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.

Woman holding her knee in pain, wondering about knee pain.

Treating Knee Pain

Virtually everyone experiences different levels of pain at various points throughout their lives. It can manifest in the form of a strained muscle group, back pain, a stress-related headache, or an injury stemming from an automobile accident or work. For some people, the pain can be chronic and sometimes quite debilitating.

Causes of Knee Pain

Knee pain is a common complaint that’s often experienced by people of all ages including adults, children, and seniors. Knee pain is one of the most frequent complaints the doctors at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers hear. Their physicians and staff have been specially trained diagnose and treat knee pain no matter what the cause might have been.

This specific kind of pain can show up immediately following an injury, or could appear as a symptom of an ongoing medical condition. The level of discomfort the individual feels primarily depends on the cause of their pain, their overall physical condition prior to feeling pain, and the general area of the affected knee.

Often, when knee pain arises in older people, it could be a side effect or symptom of another key health problem that may or may not impact the bones and joints. But, this isn’t always the case. For some elderly people, the pain may be caused by a generally weakened bone structure that tends to occur throughout the natural aging process.

Levels of Knee Pain

Pain is the number one reason why people seek medical treatment. Acute pain can easily develop into unbearable chronic pain, which is then harder to treat. Several commercially available and commonly prescribed pain relief medications can decrease symptoms commonly associated with certain conditions such as nerve and muscle pain, back pain, arthritis, migraine headaches, and fibromyalgia, but they can additionally lead to many unwanted side effects as well including dizziness, drowsiness, or upset stomach. The physicians at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers  have found compounded prescriptions are very effective in reducing pain for specific areas of pain such as the knee.

The Pharmacy Compounding Solution

Constantly dealing with chronic pain or the many side effects of traditional pain medication can be avoided through pharmacy compounding. It provides patients with alternative, customized solutions for pain medication and relief. Compounding is essentially both the science and art of preparing personalized medications for patients and offers priceless benefits for anyone that deals with acute pain on a daily basis.

Special Formulations

Some people dealing with chronic pain are put on various medications in order to effectively tackle certain symptoms linked to their disorder. On several occasions though, multiple medications can often be combined into just one topical preparation, giving the patient much more convenience and simplicity.

Various Strengths

Medications may not always provide the correct strength of dosage for every patient since everyone has different symptoms, pain tolerance, and vary in physical size. However, by compounding, the pharmacist together with the prescriber can customize their dosage according to how much they actually need in addition to finding the form of dosage that will best suit the needs of the patient.

Alliance Spine and Pain Centers’ physicians often prescribe compound drugs for their patients. They have 15 locations that serve the Atlanta Metro area including Austell, Canton, Carrollton, College Park, Conyers, Covington, Dallas, Dawsonville, Decatur, Douglasville, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, Piedmont, Roswell, and Sandy Springs. Pharmacy compounding may be able to enhance a person’s quality of life by giving them relief from pain with less medication and possibly fewer side effects overall.

Lower back pain. Man holding his back in pain. Medical concept. Close up hands touching back pain. A man problem chronic low back pain, wondering do I have lower back pain.

Do You Have Lower Back Pain?

The lower back, or lumbar spine, is the area of the back between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the hips. Pain in this region, sometimes also referred to as lumbar or low back pain develops at some point in life for most people. When properly treated, the pain can be alleviated and the symptoms reversed. On-going low back pain, however, can become a chronic and even debilitating condition if it is left unchecked.

Understanding Low Back Pain

While the start of this pain can often be attributed to a particular moment of injury, twisting, or improper lifting; it can also develop over time or even have no apparent cause. People who sit a lot or carry excess abdominal weight can become particularly prone to pain in the lumbar spine. In some cases, a problem with the spine present at birth can lead to lower back pain.

Whatever the reason, the sensation of pain in the lumbar spine depends on alterations of the spinal alignment causing pressure or impingement on nerves. If left untreated, this pain can include permanent damage to the reception and interpretation of pain signals from these effected nerves.

Symptoms 

The experience of lumbar pain can vary substantially from person to person. For some, low back pain is a dull ache over a broad area while for others; the pain is sharp and localized. Sometimes, pain in the lumbar spine is associated with episodic often-debilitating muscle spasms. It can also involve pain, tingling, or numbness in the legs.

Fortunately, the symptoms for most cases are reversible. In some severe conditions, however, the nerves involved cause weakness of the legs or loss of bladder and bowel control. Any low back pain involving these symptoms requires immediate medical attention.

Proper diagnosis of lower back pain is a crucial therapeutic step. Most clinical assessments involve a simple office visit and discussion with a physician. In some cases, particularly if the pain in the lumbar spine has lasted longer than six weeks, the physician may recommend some imaging exams such as X-rays or MRIs.

Treating Low Back Pain

A number of therapy options are available to effectively treat the symptoms and underlying causes. While non-prescription analgesic drugs may help provide short-term pain relief, they should not be used without consultation with a specialist who can provide a complete assessment of the condition and recommend the best therapeutic options.

The specialists at the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers have the expertise to diagnose and treat even the toughest cases of lower back pain. While early treatment is the best option, it’s never too late to improve symptoms and find relief from this pain. Conveniently situated across 15 locations across northern Georgia and the Atlanta Metro Area, the team at the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are available to make full clinical assessments and explore a range of treatment options. Stop by to stop the pain with Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, where top-quality specialist pain interventions are the standard of care.

An African American female holding her head in pain, wondering if can a stroke cause pain.

Can A Stroke Cause Pain?

While ‘mind over matter’ can help in some situations, central and post-stroke pain is an important exception. Wondering can a stroke cause pain? With a better understanding of the pain signaling process, it becomes clear why many stroke victims require pain management.

Inside the Pain Signaling Process

Most painful experiences are what is known as local pain. This involves a system of connections from the site of bodily injury through the spinal cord to the region of the brain ‘mapped’ to that body site. When chronic or abnormal, local pain may involve neuropathy, abnormal sensations in nerves, as well as spasticity, abnormally stiff or rigid muscles.

Damage that occurs within the brain or spinal cord can reverse the direction and nature of pain perception. It can cause a body site to spontaneously feel pain because the area of the brain mapped to that location has been injured and misfires. Also, damage to the thalamus or parietal lobes, the areas where sensations of heat, cold, and touch are processed; can cause all stimuli to become painful. This can be an important component of what is referred to as an ascentral post-stroke pain (CPSP) syndrome.

Characteristics of Post-Stroke Pain

Up to one-half of people who suffer strokes will experience post-stroke pain. Of these, about one in ten people will have features of CPSP syndrome. Patients who have hemorrhagic strokes are at greatest risk of central pain symptoms.

The frequency and intensity of post-stroke pain can vary from intermittent abnormal sensations to constant pain. Abnormal sensations may include a feeling of burning, tingling or ‘pins-and-needles’ that occur spontaneously or as a response to normal stimuli. Another abnormal sensation that can accompany post-stroke pain is hyperalgesia, an abnormally heightened perception of pain. This can cause previously painless stimuli to cause pain. Emotional stress, cold, and movement can worsen the symptoms of post-stroke pain.

The Impact of Post-Stroke Pain

Pain from any source can significantly impact the quality of life. Post-stroke pain may appear immediately following a stroke but often occurs weeks, months, or years later. Whereas physical and occupational therapy often comprises of an important part of stroke recovery, post-stroke pain can inhibit movement and rehabilitation. Untreated pain slows recovery and can lead to the weakening of the muscles in affected areas. Pain, along with decreased recovery capacity, are important risks for emotional distress and depression.

Treatment Options for Post-Stroke Pain

The first step toward improvement from post-stroke pain is an in-depth understanding of the nature of the problem. At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, a thorough assessment to elucidate the central from the peripheral pain symptoms allows these pain management professionals to provide customized and targeted pain treatment. Individualized pain management plans may include pharmacological as well as interventional treatments that are tailored over time. With 15 locations in neighborhoods throughout Georgia and the Atlanta metro area, the specialists at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are available to help on the road to recovery from post-stroke pain. We have locations in Augusta, Austell, Canton, Carrollton, College Park, Conyers, Covington, Dallas, Dawsonville, Decatur, Douglasville, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, Piedmont, and Roswell, Georgia. Give is a call today at (770) 929-9033 if you have any more questions about can a stroke cause pain.

A man holding his neck in pain, Understanding chronic pain.

Understanding Chronic Pain

Intended as a warning sign of physical injury, pain that lasts too long can become a disease of its own. Chronic pain is a condition in which pain has occurred for three months or longer and often long after the initial injury has healed. Understanding chronic pain is an important step toward finding the proper treatment for this life-changing and potentially debilitating health condition.

The Pain Signaling Process

The nervous system is comprised of the peripheral nervous system, the nerves that run throughout the body, and the central nervous system, the spinal cord, and brain. Stimuli are anything that triggers transmissions through the nervous system, such as a hot stove, soft animal, or sharp needle. Sensations such as pain are normally perceived after stimuli in the periphery triggers a transmission that is relayed through the spine to the brain where it is interpreted as heat, cold, pain, etc.

Reflexes, which use similar nerve transmission pathways, are often interpreted at the level of the spinal cord. The shorter distance between the site of stimuli and the location of interpretation allows quicker responses to potentially dangerous situations.

Chronic Pain: Pathological Pain Signaling

Long-term pain transmissions can lead to alterations in the pain signaling process. The brain becomes so accustomed to recognizing the presence of painful stimuli from a particular location that the brain’s neural pathways are re-shaped to facilitate the transmission of this signal. Eventually, the pain signaling process related to a particular body site is so well established that it no longer requires stimuli: the brain senses pain even after the stimuli have been removed. In addition, the reflexes and other sensations that utilize the same signaling pathways can also be altered. This concept of re-wired neural pathways is essential to the understanding of appropriate treatments for pain that has become chronic.

Pain Management

Many pain-relieving medications are effective because they reduce the extent to which stimuli can trigger a peripheral nerve. This usually means alleviating swelling and inflammation at the site of the injury. When pain has become chronic, however, the altered pain processing requires treatment that targets the brain as the site of pain relief.
Until recently, few treatments were available to appropriately manage unremitting pain. Opioid medications were once a mainstay for the treatment of pain that has become chronic. While these drugs are essential for short-term and strong pain management, they can carry unwanted side effects and are not the most appropriate option for long-term pain management. New classes of drugs, as well as targeted drug delivery techniques, provide more options for delivering long-term pain treatments right where they are needed and with fewer side effects.

The special care and treatment required for these unique pain conditions make choosing the right health care provider essential for managing pain that has become chronic. Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are proud to provide a variety of long-term pain management options at its 15 locations around the Atlanta metro area. Trust Alliance Spine and Pain Centers to provide lasting relief from long-lasting pain conditions.

Man holding his neck in pain in front of the computer, wondering Is Your Chronic Pain Causing You to Look Older?

Is Your Chronic Pain Causing You to Look Older?

Chronic pain is a life-changing health condition that can impact every aspect of daily life. As the time and attention demanded by unrelenting pain increases, there can be less and less time for attention to other details. If you’re wondering is your chronic pain causing you to look older, this can have both direct and indirect effects on the appearance and can even contribute to a type of premature aging.

Reflections on Appearance

Even if true beauty is more than skin deep, overall personal appearance can provide insight on the state of physical and emotional well-being. Time devoted to good nutrition, regular exercise, and other basic self-care activities that support long-term health is often apparent in outward appearance.

Chronic pain can disrupt or disable many of the basic health maintenance activities that contribute to a sense of wellness and vitality. As these factors tend to decrease slowly over the lifetime, anyone with less capacity for health-supporting self-care activities can take on an appearance generally associated with premature aging. Recognition of such a change in appearance can become a vicious cycle for those suffering from chronic pain: looking older can further diminish emotional well-being and further discourage health-promoting activities.

In addition to the way in which chronic pain reduces the time for routine self-care, this condition can also alter the appearance by reducing the capacity to move, smile, and laugh as those without a chronic pain condition. As a result, people suffering from unremitting pain can simply appear frailer and infirmed in comparison to their peers at the same age.

A Friend in the Fight Against Chronic Pain

Alliance Spine and Pain Centers understands the myriad ways in which chronic pain affects quality of life. Whether it is decreased mobility or premature aging that is most distressing for a patient, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers aims to alleviate any and all direct and indirect consequences of the condition in the lives of chronic pain patients.

Find out today how the team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers can provide a customized chronic pain treatment plan if you’re wondering is your chronic pain causing you to look older. With 15 convenient locations throughout the Atlanta metro area and also in Augusta, GA, pain relief is just around the corner.

Woman suffering whiplash after bad cars pile up, knowing When the Pain is Bad Try Focusing on Other Things.

When the Pain is Bad, Try Focusing on Other Things

The mind is a powerful tool that can act to both increase or alleviate pain. By employing subtle shifts in focus, bad pain and overall quality of life can be significantly improved. To make the most of the power of the mind in pain management, the team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers recommend when the pain is bad try focusing on other things.

Stay Positive

Positive thinking is a powerful and integral part of effective pain management. Although often underestimated, studies have shown that staying positive provides a significant reduction in pain levels. The difficulty of managing chronic pain can lead to an accumulation of negative thoughts, particularly about one’s self. A focus on what has been lost may overwhelm thoughts of what remains possible. Consider using a journal to externalize your thoughts and attempt to explore a positive approach to what remains despite the pain. Try writing about improvements in previously bad pain levels or mobility, even if they are small or temporary, in order to train the attention toward these positive aspects of life.

Manage Stress

The body’s reaction to stressful situations releases many of the same biochemical mediators that are involved in creating the sensation of pain. Therefore, it is vital to combat the vicious cycle in which pain causes stress that causes more pain. Seek to identify and address any sources of stress that can be mitigated. Simply eating and sleeping better can work wonders to help keep stress at bay. Consider using additional stress management techniques like yoga or tai chi to help regularly release physical and emotional stress.

Keep Active

While bad pain can significantly hinder some activities, remaining active is essential to the physical and emotional management of bad pain. Aim for gentle physical activities that also provide a change of scenery, like a walk or a swim, in order to provide a temporary distraction brought about by such new stimuli. Consider walking with friends or family so that conversation can provide an additional distraction. The soothing effects of staying active can be felt both physically and emotionally.

Stay Connected

Feeling as if friends and family struggle to understand the significance of bad pain is a very common dilemma. Sometimes finding other sufferers of bad pain conditions can help reduce a sense of isolation that can accompany this condition. Finding someone else who has experience with painful conditions can remove some of the pressure to have friends and family understand more profoundly. Such connectivity with others suffering from chronic or other bad pain conditions provides a kind of distraction from the particulars of one’s own condition and can alleviate some strain on other social connections.

While social connections are essential, so is a supportive pain management team. Chronic and bad pain conditions should not be ignored and requires the support of experts in these often complex conditions. Explore the additional medical options such as when the pain is bad try focusing on other things provided by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. With 13 locations in the Atlanta metro area, pain relief is just around the corner.