Doctor examining knee of patient

What Is Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation?

Finding innovative solutions for stubborn chronic pain is at the forefront of what we do here at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. One cutting-edge option offered by our doctors is dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation.

Used to alleviate persistent pain in lower regions of the body, this groundbreaking treatment can deliver life-changing results for certain patient populations. Here’s a closer look at what the treatment involves.

What Does the DRG Stimulation Procedure Entail?

DRG stimulation is a form of neuromodulation, a technique that alters nerve activity to alleviate pain. This particular procedure focuses on the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), a group of densely populated nerves that run along the spinal column, regulating pain signals via nerve fibers.

There are various DRGs positioned along the spine, each of which corresponds with different areas of the body. DRG stimulation therapy can pinpoint pain in these specific areas. Common pain sites targeted by the treatment are the groin, hip, knee, or foot.

There are several components of DRG stimulation therapy, including:

  • The generator, a small, battery-operated device which is implanted in the body and sends out electrical pulses
  • Thin wires which are placed near the affected DRG to deliver electrical pulses from the generator
  • A controller which allows the patient to adjust the level of stimulation or turn it on and off as needed

The Proclaim™ DRG Neurostimulator System which our doctors provide even allows patients to cycle through various programs and upgrade technology as it improves by receiving software updates. This means patients can continue to benefit from advancements without the need for further procedures.

To assess whether DRG stimulation therapy will be effective, the implantation of the device may start with a trial placement. In this process, leads for the trial stimulator will be temporarily implanted through the skin via needle insertion into the epidural space. If after several days the trial proves to be successful, a permanent stimulator can be implanted via two small incisions. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis under conscious sedation and takes roughly 30 to 40 minutes to complete.

Who Is a Good Candidate?

Chronic pain can be particularly difficult to treat in certain areas of the body. Regions such as the foot, knee, groin, or hip can experience lingering pain following an injury or surgical procedure. When suffering doesn’t subside after other therapies have been tried, patients may become good candidates for DRG stimulation.

Specifically, patients who have the following symptoms may be most likely to benefit from the treatment:

  • Pain that has lasted at least six months
  • Pain that’s isolated to a specific region, such as the knee, hip, groin, or foot
  • Pain that hasn’t responded well from previous pain management techniques, which may include nerve blocks, traditional neurostimulation, or even surgery

DRG stimulation is a cutting-edge procedure, and there are still relatively few pain management specialists who offer the treatment. Alliance Spine and Pain Centers doesn’t just offer this technique; we have multiple doctors who specialize in it.

If you think you could benefit from DRG stimulation or any of the other pain relief therapies we offer, contact our office online to schedule a consultation, or call 770-929-9033.

 

multicultural group of women

How to Fight Winter Joint Pain Woes

If your joints feel stiffer or more tender during the winter months, you’re not alone. While experts are still determining exactly how weather affects joint pain, there are a few possibilities behind the correlation. Drops in barometric pressure, for example, cause joints to expand, intensifying pain. Cooler temperatures can also cause synovial fluid to thicken, making joints stiffer and more sensitive.

No matter the root cause, people with the two most common forms of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — both report feeling worse on cold, wet days. The good news is that there are steps you can take to alleviate discomfort. Here are a few to consider.

5 Tips to Ease Winter Joint Pain

1. Warm Up

The simplest way to avoid the joint pain associated with cooler weather is to avoid getting too cold in the first place. If you live in a colder climate, this means dressing in layers when you go outdoors, and limiting time spent outside on the coldest days. Compression gloves may be particularly helpful, as they control swelling and provide heat for the hands, which tend to be common sites for arthritis pain. When indoors, consider using heat therapy by running a warm bath, applying a heating pad, or snuggling under a heated blanket.

2. Keep Moving

Exercise has tremendous benefits for people with arthritis. It can control pain levels, reduce fatigue, and keep joints lubricated and flexible. The best activities for people experiencing joint pain include strengthening moves, range-of-motion activities, and low-impact aerobic activities. If you normally exercise outdoors, consider treadmill walks, stationary biking, or following along with low-impact workout videos to get your cardio in during the winter.

3. Stretch

Stretching can alleviate pain and increase your range of motion, which may help to offset wintertime pain. A physical therapist can help you develop a tailored stretching program based on your needs and current range of motion. There are also gentle yoga programs available online if you’re considering a guided stretching program at home. Just be sure your muscles are warm before you get started: warm joints are more relaxed, which makes stretching easier.

4. Get Enough Vitamin D

There’s some evidence to suggest a correlation between low vitamin D levels and joint pain. We know that vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining bone health, and that many people tend to be low in the nutrient when they’re spending less time outdoors. Since vitamin D can be difficult to get without sunlight exposure or through diet alone, talk to your doctor about starting supplements.

5. Stay Up-to-Date with Vaccines

People with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to experience complications from the flu virus. Aches and pains are among the most common symptoms of the flu, so if your joints already feel achy in the winter, avoiding the flu may help with your pain. Even if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet this season, it’s not too late. Most pharmacies offer flu vaccines, but have a conversation with your doctor about any other vaccines you may also benefit from.

Put a stop to pain this winter with the treatments available through Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. Our specialists will develop a personalized approach for pain relief to see you through this season and beyond. Schedule an appointment online or by calling (770) 929-9033.

older couple at an airport traveling together

Tips for Traveling with Chronic Pain

Traveling can be stressful under any circumstances. But if you suffer from chronic pain, navigating any sort of travel can be even more challenging. Fortunately, a bit of advance planning can make your trip as pain-free as possible. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare for your getaway.

How to Alleviate Chronic Pain While Traveling

1. Book Your Flight Early

Aim to book your flight as soon as you confirm your travel dates. This will give you the best selection for seats, hopefully allowing you to choose a spot with extra legroom. Ideally, you’ll also want to be closer to the front so you won’t have to walk as far as you board and exit the plane.

2. Call Your Airline Directly

Travelers with disabilities have certain rights, which include guided assistance while boarding and loading luggage, assistive devices, and help while deplaning. If you believe you could benefit from any assistance, call the airline 72 hours ahead of your flight to request special arrangements.

3. Pack Strategically

Heavy luggage can be extra cumbersome if you have joint pain or muscle aches. If possible, pack light and plan to do laundry at your destination. Use luggage with wheels for most of your belongings, but separate your medications and bring them in a carry-on. That way, even if your luggage should go missing, you’ll never be without your pain prescriptions.

4. Dress for Comfort

When you’ll be on the move for long stretches and using public restrooms, having comfortable clothing that’s easy to get on and off can be helpful. Casual clothing may work best for people with chronic pain, such as athletic wear, as restrictive clothing can intensify discomfort. Adaptive clothing with magnets or Velcro closures instead of zippers can also be helpful.

5. Arrive Early

Give yourself ample time at the airport so you can move at a pace that’s comfortable for you. This will make you less likely to feel the stress of rushing to make your flight — which is important as stress can worsen chronic pain. The rule of thumb is to arrive at the airport two hours before your domestic flight, and three hours prior to international travel, but feel free to pad this even more, especially on a busy travel day.

6. Check Your Luggage

Alleviate the burden of maneuvering heavy luggage throughout the airport, security checkpoints, and the plane itself. While most airlines do have a fee for checking luggage, getting to your gate with a much lighter load may be worth the cost. Frequent travelers may also want to look into credit cards with airline perks, as some memberships offer complimentary checked bags.

7. Take Frequent Stretch Breaks

Long periods of sitting can worsen pain and may even contribute to pain-related conditions such as sciatica. Moving your body even in small doses can help prevent muscle and joint stiffness. Move about the cabin when you’re allowed, and do seated stretches when not.

Don’t let pain stop you from seeing loved ones or exploring new destinations. Allow Alliance Spine and Pain Centers to provide an effective pain management plan that helps you feel your best. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call (770) 929-9033 or send us a message online.

Woman sitting on sofa feeling pain in her foot

Warning Signs of Diabetic Nerve Pain

Diabetes can affect many systems in the body, and the nervous system is no exception. Having high blood sugar can cause nerve damage, leading to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This complication occurs in roughly half of all people with diabetes, often causing severe or chronic pain. The good news is that there are treatments available to slow its progression and relieve any associated pain.

Symptoms of Diabetic Nerve Pain

There are several types of diabetic neuropathy. Here’s a closer look into each type and associated symptoms.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This type of neuropathy is the most common among people with diabetes. It’s typically felt in the extremities, beginning in the feet and legs, eventually traveling to the hands and arms. Rarely, it may also be felt in the abdomen and back. Signs may include numbness or reduced sensation, tingling or burning feelings, muscle weakness, and cramping or sharp pain.

Severity of peripheral neuropathy can vary drastically. For some people, symptoms are mild. For others, the discomfort can be painful and disabling. Serious foot issues can also develop, including ulcers and infections.

Autonomic Neuropathy

In a case of autonomic neuropathy, the nerves that control internal organs become damaged. This can lead to issues with the digestive system, blood pressure and heart, sex organs, sweat glands, and eyes.

Symptoms vary depending on which system of the body is affected. For example, you may have a rapid heart rate if your heart and blood pressure are affected. Digestive symptoms can include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting. Some people also experience hypoglycemia unawareness, or the inability to feel the symptoms of low blood sugar.

Proximal Neuropathy

Although it’s one of the most uncommon forms of diabetic neuropathy, some people experience this disabling condition which results in severe pain and weakness in one leg. Symptoms usually occur in the muscles near the hip or knee. While the pain typically subsides over time, it can be intense and may cause lingering weakness.

Mononeuropathy

Also known as focal neuropathy, mononeuropathy occurs when a single nerve becomes damaged. This affected nerve may be located in the arm, leg, face, or torso, and symptoms vary based on where the nerve is located. For example, mononeuropathy could result in foot drop, pain in one specific area of the leg, double vision, or numbness or tingling in the hands or fingers.

Treatments for Diabetic Nerve Pain

Like diabetes itself, diabetic neuropathy doesn’t have a cure. The goals for treatment are therefore to manage symptoms and control blood sugar levels to prevent further nerve damage.

Keeping blood sugar levels on target is really the best medicine, but if you’ve already developed a form of diabetic neuropathy, there are different treatment options available.” Prescription drugs including antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, for example, may be used to alleviate pain. Patients can also consult with a specialist — such as a urologist, cardiologist, or gastroenterologist — to address specific issues that stem from neuropathy-related complications.

For persistent nerve pain, HFX™ spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may be a helpful solution. As the only FDA-approved SCS system for diabetic nerve pain, this treatment involves a minimally invasive, same-day procedure to implant an SCS device. This implant then sends electrical pulses to the nerves to block pain signals to the brain, helping to control discomfort.

To discuss SCS and other treatment options for diabetic neuropathy, contact the team at Alliance Spine and Pain Specialists. We can also be reached by calling (770) 929-9033.

Man holding neck in pain

What Causes Neck Pain?

We often describe something or someone unpleasant as being “a pain in the neck,” and anyone who’s ever experienced it firsthand can understand why.

More than 30% of U.S. adults suffer with neck pain each year, and up to 80% will experience it at some point in their lifetime. It can be helpful to know what causes neck pain, either to prevent it from returning, or to stop it from happening in the first place.

Why Does My Neck Hurt?

Neck pain can be brief, lasting only several days, or it can become a chronic issue. The discomfort can be near the base of the head, or extend into other areas, including the shoulders and arms.

For some, neck pain is a constant ache, while others may feel a stabbing or burning sensation. Further symptoms can include increased sensitivity to pressure applied to the neck, headache, numbness and tingling in one or both arms, and tension. Neck pain is a symptom of many different medical conditions and injuries, so determining the root cause can take some time.

Root Causes of Neck Pain

Oftentimes, neck pain is a result of muscle strain. This may stem from poor posture, including spending too much time hunched over an electronic device. It’s even possible for your sleep posture to affect your neck.

Certain factors of aging may also lead to neck pain. For instance, osteoarthritis (the general wear and tear of joint cartilage), can occur in your neck. Another cause may be spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spaces within your spine become narrower. Ongoing stress and certain repeated movements can also cause discs in the spine to degenerate over time, leading to herniated discs or pinched nerves.

Trauma can also lead to neck pain. While any type of injury or sudden impact could impact your neck, whiplash is an especially common cause. Usually, whiplash happens during an automobile accident, when your spine is abnormally compressed, causing damage to facet joints and intervertebral discs. Although rare, whiplash can also occur during sports and high-impact activities, and even when you’re riding a rollercoaster.

In some cases, even mental or emotional stress can cause neck pain, as it may result in tightening the neck muscles. Overexertion from heavy lifting, repetitive actions, or other strenuous activities can also contribute to your neck discomfort.

How Does Neck Pain Impact the Rest of Your Body?

Just because it’s common doesn’t mean neck pain should be ignored. Less frequent causes of neck pain can include cysts, bone spurs, or tumors. Other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or cancer may also be the source of your pain.

Regardless of the source, back and neck pain are among the most common causes of disability in the working population. It also runs the risk of keeping you more sedentary, making you more susceptible to weight gain, which has its own set of health risks. Debilitating neck pain may even cause depression, since it can interfere with all areas of your life if left unaddressed.

The good news is that you don’t have to settle for a life of lasting neck pain. If you’re concerned about the intensity or longevity of your pain, reach out to our team at 770-929-9033 to schedule a full analysis. Our providers pinpoint the root cause and then use state-of-the-art therapies to deliver real relief. Appointments are also conveniently available to schedule online.

Doctor measuring overweight man

The Role Obesity Plays in Chronic Pain

Chronic pain and obesity often go hand in hand. Research indicates many people with chronic pain conditions are obese: a condition defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. It’s not always clear which condition comes first — chronic pain or being overweight — but we do know the two can contribute to each other in significant ways.

Although these conditions have an adverse relationship — each makes the other worse— this also means that addressing one can also help to alleviate the other. Here’s a closer look into how pain and obesity are related.

How Obesity Can Cause Chronic Pain

There are several ways in which extra weight can lead to chronic pain. For one, fat deposits release pro-inflammatory factors. It’s well established that all chronic pain has an inflammatory profile, with conditions like arthritis, back pain, neck pain, and others worsening when inflammation is higher. Adding inflammation produced by an increased number of fat cells may therefore intensify this existing pain.

In addition to influencing systemic challenges like inflammation, obesity also creates structural changes to the body which can lead to pain. Specifically, carrying extra weight can lead to damage in the joints, especially osteoarthritis, particularly in the hips and knees.

Each excess pound of body weight can place as much as four to six pounds of extra pressure on each knee joint. This amount of pressure on the knee can add up quickly. We’ve observed that patients struggling with obesity may be up to 20 times more likely to need a knee replacement than others.

How Chronic Pain Contributes to Obesity

While being overweight can lead to chronic pain, the opposite is also possible, with chronic pain in many cases leading to obesity. Being in chronic pain, for example, can make exercise feel physically impossible. Without adequate pain control, effective lifestyle changes and thorough rehabilitation can be dramatically inhibited in patients who are significantly overweight. Moreover, obesity can also contribute to depression, which may also lead to inactivity.

Approaching Obesity & Chronic Pain Together

Since obesity and chronic pain often coexist, researchers have been studying the best ways to treat the issues together. Many pain management specialists agree that weight loss is the best approach to take first: when patients lose weight, pain relief will ultimately follow. Of course, there are many exercises that someone suffering from chronic pain will need to avoid, including high-impact moves that strain the joints, such as jumping and running. But there are still plenty of ways to get active and strengthen your body without adding to chronic pain, and our specialists can help craft the right regimen for you.

Dietary modifications are another important way to lose weight. Experts recommend focusing on increasing the intake of certain foods – such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and low-fat dairy — while at the same time decreasing the amount of heavily processed foods you consume. These include those that are high in additives, sugar, refined grains, salt, and sodium. Doing so provides an added bonus, because limiting processed foods also reduces dietary sources of inflammation, helping you control your chronic pain even further.

If you’re living with chronic pain, obesity, or both, allow Alliance Spine and Pain Centers to help. We offer a wide range of treatments to effectively address the source of your suffering. Schedule an appointment with us online or by calling 770-929-9033.

Woman looking at glass of wine

The Risks of Turning to Alcohol for Pain Management

If you’ve been leaning on alcohol to help “take the edge off” of your chronic pain — or the stress of life, in general — you’ve got company. In 2021, nearly a quarter of American adults reported an increase in their alcohol consumption to help deal with the stress of the COVID pandemic alone.

Perhaps you’ve even found research suggesting that moderate drinking may boost your health.  But a larger community of experts agree that there is actually no safe amount to consume.

When you’re self-medicating with alcohol to help manage your pain, there are other, unique risks at play. Here’s more about the danger, and why we encourage you to pursue alternative solutions.

Pain Medication + Alcohol = A Potentially Deadly Combination

Prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet, or OxyContin work by blocking the pain messages between your body and your brain. They’re also helpful in calming down the body by slowing breathing, and inducing a feeling of relaxation. Alcohol can amplify these effects and has the danger of dramatically slowing your heart rate and breathing, which — if extreme enough — could put you into a coma.

Simply mixing a couple of aspirin and a glass of wine can negatively impact your gastrointestinal system, but combining alcohol and opioids could be deadly. In general, if you are reliant on pain medication of any kind to manage your chronic pain, it’s recommended to avoid alcohol altogether.

Weight Gain Can Increase Pain

Beyond being full of “empty” calories, alcohol consumption can significantly slow how your body burns fat. This may lead to weight gain, and can also make it difficult to lose weight you’ve gained over time. Drinking even a moderate amount may also interfere with your body’s ability to register when it’s full — potentially causing you to eat more than you need to.

“There’s a lot of evidence that indicates being overweight can contribute to your pain levels. So if you are trying to lose or maintain weight to help with your chronic pain, abstaining from alcohol may be even wiser advice than avoiding the ice cream.

Other Health Dangers

Drinking more than very occasionally can also pose several other health risks, including shrinking your brain matter, negatively impacting your heart, and increasing your risk for several cancers.

Though considered a sedative, alcohol before bed can also contribute to harmful disruptions in your sleep patterns. Once alcohol levels drop, your brain shifts into heightened activity, causing restlessness. This can be a terrible combination for those who are already experiencing sleep problems due to their chronic pain.

Too much alcohol can also contribute to increased depression or anxiety, weaken your immune system, and systemic inflammation. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, you may already be struggling with feelings of isolation or helplessness, and alcohol certainly will not help improve them. Similarly, those with chronic pain need healthy, well balanced immune systems to help combat disease while reducing inflammation that may otherwise exacerbate the issue.

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, and are relying on alcohol to medicate it, our caring, award-winning physicians want to help you find a solution that isn’t detrimental to your health. We will work closely with you to identify your pain source and determine a healthy course of action. You can call us at 770-929-9033 for an appointment, or schedule one online.

Grandfather and grandson playing piggy back

Strong Spine Tips for Every Age

Our spines do such a good job of holding us up, it’s easy to take them for granted. But the spine links every part of the skeleton together, and protects our spinal cord — a key component of our central nervous system. Simply put, backing up our backbone is one of the most essential preventative care measures we can take.

Here’s how you can look out for your spine, regardless of your age.

Childhood Spine Caretaking

One of the best ways to tend to a child’s spine is to monitor the weight and positioning of their backpack when going back to school. Keeping them regularly active will be another terrific boost to their spines, as well. Also, regular doctor’s checkups help monitor muscle pain, potential fractures, or disc herniation on a case-by-case basis.

Tending to Your Spine as A Teen

If you’re physically active and accident-free through childhood, there are few spine problems you may experience as a teenager. But adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (occurring between the ages of 10 and 18) is one thing to look out for.

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis, and usually worsens during the adolescent years, while the skeleton is reaching full maturity. The forward bend test is often used to diagnose the presence of scoliosis, but your doctor can also determine it using X rays and physical exams. The success of treatment depends upon early detection, and the severity of the spine’s curve, but even for patients with large curves, surgical treatment can be highly successful.

A Youthful Spine Tip for Young Adults

In the midst of establishing career success, growing a potential new family, and navigating social changes, young adults may place new stresses and strains on their spines. For example, sitting for more than 7 hours in one position during the workday can negatively impact your back health.

Young adults may also want to incorporate some regular yoga into their routine in order to protect their spines into the future. Yoga can decrease both physical and mental stress, as well as strengthen and stretch muscles to prevent pain long-term.

Middle Age Spine Care

As we age, there are a variety of reasons why spine pain may require attention. Determining the cause will help create the cure, so it’s important at this time of life to have a close relationship either with your primary care physician, a pain specialist, or both.

Family history, lifestyle habits, recent injury, or chronic conditions may all come into play when it comes to spine pain, so there isn’t a single cure-all for this condition. But if you aren’t exercising regularly, are overweight, or need to introduce a more healthful diet, now’s a crucial time to start incorporating these changes for your spine health.

Staying Spine Strong After Sixty

After sixty, osteoporosis may become a concern, especially for women. To ensure your whole skeleton (including your spine) is healthy and strong, consider a bone mineral density test to assess the porousness (and therefore fragility) of your bones.

Adding Vitamin D and calcium supplements may also help increase bone strength at this time, but consult with your doctor before doing so. Weight-bearing exercises and activities for added balance may also build musculoskeletal strength, so long as they do not add to the risk of injury or strain.

Regardless of your age, our award-winning team cares about the strength of your spine from top to bottom. To craft the ideal plan for your spine, book appointment with us online or call 770-929-9033.

Woman laying in bed while in pain

The Link Between Chronic Pain and Insomnia

Just as there’s a relationship between chronic pain and the food you eat, new science studies point to a connection between your sleep patterns and chronic pain. Even otherwise healthy individuals who experienced just one night of sleeplessness can experience an “uptick” in pain sensitivity, which means getting consistent good sleep is good for us all.

Solving both your sleep and chronic pain problems could benefit your overall health, as well. Research has indicated that both chronic pain and sleep disturbances overlap in a multitude of physical and mental health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

We understand the suffering and frustration associated with both problems, and are here to provide some solutions.

Increased Pain = Decreased Sleep = Increased Pain

Research estimates that between 50% to 80% of those living with chronic pain also regularly experience sleep disruption. Whether persistent pain makes it difficult to relax and fall asleep in general, or resting for a period of time in one position causes joints and muscles to stiffen with pain, waking up in the night thanks to chronic pain is extremely common.

This disruption has a cumulative, adverse effect on our entire health. When our bodies are unable to experience extended REM sleep, we’re unable to achieve full mental and physical recovery. And when that disruption continues for many nights in a row due to pain, it negatively affects our energy during the day — and therefore our future nights. It’s a problem that can potentially snowball into something bigger.”

Impact of Medicine

Though medication can play a vital role in alleviating chronic pain, what may be doing you good in one department could be causing harm in others. For example, certain opioid prescriptions can be associated with sleep-related hypoventilation, central sleep apnea (CSA), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Other pain medications that may interfere with healthy sleep patterns include:

  1. Alpha-blockers
  2. Beta-blockers
  3. Corticosteroids
  4. SSRI antidepressants
  5. ACE inhibitors
  6. ARBs
  7. Cholinesterase inhibitors
  8. H1 antagonists
  9. Glucosamine/chondroitin
  10. Statins

This means it’s vital to be in close conversation with your doctor about prescriptions for your pain management, as well as anything you may take to aid with sleep. Taking sleep aids in combination with pain prescriptions could greatly increase your risk for overdose, so monitoring all of your medications with your doctor is essential.

Ways to Improve Sleep, and Chronic Pain

Worrying about your chronic pain, your lack of sleep, and how they are contributing to each other may only elevate your stress levels — which can cause even more pain. So here’s some actions you can take to achieve the rest you sorely need.

  • Employ static stretches. Helpful for relaxing both your mind and body, gentle stretches done for 5 minutes within the hour before bedtime can soothe muscles, flex joints, and calm the mind.
  • Consider your blankets and pillows. The size, shape, and position of your pillows can shift your body’s position at night, which may have a negative impact on your pain. Equally, a weighted blanket may provide soothing comfort to sore muscles, though too much heat or being too cool can also disrupt your sleep. Spend a month experimenting with different shapes, sizes, coverings, and positions to find the right fit.
  • Aim for consistency. When you’ve had a sleepless night, it’s tempting to stay in bed longer in the morning. But waking up and going to sleep at consistent times can help your body establish a regular pattern.

We understand it may be frustrating not to have an “easy fix” for either your chronic pain or the sleep struggles it may be causing. We’re here to listen — and help find the solution unique to your needs.  Schedule an appointment with us online or call us at 770-929-9033.

Smiling group doing aqua aerobics

Summer Activities That Help with Pain Management

Chronic pain knows no season, and for many people, its effects are felt year-round. But summer can introduce some particular challenges that may exacerbate your pain. And there are several chronic pain conditions with symptoms that may worsen in hot temperatures or humid conditions, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and migraines.

The silver lining is that summer also brings opportunities to reduce your symptoms. Here are some activities that won’t worsen your chronic pain, and in fact, could even improve it.

Go for a Swim

People with chronic pain know they have to be careful with exercise. While it’s often prescribed to improve physical functioning and reduce symptom severity, exercising too much or too intensely could have the opposite effect.

For a workout that won’t leave you feeling worse than when you started, consider taking a dip. When you swim, the water’s buoyancy makes you nearly weightless, which reduces the strain on your muscles and joints. It’s a low-impact, full-body cardiovascular exercise that allows you to enjoy a greater range of motion than you would on land. In people with low back pain, pool therapy has been shown to have tremendous benefits on pain levels, function, quality of life, mental state, and sleep quality.

Try Low-Impact Exercise

No pool nearby? No problem. Other low-impact exercises can deliver physical and mental benefits that may help to alleviate your chronic pain. The easiest one to try is walking. Aim for 30 minutes, three to five times per week. To avoid getting overheated, avoid the hottest hours of the day, such as walking before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. You can also try targeted stretches to loosen any stiff muscle groups and relieve tension. Or, practice gentle yoga, which also delivers the benefit of stress relief.

Try a Cool Treat

Nothing is quite as refreshing as a cold smoothie or popsicle on a hot day. For easy homemade popsicles, experiment with ingredients like coconut milk, fresh fruit juice, nut butters, plain Greek yogurt, and even vegetables. For an added benefit, choose ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties that could help curb your chronic pain. The Arthritis Foundation recommends blueberries, blackberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach, and kale.

Catch a Movie

A cool, dark movie theater provides welcome relief from unrelenting heat, so catching a summer blockbuster is a great activity to add to your list. For an even more unique experience, visit your nearest drive-in theater. Park your car and blast the AC for a one-of-a-kind movie night under the stars.

Go Glamping

Spending some time outdoors could help chronic pain: research indicates forest therapy (spending time in forested areas to promote wellness), can relieve pain in individuals with chronic conditions.

While traditional camping provides plenty of time outdoors, having nothing but a thin tent and sleeping bag between your back and the ground may not benefit your chronic pain. A happy medium is glamping (“glamorous camping”). It offers all the benefits of camping – including the ability to immerse yourself in nature and take a break from your busy routine – while still giving you the option to enjoy a warm shower, supportive sleep surface, and any other comforts that ease your pain. Consider renting a well-equipped cabin space or an RV to upgrade your camping experience.

For pain relief during any season, turn to Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. Our team is committed to finding personalized solutions aimed at controlling your pain and restoring your quality of life. Schedule an appointment with us online or by calling 770-929-9033.