From the blog of Dr. Barbara Bergin
This series presents a great opportunity to talk about stopping pain before it gets ramped up…before the sun sets. There are some conditions which if addressed on the first day you feel pain, a lot of misery might be avoided. They would simply be a forgotten whisper of discomfort, rather than the scourge they become.
I’m not talking about trauma. When a bone is protruding from the skin, and blood squirting about, it is necessary to do something on day one. I’m talking about repetitive strain disorders, the result of cumulative, minor insults to our bodies, which we often ignore, thinking the pain will go away on its own. They might be due to a physical predisposition, or perhaps a bad pair of shoes. They might be due to an overly aggressive exercise program. They are most common in people over 40, so there is an aging element to them. We wear out. Patients usually show up in my office after they’ve been suffering for 6 weeks to 6 months, and I wish they had come in on day one…or had read this post! Highlighted areas link you to my posts on those conditions or to additional information.
TAIL BONE PAIN (coccydynia): You might notice this after minor trauma, like falling down and landing right on your bum, or after doing crunches on a thin yoga pad. This is not low back pain. It’s pain at the tip of your tail bone. way down there. On the first day of that pain, start sitting up straight (on your sits bones) and get a coccyx relief pillow.
HIP BURSITIS (greater trochanteric bursitis): This comes on insidiously, and you might first notice the side of your hip hurting when you sleep on it. But it might also hurt when you stand, or get in and out of chairs. On the first day of that pain start sitting like a man. Take some NSAIDs if you can, and don’t sleep on that side.
HEEL PAIN (plantar fasciitis): You might get out of bed one morning and experience sheering pain on the bottom of your heel, and that’s the day to start treating it. Not 6 months later, like most of my patients. Once you have it, you’ve got little micro-tears of the fascia that attaches to the heel bone. They won’t heal, especially if you re-tear them every time you get out of bed or stand up from a chair. Start stretching your plantar fascia every morning before you get out of bed, and during the day if you’ve been sitting with your feet pointed down. Most women’s feet don’t reach the floor, so they’re always sitting with their feet pointed down. Get something to place your feet upon flatly, like one of those old step aerobics benches. If every step you take is agony, try my favorite treatment: stiff-soled, over-the-ankle hiking boots. Keep that plantar fascia stretched out, and it will soon go away. I had it for 2 days. Woke up on morning with it. Started stretching, and have been stretching my plantar fascia ever since. Never wok up with it again.
TENNIS ELBOW (lateral epicondylitis): The result of excessive grabbiness. It’s due to lifting weights, suitcases and gardening. It’s due to everything we do so well and so much with our hands. You get this little ache along the side of your elbow and upper forearm. And it will not go away, and by the time you come see your doc, it is well on its way to a rip-roaring case for a year. Nothing makes it go away except to stop doing everything that hurts. And it will be you into submission. If you even get a twinge along the outside of your elbow, ice it, rub it, take NSAIDs, but most importantly…stop doing anything and everything that hurts. I’m serious. You want this gone on day two.
TRIGGER FINGER: You wake up one day, and one of your fingers locks up in a triggering position. This is a condition which starts up further in the palm of your hand. Once it takes hold, you’ll likely need a painful shot, or surgery to make it go away. But on day one, if you take some NSAIDs (assuming you can), quit showing people your funny, clicking knuckle, and tape/brace the middle knuckle (PIP joint) straight at night for a few nights in a row, it might just go away.
KNEE CAP CRUNCHING (patellar chondromalacia): If you hear a crunching noise coming from your knee cap while going upstairs, you have this condition. You’ve likely been running stairs or doing squats, deep knee bends or lots of kettle bell-weighted lunges down the streets of your neighborhood. Stop doing all that…on day one…and Sit Like A Man. Once you hear and feel that crunching, you have already done permanent damage to your knee cap cartilage. Now your objective is to keep from harming it further. Stop the stair running, squats, deep knee bends and kettle bell-weighted lunges…on the day you hear that crunching.
Suffice it to say, in my opinion, you should be more pro-active with pain. Don’t just wait and assume it will go away on its own. Unless you’re getting paid to suffer, or your life is at stake, it is not prudent or heroic to work through pain.
Well, that’s the short list of conditions for which you might stop the pain before the sun sets, or risk suffering for a long time. There are many more, and I don’t list them because they’re more complicated, either in the onset or the treatment. But these are simple conditions, with simple solutions…on that first day. If these conditions don’t respond to my recommendations pretty quick, then you should go see a doctor, or read my posts on them.
To see more orthopedic advice from Dr. Bergin, visit her website and subscribe to her blog at drbarbarabergin.com.