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A step by step guide to addressing your pain and creating long term change in your body

Step by step against the sky

Pain can come in many forms and for a variety of reasons, but most of the time there is something that you can and should do about it other than take medications.  Suffering from chronic pain can be a defeating place to find yourself, but if you become part of the solution by assertively educating yourself, seeking the right help and being open to change, you can usually win the battle.  This post outlines the steps I recommend you follow to take control of your health both physically and mentally and get the help you need.

Step 1: Don’t Panic
Step 2: Learn
Step 3: Network & Ask for Help
Step 4: Treatment
Step 5: Maintenance & Prevention

Step 1: Don’t Panic

It is really hard to think logically and objectively when you have been in pain for an extended period of time.  Irrational fears can cloud your judgement and Googling your symptoms can create fear and confusion.  Try to become mindful of the fact that you may be getting pulled down a rabbit hole of misleading information and mind fogging medications.  As best you can, try to zoom out from the pain and try to look at yourself in the context of where you are and where you want to be.  Create a physical and mental goal to anchor your purpose and then start learning what it will take to get you there.

You are the only person that has to live with your pain on a moment to moment basis and you are the only person that has the control to change it.  You will likely have to change some of your behaviors, step outside of your comfort zone and ask for help from people you don’t know.  It is journey that may take longer than you expect and won’t be a linear path, but is something you need to assertively embark on to control your future.  Read More

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Why Backs Hurt

Waking up with back pain

If you have ever had your back ‘go out’ on you, you will appreciate the following post and may just learn something about how to fix your nagging back issue.  Back pain can take many forms and is hands down the most common issue that brings people in to physiotherapy.

“It hurts when I bend over to brush my teeth”
“I can only sit for 10 minutes before I have to move”
“Walking triggers a pain deep in my butt”
“I bent forward and couldn’t get back up”

It happens to the best of us.  I have seen lazy, overweight people with back pain; insanely fit personal trainers with back pain, elite athletes, new moms, desk jockeys and I have personally suffered from it on occasion.  You can have the strongest core in the world and still be susceptible to hurting yourself or experiencing pain in or around your back.  In this article I have outlined the most important factors as to WHY backs hurt because back pain requires an explanation of what is going wrong as opposed to a diagnosis of a condition.  You can also watch the video Why Low Backs Hurt.

Step 1 to Understanding:

Things happen for a reason.  You don’t just catch back pain like you can catch a cold.  It usually is related to something that you have done or are continuing to do poorly, like stand, sit, walk, breathe, bend or lift.  An accident or acute injury can set pain into motion, but how you deal with the injury, pain and mobility after the fact is the important part.  You are a product of everything you have done or been through up to this point and if that product has left you with chronic back pain then something has to change.  You may need someone to loosen something for you, you may need to learn to move more efficiently, you may need to lose weight, or may even need surgery. 

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Principles to follow when your back is sore

 

one


 

Acute (Days 1-7)

  • Ask yourself “what have I done and do I need someone else’s help?”
  • If you have had an accident or acute injury, it is best to seek help
  • If you are concerned you may have broke something or need some medication to deal with intense pain: SEE YOUR DOCTOR
  • If it is not an emergency, but you need help with pain, function and mobility: SEE YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPIST FIRST, not your doctor
  • If you determine you don’t need help just yet, but your back is acutely sore:
  • Lie down on your back on a firm surface and ice your back for 15 minutes at a time every hour you are able to for the first 3 days
  • Start doing gentle pelvic rock movements to help your back from seizing up
  • Start doing gentle hip stretches on your back and pelvic rock movements on your hands and knees
  • Avoid soft couches and beds for the first week
  • Once the intensity of the pain has subsided start using heat and ice for days 3-5
  • Shift to just heat when you feel your problem is more stiffness than acute pain
  • Visit a physiotherapist if the pain has persisted more than a week

Sub- Acute (Days 8-90)

  • Ask yourself “why did this happen and what am I doing to make it worse?”
  • Seek to understand the root cause of your problem by referring to the Why Backs Hurt and discussing what you’ve learned with your physiotherapist
  • Consider how repeated daily tasks like sitting, standing, breathing, walking and lifting may be contributing factors
  • Consider what type of treatment is most appropriate for you:
  • Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Visceral Release, Craniosacral
  • Chiropractic, Active Release Technique, Spinal Decompression
  • Pilates, Yoga, Basic Fitness, Strength & Conditioning
  • Start to create more body awareness about how you may have been compensating for the pain you have been experiencing for the past week to month
  • Look at your posture and alignment in a mirror
  • Pay attention to how you are breathing
  • Try to note your pain patterns (i.e.
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