7 Common Arthritis Myths Debunked

According to the CDC, over 23% of adults have arthritis, and like other common diseases and health conditions, there’s a lot of misconceptions about it. 

Let’s look at some of the most common arthritis myths and separate fact from fiction.

1. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. 

Studies comparing the incidence of hand arthritis in habitual knuckle-crackers and non-knuckle crackers show that the habit likely doesn’t cause arthritis. 

But you may want to stop cracking your knuckles anyhow because studies show that habitual knuckle cracking can lead to lost grip strength and injuries. 

2. Arthritis isn’t preventable. 

Both your parents having arthritis is not a guarantee that you will. Though your genetic makeup does increase or decrease your chances, lifestyle choices factor in, too. 

Consistently high levels of stress and bad habits, such as smoking, excess body weight, and lack of exercise, increase your risk of developing arthritis.  

3. Only older people get arthritis. 

Though the risk of arthritis increases sharply after age 45, younger adults and children can develop the disease, too. Injuries, especially repeated injuries, increase the risk of arthritis at all ages.

For instance, when someone suffers repeated knee injuries, cartilage which acts as padding around the knee joint, wears down, leading to osteoarthritis. 

4. Exercise makes arthritis worse. 

The misconception is that exercise wears out the joints and increases the risk of arthritis.

However, the truth is that exercise can reduce arthritis pain and slow its progression. Safe, productive exercise builds up the muscles around the joints and increases flexibility and range of motion. 

5. Certain diets can ease arthritis symptoms.

This is only true for people with celiac disease and lactose intolerance. Otherwise, there is no scientific evidence that any diet improves arthritis symptoms. 

6. Joint pain means arthritis. 

If you have joint pain, you may have arthritis, and you may not. Other common conditions that cause joint pain, such as bursitis, tendonitis, or soft-tissue injuries, may be causing the pain.  

These conditions and injuries cause swelling and pain in the structures around the joints, mimicking joint pain caused by arthritis. 

7. Joint replacement surgery is the only effective arthritis treatment. 

Many people with arthritis don’t ever need joint replacement surgery.

Though osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are progressive diseases, treatment, especially treatment in the early stages, can effectively reduce or eliminate pain and slow degeneration.

Arthritis Pain Treatment at Texas Pain Physicians

If you are in pain from arthritis, we can help. Our board-certified pain specialists treat the full spectrum of arthritis pain with well-established and advanced interventional pain treatments. 

Please give us a call or book your appointment online.

7 Treatments for Chronic or Long-Term Neck Pain

Most chronic or long-term neck pain and discomfort comes from wear and tear, injuries, and overuse — three things no one can avoid if they live long enough.

The pain and discomfort from neck problems vary widely. Common symptoms include: 

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness in the arm, hand, or shoulder
  • Numbness, prickling, and tingling in the forearm, hand, and fingers

Pain specialists typically recommend non-invasive conservative treatments to relieve chronic neck pain. Below is a list of some of the most common.

1. Steroid Injections 

Some of the below treatments take a while to relieve chronic neck pain. Steroid injections can provide relief within hours that can last for weeks or even months.

A simple outpatient procedure that takes a few minutes, a steroid injection can reduce or eliminate chronic neck pain long enough for you to start realizing benefits from physical therapy and other non-drug treatments.

2. Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapists can help you improve your daily ergonomic awareness at work, out and about, and around the home.

For example, poor posture sitting and standing posture can cause chronic neck pain. Practicing healthy moving and non-moving posture involves maintaining your spine’s three natural curves (neck, mid-back, and lower back). 

3. Physical Therapy

A certified physical therapist can develop a stretching and strengthening routine tailored to your body. Consistent stretching and strengthening can help your body heal faster and keep your neck and spine healthy.

Physical therapists may also recommend therapeutic devices, such as cervical or neck traction devices, to help relieve your neck pain. A neck traction device can ease neck pain related to nerve root irritation by gently stretching the neck.

4. Lifestyle/DIY Remedies

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines

OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen), and pain relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be effective pain management for chronic neck pain. 

Always consult with a doctor before using OTC medications and use them as directed.

R & R

Like a sore throat or a pulled hamstring, getting enough rest and sleep can help decrease chronic neck pain. 

Applying cold packs or compresses and warm compresses or heat pads to your neck can be comfortable and relaxing.

With chronic neck pain, which occurs because of damage to the neck’s bones, discs, and joints, this therapy likely won’t provide much, if any, pain relief. It may, however, provide some added comfort and relaxation that can help you rest. 

6. Prescription Medications

Muscle Relaxants 

If your chronic neck pain is making you lose sleep, muscle relaxants may help. Though pain specialists typically prescribe muscle relaxants for acute pain, they can help you rest and sleep better by inducing drowsiness. 

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Your doctor or pain specialist may recommend tricyclic antidepressants, especially if your chronic neck pain is nerve-related. 

Opioid Painkillers

If other treatments don’t work, your pain specialist might recommend the short-term use of prescription painkillers. 

7. Alternative Medicine

Alternative therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage may relieve neck pain. If conventional treatments haven’t worked for you, you might want to ask your pain specialist about these therapies. 

Chronic Neck Pain Treatment in Houston, Dallas, and Other TX Locales

Texas Pain Physicians specializes in pain treatment, including chronic neck pain. Our friendly pain specialists will assess your medical history, pain condition, and recovery goals to develop a unique pain treatment plan for you.

Please give us a call today or book your appointment online!

 

Common Car Accident Injuries, Symptoms, and Treatments

A recent Esurance report found that the average driver will experience 3-4 accidents in their lifetime. 

Let’s look at some common car accident injuries, symptoms, and treatments (the below list is NOT in order of most common injuries).

1. Internal Bleeding

Your organs are delicate and vulnerable to trauma. These potentially life-threatening injuries are much more likely in high-speed crashes.

Symptoms: 

  • chest pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • severe weakness
  • losing consciousness
  • low blood pressure
  • acute visual problems
  • numbness
  • weakness on one side of the body
  • severe headache
  • severe abdominal pain
  • shortness of breath

Treatment: 

Treatment varies depending on the severity. Minor internal bleeding may stop without intervention, but severe internal bleeding may require surgery and extended care (in hospice).

2. Concussions

Concussions or traumatic head injuries are when a sudden stop or impact jolts the brain hard enough to jostle against the inner wall of the skull. 

symptoms: 

  • headache
  • ringing in the ears
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue or drowsiness
  • blurry vision
  • confusion or mental fogginess
  • blurred vision

treatment: 

Doctors DO NOT recommend complete rest in a dark room for days.

In the first few days after a concussion, try to get as much sleep as needed and limit or avoid certain physical and mental activities.

For instance, try to cut back on high-concentration activities such as watching TV, playing video games, reading, and using computers — if these activities make your symptoms worse. 

Also, avoid exercise and physical activities for a few days, and continue avoiding them if your symptoms do not improve. 

3. Broken Bones

Common broken bone injuries resulting from auto accidents include:

  • back and neck vertebrae
  • clavicle (shoulder blades)
  • fibula (lower leg)
  • femur (upper leg)
  • cranial (skull)
  • facial bones
  • sternum (rib cage)

Symptoms: 

  • sudden, shooting pain
  • inability to bear weight
  • deformity (bone pushing up or penetrating through the skin)
  • limited or no range of motion (in limbs)
  • warmth in the affected area
  • bruising and redness

Treatment:

Broken bones must be realigned or set so that they heal correctly.

4. Musculoskeletal Injuries

Musculoskeletal injuries include muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, and blood vessels. These injuries can be painful and can restrict limb movement.

Example injuries:

  • Ligament sprain
  • mechanical back syndrome
  • Ruptured bulging or herniated discs

Symptoms:

Symptoms vary depending on the location and severity but generally include pain that worsens with activity. The affected area may also look red and inflamed.

Treatment: 

Treatment also varies depending on the severity, but generally, treatment plans will include:

  • rest
  • physical therapy
  • anti-inflammatories
  • muscle relaxers
  • heat/cold therapies
  • ergonomics

5. Whiplash (muscle strain) 

Though whiplash is a musculoskeletal injury, it’s so common in car accidents that it demands a separate category.

Whiplash is the sudden contorting and stretching of the head and neck muscles that causes muscle strain. It may be helpful to think of the forceful back-and-forth action of a cracking whip.

Most whiplash injuries in car accidents happen during rear-end impacts. 

Symptoms: 

Signs and symptoms of whiplash usually develop within days of the injury and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain, stiffness, and lost range of motion
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back, or arms
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms

Treatment:

Your pain management specialist will likely recommend over-the-counter pain medication and exercise, including stretching exercises. Whiplash is a minor injury that heals within weeks.

6. Skin Injuries

Serious skin injuries include:

  • cuts
  • lacerations
  • gashes
  • tears

These skin injuries happen when sharp objects penetrate through the skin into the fat tissue. Cuts that measure more than a quarter-inch may need medical attention, and half-inch cuts usually need sutures. 

Rug or seatbelt burns, also known as abrasions, are minor skin wounds that don’t penetrate through the skin.

Treatment: 

Anti-bacterial treatment and bandages are sufficient for minor skin wounds that don’t penetrate through the skin. Bruises heal on their own within weeks.

Your Pain Specialists in Texas

At Texas Pain Physicians, our patients quickly come to trust our friendly staff and appreciate the benefits of expert care and innovative treatment methodologies and technology.

If you have been injured in a car accident and received initial medical treatment but are still in pain, please give us a call or book your appointment today.

 

 

Medications and Treatments for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is caused by compression of the thoracic outlet structures. The affected area ranges from just above the first rib up to behind the collar bone.

The condition can be extremely painful and debilitating. Treatment and management of TOS depend on the specific type.

Treatment for Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (NTOS)

Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when the nerves leading from the neck to the arm are compressed. Over 90 percent of cases of thoracic outlet syndrome are neurogenic.

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • pain
  • numbness and tingling in the hands
  • pain in the shoulder

Pain specialists often recommend conservative treatment and a combination of one or more treatments at the same time. NTOS treatments include (but are not limited to):

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapists aim to ease symptoms and restore upper-body function. Treatments include:

heat packs: Applying heat packs can relax muscles and lessen pain.

exercise programs: Exercises will include stretching to improve flexibility and increase strength in the affected areas.

cervical traction: Cervical traction devices help to relax the muscles, increase flexibility, and relieve pain. They do this by slightly stretching the neck, which decreases pressure on the spine by separating vertebrae. 

2. Biofeedback Therapy

A biofeedback therapist helps you practice relaxation exercises, which you fine-tune to control different body functions. 

During a therapy session, a biofeedback therapist attaches electrodes to your skin which monitor stress indicators, such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and muscle activity.

The therapist teaches you to practice relaxation techniques in stressful situations, such as deep breathing and mindfulness.

3. Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist will generally recommend simple methods for relieving pain and relieving nerve compression, the underlying cause of NTOS.

They will recommend correcting poor posture and practicing safe ergonomics, such as safely lifting heavy objects. They may also recommend simple exercises you can perform at home.

4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be an effective complementary treatment for TOS. It can help patients in three ways: 

  • Change their perception of pain.
  • Think about their experience in positive terms.
  • Eliminate or at least minimize believing the worst or exaggerating the situation.

5. Medication

Your pain management specialist may recommend taking over-the-counter drugs, such as 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen and aspirin) and muscle relaxants, such as tizanidine, can relieve muscle stiffness and pain. 

6. Botox Shots for Pain 

Your pain specialist may recommend a botox injection in the muscle at the base of the neck. 

Botox injections can relax the muscles and ease the pain. The positive effects can last for up to 3 months, and the injections are repeatable.

Treatment for Venous and Arterial Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

These two types of thoracic outlet syndrome account for only 10 percent of cases. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • pain
  • edema (swelling of the hands, fingers, and arms)
  • blue color in the hands and arms
  • bulging veins in the neck, shoulder, and hand

You will likely be treated for possible blood clots and have thoracic outlet decompression surgery. 

After this, you may need long-term pain management. In this case, your pain management specialist would recommend a combination of the above treatments and therapies.

Texas Pain Treatment and Management Specialists

At Texas Pain Physicians, our priority is to improve your quality of life.

If you have been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome or think you may have this condition, please give us a call at (972) 636-5727 or book your appointment online today.

7 Cancer Pain Treatment Options

Like other pain, the frequency and severity of cancer pain vary. It can be mild, moderate, and severe. It can also be constant or chronic. 

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to remove cancer (such as surgery to remove tumors) can reduce pain and improve quality of life.

However, these are direct interventions for treating and managing cancer, not methods pain management specialists provide or recommend to manage cancer pain. 

Let’s look at some treatments pain management specialists provide and recommend for cancer pain.

1. Anti-depressants and Anticonvulsants

Antidepressants such as Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can provide cancer pain relief. 

Studies show that SNRIs are well-tolerated by cancer patients and beneficial in managing neuropathic pain, a type of pain that cancer can cause. TCAs are an older type of antidepressant. 

They can also provide relief from neuropathic pain caused by cancer but are not as well tolerated by cancer patients. 

2. Nerve Stimulation 

Peripheral nerve stimulation may be effective in managing cancer pain.

This pain management method involves surgically planting a small electrical device near the spine or brain. The device transmits electrical impulses to specific nerves that block pain messages from reaching the brain.

3. Nerve blocks

Nerve blocks are injections of local anesthetics into the space around the spinal cord. The anesthetic blocks the nerves around the spinal cord from sending pain messages to the brain. 

Nerve block injections can provide relief from moderate to severe cancer pain.

4. Complementary/Integrative Approaches 

Pain management specialists may recommend adding these non-medical approaches to a cancer pain management plan at any time.

They include acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, relaxation techniques, and movement therapies. 

5. OTC Pain Medications

Pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories ( aspirin and ibuprofen) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can treat moderate to severe cancer pain. Always check with your doctor before taking these medications. 

They can cause dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects and are particularly dangerous when taken during chemotherapy treatment. 

6. Marijuana 

In some states, marijuana is legal and prescribed for cancer pain. Studies have found that marijuana can be effective in managing neuropathic pain caused by cancer. 

Also, CBD or cannabis in marijuana can reduce inflammation, which can bring pain relief.

7. Narcotic Pain Relievers

Opioids or narcotic pain relievers such as morphine and oxycodone relieve moderate to severe cancer pain.

Other medications and treatments are preferable, however, since narcotic pain relievers can foster drug dependency. 

Cancer Pain Treatment and Management in Texas

At Texas Pain Physicians, our board-certified physicians are skilled in treating and managing cancer pain.

We can help you set realistic cancer pain management goals and closely monitor the success of your treatment. Please give us a call or book your appointment online today!

Neuropathy: 7 Pain Treatment and Management Options

Stabbing, shooting, burning, and electric shock-like pain. Tingling and pins and needles sensations. 

Living with nerve pain and discomfort from neuropathy can be very, very hard. But pain management specialists know what to do. 

Treatment and Management Options for Neuropathic Pain

Once they have determined the underlying cause and the type of nerve damage, they can recommend effective treatment and management methods.

1. Diabetic Care

Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy (60-70 percent of people with diabetes suffer from some form of neuropathic pain). When diabetes is the cause, proper diabetic care can decrease and eliminate symptoms. 

2. Antidepressants 

Doctors often prescribe anti-depressant drugs like tricyclic anti-depressants and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors to treat neuropathy.

These drugs can reduce neuropathic pain by increasing chemicals in the brain that reduce incoming pain signals.

3. Anticonvulsants 

Pain specialists sometimes prescribe anticonvulsants to treat neuropathic pain because they may stop damaged nerves from transmitting faulty pain signals. 

4. Nerve Blocks

Nerve blocks can provide long-lasting relief from neuropathic pain.

A nerve block procedure involves injecting steroids, anesthetics, and other medications into the nerves producing faulty pain transmissions. The pain relief can last for days, weeks, or months. 

5. Electrical Impulse Stimulation

Typically, this treatment option is used only after other options have failed. 

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

First, a surgeon performs a minimally invasive surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator. A spinal cord stimulator is a device that generates electrical impulses on your spine.

The electrical impulses alter how your brain processes pain by sending electrical impulses to the nerves in the spinal cord. 

Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation (DRGS)

If you suffer from neuropathy of the feet, hands, knees, groin, and chest, DRGS is likely a better treatment option than spinal cord stimulation.

Like SCS, DRGS treatment uses electrical impulses to stop nerve pain. However, unlike SCS, DRGS trains electrical impulses on nerves in certain body parts (hands, feet, chest, etc.). 

Like SCS, a DRGS device implant on the spine involves a short surgical procedure.

6. Multi-Disciplinary Approach 

Neuropathic pain often responds poorly to any single pain treatment or management method.

A multidisciplinary approach that combines one or more methods, such as medications, physical therapy, psychological treatment, and surgery, can be much more effective.

Pain specialists coordinate with other health professionals to provide patients the best possible pain treatment and management. 

7. OTC painkillers

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can provide fast, convenient relief from neuropathic pain. However, they are often not effective when used without other treatments and therapies.

Neuropathy Treatment and Management in Texas

The pain and discomfort of neuropathy and the loss of sleep, anxiety, and depression that can accompany it, can be challenging to handle. 

At Texas Pain Physicians, our pain management specialists will work day and night to find the best course of treatment and management for you.

Please give us a call or book your appointment online today.

How Pain Specialists Manage and Treat Herniated Disc Pain

Pain from a herniated disc can be mild and easy to handle, moderate and distracting, or severe enough to send you straight to a doctor.

It can hit suddenly and resolve in a few days. It can be constant or chronic and last for months or longer. 

Doctors specialized in pain management recommend treating herniated disc pain with conservative, non-surgical treatments. They may recommend surgery only after all other treatments have failed. 

The Three Types of Herniated Discs 

1. Contained Herniation (bulging disc)

With this type of herniation, there is generally no pain or mild pain. 

Bulging discs occur when pressure between the vertebrae pinches the disc, forcing it to bulge. When there is pain, it comes from the bulging disc putting pressure on nearby spinal nerves.

2. Non-Contained Herniation (severe bulging disc)

This severe disc herniation generally causes severe back pain.

It can also be associated with numbness, weakness, and tingling in the extremities from the extreme pressure on spinal nerves. 

3. Sequestered herniation (disc rupture)

This type of herniation can cause intense pain and decreased mobility. It is also associated with numbness, weakness, and tingling in the extremities.

Disc ruptures can occur when non-contained herniations or severe bulging discs go untreated. As pressure between the vertebrae builds up, it eventually overloads the discs, forcing them to rupture. 

Where They Occur in the Body

Most herniated discs are in the neck and lower back.

Lumbar pain (lower back) 

Sciatica or leg pain is the most common symptom associated with herniated discs in the lower back.

Patients describe sharp, burning, or radiating pain down the lower back, through the buttock, and down the leg (pain travels through the sciatic nerve). 

Herniated lumbar discs can also cause numbness and muscle weakness in the foot and ankle. 

Cervical herniated disc (neck) 

Depending on the location of the herniated disc, pain can present in the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. The pain from cervical herniated discs can last for days, weeks, months or longer, and be constant or chronic. 

When a herniated disc puts too much pressure on cervical nerves, patients can experience tingling, numbness, and weakness in the deltoid muscle (shoulder muscle), biceps, wrist muscles, hands, and triceps.

Thoracic Spine (upper back)

Disc herniations in the upper back are less common and rarely cause pain. When there is pain, it presents in the upper back and chest. 

Pain Treatments for Them

Pain management specialists typically begin herniated disc treatment with rest and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Medications 

Depending on the severity of the pain, medication may make it easier for patients to tolerate physical therapy. 

  • OTC NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen (recommended for mild to moderate pain)
  • oral narcotic agents (prescribed for severe pain)
  • oral steroids (prescribed to treat severe pain and reduce inflammation)

Home and Non-M.D. Treatments

These are treatments that don’t require a pain management doctor’s expertise.

When applied for 4-6 weeks, these treatments can help reduce pain and discomfort. Applying more than one treatment at once may achieve better results. 

  • Heat and cold therapy
  • Moderate physical activity
  • Chiropractic
  • Moderate exercise
  • Changing sleep positions 
  • physical therapy
  • Myofascial release and/or massage

Therapeutic Injections

Pain management specialists may recommend therapeutic injections if conventional therapies and medications don’t work or provide relief soon enough. 

Therapeutic injections can relieve pain for days, weeks, and even months, which buys time for conservative, non-surgical treatments to work.

Two commonly used therapeutic injections: 

  • epidural injections: Used to reduce inflammation and provide extended pain relief.
  • nerve blocks: Used to diagnose the source of the neck pain and to provide extended pain relief.

Herniated Disc Treatment in Texas

If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc or think you may have one, Texas Pain Physicians can help. We have offices in Houston, Dallas, and a dozen other locations across Texas.

Give us a call or book an appointment online and start your pain-free journey today!

Is Therapeutic Nerve Block A Pain Treatment for You? 7 “Need to Knows”

Maybe your pain medication isn’t working anymore. Maybe you got tired of the side effects and stopped taking it. Or maybe you don’t want to take pain meds at all.

Whatever the case, you need pain relief ASAP. A therapeutic nerve block may be the answer.

Here are 7 things to know about therapeutic nerve blocks:

1. What they are.

A pain-relief and healing therapy doctors employ as an alternative to pain medication. Therapeutic nerve blockers provide extended pain relief and assist the body’s healing process by reducing nerve irritation.

2. What areas of the body they can treat:

  • head: forehead, face, eyelids, scalp, upper jaw
  • neck (all of the neck)
  • back: middle back, lower back, upper back, pelvis
  • arms: shoulders, armpits, arms, elbows, wrists
  • hands (all of the hands)

3. What types of pain do therapeutic nerve blocks treat?

 

Arthritis pain or pain from injury:

Steroid injections with local anesthetic into the facet joints or vertebrae to help treat joint pain.

Childbirth, neck, back, or leg pain:

Steroid or other medication and local anesthetic injected into the epidural area are known as ‘epidurals.’ These injections are often used during labor to ease the pain of childbirth. They are also used to treat severe nerve pain in the neck, back, and legs.

For buttocks, lower back, and upper leg pain:

Steroid and local anesthetic injections into the sacroiliac joint, the area between the pelvic bones in the lower back.

For arthritis pain in the shoulder:

Steroid and anesthetic injections in the suprascapular area of the shoulder. They treat arthritis pain in the shoulder that isn’t treatable with direct, in-joint injections.

For chronic headaches:

Steroid and local anesthetic injections into the occipital nerves in the back of the head to relieve headaches and other types of nerve pain.

4. How long they relieve pain.

The pain relief from nerve block injections typically lasts from 1 to 2 weeks.

Doctors may recommend several or more injections when you face an extended recovery time from injury or need to buy time while looking for a permanent pain management solution.

5. What the procedure is like.

Nerve block procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and should take less than 30 minutes.

An anesthetic and anti-inflammatory or steroid are injected near the nerves sending pain signals to the brain.

Pain Management in Texas

At Texas Pain Physicians, our board-certified pain management doctors will address your pain at the source. They will map out a unique pain treatment strategy for you.

Please call us today at (972) 636-5727 or click here to schedule an appointment.

How to Stop Night Cramps in Your Legs

Being jolted out of a peaceful slumber by the intense pain and discomfort of leg cramps is shocking. 

More often than not, leg cramps or muscle spasms hit the calf muscles (calf muscle cramps are sometimes referred to as “charley horses”). But cramps hit the front and back of the thigh muscles, too. 

Here’s how to stop, or at least cut down on night leg cramps.

1. Stretch your legs. 

Unstretched muscles may be more prone to cramping. Also, people over 50 report more nighttime leg cramps than younger people. This is likely due to muscles shortening with age. 

If you have a few free minutes, loosen up your calf, hamstring, and quad muscles with some stretches during the day or before bed.

2. Be as active as possible. 

Underused muscles may be more prone to cramping. 

Work, school, and other obligations keep us on tight schedules. But getting in a little exercise in your free moments during the week may keep the cramps away.

If you only have time at night, try to do some light exercise just before bed. Just make sure not to overdo it. Overstimulating muscles causes muscles fatigue, which can cause leg cramps.

3. Stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes. 

Experts think dehydration can cause cramps. Try to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day.

When you sweat from exercise or any strenuous activity, drink extra water and eat something healthy to replenish electrolytes. 

Healthy foods and drinks like bananas, watermelon, milk and yogurt, and coconut water can help restore your electrolyte balance.

Also, try to avoid having too many drinks that contribute to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, such as coffee and alcoholic drinks. 

4. Take a warm shower or apply heat before bed. 

Sore and fatigued leg muscles are more prone to cramping. Taking a warm or hot shower or applying heat to them before bed can loosen and relax muscles. 

5. Loosen your bedding. 

If your sheets are tucked in so that your feet and legs can’t move freely, they are too tight. Loosen your bedding so that you can stretch out and shift comfortably. 

 

6. Wear comfortable or orthopedic shoes. 

Go easy on your legs by wearing comfortable shoes or even orthopedic shoes when you can. When your shoes don’t provide arch support, your leg muscles compensate, leading to muscle fatigue and cramps. 

Pain Management at Texas Pain Physicians 

Do you or someone you know have nighttime leg cramps? Would you like to schedule an appointment with a top-rated, board-certified pain management specialist? Please get in touch with us today at (972) 636-5727.

7 Ways to Stop and Shorten Sciatica Flare Ups

The last thing you want is another extended bout of sciatica.

Put these 7 tips to use to cut down on and lessen the severity of flare-ups (in order of easiest to do): 

1. Take meds (for fast relief). 

If you are suffering a sciatica flare-up, you want immediate relief. These meds can help:

  • Acetaminophen and NSAIDs: Pain relievers such as Tylenol and Naproxen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds such as ibuprofen and aspirin can provide immediate, short-term relief. 
  • Muscle relaxers: When the underlying cause of your sciatica is muscle spasms, muscle relaxers such as carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine can provide relief.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Doctors prescribe the anti-depressants amitriptyline and nortriptyline to reduce nerve pain. They are prescribed at lower doses than when used for depression. 
  • Steroids: The oral steroid prednisone provides pain relief by reducing inflammation.

*Please note that all of the above medications have certain side effects. Talk to your doctor before taking them to relieve sciatica. 

2. Apply heat and cold.

Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes can relieve pain quickly by reducing inflammation. 

A heat compress or pack can also relieve pain by increasing circulation and loosening up tight muscles. 

3. Don’t sit too much. 

Putting pressure on your sciatic nerve for extended periods can lead to sciatic pain. Whether sitting at your desk at work, in a car or plane on a trip, or at a restaurant chatting up friends, remember to get up and walk around for a few minutes now and then. 

Also, remember to take your wallet and other objects out of your back pockets when you sit down. They add pressure to the sciatic nerve.

4. Improve your posture. 

Poor posture can make sciatic pain worse. When standing and sitting, make sure your back is straight, and your shoulders are back. The idea is to feel tall when standing or sitting. 

5. Stretch. 

The sciatic nerve runs through your hips, buttocks, and hamstrings. Tight ligaments and muscles in these areas can contribute to sciatic pain.

Stretching these areas keeps the muscles and ligaments loose, which can stop and lessen the pain.

6. Diet and exercise.

Carrying around excess body weight puts added pressure on your sciatic nerve. Dieting can help you shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

A non-active lifestyle with a lot of sitting contributes to sciatica. In contrast, an active lifestyle with a lot of movement lessens or even eliminates the pain.

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, but incorporating some safe exercise, sports, or outdoor activities into your daily routine can make a big difference.

7. Cut down on stress. 

When you are stressed out, your brain supplies less oxygen to your nerves, including the sciatic nerve. Oxygen-starved sciatic nerves are more likely to produce pain. 

Visit the Texas Pain Management Specialists

At Texas Pain Physicians, our board-certified pain management doctors know how to manage sciatica. Let us review your unique health situation and develop a pain relief plan that works for you.

Schedule an appointment online today, or give us a call at (972) 636-5727.