Woman holding hip, in pain, wondering how to keep your hips from locking up.

Tight Hips: How To Keep Your Hips From Locking Up

When your hips lock up, it can be intensely painful and have a severe impact on your ability to move normally. Your range of motion may be so significantly decreased that you feel unable to walk or stand normally, and you definitely can’t exercise or go about your daily routine. The most important thing to do when you start to experience this problem is to see a doctor who can determine why it is happening. An accurate diagnosis is key to preventing further complications in the future. Your doctor may recommend several different methods to keep your hips from locking up, including the following.

Rest is Best

Overuse of the hip flexor muscles and trauma to the hip or lower back are some of the most common reasons that hips may lock up. When the muscles are damaged in this way, they will need some rest time in order to prevent hip lock up and other issues. Don’t continue an exercise routine if you’re in severe pain. Be sure that you rest after each strenuous exercise routine to give your muscles time to recover.

Reduce the Inflammation

Serious inflammation in the hip area is often involved with hip lock up, but can usually be reduced in natural ways. Ice packs, covered by a towel and applied directly to the inflamed hip area can help reduce inflammation. There are also medications that can reduce inflammation, both over the counter and prescription. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which medications are the best option for you.

Always Warm Up

Before doing any exercise, warming up is essential in the prevention of hip lock up. Before you begin your routine, walk at a moderate pace for at least five minutes. Once your muscles feel slightly warm, you’re better prepared to tackle your exercise routine. Your doctor or physical therapist may also teach you some exercises that are created specifically for strengthening the hip joint area so that future lock ups can be prevented.

Here at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we take a comprehensive approach to treatment. Our pain management specialists, nurses, and physician assistants work together to make sure that a care plan tailored for your unique needs can be created if you need assistance to keep your hips from locking up.

Man in gray shirt and sweatpants stretching while facing a window, knowing the benefits of stretching when you wake up.

Benefits of Stretching When You Wake Up

First thing in the morning, your brain is struggling to wake up, so you might not realize your body is doing the same thing. Stretching is a preemptive strike against lethargy – one that will also help stimulate that sleepy brain and ease pain. Consider some practical reasons of benefits of stretching when you wake up.

Muscle Tightness

Think about how your body feels after sitting through a two-hour movie and how good it is to stretch your legs. Now, multiply that stiffness by four and you’ll understand the importance of a morning stretch to relieve muscle tightness. Stretching elongates the muscles, making them more flexible and that is a positive way to start your day.

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness is one of the biggest problems after a long night of almost no movement, especially when you tack on things like having slept in a cold room. Stretching improves range of motion for joints, eliminating the stiffness and pain in those problem areas like your lower back, neck, and knees.

Full Body Flexibility

When you head to the gym to work your shoulders and chest, you start with a warm up, right? The Mayo Clinic explains that exercise causes your muscles to contract and that makes them tight. Your day is fraught with tiny workout sessions that you don’t even think about. When you walk from your car to work, you are exercising your legs and stressing your knees. When you sit down in front of your computer, you exercise your arms and shoulder joints.
While daily movement is not as strenuous as working out in the gym, it still challenges the muscles and joints.

Enhanced Circulation

Improving circulation to the extremities makes movement easier and relieves the muscle tension that builds up during eight hours of inactivity. A few stretches in the morning increases the muscles demand for blood increasing your heart rate.

Waking Your Brain Up

The brain works as a computer to control every function in the body including respiration, muscle movement, and heart rate. A morning stretch activates all those things to bring the brain back online. It’s a powerful way to clear the cobwebs and wake up your central nervous system even before you have your morning coffee.

Without that few minutes of stretching, you probably feel tight and sluggish until midmorning. Why not give your body a morning wakeup call instead? Reach your arms towards the ceiling and then drop down to touch your toes. Ten minutes before breakfast is all you need.

At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are proud to take a comprehensive and highly progressive approach to healing and pain management that allows us to treat each patient’s pain effectively. To learn more about methods to reduce pain or the benefits of stretching when you wake up, give us a call at 770-590-1078 or visit us here to schedule a pain management consultation.

The word “PAIN” in puzzle pieces, highlighting post-surgical pain treatment.

Post-Surgical Pain Treatment

After any type of surgery, pain is to be expected. The amount of pain that you have and its duration often depends on the type of surgery, your age, and the evasiveness of the procedure. However, there are many ways to cope with post-surgical pain treatment to make your recovery time more pleasant.

Begin By Asking Questions

Before your surgery, your doctor will be able to tell you what kind of pain you will experience and approximately how long it will last. Once you have this discussion, your doctor can consult with you about a pain-management plan. This may include medications, massages, and other ways to relieve pain that allow you to rest and recuperate more effectively.

Taking Pain Medication

One of the most effective ways to manage pain after surgery is to take your prescribed pain medication as ordered by your doctor. Many patients make the mistake of waiting until they feel pain before taking their medication. However, by waiting until you are in pain, you will have to suffer through it until your medication begins to work. That’s why it is recommended to stay ahead of the pain and to take the medication on a set schedule. Be sure that you understand exactly how often to take your medication and to keep track of what time you have taken it.

Anxiety After Surgery

Developing depression or anxiety after surgery is a common occurrence. This can make it harder to become active after your surgery and slow your recovery. Depression and anxiety can also worsen your pain. If you need treatment for these conditions, speak to your doctor and find out about medications that are available to you. These can also help lessen your post-surgical pain in many cases.

Physical Therapy

After some types of surgery, physical therapy may be helpful. This can lessen pain over time and help the healing and strengthening process. If your pain and/or stiffness persist, ask your doctor whether physical therapy could help you to heal and to feel better.

Stay In Contact With Your Doctor

If your pain persists after your doctor’s estimate, call your doctor. If you have pain after the healing should have been completed, there may be another issue that is causing it. There is no reason to go through pain alone and without help from your doctor. Keep your doctor informed about how you are recovering and about your level of pain.

At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are proud to take a comprehensive and highly progressive approach to healing and pain management that allows us to treat each patient’s pain effectively. To learn more about methods for post-surgical pain treatment, give us a call at 770.929.9033 or schedule a pain management consultation.

A hot summer sky on palm tree, highlighting how hot weather affects pain.

How Hot Weather Affects Pain

While you may not think about it, spring and summer can mean more than just hot weather—it can mean extra suffering for those who suffer from chronic pain. Why is this? We’ve put together some basic information about why and how hot weather affects pain.

How Does Hot Weather Affect Pain?

  • Temperature Regulation – First and foremost, many people who have chronic pain also suffer from problems regulating their system in regards to temperature changes and moisture in the air. So, whether the temperature is moving from cold to hot or hot to cold, chronic pain sufferers will have a problem with the change of seasons.
  • Arthritis – One particular pain problem that is made worse during summer is arthritis. One theory is that there is a change in the level of fluid that lines the joints based on the temperature. As the temperature rises, there may be a change in how your joints feel and move. For some people, summer is worse.
  • Ozone Levels – Another theory regarding chronic pain and weather has to do with the levels of ozone in the environment. High heat and humidity increase the levels of ozone. For some people, particularly those who have fibromyalgia, MS and other chronic illnesses, this change in ozone levels can make symptoms more severe and makes life more difficult.

Tips for Managing Pain During Hot Weather

If you are the one suffering from pain, it does not matter to you what causes your pain to worsen—you just want relief. Consider these tips to help combat the pain as temperatures rise.

  • Avoid the Hottest Weather – If you can stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, you may be able to avoid the worst pain.
  • Use Your AC – While you may hate paying higher electric bills, the AC can be a huge help in reducing your level of pain and keeping you comfortable during the spring and summer months.
  • Eat and Drink Right – Eating a smart diet and drinking plenty of water will keep you feeling your best. A hydrated, nourished body will be able to handle the heat better than one that is starved for nutrients.
  • Consider Mint – Mint offers a natural cooling sensation. Mint products such as teas, lotions, and soaps can help you cool down and lessen the pain.

While warmer months may never be your favorite time of the year, a little knowledge can go a long way towards helping you combat heat-related pain during spring and summer months. At Alliance Spine & Pain Centers, we are proud to take a comprehensive and highly progressive approach to healing and pain management that allows us to treat each patient’s pain effectively. To learn more about methods to reduce pain or how hot weather affects pain, give us a call at 770.590.1078 or schedule a pain management consultation.

Woman with wrist pain sitting in front of a computer, wondering how to reduce hand and wrist pain at work.

How to Reduce Hand and Wrist Pain at Work

An ounce of prevention goes a long way when it comes to hand and wrist pain associated with work. Repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, a disorder that leads to pain and weakness in the hand and wrist, are more common in this technological age. People spend hours sitting at desks and using a keyboard and that takes its toll on these delicate joints. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists chronic hand and wrist pain as one common reason employees miss work. Find out what you can do to reduce hand and wrist pain at work.

What Causes Hand and Wrist Pain?

If you have long-term pain without a known injury, you may suffer from repetitive stress, arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. All three of these issues can relate to your job.  Any activity that causes you to move your wrist or hand repeatedly will eventually injure the connective tissue, nerves or joints. This is why working at a computer increases your risk of developing chronic pain. Everything from the way you position your hands over the keyboard to how your fingers strike the keys can lead to inflammation and pain.

How to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries?

It is the constant and repetitive movement that causes most work-related problems with the hands and wrists. Learning how to protect them is the key to preventing injury. Start by strengthening the structures of the wrists and hands. This is especially critical for women who might not get enough calcium in the diets. Talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement to ward off stress-related fractures. Discuss exercises that will build up the muscles around the joints, as well.
Other tips to reduce your risk include:

  • Pay attention to your typing technique when at the keyboard – Keep your wrists in a neutral position and avoid bending them to reach the keys. You can use an ergonomic keyboard or a wrist support device to position your hands properly.
  • Keep your fingernails short – Long fingernails interfere with the typing process and force your wrists to compensate. Even with the wrist support tools in place, you have to bend to hit the keys.
  • Take breaks often – This is good for you in many ways. Get up off the chair, walk around and shake your hands.

Take advantage of some of the ergonomic tools available like keyboards, chairs and mice. If you still have pain or anymore questions about reduce hand and wrist pain at work, talk to your doctor about wearing braces to provide additional support to your wrists and hands while at work.

Woman receiving electrode therapy.

Electrode Therapy: The History and Benefits

Can using electrodes help you deal with chronic pain? Electrical energy is a tool with many medical benefits including pain management. In 1856, a French neurologist discovered a method of using alternating current to trigger muscle contractions. Today, electrical muscle stimulation is an approved form of rehabilitation and pain management.

What is Electrode Therapy?

Electrode therapy, or more commonly referred to as electrotherapy, is exactly what it sounds like – the use of electric energy to mimic the nerve impulses that cause muscles to contract. The electrodes are attached to the skin around the affected area to work those muscles.
The use of electrode therapy often coincides with rehabilitation efforts and pain management. The electrical muscle stimulation provides pain relief because if forces contracted tissue to relax

What are the Benefits?

The benefits of electrode therapy extend beyond relaxing muscle tissue. This treatment option is used in combination with other rehabilitation efforts to improve flexibility and range of motion.

Chronic pain can limit how you move. If you hurt your shoulder, your natural inclination is to try not to move it. Unfortunately, the movement is a necessary part of the healing process. Without it, muscles tend to shrink up – a condition known as muscle atrophy.
With direct stimulation of the muscle, the tissue elongates and contracts without nerve involvement. The electrodes take the place of the nerves that normally cause the muscles to move. In a sense, they are exercising independently to increase strength and improve healing. This helps muscles recover faster than they would with only traditional physical therapy.

Electrode therapy also provides stress relief. Pain causes you to tense up, leading to more discomfort. If you have a back injury, the chronic pain can lead to neck tension and headaches. With electrode stimulation, the neck muscles relax like you have had a deep tissue massage. At the same time, the treatment loosens the connective tissue and reduces inflammation, making you more flexible. Blood rushes to the area to fuel the moving muscle and improve healing.

It is up to the doctor to decide if electrode therapy is the right option for you, but, generally speaking, anyone who suffers from chronic pain may see some benefit. If you are recovering from an injury or working to rehab a joint, then electrode therapy may promote faster healing while helping reduce the pain. If your problem is chronic, like frequent headaches, just the relaxing effect of the treatment will offer some relief.

Alliance Spine and Pain is here to help if you have anymore questions about electrode therapy

Elderly couple exercising with resistance bands, knowing how to stretch with resistance bands.

How to Stretch With Resistance Bands

Stretching is how you stay flexible no matter what your situation. Whether your back aches because you sit all day long or you are working to heal an injured joint. Stretching opens the muscle up to its full extent, increasing the circulation. Resistance bands are a practical choice for stretching exercises because they add tension to the move and are easily portable. Consider these four stretching exercises to learn how to stretch with resistance bands.

How to Handle Resistance Bands

Start by learning how to handle the resistance band. The bands come in different weights. Beginners will want to start with medium weight band. You can buy flat bands or tubes that come with handles on each end.
Start each stretch slowly to ensure you have control of the band to maximizing the toning and reduce the risk of injury. Pull on the band just enough to create tension.

Stretching the Chest Muscles

Sit on the floor cross-legged and grab one end of the band in each hand. Pull it taut over your head, but keep the band loose enough that you can pull down without it breaking. Stretch your arms out and then down to complete the stretch. You can do one set pulling down to the front of your chest and another going back behind your neck.

Side Stretch

Remain in the cross-legged position and grip the band with each hand. Place your left hand on the floor next to your body while you reach the right one over your head. The bicep of your right arm should be near your ear. Pull up with your right arm while activating the muscles on your left side to stretch them. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Lower Back Stretch

Extend your legs out in front and wrap the band around your feet as you grip it with both hands. The band goes from one hand, around the arches of both feet to the other hand. Pull back on the bands as you stretch your lower back. Keep the abs tight to support your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and then return to start.

Hamstring Stretch

Lie back on the floor and wrap the band around just one foot. Lift your leg up towards the ceiling while keeping the other leg slightly bent on the floor. You may not get the active leg all the way up and that’s okay. Just raise it as much as you can comfortably and pull down on the band to increase the tension. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds then switch legs.

Stretching is your best option to warm up muscles and prevent injury. If you are recovering from an injury, ask your doctor for advice on the best stretches to manage your pain if you have anymore questions about how to stretch with resistance bands.

Women using rollers, wondering Ways to Use a Roller.

5 Ways to Use a Roller for Muscle Relaxation and Better Sleep

Stress and fatigue can cause painfully tight muscles. Trigger points, the points where the muscles are contracted the tightest, won’t go away unless they are released. If not released, this can cause ongoing pain as well as terrible bouts of insomnia. One way to release a trigger point is to use a roller. Here are five ways to use a roller to relax muscles and sleep better.

The Upper and Middle Back

While lying on the floor, place the roller beneath the shoulder blades. Move the hands under the head, supporting the neck. Roll back and forth on the roller, allowing it to ease the sore back muscles.

The Neck 

While lying on the floor, put the roller under the neck. With the roller acting as support, move the head horizontally back and forth to release the painful muscles in the neck.

The Shoulders

While kneeling, place the roller in front of the body. Put hands on the roller and move the whole upper body forward, keeping knees in place. This position can release pain in the shoulder and upper back area.

The Hamstrings

Sit with the right leg extended and resting on the foam roller. Raise the body up using the arms (keep arms positioned just behind the body for support). Roll the leg, from bottom to the knee area, to release pain and tension. Repeat on other side.

The Thighs

With body facing the ground, use the arms as support while resting the thighs on the foam roller. Lift gently upwards, making a pulling motion with arms and core muscles. This motion will bring direct contact with sore thigh muscles and will help address pain in this area effectively.

Better sleep is often a challenge for many people, but the simple fact is that improved sleep may begin with feeling better physically. The exercises listed above will allow you to soothe those painful areas so that you can finally get a peaceful night of rest.

If your pain persists, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers is here to help! Call for a consultation today at 770-590-1078 or click here to schedule an appointment.

An elderly man swimming, wondering about the swimming exercises for a sore back here.

5 Swimming Exercises for a Sore Back

Swimming and water exercises can help people with acute or chronic back pain in their fitness journey without placing stress on the back. Swimming is low impact, does not involve weights, and the water provides active resistance, making the exercise more effective. Not all exercises are equal, even in the pool. Focus your efforts on these five swimming exercises for a sore back here.

1. Flutter Kicking

This is something you probably did when you were learning to swim. Hold onto the side of the pool and gently scissor kick. You can do this face down with your body parallel to the pool floor. Afterward, flip over and pull your legs up towards the surface of the water for a brief stretch.

2. Pelvic Stretch

Stand with your feet on the floor of the pool and your back facing the wall. Have your arms hanging relaxed in the water. Slowly tuck in your tailbone and pelvis in until your back rounds out. The goal of this movement is to feel like your back is parallel to the wall of the pool by pulling in your abs and pushing your hips forward. Hold for a few seconds and then release.

3. Knee Stretch

Move to the shallow end of the pool for this exercise. Stand with your feet planted on the floor and your arms relaxed at your sides. Start to march in place. With each lift, pull your knee closer to your chest while maintaining your balance in the pool. As your back gets stronger, try pulling each leg to waist level without bending your knees.

4. Pool Planks

You’ll need a pool noodle or something similar to do this routine. Hold the noodle in front of you and then lean forward in the water keeping your back straight. Push down on the noodle to submerge it as you lean further forward to form a semi-plank. Keep your elbows locked. and your feet anchored to the pool floor to maintain your balance during the move. Hold the plank for up to 60 seconds.

5. Pool Push Ups

A push-up is one of the best ways to strengthen your back and core. You can modify this move during your swim to get the same benefits. Start in the shallow end of the pool facing the wall and your feet on the floor. Place your hands on the pool edge. Press your body weight through your hands and lower yourself towards the wall as you arms bend at the elbow. Hold for three seconds and then push off the wall to return to your starting position.

Start slow and build the number of repetitions as your back gets stronger. If you have any questions about your back pain or need further evaluation, give us a call at 770-590-1078 for more information or click here if you have anymore questions about swimming exercises for a sore back.

Seniors doing yoga, one of the examples of 5 Exercises Seniors Can Do to Stay Loose.

5 Exercises Seniors Can Do to Stay Loose

Seniors face unique challenges when it comes to staying fit, but remaining active is critical if you want to avoid painful, age-related illnesses like osteoarthritis. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to feel energetic, to control pain, and to improve your memory no matter what your age. These are five exercises seniors can do to stay loose.

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga is a practical choice for people of all ages, but especially seniors. It works the core muscles while helping to improve balance and overall range of motion. Go online to watch a video or read how to do the poses then put together your own routine based on what you need.

Arm Raises

Start by standing or sitting with your arms at your side. Lift them both up to shoulder height and hold there for a count of five. Turn the palms up slowly to face the ceiling and then lift your arms over your head. It should feel like you are trying to touch the sky. Hold for another five count and then return them to the starting position. Do up to three sets of 8 to 12 raises. As you get stronger, add some weights to make the exercise more challenging.

Leg Raises

For the leg raises, you are going to want to stand with one hand planted firmly on the back of a chair to maintain your balance. Lift the opposite leg out to the side 10 times. Lift that same leg backward for another 10. Now switch hands and repeat the back lift with the other leg and then do the side raises.

Room Walks

You probably think of walking as something you must go outside to do, but why not tour your home instead of the local park. Walk around the room, or the entire house, doing laps to get your exercise. Challenge yourself by increasing the number of laps you do over time and by adding some weights to your routine. If your home has stairs, take advantage of that incline for a little extra burn.

Light Weights

Building muscle tone is essential if you want to stay loose and flexible. Start with something light, like two pounds, and do arm lifts. Invest in some ankle weights too for lower body strength training. Once you find you can do the full range of motion easily with one weight, go to something heavier like four or five pounds.

It is normal to stiffen up as you get older but don’t use that as an excuse to stop exercising. Lack of exercise just increases your pain, so start slow but get moving again. At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are proud to take a comprehensive and highly progressive approach to wellness and pain management that allows us to treat each patient’s pain effectively. Give us a call at 770-590-1078 or click here to schedule a consultation if you have any more questions about five exercises seniors can do to stay loose.