to add compression.  Timing: 15 minutes max.
Ice Massage – Peeling down a paper cup filled with frozen water is the best way to ice a localized area of pain.  Timing: 10 minutes max.

Massage

Massage will increase blood flow into a body part while increasing the lymphatic drainage out of an area of discomfort.

Flexibility

Good old stretching will lengthen tissue such as muscles, joints and fascia to reduce the pressure on nerves and painful soft-tissue while enhancing the blood flow into your entire extremity.

Hydro Therapy

When it comes to reducing pain, hydro therapy can consist of using a hot tub, cold tub, hot show, cold shower, cold mountain stream or a combo of both hot and cold water. The benefits of hydro therapy can range from relaxing painful tissue, numbing a body part, tricking the nervous system, altering the blood flow to an extremity and/or blocking the sensation of pain.

That last sentence may sound out of character or even barbaric when discussing a “medical” topic. The truth is I’m a huge fan of hydro therapy because it has a way of healing the body in a peculiar manner when other more scientific techniques fail.

Ending Ice Bag….

In closing, pain doesn’t have to be part of your day. Challenge yourself to find safe and effective ways to put pain in your rearview mirror. Initially, eliminating your pain completely may not be a realistic option.  But just think how much better your lifestyle will be if you used these techniques to reduce both the intensity and the frequency of your pain by just 50%?!

NOW is the time to rewrite your Pain Management Plan.  Let me know how I can help you to beat your pain the smart way.

Cold Truth About Ice Therapy

To convince my patients, fellow #SpartanRace athletes and friend that ice therapy works, I simply tell them: “Ice is your best friend”!

Ice is cheap, easy to use, mobile, effective and, most importantly, ice therapy works!  Its time we all stop complaining how “ice hurts” and “it makes me stiff”.  Sure it hurts and it requires some warmup after the 10-15 minutes of ice treatment.  But if ice therapy works, isn’t 4 minutes of discomfort (that’s how long it usually takes for the area of treatment to go numb) a mild sacrifice to feel better?

Smart athletes put pain medicine down and pick up ice to manage their pain.  Follow their lead.

As a Sports Medicine Expert for Spartan Race, I write posts for fellow Spartan racers and SGX coaches related to important sports medicine topics.  Recent posts include topics such as wrist injuries, injury prevention, rehabbing an ankle injury, injury management, and resolving low back pain.

Here’s a link to a recent post I wrote on Spartan.com to keep you “In the Game”!

Click Here For:  THE COLD TRUTH ABOUT ICE THERAPY

Keeping you healthy, happy and a helluva lot easier to live with, Mike

Avoid Sports Injuries With 1 Simple Question

I flipped a giant tire today during my Spartan workout.  Flipped, as in singular.  One.  Uno.  Eins.  Once was enough. I’m allergic to sports injuries.

I didn’t need to flip it a second or a third time for both the physical therapist and the athlete in me to know the risk of an injury with this exercise was way too high.  I had plenty of other safer leg and low back strengthening exercises in my daily workout routine.  Checking my ego at the door while keeping my body injury-free was a much smarter plan than trying to keep pace with the impressively tough athletes I workout with, many of which are half my age.

“Fun”-ctional Fitness?

I quickly dropped my butt low and aggressively dug my fingers under the black beast as it angrily tried to anchor itself to the humid Florida asphalt. I hadn’t flipped a 400 lbs tire in about 15 years but I was ready!  Under the eager watch of my Spartan Race buddies, I pried the rubber behemoth from its nest with a loud groan and awkwardly wrestled it upward.  My low back creaked, my hips moaned and my knees griped as the round monster slowly rose to its tread.  As I thrust the dominated creature onto it’s back as it moaned a hollow “thud”, I convincingly announced: “….last #*@% time I’ll do THAT!”

Painful Hindsight

How many times have you injured yourself only to regretfully say: “What was I thinking?”  It’s a frustrating predicament and, as we age and hopefully we get wiser, it’s a situation we eagerly try to avoid.

Avoiding Sports Injuries Start With One Question

My solution: Before engaging in a new exercise, activity or event I ask myself one powerful question:

“Is the RISK worth the REWARD?”

It’s that simple.  Only you can answer the question because only you have to live with the outcome.  For me, the reward of flipping a tire was minimal because the risk of an injury was at way too high of a cost.  It was an easy answer for me.

Reward Outweigh Your Risk of a Sports Injury?

Looking back at previous injuries in your life, how would you have answered the Risk – Reward question prior to the injury?  With some overuse injuries or freak accidents there is no way to predict something in your body was going to tweak, pop or tear.  But more times than not, we do have an opportunity to alter our path to the doctor’s office.

Ask the Question

By no means am I trying to divert any of us away from cross training workouts to avoid all risk.  Lord knows most couches in today’s society have reached their seating capacity!  My message is to think before you blindly jump into new exercises or workouts to help reduce your risk of an injury.  Asking yourself the powerful Risk – Reward question before you start will help you avoid careless injuries as you gain strength and conditioning while you enhance your health.

Smart Exercises

Maximizing the long-term benefits of your workouts starts with avoiding sports injuries.  As you increase the volume of your workout routines, it’s wise to substitute lower risk activities for higher risk exercises such as tire flipping.

Here are some smarter alternatives for athletes interested in reducing the risk of more aggressive exercises:

   Higher Risk     >>     Lower Risk

Tire Flipping   >>   Body Squats, Kettle Bell Swings, Med Ball Wall Throws

Box Jumps   >>   Lunges, Burpees, Star Jumps, One-Legged Box Squats

Dead Lifts   >>   Wall Sits, Dumbbell Cleans, Bear Crawls

Hanging Knee Tucks   >>   Crunches, Leg Flutters, Med Ball Throws

The Bottom Line

Asking yourself the question “Is the RISK worth the REWARD?” before major changes in your workout and your life can help you avoid sports injuries and heartache.  It’s a simple way to help you to stay in the game of life by saving you pain, $$, stress, downtime and sleep.   MDR

Thanks for sharing this blog with active friends like you!

How to Get a Massage with a Happy Ending Every Time!

Come on, who doesn’t love a great massage with a happy ending?!

I can see you smiling now just thinking of that satisfied feeling at the end of a massage with all the worries of the world and the aches and pains of a long week gone. Whether it’s a caring shoulder rub after a hard day at work or a therapeutic sports massage before a big game, the results are almost always positive.

Have you ever wondered why massage is so beneficial to the body and mind?  I have and my “research” on the benefits of sports massage continues to this very day. In other words, I receive massages on a regular basis. As a physical therapist and athletic trainer who works with elite athletes, I almost always incorporate some type of massage therapy into my athlete’s rehabilitation protocols.

Think of the different types of massages you’ve received. Have you ever been given a massage that was so rough that it made you feel sore and achy for days? Or maybe you’ve been the recipient of a massage that so light and easy that you found it to be a waste of time? I have been through both of these scenarios and it taught me a very valuable lesson.

In order to optimize the benefits and positive results of my sports medicine massage, I suggest that you clearly determine the objectives of your massage beforehand.

Determine the objectives of your massage

Here are the four simple questions you and your massage therapist need to answer before your treatment.

  1. What areas of my body am I interested in treating?
  2. What are my symptoms and limitations in these areas?
  3. What is my desired outcome of this massage and how do I want it to improve my symptoms?
  4. What types of massage techniques will be used and what can I expect to feel during this massage?

Identifying the answers to these questions will help get you and your health care professional to be on the same page and significantly enhance the positive results of your massage.

Types of Massage

Here are some of the most popular types of massage used in the field of sports medicine:

  • Sports Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Deep Friction Massage
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Hot Stone Massage
  • Reflexology

Benefits of Massage

Massage has been around for thousands of years and has become an important healing tool in many cultures for good reason.

The benefits of massage and its ability to heal various ailments are well documented. Human touch is a natural healer. It offers support and conveys compassion as it soothes away aching muscles, eases pain and relieves stress. In fact, medical experts estimate that up to 90% percent of all disease is stress-related, regardless of your age.

Healers from all around the world have created and applied countless types of therapeutic techniques utilizing touch. Today, modern medicine has scientifically proven and continues to support the many benefits of massage, which include but are not limited to:

  • Increased muscle and join flexibility immune system
  • Improved immune system
  • Reduced emotional stress
  • Relaxing muscular and spine tension
  • Improved circulation
  • Increased endorphin production to reduce pain
  • Enhancing a general sense of well-being
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Reduced depression and anxiety

The Happy Ending?

Massage therapy does more than just relax your body and mind. It can actually affect your physiological (body chemistry) and psychological (mind related) state of being.

By utilizing massage therapy in both your injury prevention and rehabilitation plans, you’ll get the best “happy ending” by accelerating your return to being active and enjoy a healthy lifestyle!