Back pain is a daily obstacle for people of all ages. Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Thankfully, most cases of back pain are mechanical, meaning they’re not caused by serious conditions. Basic changes to your footwear could be the key to finding relief. Read on for our list of the best shoes for back pain.
What are the best shoes to wear for lower back pain?
Your feet and back are more closely connected than you might think. Doctors refer to this idea as a kinetic chain. How you move one part of your body can have a serious impact on other parts. Poor arch support can throw off your alignment and result in pain that travels from your feet all the way up to your back, especially the lower back region. This is why it’s important to wear shoes that are properly fitted to your foot and provide excellent support.
Before doing anything else, it’s important to talk with a doctor about your back pain. This allows you to rule out any serious underlying causes. Once you’ve done this, ask if footwear could be to blame or a change could help. While every case is different, most healthcare professionals will first recommend basic lifestyle changes to manage back pain. This can often improve your pain level without the need for invasive methods of treatment. Shoe changes can’t typically heal your back pain completely, but they can help some patients find relief.
While this article is a great place to start your search for better footwear, stores that specialize in running or specialty shoes will be another helpful resource. The employees there can usually suggest products for your specific situation. Your doctor or physical therapist can also make suggestions. In more extreme cases of back pain, consider visiting an orthopedic specialist for a fitting.
Note: PainDoctor.com does not endorse, nor do we make any money off the sale of these products. This information is provided for the benefit of patients based on patient reviews. Always ask your doctor if you have questions. Prices shown are at the time of the post’s publish date, and may differ.
5 of the best walking shoes for back pain
Whether you’re on your feet all day at work or just trying to get light exercise, these are some of the best athletic shoes for back pain.
Why you should consider these shoes: The Brooks® Addiction Walker offers support for low arches and control for overpronation. Available in various styles for both men and women.
Features: Flat-to-medium in the insole area, breathable mesh lining, removable insole
What users say: “I had severe back pain and sciatica, and have to give some degree of credit to these shoes in the speed of my rehabilitation…”
Why you should consider these shoes: Available in three colors, these athletic shoes feature air cushioning to soften your step and enhance stability.
Features: Adjustable fit, lightweight soles, stretchable design
What users say: “…have experienced a tremendous relief not only with foot and ankle pain but also back pain. I highly recommend these shoes.”
Why you should consider these shoes: The New Balance Walking Strike Path® technology helps stabilize your foot through your natural gait cycle.
Features: Foam cushioning, suede/mesh upper material, rubber outsole
What users say: “…lower back pain that I’ve had for many years disappeared when I started using these. The lower heel changes my gait and makes it easier to walk longer distances and longer times…”
Why you should consider these shoes: Vionic shoes are recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Plus, Vionic offers 30 days of wear-testing to make sure you’re satisfied with your purchase.
Features: Durable rubber outsole, flexible design, removable EVA orthotic insert
What users say: “Comfy for my wide feet and my back was not in pain all day.”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $49.95
Why you should consider these shoes: Available in a range of colors and sizes (including women’s styles), the tapering mid-foot design offers improved arch support.
Features: 100% mesh, lightweight, bamboo-lined footbed for odor control
What users say: “These shoes helped my back. Can’t believe it, back pain is gone.”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $49.95
5 of the best running shoes for back pain
If you’re an avid runner, aches and pain can be a serious issue. Here are some of the best running shoes for back pain.
Why you should consider these shoes: The removable sock liner in this ASICS running shoe lets you insert custom orthotics for a personalized fit. Available in styles for men and women.
Features: Rearfoot GEL® cushioning, large selection of colors
What users say: “They work like a charm! No more back pain and they are super comfortable too! I wish I would have made the switch sooner.”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $44.95
Why you should consider these shoes: This shoe is recommended for long distance running, cross training, and treadmill exercises.
Features: Rubber sole, mesh upper, soft cushioning
What users say: “Brooks are the best shoe I’ve ever worn. They have relieved my back and knee pain.”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $84.95
Why you should consider these shoes: Available in a range of colors, the Bondi is the most cushioned shoe HOKA ONE ONE carries.
Features: Breathable, 100% vegan, full-length compression molded EVA midsole
What users say: “I have been running in Hoka One Ones for years. The Bondis are the most cushioned of their styles. This is my 6th pair and they are amazing right out of the box!”
Why you should consider these shoes: The grid-like midsole of the Escalante allows your foot to flex for more speed and better performance.
Features: Rubber sole, contoured footbed
What users say: “My Altras make getting my exercise in a less painful endeavor than I imagined. These shoes make me happy!”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $79.99
Why you should consider these shoes: Adidas’ Continental™ Rubber outsole is designed for optimal traction in both wet and dry conditions.
Features: Lightweight, 3D heel frame
What users say: “Added boost means added comfort. They fit like a sock and don’t wiggle too much upon impact…”
5 best work shoes for back pain
If your occupation keeps you on your feet all day, comfortable footwear is a must. Here are some of the best work shoes for back pain.
Why you should consider these shoes: The Minna ballet flat supports natural alignment through Vionic’s unique technology.
Features: Removable microfiber-covered EVA orthotic insert
What users say: “…Not only did they reduce the pain in my feet, my back actually hurts less also. Highly recommend these shoes.”
Why you should consider these shoes: The deep Gramercy design includes removable orthotic insoles in order to provide space for custom made orthotics.
Features: Lightweight soles, seam-free interior lining, adjustable fit
What users say: “…I stand on my feet all day at work and they really help my lower back pain.”
Why you should consider these shoes: This style by Merrell strikes a balance between business casual style and all-day comfort.
Features: Air cushion heel, Ortholite footbed, breathable mesh lining
What users say: “If anyone has had a back surgery or chronic pain issues like me the Merrell Encore Shoes are a great buy…”
Why you should consider these shoes: The walk-all-day comfort provided by Clarks’ Marigold design is ideal if you have a job that keeps you on your feet.
Features: Easy slip-on style, OrthoLite® cushioned footbed
What users say: “I bought these shoes to wear to work because I was having very bad back pain. They have helped and are very comfortable to walk in…”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $47.88
Why you should consider these shoes: This dress shoe features removable insoles with innovative ECCO Comfort Fibre System for constant airflow.
Features: Shock absorbent sole for comfort, leather outer, textile inner lining
What users say: “The only shoes I have found that stand up to daily wear at work, on my feet, without back pain…”
5 best sandals for back pain
Sandals usually aren’t the best option for supporting your foot, but sometimes you can’t escape them. (For example, going on vacation to a warm destination or lounging by the pool.) There are several options for sandals that provide more support to ease your back pain. These are our favorites.
Why you should consider these shoes: These sandals are designed with footprints to target pressure points and reduce back pain and heel pain.
Features: Water resistant, slip resistant outsole, foam padding
What users say: “They’ve made a noticeable difference in my posture and my pain level.”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $30.99
Why you should consider these shoes: This flip-flop style features an OrthoLite® footbed to ensure optimal comfort and support.
Features: Flexible fabric, shock absorbing EVA outsole
What users say: “…I’ve been wearing them 2 days now and no back pain. YAY!”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $39.99
Why you should consider these shoes: The OOfoam Recovery Technology absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear foam.
Features: Machine washable, biomechanically designed to allow natural motion
What users say: “Like a vacation for my feet. My feet, knees and back are pain-free all day!”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $49.95
Why you should consider these shoes: Available in a range of colors and styles, the Karina features adjustable leather straps and a bold metal ring detail.
Features: 1-inch heel, 100% leather
What users say: “I have chronic back pain, and wearing these is the difference of whether I can make it through a couple hours on my feet or not.”
Price: $34.95 – $129
Why you should consider these shoes: Unchanged since 1973, this classic Birkenstock style continues to carry on the legacy of its supportive cork-latex footbed.
Features: Soft footbed, super grip, available in vegan leather
What users say: “…They’re the only shoe that completely eliminates my foot/back pain. It’s awesome…”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $99.95
Types of shoes to avoid with back pain
If you take a close look at our list of shoes for back pain sufferers, you’ll notice there are a few variations missing. That’s because there are certain types of shoes you should almost always avoid if you’re dealing with back pain.
Many women are disappointed to hear that high heels are at the top of this list. Due to the unnatural balance required to wear high heels, your body will try to compensate. Rather than keeping your spine and hips straight, your lower back pushes forward. This has a negative effect on alignment, which often results in back pain and excess pressure on your knees.
Simple flip-flops are considered the extreme opposite of high heels, but they’re another type of shoe to avoid. Most flip-flops are incredibly flat and thin. They act only as a barrier between your feet and the ground. This type of design lacks the necessary support your feet need to carry the rest of your body. People who wear flip-flops frequently often experience ankle and arch pain that can contribute to the development of back pain.
If you need advanced help for your lower back pain, it may be time to talk to a pain specialist. They can provide customized suggestions and treatments for your condition so you can get back to your life. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
Working with tools and machinery can be hard on your body. Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) can occur after long-term use. This condition is very different from other forms of work-related arm, hand, and shoulder pain as it requires specific types of treatment and attention. Read on for more information on what HAVS is, how to tell if you have it, and what you can do to slow its progression.
What is hand-arm vibration syndrome?
Pain in the neck and shoulders is a common pain condition. It can be caused by anything from arthritis to poor posture, to say nothing of occupational activities like lifting, repetitive movements, and frequent use of heavy machinery. So what is hand-arm vibration syndrome specifically? And how can you tell if it’s the cause of your pain?
Sometimes called Raynaud’s syndrome or vibration white finger, HAVS is an incurable and potentially disabling condition that worsens over time. Approximately 2.5 million people in the United States are exposed to HAVS risk factors every day. HAVS is characterized by two categories of symptoms: cold sensitivity and sensorineural symptoms.
Cold sensitivity is exactly what it sounds like. The affected regions (your hands, arms, or shoulders) will feel worse in cold temperatures. They won’t tolerate temperature changes as well as before, and temperatures you used to be comfortable in may now be unpleasant or even painful.
The term “sensorineural” refers to any symptoms brought about by damage to the nervous system. This consists of numbness and tingling, including a “pins and needles” sensation.
Do I have HAVS?
While a doctor is the only person who can officially diagnose you with a medical condition, conducting careful research of your own before making an appointment can give you an advantage. This is especially true with HAVS, which is still not widely known, even among physicians. Another potential barrier to a HAVS diagnosis is its similarity to carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, these two conditions can and often do occur together.
If you think you have hand-arm vibration syndrome, tell your doctor about your suspicions. Write down a list of your questions, symptoms, and concerns, and have it handy during your visit. If your doctor has little experience with HAVS, you may both find it helpful if you can provide your doctor with the research you have done as well as a detailed account of your symptoms.
If your doctor shows an unwillingness to listen to you on this or any other issue, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. You deserve a doctor who will take you and your concerns seriously.
What causes hand-arm vibration syndrome?
Hand-arm vibration syndrome causes really boil down to one thing: prolonged exposure to vibrations, typically those emitted by power tools. The vibrating negatively impacts your circulatory and nervous systems. For this reason, HAVS is especially prevalent among workers in certain industries.
If you work in mining, construction, metal-working, or any other occupation that requires the frequent and long-term use of power tools, you are at risk for HAVS. Other factors, such as frequent exposure to cold, smoking, and poorly maintained tools, can also increase your likelihood of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome.
The parts of your body that are affected by hand-arm vibration syndrome depend on the vibration frequency of the tools you use. Tools that vibrate at a high frequency, such as drills and saws, typically impact the fingers and hands. Low-frequency vibrations, from tools like vibratory forks and sand rammers, more often affect the arms and shoulders.
Even relatively little exposure to power tool vibrations, if it reoccurs over a long enough timespan, may increase your risk of HAVS.
A 2003 study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine examined Swedish car mechanics who had a mean exposure time of 14 minutes a day to power tools. The longer the mechanics had been on the job, the more likely they were to exhibit hand-arm vibration syndrome symptoms.
Vibration syndrome stages and symptoms
Hand-arm vibration syndrome stages are measured with the Stockholm Workshop Scale (SWS). This scale was first developed in the 1980s, and various modifications have been made to it since then. Several versions of this scale exist, though some researchers question its usefulness for diagnostic purposes. The SWS remains helpful as a general guideline for you to understand the general progression of HAVS, but it cannot and should not replace professional diagnosis from a doctor.
HAVS involves two sets of symptoms, each of which has its own ranking in the scale. The cold-related symptoms are rated from 0 to 4. The sensorineural symptoms are rated from 0SN to 3SN. We’ll discuss both symptom types simultaneously for simplicity’s sake. However, it is possible for your symptoms to be at different stages. For example, you may be at Stage 1 (cold-sensitivity) at the same time as you are at Stage 2SN (sensorineural).
It is also possible for one hand to be at a more advanced stage than the other. Everyone’s symptoms present differently and at different times.
Stage 0/0SN is the pre-onset phase. At this stage, you have no symptoms.
HAVS officially begins at Stage 1/1SN, which indicates the presence of mild and intermittent symptoms. These include:
- Occasional numbness
- Whiteness in the fingers, especially in cold weather
This stage is irritating but does not yet have a significant impact on your life.
Stage 2/2SN represents the intermediate phase of the condition. As HAVS progresses, your symptoms get more and more frequent, and you will lose more feeling and dexterity.
The blanching or whitening of the fingers gradually worsen, lasting longer and spreading from the fingertips to the whole hand.
Stages 3 and 4
Stages 3 and 4/Stage 3SN are the most serious stages. Left untreated, hand-arm vibration syndrome can result in permanent disability.
Without treatment, the affected digits and/or limbs could deteriorate to the point where you may not be able to work anymore. The numbness and tingling is now constant for patients at this stage.
You may also notice skin changes, such as lesions or discoloration.
Because hand-arm vibration syndrome is so serious, it’s important to get a diagnosis and start making plans to combat the spread of symptoms as soon as possible. The rest of this post is devoted to exploring the prevention methods and treatments currently available.
How do you prevent hand-arm vibration syndrome from worsening?
There are three areas where you can make changes to slow the progression of HAVS. They are yourself, your tools, and your working environment.
First, look after yourself. If you suspect you have hand-arm vibration syndrome, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your doctor. They will run tests to determine how far the condition has progressed. Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to slowing the advancement of hand-arm vibration syndrome.
Next, look at your tools and personal equipment. Talk to your supervisor or HR, if available, during this review.
Some workers find protective gloves helpful. There are a number of anti-vibration (AV) gloves on the market that claim to reduce the effect of power tool vibrations, but their effectiveness varies. One study found that these gloves worked better against high-frequency vibrations than low-frequency vibrations.
In addition, wearing AV gloves had a significant negative impact on grip strength. Regular protective gloves were found to be just as effective against low-frequency vibrations without affecting grip.
If you do decide to try AV gloves, choose a pair with fingers. This may sound obvious, but fingerless AV gloves won’t protect your fingers, which are especially vulnerable to HAVS.
Once you have done all you can for your personal equipment, it’s time to look at your tools. Because HAVS is caused by power tool usage, it’s important to be careful with not just what tools you use, but also how you use them.
Don’t spend too long using any one tool. According to OSHA, a good general rule is to take a 10- to 15-minute break every hour. If possible, switch between tools throughout the workday rather than use the same tool for long stretches. As noted, talk to your supervisor and ensure they give you the appropriate flexibility to protect your health on the job.
These are good work practices, but as stated before, repeatedly using power tools for even brief periods of time can increase your risk for hand-arm vibration syndrome. You will therefore want to take other precautionary measures in addition to these.
Make sure your tools are working properly. Tools that are in good repair will vibrate less than tools that are old or broken. Taking care of your equipment is good for both the tools and for you.
You can also minimize vibrations from your tools in various ways. Try adding special vibration dampening accessories, like pads or mounts, to your tools. These can reduce the vibrations transmitted from your tools to your hands.
Your working environment
Finally, your working environment can either increase or decrease your exposure to workplace health hazards.
A healthy, communicative workplace can often spot potential issues early enough to keep them from doing any harm. One way to maintain a strong work environment is through ergonomics. This is the process of employers and employees working together to create a work environment that is safe for everyone.
Ergonomic practices include special training, encouraging workers to identify and help fix potential problems, and regular evaluation of the effectiveness of workplace safety measures. Using these strategies can help not only you but your coworkers have a healthier, more positive work experience.
Depending on your work environment, it may not be possible for you to implement some of the above suggestions. If your current supervisor will not make accommodations, talk to upper management or HR if possible. If not, focus on the prevention strategies that are practical for you and your situation.
Making changes to your work life can be incredibly difficult, but doing nothing can make your condition worse. Hand-arm vibration syndrome will not go away, and the longer you delay taking action, the faster it will progress. It’s best to start putting together a plan right away.
How to treat hand-arm vibration syndrome
There is no cure for hand-arm vibration syndrome, but there are steps you can take to slow the disease’s progression and improve your quality of life.
Smoking is a risk factor for HAVS and can make HAVS worse if you already have it. If you smoke, take steps to quit. Some people find nicotine products, such as gum and patches, helpful. Others quit by gradually reducing their nicotine intake over time. Talk to your doctor about ways you can safely quit smoking.
Similarly, other drugs, including caffeine and decongestants, may lead to or exacerbate HAVS symptoms. Take a look through your medicine cabinet and reevaluate which medications you use, and how often.
Low temperatures often trigger HAVS symptoms. Try to find someplace warm to stay when the weather gets cold. If you have to go out in the cold or touch cold objects, including your tools, wear gloves and warm clothes.
In extreme cases of hand-arm vibration syndrome, calcium channel blockers may ease symptoms for some patients. These medications lower blood pressure and are therefore used to treat various heart and circulatory conditions. However, there is little evidence to suggest this treatment is effective for HAVS.
Other treatments will focus on managing symptoms, notably pain. These may include medications or pain-relieving injections.
Treating hand-arm vibration syndrome is no small task. It will take a lifetime of care and caution to maximize your quality of life. Be kind to yourself as you begin this undertaking. Try implementing one change at a time rather than all of them at once, and always reach out for support—professional and personal—if you need it.
Your doctors can suggest more lifestyle or pain relieving options to manage your HAVS symptoms. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
The post What Is Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome And Do I Have It? appeared first on Pain Doctor.
Part of getting older is a gradual slowing down. Far from the frantic pace of youth and middle age, many seniors have a unique opportunity to take their time in their daily activities. For some, injuries or chronic pain may require a slower pace, while other seniors may just want to be more intentional as they move about their day. Fortunately, chair yoga for seniors can accommodate not only the natural aging process but it can also help those with limited mobility stay active. Here’s our favorite chair yoga poses, as well as benefits.
What are the benefits of chair yoga for seniors and those with limited mobility?
Chair yoga benefits not only seniors but also those with limited mobility due to chronic pain, disability, or acute injuries. Wheelchair yoga and gentle chair yoga are practices that strengthen body and mind, with research-backed benefits. Consider the following studies.
A 2017 study published in The Journal of Geriatrics found that chair yoga participants with osteoarthritis who took a 45-minute class twice a week for eight weeks experienced a statistically significant reduction in pain and pain’s interference with daily activities. They also saw improvement in walking speed. These improvements were sustained for three months after the study.
For seniors prone to falling, a small study in 2012 found that chair yoga reduced the risk of falls and also moderated the anxiety many seniors felt around falling. For older adults, falling is the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injury, with an estimated 50% of adults over 80 falling annually. This study, and a previous study in 2010, indicates that chair yoga for seniors can help reduce the risk (and fear) of falling.
Other researched-based benefits of chair yoga for seniors and those with limited mobility include:
- Decreased stress
- Relief from anxiety and PTSD
- Reduction of inflammation
- Slow the progression of heart disease
These benefits are available to anyone who shows up and practices on a regular basis. Whether you are a senior looking to maintain good physical condition, a person of any age recovering from an acute injury, or someone who has limited mobility or pain, seated yoga poses are a good option for mind-body wellness and health.
How to get started with chair yoga
Gentle chair yoga and seated yoga poses are usually accessible for anyone, even beginners, but there are a few safety tips before you get started.
- Talk with your doctor: Always check with your primary doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. While yoga is generally recognized as safe and effective for all fitness levels, it’s important to coordinate all treatments – including new exercise.
- Use props: Props can help make the poses below more accessible and comfortable when you are starting. A sturdy chair is the first prop to gather, but yoga blocks, a blanket, and a strap or belt can also help.
- Mind your balance: If you struggle with balance, make sure you have someone with you as you get started.
- Find a class: A simple Google search can help you locate a yoga studio near you. A qualified and experienced teacher can help you gain confidence and build a safe home practice.
Once you start a regular home practice, it’s important to listen to your body. Chronic pain conditions can change from day to day, so what felt good one day may be excruciating the next. In any pose, sharp and stabbing pain is a clear indication that you need to come out of the pose or use a prop to make it more comfortable.
Be patient with yourself as you explore the poses below. If you are just starting a new exercise routine, you may feel discouraged when some of the poses are challenging. Start slowly and be consistent in your practice, breathe, and remind yourself that these movements will eventually become easier and more comfortable.
Chair yoga routines and videos
If you have never done yoga before, the best option is to locate a qualified and experienced yoga teacher. They can help you learn how to do each pose safely and offer modifications for those poses that are more challenging.
The next best way to get started is to work with a yoga video. The internet is a treasure trove of high-quality chair yoga videos to get you started. Here are five of our favorites.
1. Chair yoga with props
This class explores using everyday objects as props and starts with a focus on the awareness of your feet for improving balance.
2. Chair yoga for a long, strong back and core
Chair yoga class routines usually focus on sitting up tall and strong to increase strength in the core and back and to lengthen the spine. This 17-minute video is no different. Adriene demonstrates poses and breathing in this energetic (and sometimes sweaty) practice.
3. Chair yoga for neck, shoulders, and wrists
This 40-minute practice uses a yoga strap to safely exercise and strengthen the neck, shoulders, and wrists. You can use a scarf or a belt if you don’t have a strap, and the video also offers modifications for poses without any props.
4. Full class with standing poses
If you are able to stand with the support of the chair, this 30-minute chair yoga class incorporates more standing postures to improve your overall balance and strength.
5. Restorative chair yoga
Most restorative yoga poses are done lying on the ground, but for seniors or those with limited mobility, getting down to the floor and back up may be challenging. This relaxing restorative yoga class uses two chairs and many props to make restorative yoga accessible to everyone.
12 chair yoga poses to try
Maybe starting out with a few simple postures (instead of a full class) seems more your speed. Give these 12 poses a try.
1. Start with breath
Sit in a sturdy chair that allows your feet to reach the ground so that your knees are level with your hips. Use a block or a book under your feet if they don’t reach the ground. Ankles should be directly below your knees. This starting pose is seated mountain pose.
Bring your hands to your heart, palms touching, in prayer pose. Take deep, even breaths in through the nose and out through the nose. As you inhale, lengthen your spine to the ceiling, like a thread is pulling you taller. As you exhale, keep your tall spine and feel more grounded on the chair and in your feet.
2. Add arms
Sitting in the chair with a tall spine, release your hands to your sides on an exhale. As you inhale, reach your arms up and overhead, bring the palms to touch above you if you can. Exhale, moving your hands down through the center of your body.
If you are doing wheelchair yoga, you can inhale your arms up directly in front of you instead of out to the side.
Complete five to ten full rounds of breathing.
3. Neck rolls
Sit tall in the chair, hands resting in your lap. Lightly engage your belly for support – slightly contract your navel to your spine. Exhale and drop your chin to your chest.
Inhale, rolling your left ear towards your left shoulder. Exhale, roll your chin back to your chest, then inhale your right ear towards your right shoulder. Repeat three to five times to each side.
Next, as you exhale, turn to look to the left (keep your chin level). Inhale back to center, then exhale and look to the right. Repeat three times on each side.
4. Shoulder circles
With your belly engaged and a tall spine, bring your fingertips to your shoulders (left hand to left shoulder, right hand to right shoulder). Elbows should be out to the side and level with your shoulders.
Inhale and begin to circle your arms forward, exhaling as they circle behind you. Complete three circles if you can, then switch directions.
5. Side stretch
Start with feet firmly on the floor and body steady. Place your right hand on the seat of the chair. Inhale and sweep your left arm up and overhead, reaching your left hand to the right. You can turn your head to look up at the sky if that feels okay for your neck.
Take three deep breaths, then inhale to straighten up to center and exhale to release your left arm. Repeat with the right arm.
6. Seated twist
Sit tall in the chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Inhale to get even taller, then as you exhale begin to twist your body to the right. Your right hand can come to the chair’s seat back and left hand to your right knee. Try to keep your lower body steady and unmoving as you breathe in to get taller, and breathe out to twist for three full breaths.
Inhale to return to the center, then exhale to twist to the other side.
7. Forward bend
You can place blocks on the floor at their tallest height if you are just starting with forward folds.
Rest your hands on your thighs as you lightly engage your belly and inhale to lift your spine. On the exhale and with a tall spine, begin to hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight as you fold forward. When you begin to feel a stretch, find your blocks for support, or keep your hands resting on your thighs. Pause here, taking five to ten deep breaths.
Come up on the inhale, taking several breaths and moving slowly if you are feeling dizzy.
8. Single leg stretch
Move slightly towards the edge of your chair. Starting with a tall seat and a strong belly, extend one leg in front of you, foot flexed with the toe pointing back towards you. Place your hands on your outstretched leg and take a deep breath in. Exhale and hinge at the hips to fold forward.
Take three to five deep breaths, then come back up slowly on an inhale. Switch legs and repeat.
Take a tall seat and place your hands on your knees. Inhale and begin to tip your hips forward, arching your back and opening your chest. Your head can fall back and your gaze can lift towards the ceiling if that does not hurt your neck.
Exhale and begin to tip your hips back, rounding your lower back, middle back, and upper back before tucking your chin. Repeat each movement, following your breath, three to five times.
10. Seated pigeon
Bring your right ankle to rest on your left knee. Your hands can rest gently on your knee and ankle. Sit up tall with a lightly engaged belly.
If your hips are feeling the stretch, stay here, but if you would like some more stretch, hinge at the hips to lean forward. Take three to five deep breaths (or more if you like), then inhale to come up and switch sides.
11. Forward bend with shoulder stretch
Begin your forward bend as above, but this time interlace your hands behind your back. As you hinge forward on the exhale, allow your hands to lift towards the sky to stretch your shoulders.
Take three breaths (or more if you are comfortable), then inhale to come back up.
12. Side angle pose
Come into a forward fold, with hands on the floor, on a block, or on your knees. On an inhale, sweep your right arm to the sky, leaving your left hand grounding down on whatever you are touching. Turn your neck to look up and take three deep breaths. Exhale to return to the forward fold, then inhale to repeat with the left arm.
Pain specialists incorporate comprehensive pain management and lifestyle changes into their treatment approaches. These may include chair yoga for seniors and those with limited mobility. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
The post Chair Yoga For Seniors And Those With Limited Mobility: 12 Poses To Try appeared first on Pain Doctor.
Sleep is critical to your health and overall sense of wellbeing. But getting enough sleep may be easier said than done if you are experiencing nocturnal back pain. Chronic middle back pain while sleeping can disrupt your sleep enough to affect not just your nights, but your days as well. Keep reading for tips on how to manage or even eliminate middle back pain while sleeping.
What causes middle back pain while sleeping?
Your middle back is also referred to as the thoracic region. It roughly encompasses the area from the base of your neck to just below your ribcage, and includes the space between your shoulder blades.
Middle back pain at night is sometimes caused by something simple, such as bad posture or twisting too quickly. In these cases, the pain is usually temporary and you’ll find relief fairly easily with proper care and patience. In other cases, however, back pain has a more serious cause that will require professional intervention.
Middle back pain while sleeping may not be as widely discussed as other kinds of nocturnal back pain, but it can be just as distressing and must be taken just as seriously. Here are the major causes of middle back pain while sleeping.
Poor posture during the day
Much has been made about the amount of time people spend sitting — whether in the car, at work, or in front of a screen — and the effects this can have on your health and lifespan. But it’s not just sitting itself that can impact your life; it’s also the way you sit.
Spending prolonged periods of time leaning forward or hunching over can strain your back, leading to pain throughout your neck, shoulders, and back.
Arthritis is a very common cause of joint pain. Mostly affecting older individuals, it is characterized by:
- Joint swelling
- Loss of range of motion
In addition to the pain and discomfort caused by the arthritis itself, arthritis can make you more susceptible to injury as well.
Back injuries run the gamut from minor to life-changing.
In cases of minor injuries, such as those caused by improper lifting technique or turning the wrong way, your pain will likely go away by itself within days or weeks. But if the injury is serious enough, it can lead to long-term problems, including chronic pain.
Herniated or bulging disc
You have discs all along your spine in between each pair of vertebrae. Each disc is filled with a jelly-like substance that keeps your backbones from grinding against each other when you move.
A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs breaks open. A bulging disc is a similar condition, but instead of breaking open, the disc slips out of place and the inner substance “bulges” outwards but doesn’t rupture. Both conditions may be asymptomatic, or they may cause symptoms like pain, numbness, and weakness.
Herniated and bulging discs affect both the surrounding vertebrae and, often, the nearby nerves. These injuries are most common in the lower back, but they can also occur in the middle and upper back and even in the neck.
Vertebral compression fracture
Vertebral compression fractures don’t always cause symptoms. When they do, the symptoms tend to vary widely, but there are some commonalities. These include pain and a permanent curve of the spine (kyphosis). The severity of symptoms will depend on the severity of the fracture and may worsen over time.
In rare cases, a tumor may cause middle back pain by pressing against the body parts (e.g. the nerves) near the spine.
Tumors can also trigger a vertebral compression fracture.
When is middle back pain while sleeping serious?
Most cases of middle back pain while sleeping are not serious. It is certainly disruptive, annoying, and even upsetting, but the underlying causes do not pose an immediate health risk. The symptoms can be safely treated with more conservative remedies.
However, as mentioned earlier, some middle back pain causes are more serious than others. If your middle back pain is accompanied by numbness and/or tingling, there may be underlying nerve damage. This can be caused by multiple conditions, some potentially dangerous, so it’s important to visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Further, any middle back pain that occurs with loss of feeling in your limbs or loss of bowel control is an emergency condition. Contact your doctor immediately if this occurs.
In addition, if you’ve tried some basic at-home remedies and your symptoms are still so severe that you can’t sleep well, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can. Without proper rest, your body and mind will quickly become exhausted. Any and all medical issues that prevent you from sleeping properly should be taken care of as quickly as possible.
How to sleep with middle back pain: 5 tips
Sleeping with middle back pain can be a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. Some remedies require making a purchase, while you can test out others tonight for no cost.
Below are some tips on how to sleep with middle back pain.
Rearrange your pillows
Most people use pillows to provide support for their head and neck while they sleep. But you can also use pillows to support your back and minimize pain while sleeping.
No matter which sleeping position you favor, there is a way to arrange your pillows to ease your middle back pain and get a better night’s rest. Try pillows between the knees if you’re a side sleeper or a small one under your knees if you sleep on your back. Try a different pillow to manage your neck pain if it’s leading to back issues.
Not working? Talk to your doctor for suggestions that could work for you.
Your nighttime routine can make a difference in how well you sleep at night.
Try performing gentle stretches before going to bed. This can strengthen and stretch your back to relieve pain and discomfort.
Change your sleeping position
When it comes to managing back pain at night, not all sleeping positions are created equal. For example, sleeping on your stomach forces your neck to rest in unnatural positions, straining your back.
The Cleveland Clinic offers this guide to evaluate your sleeping position(s) and to figure out whether it might be necessary for you to try some new ones. Our earlier post also discusses at length how certain sleeping positions can cause back pain and which ones may be better for you.
Buy a new mattress
Back pain can be exacerbated by an old, uncomfortable, or unsupportive mattress. One study suggests that medium-firm mattresses provide the best sleep quality. But don’t think of this as a hard and fast rule. You know your body better than anyone, and you are the only one who can choose the best mattress for you.
While mattress shopping, there are several things you can do to make sure you pick the right one. Before making a purchase, do some research on which mattress brand, style, and firmness might work for you. Some of this work can be done online, but it’s also important to go to the store, ask questions of the sales rep, and test out the mattress you’re considering. A mattress is a big investment, so take your time and do your homework before making a final decision. See if you can find options with a good return policy or risk-free trial period.
If a new mattress just isn’t in the budget at the moment, try a foam mattress topper. These are generally much cheaper than a full mattress, but they can still provide additional support if you need it.
Change how you get out of bed
Even after the night is over and you’re ready to start the day, you still have to get out of bed. As with choosing a sleeping position, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
Verywell Health provides a step-by-step guide on how to get out of bed without hurting your back.
How to relieve middle back pain while sleeping
If you’ve tried the tips above and still can’t sleep, then it’s time to move away from coping with middle back pain while sleeping and start actively treating it.
Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to treat back pain. However, not all of them may work for you, and some may even be harmful, depending on your back pain cause or underlying medical conditions. Because of this, it’s always important to consult with your doctor before beginning any new treatment regimens.
Adjust your posture
Because poor posture is such a common cause of back pain that no matter who you are, it’s probably a good idea to pay more attention to how you sit and stand throughout the day.
Do you hunch your shoulders for hours as you work on the computer? Do you slouch when you walk? Get into the habit of assessing your posture regularly and adjusting it as necessary. Here’s some tips for improving your posture.
Rest and exercise
One of the simplest yet most useful ways to combat middle back pain is a combination of rest and gentle exercise.
Using your back muscles on a regular basis keeps them strong and helps them recover more quickly. That said, don’t push yourself too hard. If you feel any pain or discomfort while exercising, stop, rest, and modify the exercise if you try it again.
Heat and/or cold therapy is a time-honored method of pain relief. While many stores and pharmacies carry products such as heating pads to provide this treatment, you don’t need to buy anything if you don’t want to. Ice wrapped in a towel or a hot shower can also work.
These treatments are best done before or as you’re settling into bed. Do not use heat or cold therapy while sleeping.
Pain of all kinds is often treated with medication. Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen are often enough to help you find relief for pain flare-ups.
If your pain is severe, you may need to get a prescription for a stronger medication. Regardless of which kind of medicine you take, be sure to follow all instructions and to never take more than the recommended dose. Talk to your doctor about any risks or side effects.
A physical therapist can help you reduce your pain and increase your range of motion.
When you go in for a visit, your physical therapist will examine you and determine what treatment or combination of treatments will help your back heal. You’ll work with them closely as they show you correct form for these exercises and lead you through exercise routines.
If you have suffered from an injury, you may need to wear a back brace for several weeks. This can help minimize pain and prevent re-injury. On the other hand, using a brace for a long time may weaken your back muscles.
As with all treatments, discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before you try it.
In some rare cases, more drastic solutions are needed to resolve middle back pain while sleeping. For chronic pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments, you may need to consider surgical options with your doctor.
The type of surgery you undergo will depend on your middle back pain cause. For example, herniated disc pain may be treated by removing part or all of the affected disc in a procedure called a discectomy. A vertebral compression fracture sometimes requires a vertebroplasty, during which bone cement is injected into the spine to strengthen the damaged vertebra.
Again, middle back pain while sleeping rarely requires surgical intervention. Even when a fracture is involved, middle back pain can often be effectively treated with the other, noninvasive methods described above.
If you are ready to take charge of your middle back pain while sleeping, it may be time to talk to a pain specialist. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
Arthritis can make every day challenging. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning to when you lay your head back down on the pillow at night, even the smallest of actions can come with pain. Worse, arthritis may be so painful that you feel like any movement is doing more harm than good. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Incorporating yoga for arthritis into your daily life can help ease the pain and restore your range of motion. Here’s some suggestions for getting started.
Is yoga good for arthritis?
It can be hard to start an exercise program when you are in pain. After all, when even the slightest movement is challenging and hurts, it seems logical to restrict motion and movement altogether. But lack of movement can actually make arthritis worse in some cases and speed up the damage to your joints.
Yoga for arthritis is a great way to bring gentle, supportive movement into your life: movement that builds muscle, improves balance and flexibility, and increases your range of motion, especially in the affected joints.
The key to getting the most out of yoga for arthritis? Safety.
You can improve your chances for success by talking to your doctor first about yoga for arthritis. Once you get the go-ahead from them, finding a qualified yoga teacher who specializes in yoga for arthritis can help, but there is also a wealth of resources available online.
Finding the best type of yoga for arthritis is also key.
What type of yoga is best for arthritis?
In the U.S., the term “yoga” can describe a variety of different styles. In general, yoga incorporates not only movement in the body but also breathwork and some form of meditation. This meditation is not always a separate part of the practice and may be incorporated into a mantra or a specific chant, or it may just be guided during a pose at the beginning or end of practice.
Some of the types of yoga you may have heard about include the following.
Named after its founder, B.K.S. Iyengar, Iyengar yoga focuses on using props to align the body and get the most from each pose.
Iyengar yoga for arthritis is especially good as the many modifications make all postures accessible, regardless of a person’s strength, flexibility, or pain level.
Yin yoga works on releasing connective tissues, including ligaments, tendons, and fascia. This type of yoga also uses props to support the body.
Most postures are completed in a seated position and are held for three to five minutes each. This allows for a slow stretching of tight connective tissues.
Hot yoga is done in a room that is usually heated to at least 100 degrees. Because this type of yoga is very physically demanding, it may be challenging for older patients with arthritis, but some believe that the heat in the room helps to release tight muscles and build endurance.
Note that hot yoga does not rely on props.
Vinyasa yoga (also known as flow) uses the breath to move the body from pose to pose (it’s also a set sequence that occurs within other types of yoga). This is another physically challenging type of yoga that does not use props (due to the constant movement between poses).
Hatha yoga is a blanket term that includes most of the styles above. A complete hatha yoga practice incorporates breathing (pranayama) as well as physical poses.
A good teacher in any of these styles can make all the difference. When you find a class to try, talk to the teacher beforehand and let them know you are working with arthritis. They can suggest modifications and make sure you are being safe in each pose.
If you want to start yoga on your own, there are many excellent poses to try. We focus on chair yoga for arthritis in many of these following poses, or floor postures that are easier to start off with.
Yoga for arthritis in hips: 5 poses
Doing yoga for arthritis in the hips daily can help increase not only your range of motion but can also make walking and sitting more comfortable. Best of all, there is no need to pull out a mat or even set aside time to do these.
Many of these poses can be done while you are going about your daily life (i.e., when you have a long car ride or are watching TV).
1. Seated figure 4 stretch
Sit with both feet on the floor and a tall spine (usually it’s best to be close to the edge of a firm chair). Your ankles should be directly below your knees. Bring your right ankle to rest on your left knee, making a sort of figure 4. Breathe deeply, and with each exhale allow your right knee to relax down towards the ground. You can place a hand on your right knee and apply some pressure, but don’t force anything.
Hold this pose for about three minutes, then release and move to the other side.
2. Seated twist
Still in the same chair, take a deep breath in, and on an exhale begin to twist from the center of your body to the left. Your left hand can come to the chair behind you, and your right hand can come to the outside of your left thigh. Keep your spine tall and both feet flat on the floor. Do not force your neck to turn too far to the left. Focus instead on getting taller on the inhale, and pulling your navel to your spine on the exhale, twisting a little more deeply as you do.
Hold for at least five breaths. Inhale to untwist, then twist to the other side when you are ready.
3. Bound angle
If you are able to get up and down from the floor, the following poses will be good poses for hips, too.
Sit on the floor with a tall spine. You can fold a blanket and place it under your sitting bones to give you more lift if that helps you sit more comfortably. Bring the soles of your feet to touch and allow your knees to fall open. Your feet can be far away from your body, or they can be close (whichever is more comfortable). Take a deep breath in, and on an exhale begin to fold forward.
Especially if you have lower back pain, keep the muscles of your abdomen engaged and your back straight, tucking your chin slightly to keep the back of your neck long. If your back is comfortable, you can round your spine. Hold for at least ten breaths (or up to five minutes), then inhale to come back to seated.
4. Easy pose with forward fold
Try this before you move to the next pose (firelog). Sit on the floor with your legs comfortably crossed in easy pose (sukhasana). If your knees are much higher than your hips, sit on a blanket or a block to raise your hips, and use blocks to support your knees. You may feel an intense stretch in this posture, but if you would like to go deeper, begin to fold forward (the same way you folded forward in bound angle).
Hold for at least ten breaths (or up to five minutes), then inhale to come back to seated. Switch the cross of your legs and repeat.
This is an intense variation of easy pose. Instead of crossing your legs, start with your left shin parallel to the top of the mat, then place your right shin on top (right ankle will be on top of your left knee). If there is a gap between your right knee (on top) and your left ankle, place a block or blanket there for support.
You can stay upright if the stretch is intense or fold forward for more. Again, hold for ten breaths (or up to five minutes), then inhale to rise up. Switch the cross of your legs and repeat on the other side.
Yoga for arthritis in hands: 2 poses
Yoga for arthritis in the hands can ease pain and help you perform all of your daily tasks.
When it comes to yoga for arthritis, these two poses can help loosen joints in the fingers and wrists.
6. Wrist circles
Extend your arms out in front of you, then slowly circle your wrists, ten times in one direction and then the other. Breathe, and move slowly, feeling your entire range of motion.
7. Finger curls
Extend your hand again, then slowly curl and uncurl your fingers into fists, one finger at a time. Repeat ten times.
Want more? One of our favorite yogis, Adriene, has a great 11-minute sequence for fingers, hands, and wrists.
Yoga for knee arthritis: 2 poses
Yoga for knee arthritis often focuses on building the muscles around the knee to provide better support and take the pressure off your knee.
These postures can be more active, but here we present them modified for any fitness level using a chair.
8. Lunge with chair
Lunges stretch your hip flexors, strengthen your quadriceps, and stretch your hamstrings. Start seated in a chair, then begin to open your left knee as you turn to the right, moving slowly into a lunge. Your right hamstring will stay on the chair, and your left leg will eventually move behind you.
Let your left knee bend deeply until you gain more flexibility in your left side. Your right knee should be directly above your right ankle. You can experiment and strengthen your right quadricep by pressing into the right foot and out through the left heel as you inhale to lift your right leg slightly off the chair, then release on the exhale. Use the chair for balance.
Stay here for five breaths, then switch sides.
9. Supported chair pose
Start off in a chair if you need a gentler option. If your balance is good, you can move next to a wall for support.
If you start in the chair, sit on the very edge with your feet hips’ width distance apart and firmly on the ground. Lift all ten toes off the floor, then inhale and lift your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Engage your belly, hinge forward slightly from the hips, and feel your sitting bones on the chair. Relax your shoulders. Take ten full breaths, then relax on an exhale.
If you are standing, inhale arms above your head, then exhale and sink your hips back like you are sitting back into a chair. Keep your belly engaged. Look down and make sure you can see your toes; if not, move your hips back slightly. Take five breaths, inhale to stand. On an exhale, sink back into the pose for five more breaths.
Yoga for arthritis videos
Videos can help you practice safely as you begin, especially if you are just starting out with chair yoga for arthritis. Here are three of our favorites.
Modifications for favorite poses
This video starts with modifications to help get up and down from the floor and continues with modifications to protect the wrists and knees.
Chair yoga for arthritis
This quick, four-minute sequence done totally in a chair is a great place to start a yoga for arthritis practice.
Gentle chair class
Looking for a full class you can do at home? This hour-long chair yoga class specifically designed for those who suffer from osteoarthritis is for you.
Yoga poses to avoid with arthritis
As a general rule, go slowly when starting out with yoga for arthritis. Ease into your practice every day, and listen to your body.
Poses that place 100% of your body’s weight onto a painful joint may be harmful, so use props to modify and accommodate where you begin each day. Some extreme poses, like frog pose, may be too uncomfortable to even try, so pay attention to how it feels in your body. The support of a qualified teacher, especially if you are just beginning yoga, can make all of the difference.
Remember that yoga is not just about the physical poses. Yoga for arthritis includes practicing self-love and understanding how to recognize what your body needs, whether that is rest or movement.
At Pain Doctor, we believe that pain management plans should be individualized with comprehensive, holistic treatment options – including yoga for arthritis. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
The post How To Practice Easy Yoga For Arthritis: 9 Poses To Try appeared first on Pain Doctor.
Lower back pain can take a toll on your entire body. This particular health concern is reported among men and women equally, affecting about 80% of people at some point in their lives. While there are many factors that can lead to lower back pain, a condition called spondylolisthesis is one of the most common causes. This article will cover what you should know about the condition and how to find relief.
What is spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition that can lead to pain and discomfort in the lower back. It occurs when one of the bones (vertebrae) in the spine moves out of place and onto the bone below it. If the bone slips too much, it can even press on surrounding nerves.
This can occur for many reasons. In children and young adults, it is usually due to a birth defect or periods of rapid growth, also known as growth spurts. It’s also more likely to occur in athletes who frequently overstretch the lower back. This may include gymnasts, football players, and weight lifters.
Doctors believe there is also a genetic component to spondylolisthesis. Some people are born with thin vertebral bones that are more susceptible to fractures. These fractures can lead to the slippage associated with spondylolisthesis.
Types of spondylolisthesis
There are several different ways to classify spondylolisthesis. The following types are based on the initial cause of the condition.
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis: This is the most common form of spondylolisthesis, which is simply due to aging. As the years go on, discs between your bones lose water and become less effective in cushioning each vertebral bone. This occurs from basic wear and tear on your body.
- Congenital spondylolisthesis: By definition, congenital means “present at birth.” Abnormal bone formation can put a person at greater risk for developing this condition.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: As we’ll discuss later in this article, spondylolisthesis can occur as a result of spondylolysis. This is when stress fractures weaken the bone, causing it to slip out of place.
- Traumatic spondylolisthesis: This is when an injury leads to fractures and subsequent slipping. This may be the result of athletic activity or a fall.
- Pathological spondylolisthesis: The spine can weaken from diseases like osteoporosis or even a temporary infection. Pathological spondylolisthesis takes place after this type of health event.
- Post-surgical spondylolisthesis: Slippage that occurs or becomes worse after spinal surgery.
Spondylolysis is also divided up into several different grades based on severity. This helps doctors determine the best course of treatment for a specific case. Slippage is graded on a scale of one to five.
- 25% or less of the vertebral body has slipped forward
- Between 26-50% of the vertebral body has slipped forward
- Between 51-75% of the vertebral body has slipped forward
- Up to 76-100% of the vertebral body has slipped forward
- The vertebral body has completely slipped off and looks detached
Your doctor will determine the best type of treatment based on your personal situation. However, Grade 1 and grade 2 slips generally don’t require surgery. In many cases, these patients respond well to conservative and non-invasive methods of treatment.
Slips that are rated above grades 1 and 2 may require surgery if significant pain persists.
Spondylolisthesis vs. spondylolysis
As previously mentioned, a condition called spondylolysis often leads to spondylolisthesis. It occurs when there is a fracture in the bone, but it hasn’t yet fallen onto a lower bone in your spine. In most cases, patients with spondylolysis will also have some degree of spondylolisthesis.
The two conditions are so similar that they come with the same set of symptoms. For this reason, your doctor will need to conduct imaging tests, such as X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. This is the best way to look at what is happening in the spinal area and confirm a diagnosis.
Do I have it? 4 common spondylolisthesis symptoms
In some cases, patients with spondylolisthesis don’t have symptoms and aren’t aware of the condition. This is generally true for mild forms. On the other hand, those with severe cases may not be able to go about simple activities.
Here are four common spondylolisthesis symptoms.
1. Lower back pain
Persistent lower back pain is the most common symptom of this condition. It will feel much like a muscle strain that worsens with activity.
This pain can also radiate down to the buttocks and back of the thighs.
Tenderness associated with spondylolisthesis can lead to stiffness in the lower back and legs.
This usually makes it difficult for patients to walk or stand for long periods of time.
3. Muscle spasms
Spasms can lead to tight hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the thigh).
As this type of pain progresses, tingling and numbness can travel all the way down to the feet. This is a result of pressure on the spinal nerve root as it exits the spinal canal near the fracture.
Weakness in one or both legs can occur in many cases of spondylolisthesis.
Like muscle spasms, this is due to pinching of the spinal nerve root and can lead to changes in posture and gait.
How do you fix spondylolisthesis?
If you believe you may be suffering from spondylolisthesis, it’s important to talk to your doctor. After a thorough review of your symptoms and medical history, various tests will help your doctor confirm a diagnosis.
Luckily, there are a wide variety of spondylolisthesis treatment options. Your doctor will start with conservative methods of pain relief before suggesting more invasive procedures.
These are some of the more common ways patients find relief from their pain and other symptoms.
Lower back pain can make exercising feel impossible, but it’s one of the best ways to minimize spondylolisthesis symptoms. With a gentle routine, you can maintain a healthy weight and increase your flexibility.
Some exercises focus on stretching and lengthening, while others are meant for strengthening the muscles of the spine and abdomen for better support. This is a prescription for both treatment and prevention of future lower back pain.
Once your doctor clears you for exercise, try a few simple stretches each day. Concerned about whether you’re doing them correctly? Work with a physical therapist or qualified personal trainer. They can teach you how to perform each exercise in a way that will prevent further injury.
Yoga for spondylolisthesis
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses specifically on stretching, lengthening, and strengthening. In fact, many of the best exercises for lower back pain are poses commonly found in yoga classes. Find a reputable studio that offers private lessons or classes that are designed to be gentle on those with injuries.
Experts advise anyone with spondylolisthesis to approach poses slowly and gently. If you feel pain, stop immediately. Back bends and poses that require twisting and bending forward aren’t recommended. A professional yoga instructor or physical therapist can help you determine the best poses for your condition. Before trying a class, be sure to inform the instructor of your condition.
Back brace for spondylolisthesis
A back brace is an affordable and effective tool that can help you perform basic activities during a mild and short-term pain flare-up. They also limit your range of motion to promote healing and prevent further injury.
Other benefits of back braces for lower back pain can include:
- Posture improvements
- Ease of use
Back braces work best in combination with other forms of treatment like physical therapy and medications. Talk to your doctor about whether this may be a promising form of treatment for your lower back pain, and take a look at our list of back braces.
Spondylolisthesis physical therapy
Physical therapy is a great way to treat a range of lower back pain causes. Even better, most insurance companies cover this type of treatment.
A professional physical therapist develops a routine to help you build up core muscles in the midsection of your body, including your back. You will also practice targeted stretching to improve your flexibility and relieve muscle pain. Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles that support your spine, helping you prevent further injury.
You are usually assigned a number of exercises to perform each day on your own. This will help you maximize the benefits of your time in physical therapy.
Chiropractic care for spondylolisthesis
Chiropractic care is a form of complementary and alternative medicine. It continues to grow in popularity as a cost-effective and successful way of relieving lower back pain.
A chiropractor will use various manipulation techniques to adjust and correct your alignment. They believe that a natural balance needs to be maintained in order for the body to function optimally. Targeted and controlled forces will be applied to specific joint areas that are limiting movement. Patients often report relief from muscle tightness and pain, as well as better range of motion.
A wide range of medications can be helpful in reducing the lower back pain associated with spondylolisthesis.
Your doctor may first recommend NSAIDs because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Basic over-the-counter NSAIDs include drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. In general, these medications are best for short-term relief to avoid side effects of prolonged use.
In severe cases of spondylolisthesis, your doctor may prescribe something stronger for pain management. However, prolonged use of pain medications is associated with a number of side effects and concerns in regarding misuse and addiction. Always talk with your healthcare team about your pain level and health concerns to determine the best medications for your specific case.
If conservative treatment options aren’t giving you the pain relief you need, but you aren’t ready to consider surgery, your doctor may recommend injections. This is a minimally invasive procedure that can have significant benefits.
Epidural steroid injections are the most common type of injection for lower back pain with spondylolisthesis. These injections involve a combination of a corticosteroid and numbing agent delivered into the epidural space of the spine. The drugs work to reduce inflammation and pain. This relief can last for weeks or years, depending on the case. Most patients can resume normal activities the following day.
You can learn more about this procedure in the following video.
Non-invasive treatment for mild cases of spondylolisthesis is successful in about 80% of cases. Unfortunately, if you are still experiencing pain that disrupts your everyday routine, your doctor may suggest surgery. In severe cases where the bones of your spine are pressing on your nerves, this may be the only way to fix the issue.
A spinal fusion is one of the most common operations to help patients suffering from spondylolisthesis. In this surgery, bone grafts are placed between vertebrae to help them fuse together. Your doctor will also use screws and rods to hold the vertebrae together as they heal. It will typically take four to eight months for the bones to fully fuse together, but spinal fusion success rates are typically high.
Persistent lower back pain can make even the most basic tasks feel overwhelming and uncomfortable. If you believe the cause of your pain could be due to spondylolisthesis, it’s important to seek medical help. Don’t let daily pain disrupt your life.
Find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or look for one in your area by using the tips here. With the right combination of treatment options, you can get back to the activities you enjoy.
The post What Is Spondylolisthesis? Causes And Treatments That Work appeared first on Pain Doctor.
Our feet are underappreciated and overused. Containing 25% of all of the bones in our body, our feet withstand harsh terrain, ill-fitting shoes, and the strain of supporting our entire body. Their health is so important that sometime issues that arise in other parts of our body originate in our feet. When our neglect catches up to us, sits us down, and debilitating tendon pain pops up, yoga for plantar fasciitis can help.
Can yoga help with plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis affects an estimated 10% of people in the U.S. in their lifetimes, with pain that ranges from annoying to debilitating.
Your plantar fascia is a long, thick strip of connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. This connective tissue band supports the arch of the feet; essentially, it is the foundation upon which all standing movement is based.
When the plantar fascia is torn or strained, you’ll know it. Common plantar fasciitis symptoms include:
- Stiffness or soreness in the whole foot, especially in the morning
- Swelling and redness
- Pain in the heel and the arch
- Burning or tenderness in the soles of the feet
- Difficulty going up or down stairs
Although some plantar fasciitis is caused by tears or strains due to intense physical activity, you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to suffer from this condition. Daily stress and strain caused by ill-fitting footwear, not enough rest of the feet, standing too long on hard surfaces, and not warming up (or warming up improperly) can all cause microscopic tears in the plantar fascia. Over time, these tears can become plantar fasciitis.
Other risk factors include:
- Too high or too flat arches
- Metabolic issues (e.g., liver disease or diabetes)
- Physical activity (play or work) on hard surfaces for extended periods of time
- Resuming too much activity after long periods of rest
- Rapid increase in the intensity or duration of a workout
We may experience warning signs—sore feet in the morning, pain when walking up or down the stairs, and swelling—long before an actual diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. Luckily, yoga for plantar fasciitis can help restore the health of your feet and prevent further injury. A thoughtful plan of yoga for healthy feet can complement other treatments that get you up and running again in no time!
10 yoga for plantar fasciitis poses
As always, whenever you are beginning a new exercise regimen, especially in direct response to an acute injury, it’s important to discuss your plan with your doctor. They can help you tailor exercises to your specific condition and make sure you will not further aggravate your injury.
Practice yoga for healthy feet whenever you have time, but certainly before you begin any other kind of workout. Here are ten yoga poses for plantar fasciitis.
Poses that strengthen and stretch the calves
A flexible, strong calf muscle removes some of the burden from your plantar fascia.
Stretch and strengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus with these three exercises.
1. Wall stretch I
Stand about a foot away from a wall and step your left foot back, keeping the toes pointed to the wall and the left leg straight. Press your left heel to the ground as you lean forward and place both hands on the wall.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat three times.
2. Wall stretch II
In this stretch, you will set up in the same way but step the left foot back just about a foot or so. Keep both knees bent, and lean towards the wall, again placing both hands on the wall for support.
Notice that this stretches the lowest part of the calf (instead of the Achilles tendon and whole calf). Hold for 30 seconds, then step forward. Switch legs. Repeat three times.
3. Stair stretch
Stand on the lowest step on a set of stairs (use the handrail if balance is an issue). Keep the right foot flat on the stair and slide the left foot back so that the heel hangs off (the ball of the foot stays on the stair).
Stretch down through the heel, gradually bringing more weight into the left foot as you can. Hold for 30 seconds, then step forward. Switch legs. Repeat three times.
Poses that increase foot and ankle flexibility
Connective tissue (fascia) is a connected system in the body, so if it’s tight in one place that can translate to another.
Try these two poses to increase overall foot and ankle flexibility.
4. Draw the alphabet
Come into staff pose on the ground, which means your legs are straight out in front, toes flexed towards the sky, and your hands in your lap or on the ground beside you. Sit up tall with a long spine, crown of the head reaching towards the sky and navel lightly pulled in and up.
Relax your shoulders. Maintaining the strong engagement of the legs and core, begin to draw the alphabet with your toes in the air, one foot at a time.
5. Front ankle stretch
Sit with legs folded underneath you so that your shins and tops of feet are on the ground and your hips rest on your heels. Keeping your spine nice and tall, rock back and place your hands on the floor behind you, lifting your knees off the floor and stretching the tops of your feet.
Hold for 30 seconds, then release. Pause and repeat three times.
Poses that stretch, strengthen, and release tension in the soles of the feet
Some of the best poses for foot pain start out fiery and end up with a sweet feeling of release when you’re finished.
These are no different, but it’s important to take your time as you ease into these poses. If you feel a sharp increase in pain, or the pain is so intense that you have trouble maintaining long, deep, and even breathing, back off the pose.
The goal of yoga for foot pain is to strengthen, stretch, and increase mobility. It’s hard to do that if the pain is so intense you can’t breathe!
6. Tennis ball release
In yoga, foot massage can be done with the hands, or it can be done with a tennis ball. If you are ready for a deeper massage that you cannot get with your hands, find a tennis ball and come to standing. Hold onto a chair or the wall if balance is an issue.
Place the tennis ball underneath your foot and begin to slowly roll up and down the inner arch of your foot, the outer arch of the foot, and just underneath the ball of the foot. Go slowly and pay attention to what pressure feels good.
Place the tennis ball on the ball of the foot and bring your heel down to the ground. Gradually lean forward to place more weight on the tennis ball. If your toes begin to curl under, see if you can stretch them forward and up. This strengthens the peroneal muscles on the side of your leg and increases stability.
Next, place the tennis ball underneath the heel and place the ball of your foot on the ground. Gradually bring weight into your heel, breathing as the sensation intensifies. If you have bone spurs, this may not be a good exercise for you.
Switch feet, and proceed through the steps. Remember to keep breathing and go slowly. See the following video for an example.
7. Mountain pose (tadasana)
Come to stand with your feet hip’s width apart, toes straight forward and heels straight back. Reach down towards the ground with your tailbone at the same time you lightly pull your navel up and in (do not press your hips forward; this move is very slight).
Roll your shoulders up and back, and glide your chin back so that ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles are in one line. Rotate palms open to the front. Lift all ten toes and then lengthen them forward and down. Imagine you could lift the arches of your feet as you press down into the earth. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you breathe for at least ten breaths.
8. Bound angle pose
Sit on the ground with knees bent. Allow your knees to open, bringing the soles of the feet to touch. Your feet can be far away from you or close to your body. If your hips are tight and your knees refuse to release, sit on a block or a blanket (you can also support your knees with blocks). Sit with a tall spine.
Use your hands to massage your feet as you sit and breathe for at least ten breaths (but as many as you want!).
9. Downward facing dog
If you only do one yoga pose for plantar fasciitis, make it this one. Come to all fours with toes tucked under, wrists beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Walk your hands one handprint forward, then on an exhale, lift your hips into the sky to come into downward facing dog. Your body will create an inverted V-shape with your hips the highest point.
You can keep your knees deeply bent if you have tight hamstrings. Reach the crown of your head towards your hands, creating space between your ears and your shoulders. Hug your forearms together and bring your shoulder blades onto your back. Breath here for five deep breaths, then come to all fours on an exhale and relax into child’s pose.
10. Fire toes pose for plantar fasciitis
This pose is the gold standard of yoga for plantar fasciitis, but it can be very intense. As yin yoga for feet goes, it’s important to hold it for at least three minutes and up to five. Yin yoga is a kind of yoga specifically for connective tissues, with long holds at about 60% of your regular capacity. This safely stretches connective tissue and increases blood flow, range of motion, and strength.
Come to all fours with your toes tucked under. If your knees are uncomfortable, pad them with a blanket. Sit back on your heels, then gradually walk your hands toward you so that your torso begins to come upright. Again, even if you know you can sit fully back on your heels, enter the pose gradually, as you will stay there for awhile. Blocks under your hands can provide support as you want to increase the intensity.
Almost immediately you will begin to feel the stretch in the plantar fascia. Your body will want to fidget, and you may want to immediately come out of the pose. As long as you can still take deep breaths and the pain is not sharp or stabbing, resist the urge to move, and stay in the pose. Take deep, even breaths, concentrating on relaxing what muscles can be relaxed.
It takes your brain 90 seconds to understand that even though it is receiving painful signals, you are not actually in danger. Try to make it to 90 seconds at least, supporting yourself you’re your breath, and you may feel a release as you continue.
To come out of the pose, begin to bring your hands forward until you are back to all fours. Uncurl your toes slowly, then gently tap the tops of your feet on the ground. You may want to rest in child’s pose for a few breaths.
Yoga for plantar fasciitis routines
If you are new to yoga for plantar fasciitis (or yoga in general), videos can help. Here are two of our favorites.
Downward facing dog
Because downward facing dog is such an excellent pose for overall health, take a look at this video tutorial on proper alignment (featuring a real dog!).
30 minutes for your feet
You have 30 minutes to spend on your feet, yes? Here’s another great video from Yoga With Adriene focusing on the feet and ankles.
Yoga poses to avoid with foot pain
While there are not really any yoga poses to avoid due to foot pain, you can use blocks and blankets to modify poses to make them more comfortable to get into and hold.
If you are in the acute stages of plantar fasciitis, bare feet for yoga may not feel supportive, so wear shoes until the pain subsides.
Other minimally-invasive plantar fasciitis treatments
Whether yoga for plantar fasciitis eases symptoms or not, there are other approaches to consider.
- Stay hydrated: Connective tissue needs lots of hydration to heal
- Look into NSAIDs: Ask your doctor about over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs for short-term pain and inflammation relief
- Change up your shoes: Picking the best shoes for plantar fasciitis is important
- Foam rolling: Foam rolling follows the same basic principles as the tennis ball exercise above
- Physical therapy: Working with a physical therapist can address any issues that may be aggravating your foot pain
Comprehensive treatment of plantar fasciitis is crucial. Left untreated, the body begins to build what it feels is protective extra bone in the heels, called bone spurs. Although these spurs may protect the bones from injury, they can be incredibly painful and require surgery to treat.
If yoga for plantar fasciitis helps, but doesn’t completely relieve your foot pain, it may be time to talk to a pain specialist. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
The post 10 Restorative Yoga For Plantar Fasciitis Poses To Ease Pain appeared first on Pain Doctor.
When it comes to heel spurs, the shoes you wear make a difference. Supportive and comfortable footwear can improve your pain level and prevent further injury. From athletic shoes to sandals, and even professional footwear for work, this post will cover heel spur shoes for every lifestyle and budget.
What are heel spurs?
A heel spur is a bony growth that results when the connective tissue of your foot begins to disintegrate, allowing calcium to build up on the underside of the heel bone. Over time, this calcification can protrude into a sort of “spur” shape, typically about a quarter of an inch long.
While some patients have heel spurs that aren’t painful, others experience chronic pain that persists for three or more months. Other symptoms include inflammation, swelling, and an affected area that is warm to the touch. A large heel spur can affect your movement, preventing you from walking or even standing properly.
In general, heel spurs develop over the course of long-term wear and tear. With time, certain types of exercise (such as running and jumping on hard surfaces) can lead to heel spurs. Other heel spur risk factors include:
- Wearing poorly fitted or worn out shoes
- Wearing shoes that don’t provide arch support, such as high heels
- Standing for prolonged periods on a daily basis
- Excess weight or obesity
- Gait imbalances
- Intense athletic training routines
All of these factors can increase your risk of repetitive stress injuries that lead to the formation of heel spurs. Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common condition that often coincides with heel spurs, but one doesn’t lead to the other.
What shoes are best for heel spurs?
Comfortable shoes are key to managing pain associated with heel spurs. The more support you have, the better off you’ll be. Talk to your doctor about the best heel spur shoes for you, as your condition may necessitate different types of inserts or orthotics.
In general, though, here are a few things you should look for:
- Arch support
- Lightweight design
- Back straps or a closed heel
- Contoured and cushioned footbeds
- Flats or low heels of no more than two to three inches
Above all, the best shoes for heel spurs are going to be shoes that work for you personally. We encourage you to visit stores that carry a range of brands and styles in order to find the right footwear.
If you buy online, remember that you can typically return as well. It’s always important to buy from a provider that allows returns in case you realize you haven’t found the right fit.
Note: PainDoctor.com does not endorse, nor do we make any money off the sale of these products. This information is provided for the benefit of patients based on patient reviews. Always ask your doctor if you have questions. Prices shown are at the date of the post’s publish date, and may differ.
4 of the best walking shoes for heel spurs
For those getting in their daily steps, these are some of the best walking shoes.
Why you should consider these: These casual heel spur shoes are great for everyday wear. They feature a soft-cushion outsole with bounce back and durability.
Features: Lightweight, breathable, affordable, easy to slip on and off
What users say: “I have been searching for sneakers that are easy on my heel spurs. Since buying these sneakers I can walk so much longer with no pain…”
Why you should consider these: KURU shoes feature a rounded heel patented to perfectly match your own heel shape.
Features: Moisture wicking lining, breathable mesh, lightweight outsole with traction
What users say: “This was truly the best shoe purchase I have made to help with my heel pain! Immediate relief…”
Why you should consider these: ABEO allows you to choose your footbed, making these shoes a custom fit with advanced digital scan technology.
Features: Reflective detail for increased visibility at night, lightly padded tongue for extra support
What users say: “These shoes have helped my back, hips and feet to heal.”
Price: Varies depending on style, starting at $159.95
Why you should consider these: This design is ideal for both inferior, as well as posterior, heel spurs.
Features: Latex foam footbed, moisture-wicking lining, leather upper, rubber outsole
What users say: “I bought these for my husband who has a heel spur and he is very happy with how they don’t rub. He is a manager of a warehouse and can walk many hours without his feet getting sore.”
Price: Varies depending on style, $48-$146
4 of the best running shoes for heel spurs
If you’ve added running to your routine, look to these heel spur shoes for support.
Why you should consider these: Available in styles for both men and women, these trainers are great for walking, running, and everyday use.
Features: Foam cushioning, breathable mesh, colorful variety
What users say: “The 990 New Balance is a truly a blessing…A nurse recommended the New Balance 990 for my plantar fasciitis…”
Price: Varies depending on style, $100-$175
Why you should consider these: These ASICS use gender-specific cushioning. The women’s model features a lower-density top layer in the midsole for better compression.
Features: Wide variety of colors, Heel Clutching System™ designed to improve support
What users say: “It’s one of the only shoes I’ve owned that helps with the pain in the knees and my heel spurs.”
Why you should consider these: KURU specializes in shoes designed for people with frequent foot pain.
Features: Lightweight, good grip, performance mesh uppers, breathable
What users say: “…I just recently bought my third pair within a year’s time. They are so much more comfortable than popular name brands sold in stores and have helped my plantar fasciitis and heel spur immensely!”
Why you should consider these: Brooks shoes provide unique cushioning to help propel you forward while giving you the support you need for heel spurs.
Features: Soft and stretchy knit heel collar wrap, springy cushioning
What users say: “At almost one hundred miles in my feet and legs are happy, I didn’t know running shoes could be this good…”
4 of the best work shoes for heel spurs
Many of us have to go to the office everyday. Finding great work heel spur shoes is vital. Here’s some of our recommendations.
Why you should consider these: These low wedge heels are comfortable and stylish for work or special events.
Features: American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) approved, accommodates most standard and custom orthotics
What users say: “…This is the first time in YEARS that I have been able to wear heel/dress shoes and stand/dance at a wedding and not be in pain during or after…”
Price: Varies depending on retailer, $90-$150
Why you should consider these: Orthofeet comes highly recommended by podiatrists for a variety of conditions that lead to foot pain.
Features: Two sets of spacers allow for an adjustable fit, removable orthotic insoles, pillow-like support
What users say: “So far, I’ve walked around quite a bit in them and the best description of my experience that I can provide is that they look like dress shoes, but feel like sneakers…”
Why you should consider these: This classic style comes in nearly 40 colors, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice professionalism and style for comfort.
Features: Easy to clean leather, promotes forward foot motion for shock absorption and energy return
What users say: “Incredibly comfortable shoes, I have had so many coworkers and patients comment on how they love the look of my shoes.”
Why you should consider these: The Dr. Scholl’s brand is widely known for creating products to reduce foot pain, whether through insoles, inserts, or shoes.
Features: Extra support under the toe, high-recovery foam at the ball of the foot, dense foam cradling the heel
What users say: “Nice looking shoes for the office. They do have extra padding on the tongue and heel area where you pull the shoes on which is a plus.”
4 of the best sandals for heel spurs
When summer hits, you need heel spur shoes that you can wear comfortably in the heat. Sandals aren’t always necessarily the best types of shoes for preventing or managing pain, but these work well for many.
Why you should consider these: These sandals feature built-in orthotics custom fit to the contours of your feet. Choose between neutral, metatarsal, and posted heel.
Features: Adjustable hook and loop straps to keep your feet in place, breathable leather lining
What users say: “This shoe is very light and comfortable. It’s like walking without shoes at all, yet it gives enough support to avoid tired feet.”
Why you should consider these: Abeo prides itself in developing biomechanical footwear. Built-in orthotic comfort supports your feet and aligns your body.
Features: Water resistant leather, adjustable hook and loop closures for optimal fit
What users say: “Bought these before a week-long trip to Hawaii. I walked every day with great comfort and nice support for my high arches…”
Why you should consider these: With more than 10 million pairs sold, ECCO has fans who purchase these sandals over and over again.
Features: Stretch-fit material lining, lightweight, durable outsole for grip and traction
What users say: “This is my third pair of these great sandals that provide excellent support. I have problem feet (bunions and heel spurs), and these sandals allow me to do the walking I need when I travel…”
Price: Varies depending on style, $60-$135
Why you should consider these: Designed with rugged terrain in mind, these are a great option if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
Features: Compression molded midsole for superior comfort, patented toe guard
What users say: “These shoes provide the support I need. I found that they needed to be broken in and breaking in happened after wearing them a couple times…”
Price: Varies depending on style, $69-$225
4 of the best heel spur insoles and inserts
Finally, you may benefit most from heel spur insoles and inserts to help with your pain. Look to these options for relief.
Why you should consider these: These inserts feature “shock guard technology” to protect your heels from impact. Wear with sneakers, work boots, and other shoes.
Features: Provides immediate and all-day relief, treats your pain at the source
What users say: “I love these! I am on my feet all day and have heel spurs and Achilles tendinitis. I have not had any issues with my heels since this purchase.”
Why you should consider these: Customers report a satisfaction rating of more than 90% when using Heel Seats to resolve heel pain.
Features: Made for daily wear, fits into any closed heel shoe, machine washable
What users say: “…They don’t move or slip when walking and how the heel fits in the pocket is amazing. I was running out of options and not wanting to have surgery on both feet…”
Why you should consider these: These molded heel cups can be worn with or without socks in most shoe styles.
Features: Two sizes to choose from, self-adhesive base, latex-free
What users say: “…They give me support and I have experienced no new pain. I would recommend these to anyone with minor heel issues…”
Why you should consider these: With a thin, low-profile design, these insoles fit in most casual, dress and athletic shoes.
Features: Dual-layer cushioning, heel cradle, semi-rigid arch support
What users say: “My foot doctor started me with these years back when I had some heel spur problems. Now I won’t wear any shoes without them. They make even cheap shoes feel great…”
Find help for your heel spur pain
If you’re suffering with severe pain due to heel spurs, it may be time to get specialized help beyond heel spur shoes. There are treatment options for heel pain that will give you the relief you’re looking for.
To find a pain doctor in your area, click the button below or look for one using the tips provided here.
TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a non-invasive, drug-free option for pain management. A TENS unit replaces pain signals with a side effect-free tingling or buzzing sensation that is controlled by the user. Although the TENS unit mechanism is fairly straightforward, there are some important things to keep in mind. Knowing how to use a TENS unit correctly is the key for long-lasting pain relief. Here’s answers to your most frequently-asked questions.
What is a TENS unit?
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a cell phone-sized unit with two wires attached to it. At the end of each wire is a self-sticking pad that you place on your body. A gentle electrical current moves through the wires and onto the pads. Patients place the pads on the area of their body with pain and active the electrical current with a button on the unit.
This simple device has been shown to relieve nerve pain without side effects and with no possibility of interaction with other treatments.
Research has established its potential effectiveness in the following conditions:
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis
- Cancer pain
- Shoulder pain and frozen shoulder
- Nerve pain
- Migraines and headaches
There is also some indication that TENS may be helpful for people with diabetic neuropathy.
Most patients find that a 30-minute session with their TENS unit relieves pain for hours. Some might use their TENS unit during their daily activities that might otherwise cause them pain.
How does a TENS unit relieve pain?
For all of its effectiveness, doctors are not 100% sure how TENS unit therapy works. The battery-powered unit delivers a patient-controlled mild electrical current that is not strong enough to stimulate muscle movement but it likely does confuse the nerves.
This stimulation and confusion keeps the nerves too “busy” to send pain signals to the brain. The nerves focus instead on the immediate sensation of the electrical current – the mild buzzing from the TENS unit. Essentially, pain is replaced by a buzzing sensation that the brain remembers for hours after the stimulation occurs (instead of the pain).
Another way that a TENS unit likely works to relieve pain is by stimulating the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers, the same substance responsible for a feeling of euphoria after exercise (also one of the reasons exercise is recommended for chronic pain).
Finally, the TENS unit can improve circulation in the area of its use (which promotes healing of injury) and also reduces or completely eliminates painful muscle spasms.
How to use a TENS unit
The first step in learning how to use a TENS unit is to talk to your doctor. They can help you decide if TENS unit therapy is a good treatment option for you and also help you to use the unit safely for best results.
General safety guidelines
In general, the electrical current delivered by a TENS unit is safe and does not pose a threat for electrical shock. There are some general safety guidelines to follow to reduce the risk of burns or other unrelated side effects, however.
Many patients find that using their TENS unit during daily exercise improves its effectiveness. Walking and other low impact exercise like riding a bike or hiking can be a great time to utilize this treatment.
Do not use a TENS unit in the bath or shower. This can damage the unit, and electricity around water is always a bad idea.
Keep your TENS unit patches for your own use. Do not share them, even to demonstrate what the buzzing sensation feels like on a non-painful part of someone else’s body.
Make sure the TENS unit is off when you are applying, removing, or otherwise relocating patches on your body.
Stop using your TENS unit and let your doctor know if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Irritation of the skin
Finally, only use the TENS unit on yourself as instructed, and keep it away from children.
TENS unit electrode placement is of paramount importance. Proper placement of electrodes can make or break this therapy’s effectiveness.
Before you begin, make sure batteries are properly installed in the unit (or the unit is fully charged). Place the wire leads all the way into the electrode patches (no exposed metal), then plug the leads into the top of your TENS unit.
Skin should be clean, dry, and free of lotions, oils, or powders.
Electrodes should be placed directly on or very near the painful area. It is important to mix up where you place the electrodes to avoid potential skin irritation.
In order to make a complete circuit, you need to use either two or four patches. Changing the distance between these patches changes the amount of electricity that flows between them as well as the intensity of the current. Although the patches should be at least one inch apart, do note that the farther apart they are the less effective they will be.
Remember that the closer you are to the painful area, the exact spot of pain, the more effective this treatment will be.
Avoid these areas
The electrodes should not come in contact with any metal on the body (e.g., a belt or jewelry).
There are also some areas that should be avoided when considering TENS unit electrode placement. These include:
- The eyes and the throat
- On cuts or sores (and broken skin in general)
- On a tumor
- Directly on the spinal cord
- Inside the body
- Directly over bones
When you first use your TENS unit, your doctor will help determine which strength to set the electrical current.
You may find that your body gets used to it and the tingling or buzzing sensation decreases. When this occurs, you can ask your doctor if it’s okay to turn the strength up so that the sensation is present but still comfortable.
How long is it safe to use a TENS unit?
A TENS unit can be used as long as it is providing relief. As noted below, if pain relief begins to diminish, taking a break can help. This allows your nerves to relax a little and settle down. If pain returns after the break, you may find that your TENS unit helps to relieve it.
TENS units can also be used in conjunction with other treatments. Talk to your doctor about a coordinated treatment plan that includes a timeline for using your TENS unit.
Can I use my TENS unit while sleeping?
It may seem practical to use a TENS unit while sleeping, especially if your pain condition flares up at night, but this is not a good idea. The gentle buzz of the electrodes may turn into a skin irritant if they become pressed too firmly on the skin or one of the patches becomes detached.
It’s better to be fully awake and in control of your TENS unit to monitor any changes or sensations that might be different or unusual.
How often can you use a TENS unit?
You can use your TENS unit daily as long as it is providing relief. Some patients find that a 30-minute session provides relief all day, while others may need to use their unit every other hour or so. The best guideline for how often you can use a TENS unit is your comfort and pain relief.
Some patients find it helpful to take a break for three to five days periodically. If you find that your TENS unit has stopped being effective for pain relief, a short break may restore its effectiveness.
How do I care for my TENS unit?
There are several considerations when caring for and maintaining your TENS unit. After each use, the wire leads can be removed from the patches after the unit is turned off, but the patches can remain on the skin if you will use the unit again within a couple hours. If you want to remove the patches, peel them carefully off your skin and store them in their plastic liner. These patches will last longer if you use them on clean skin and store them properly after use.
Your TENS unit does need to be cleaned periodically. Makes sure it is turned off, then wipe with a moist, soft cloth. Do not use cleaners or abrasives on the unit. If you store the unit for a long time, remove the batteries and keep the unit and wire leads in a cool, dry place. Take care to not bend or crimp the lead wires.
Are there side effects or potential risks?
The only potentially common side effect of TENS unit therapy is the mild tingling sensation that can range from a pleasant buzz to slightly annoying tingle (depending on the patient). Most patients who find relief prefer the buzz over their pain and get used to the tingling at any level. However, it is important to work with your doctor to determine the proper level of electrical stimulation to avoid irritation to the skin or electrical shock.
While TENS unit therapy is safe for the vast majority of patients, there are a few who should not use this device. Cardiac patients, including those with pacemakers, may not be able to use a TENS unit. Patients with implanted metal devices or indwelling pumps or other types of monitors should not use a TENS unit for pain relief.
Pregnant women should also talk to their doctor about the safety of a TENS unit (including those that can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription).
Could TENS unit therapy help me?
TENS unit therapy can be a great option for patients who prefer a non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment.
Even though these units are available over-the-counter, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis of your pain before diving into treatment. It makes no sense to reach for a treatment that won’t be effective for your condition – even if it is safe and side effect free!
If you have more questions, including how to use a TENS unit safely and effectively, talk to a pain specialist. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.