The end of the year is a time to reflect on what came before. How much have we changed over the previous 12 months? What were our biggest wins and losses when it came to the fight against pain? What can we learn from this year to help us grow and enrich our lives in the year to come? If the top posts from 2017 on our blog are any indication, 2017 was a year for healing. A year of trying out alternative therapies that could be used to complement others, like braces or essential oils. A look into interventional treatments, like epidural steroid injections. And, how to keep active even when pain tries to slow you down, especially from conditions like hip pain and fibromyalgia. Here were the top 10 posts from PainDoctor.com in 2017. Get your read on.
Hip pain continues to be a constant struggle for so many, with as many as 10 million people suffering from osteoarthritis (one of the most common causes of this condition). This type of pain strikes most often at night. As we noted noted in our post on the subject:
“Up to 90% of people with chronic joint pain don’t sleep well. And that could be influencing your pain and mobility the next day. If you suffer from hip pain at night, it could be affecting your chances of recovering completely from the injury or condition that caused your pain.”
This post deals with actionable ways to manage your hip pain, including:
- Changes to your sleeping position
- A mattress overhaul
- Hip stretches you practice before bed
- Advanced treatments like physical therapy and hip injections
A better night’s sleep is crucial for managing pain. We’re so grateful this post resonated well with so many of our readers!
Besides a good night’s sleep, one of the other critical ways to better manage your pain is by getting in some exercise as often as you can. But, for those who suffer from knee arthritis, this can be a seemingly impossible hurdle. Thankfully, lightweight and flexible knee braces can help you get back in the game. There are a few options you can choose from, depending on the severity of your pain. As we wrote in the post: “Knee sleeves for mild arthritis provide cushioning, some structure, and can keep your joints warm. Unloader knee braces for severe cases completely redistribute the weight on your knee joint. This can relieve pressure from one area, and spread it across the knee.”
Further, they work: “A 2016 study from the American Journal of Orthopedics studied 31 knee osteoarthritis patients. Half received an unloader knee brace, while the other half did not. Researchers used knee injury and osteoarthritis outcomes scores, or KOOS, and visual analog scale (VAS) scores to evaluate outcomes.”
Check out the post to find everything from easy-to-use knee sleeves to high-tech unloader knee braces for more advanced cases of arthritis.
If our posts from 2017 were any indication, many of you out there are wondering if you suffer from fibromyalgia or not. This insidious set of conditions can be hard to diagnose. While three major symptoms play a role in the final diagnosis, there are 24 other signs and tells that you may be suffering from this condition.
They include a number of disparate symptoms beyond the known widespread pain and cognitive issues, including:
- Constipation and excessive gas
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Anxiety and depression
- Sleep disorders
- Headaches and migraines
Did you know that if you suffer from muscle pain, essential oils can help you reduce inflammation, ease spasms, and increase blood circulation? For example, lavender contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can reduce pain from muscle stress and tension. It also improves blood circulation.
Another favorite essential oil–black pepper–has to be used cautiously, but for the right patient it can warm the skin, promote blood circulation, and help reduce arthritis-related pain.
Arnica, another essential oil, contains thymol. This has been shown to stimulate the flow of white blood cells, reduce inflammation, and can help disperse trapped fluids in the muscles, joints, and tissues.
Want to learn about the other essential oils we suggest? Head on over to the post!
Epidural steroid injections were a big topic in our posts from 2017, with two of our top posts looking specifically at these interventional treatment options. In this post, we covered the side effects that can occur with this treatment, noting:
“After rest, exercise, chiropractic and physical therapy, and treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections are one of the most commonly performed treatments for back pain. While generally considered safe, epidural steroid injection side effects can occur. Knowing what the side effects of epidural steroid injections are is the first way to reduce the risk, but there are other ways to protect yourself.”
What should I expect from an epidural steroid injection procedure?
How do they work?
Do they work?
Are these injections safe? Painful?
And, what should I expect after the procedure?
We answered these questions and more in this post, aiming to address the questions and concerns we most often hear from our own patients.
More essential oils, this time for fibromyalgia, one of the most commonly read conditions on the blog. For this one, we went with a wider swathe of essential oils that can help with your pain condition. Beyond the five that can help with muscular pain, we also discussed oils that could help with:
- Chronic fatigue
- Fibro fog
- Other cognitive issues
Ranging from memory-improving rosemary to insomnia-reducing rose, these essential oils can be used in healing blends to reduce your major fibromyalgia symptoms.
One of the most challenging aspects of pain is our often-inability to describe it to anyone else. How does fibromyalgia or back pain feel? It depends on the person, and can never be adequately described in words.
Pain scales, however, are available that aim to bridge the gap between sufferer and healthcare worker. These scales range from simple to more complex so you can find the vocabulary to describe what you’re experiencing and get the relief you need. As we noted:
“Pain scales are also the best way to communicate with your doctor what you’re feeling and how bad your pain is. And they can track your pain day over day, especially when used in combination with a pain diary app or journal. They can be a scale from one to ten, with ten being the worst pain imaginable and one being no pain at all. Pain scales can also rely on visual indicators or facial expressions to judge pain. Or, they can be personalized interpretations of how pain affects you in your life.”
Sometimes our best intentions can lead to more pain later on, depriving us of the ability to enjoy the activities we love. As we talked about in our post on hip pain that comes up during running:
“If you’ve laced up your running shoes this spring, you may have noticed an unwanted companion on the trail: hip pain. Since the hip joint plays a crucial role in balance, momentum, flexibility, and power during running, it is one of the most reported areas of pain for runners. Strength imbalances, hip alignment issues, injuries, and other chronic pain conditions can all play a role in causing hip pain. Luckily, there are ways to prevent and manage hip pain from running.”
Some of the most common causes go back to previous injuries or muscular imbalances, but others like bursitis or femoral acetabular impingement may require help from a healthcare professional.
Unfortunately, this last top post points to an alarming increase in shoulder pain that we see among those who have to work at a computer all day. The constant, repetitive clicking and tapping can create strain in your shoulders that then extends down into the elbows and wrists. What causes mouse shoulder?
“For one, using a mouse requires small, focused movements of your hand and fingers. Over time, these small muscles can become fatigued. And this fatigue can lead to tension in larger muscle groups that try to compensate… You’ll see similar repetitive strain injuries if you engage in similar work-related activities, such as using industrial machinery in a precise way or performing a predetermined set of manual labor tasks.”
If you’re suffering, this post gives actionable tips for reducing pain and working more comfortably.
As 2017 draws to a close, we’re grateful as always to be a trusted source of news and insights into living a better life with pain. Hit the comments to share your favorite PainDoctor.com posts from 2017!
To learn even more about living a life without pain, reach out to one of our trusted pain doctors today.