Soak Arthritis Pain Away

Why You Should Buy a Walk-in Tub

 

As you age, the pain of arthritis can make the simplest things seem more difficult. For instance, climbing in and out of the bathtub. In your younger years you could step confidently over the edge of the tub, but now it gets harder, and there is a greater chance you will suffer a fall, or at the very least pull a muscle or two.

This is where a walk-in tub can change your life for the better. There is a low-step entry that allows you to walk in and the floors are made of non-skid materials so you won’t have to use a bath mat. If standing is hard for you, a shower seat can be attached to the side wall.

Tubs are deep enough to fully submerge your body, and you can add some bubble bath to the warm water and have a long soak. Your tired aching muscles will thank you. Once you’re finished, grab the safety bars to pull yourself into an upright position.

If taking a tub bath is not your thing, there is usually a faucet head that allows you to take a shower. If you’re lucky, a bidet will be included with the tub so you can clean those hard-to-reach places.

All of this comfort comes with a steep price and you’ll pay an average of $5,000 to $7000 including the tub. Don’t count on Medicare or Medi-Cal to pick up the tab, but do check with your private insurance to see if this is a covered expense. Ask your doctor to write a note that the walk-in tub is a medical necessity.

A walk-in tub will make your life a lot easier, but insurance providers don’t want to provide coverage because it is not something that’s essential, and other members of your family may also use the tub.

If your private insurer won’t pony up the funds, there are some other options you can try. The United States Department of Agriculture may have grants or low-interest loans available. You’ll have to meet income requirements, but if you don’t qualify, they can refer you to other resources.

A good organization to have in your corner is the National Home Modification Action Coalition Inc. They can help you find grants and loans, and there may be other modifications available.

Check with the AARP to see what grants and loans you might qualify for. If you’re a Veteran, check with the Veteran’s Administration.

My Knees Are Killing Me!

5 Helpful Tips To Deal with Osteoarthritis

 

You have to love menopause. One year I have an aching back, then an aching neck, and now I have a pair of aching knees. Welcome to the world of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is often referred to as degenerative joint disease, and affects approximately 27 million people, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

I have always been an active walker and usually logged 10,000 steps a day on a regular basis. I use a Cho-Pat strap to hold my patella in place, but that’s not working as well now. So I am looking into combining the walking with something like biking or shadow boxing.

I found an interesting article that details how eating the right foods may also help knee pain and I would always rather eat delicious food than down a multitude of pills. Here are five helpful tips to deal with osteoarthritis:

Lose Extra Pounds

A recent study was conducted with people who were overweight or obese and suffered from knee osteoarthritis. For each pound lost, there was a four-pound reduction in knee joint stress.

It would be nice if you could eat chocolate cake with a gooey frosting to help you lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s sticking to the basics of less food and more exercise. Eat smaller portions, limit sugary treats, and drink water instead of soda or juice.

Replace Fats with Olive Oil

There is a compound in olive oil called oleocanthal that may help prevent inflammation.

Olive oil can usually be used in recipes that call for butter or vegetable oil, or as a delicious addition to spaghetti sauce. Do as the Italians do and use it as a dip for crusty French bread.

Eat More Fish

It’s always nice when you’re trying to eat healthier, to eat something that actually tastes good. Tuna and salmon are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lubricate stiff joints in the morning, so it’s easier for you to start your day. Other fish that are rich in Omega-3 acids are herring, mackerel, and sardines.

Boost Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C helps build healthy collagen and connective tissue. Strawberries, oranges, and grapefruit are all good sources of Vitamin C. On the vegetable side, broccoli, cabbage, and kale can be cooked alone, added to a stir-fry, or tossed in a salad.

Ask you doctor if you need to take a Vitamin C supplement.

 

 

Arthritis-Friendly Foods For Your Next Cook-Out

Yummy Recipes That Can Help Fight Pain!

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I feel like I could write a book on the pain of arthritis. I have it in my fingers, hands, neck, back, and feet. It really puts a damper on leading an active life and it’s tempting to just sit in a chair and watch the world from the sidelines. The foods you eat also have a big impact on whether your joints are feeling good or driving you crazy with pain.

What could be more delicious than cooking-out now that it’s warmer? Brats, chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs sizzling on the grill make your mouth water. Of course the side dishes of chips or potato salad, and a tasty dessert like cookies, brownies, or cake just send the whole experience over the top.

Unfortunately, it may also send your joint pain through the roof, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still  enjoy cooking-out. Here are four healthy options for a tasty cook-out:

Main Dishes

Sprinkle lemon and your favorite herbs on salmon. It’s not only delicious but you also get a good dose of Omega-3 and Vitamin D which promotes joint health and controls inflammation.

If you like a little spice, try these Caribbean Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs.

Condiments

I have to admit when I eat hamburgers or hot dogs, ketchup is a must and I often go overboard with it. A tasty substitution for ketchup is salsa or pico de gallo. Buy mild salsa if you have problems with spicy foods.

Kick mayo to the curb and try a tasty spread with olive oil, basil, and sundried tomatoes.

Side Dishes

I am not a big vegetable eater but I enjoy threading different vegetables on skewers and grilling them.  You can use zucchini or summer squash, peppers, onions, or whatever vegetables are your favorites.

I like Three-Bean-Salad, which is rich in potassium and fiber. You can combine fresh and frozen beans, and to make it even more delicious, put in some homemade green beans.

Desserts

What is any meal without dessert? Well, at least that is how my thought process works. Grilling fruit such as peaches, pineapple, or plums is a delicious way to up the nutrition and still satisfy that sweet urge. If you want to put it over the top, serve with frozen yogurt.

Grill fruit at a high temperature and only on one side for best results.

Frozen banana bites dipped in chocolate help you cool down after standing over a hot grill. Use dark chocolate which has many beneficial flavonoids that help fight against cell damage. It only takes about an hour in the freezer, and then it’s time to chow down.

 

Is Your Arthritis Pain Making You Miserable?

It Only Takes Ten Minutes a Day to Feel Better!

 

When you suffer from arthritis, it can feel like every area of your body hurts. You may feel like just curling up on the couch with a heating pad, or binge watching your favorite television shows. Pain can make it difficult to clean the house, get dressed, or chase after your kids.

That’s why starting an exercise program is so important. It’s often less painful to keep your joints in a bent position. This may work temporarily, but if it becomes a habit, you may experience permanent loss of mobility. According to Doreen M. Stiskal, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Seton Hall University, “exercise eases inflammation, improves energy, and promotes the flow of pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins.”

Range of motion exercises gently stretch the muscles as far as they will comfortably go, and with each passing day, your joints feel less painful. Warm up with these exercises before you engage in any physical activity.

Start slowly and aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. You can also break it down into three ten-minute sessions. If you aren’t comfortable working out at the gym, try an exercise CD at home such as the Arthritis Foundation’s “Take Control with Exercise.”

Give yourself credit for small changes such as taking the stairs, parking further away from your destination, or walking 20 minutes without a break.

Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes with arch supports. A walking or running store can ensure you get a proper fit. When you’re trying on shoes, wear your workout socks, and walk around in them for at least ten minutes.

Since you’re just starting out, check out indoor malls, gyms, or the YWCA that have an indoor walking track. You can exercise without too many interruptions, and you won’t have to worry about being outside during bad weather.

Don’t forget to do some resistance training. It may seem like lifting weights will be more painful, but that is not the case. A physical therapist or personal trainer can show you the proper form, and match the weights you lift with your current strength level.

 

 

 

Are You In So Much Pain You Can’t Sleep?

Get Relief By Sleeping on a Water Pillow

I couldn’t get to sleep last night because my neck was killing me. Since I use a support pillow, that shouldn’t be an issue, but I kept turning over, and alternately punching and fluffing the pillow to try to get comfortable.

I have had chronic back pain for 20 years and when I turned 58, I experienced neck pain all day and night. I am always on the hunt for a product that will ease the pain, and now I have discovered a water pillow that may help me get a better night’s sleep.

A water pillow maintains its shape so you don’t have to waste time you could be sleeping trying to get comfortable. It not only keep your head and neck in alignment, it provides support for your whole body.

It’s normal to toss and turn while you sleep, and your regular pillow can end up anywhere on the bed. A water-filled pillow will stay wherever you put it and won’t move around.

Depending on your sleep position, you can adjust the amount of water you put into the pillow. Some people prefer a firmer pillow while others sleep better with a soft pillow.

There are few things more frustrating that needing to get some rest, and the pain of a stiff neck and head is keeping you awake. Keeping you head and neck in alignment may help you sleep through the night and you can’t put a price on that.

“Poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis,” according to Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, who is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Proper sleep means you have more energy, and you may want to start tackling those home projects you have been putting off, or you may feel like going for a run or walk, which will give you even more energy.

How do you get a good night’s sleep?

Is Hand and Arm Pain KeepingYou Awake?

4 Home Remedies For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

I remember when I was 28 I woke up with the worst hand and arm pain I have ever experienced. It felt like someone was giving me constant electrical shocks.  When I went to the doctor, I found out that I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist, and is more common in women. This is probably because women have smaller carpal tunnels. The most common cause seems to be working on a computer or other job where you’re constantly flexing your wrist.

Other causes may include high blood pressure, fluid retention in menopause, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and tests, and there are also things you can do at home to relieve the pain. Here are four home remedies to relieve the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome:

Wear Splints at Night

I have been wearing splints to bed since I was in my late 20s, and it holds my wrists still while I sleep. It isn’t the most fun thing to do, but if I skip it, my wrists are tingling and achy. I’m lucky because my insurance covers the cost of the splints.

Take Quick Breaks

If you’re at work, you might have to be more discreet, but in addition to your regularly scheduled breaks, stretch your fingers and palms. Most bosses know that you need to stretch, so it shouldn’t be that much of a problem.

Take a Pain Reliever

Sometimes you just want the pain to quickly go away, and taking an Ibuprofen or Advil can really make a difference. Talk to your doctor about the correct dosage and how often you should take it. It can make you sleepy, so be careful when you are at work.

Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach

When you sleep on your stomach, you may be gripping your pillow, and that can cause pain and numbness in your hands and wrist.

I tried home remedies but needed to have surgery on both my right and left wrists. I still need to wear splints to type and to sleep.  You may want to look for another job so you’re not always flexing your wrist.

 

When Your Back Won’t Stop Hurting

Easy Treatment to Knock Out the Pain!

I’ve had chronic back pain for over 20 years and have tried a variety of remedies.  Pain medication is an everyday thing and I never miss my stretching exercises. These are steps in the right direction, but I was still having pain that was affecting my quality of life.

Last year my doctor wrote a prescription for a TENS unit. A TENS is a small portable machine that can be worn on the body. Sticky pads are attached by wires and stuck on the skin where you’re experiencing the most pain. This transmits small electrical pulses that feel like little electric shocks.

How It Works

You use dials to program the intensity.  There are 2 control knobs. One control makes the electrical signals stronger or weaker, and the other makes the electrical signals faster or slower.

Don’t turn the machine on while you’re placing the pads on your skin. Place pads on either side of the painful area and make sure they are at least one inch apart. You should leave the pads on for 15-30 minutes.  If you have severe pain, you can use the TENS multiple times a day.

Things You Shouldn’t Do

There are a few do’s and don’ts you need to keep in mind. Don’t use the TENS in the shower, driving, or sleeping. Pads should not be placed on the mouth or eyes, varicose veins, chest and back at the same time, the head, sides and front of neck, breast tissue, or the heart.

Consult Your Doctor

You will need a prescription but I was pleasantly surprised that my insurance provided 100% coverage, so I had no co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses. Ask your doctor for a physical therapy consult, so you can learn where to place the sticky pads so they’ll do the most good.

Check with your insurance to find out if this is a covered expense, but even if you have to pay a small amount it might be well worth it.

I’ve used the TENS quite a few times, and it is very good at temporarily relieving my back pain. My opinion is that it needs to definitely be in a pain control program, but combined with medication and exercise to receive the maximum benefit.

Stiff Neck Making You Grouchy?

5 tips to Reduce Chronic Neck Pain in Menopause

Nothing makes me crankier than a stiff neck, and once it comes on, it’s awfully hard to get rid of. When I go out to any social occasion, I tuck a good supply of Tylenol™ or Ibuprofen™ in my purse.

I’ve been doing some research on the whole problem and was pleasantly surprised that there are steps I can take on my own that not only help the pain, but keep my neck in the best condition possible.

Here are five tips to reduce chronic neck pain in menopause:

Put Your Computer at Eye Level

Sit down at your computer and close your eyes. When you open them, you should be looking directly in the middle of your computer screen. If that is not the case, you will need to raise the height of the monitor.

Laptops are a little trickier, since you usually have to gaze downward to see the screen. An easy fix is to hook it up to a separate monitor.

Use a Backpack

It is a natural tendency to stuff everything you’ll need for the day in your purse or briefcase, and the weight is usually all on one side of the body. Use a backpack and the weight will be more evenly distributed across your shoulders.

Sleep on Your Back

If you sleep on your back, your spine will be more comfortable. To take even more pressure off your neck, place a pillow under each arm.

Try an Orthopedic Pillow

You want to sleep on a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in alignment, and an orthopedic pillow has a deeper depression where your head lies, giving extra support to the neck.

If you must sleep on your side, try the Biosense 2-1 Shoulder Pillow. This lightweight memory foam has a special cut-out for the shoulders, and keeps your head, neck, and shoulders in proper alignment while you sleep.

Do Stretching/Strengthening Exercises

As you go about your daily routine, make time to do some neck exercises. Stretching the neck preserves your range of motion, and helps relieve stiffness.

Strengthening exercises will help maintain improved posture, and prevent future flare-ups. These exercises should be done every other day so the muscles have time to repair themselves.

 

 

3 Reasons Why Physical Therapy May Not Work

 

I have had chronic back pain for 20 years and have taken medication and exercised, but nothing has helped me as much as physical therapy. It’s important to build up your core muscles, which extend beyond your abs, but don’t include arms and legs.

If you have chronic pain, it’s easy to get a referral from your doctor to see a physical therapist. However, it can be a challenge to work the program.

Here are three reasons why physical therapy may not work:

You’re Not Performing Active Exercises

It feels so good to have an ultrasound treatment or massage at the therapy office. They are relaxing with a nice massage of painful areas, and if I could get away with it, I would take the ultrasound machine home with me. However, you also need a program of active exercises that work the muscles. This includes stretching, strengthening, and low-impact exercises like riding the stationary bike.

Exercises Are Done Incorrectly

On your first visit, the physical therapist gives you a sheet of recommended exercises, and demonstrates the correct way they should be done. I had this problem with the pelvic tilt exercise, and had to have the physical therapist show me what I was doing wrong. If you are experiencing pain when you do your exercises, don’t be afraid to speak up.

You Don’t Continue Exercises at Home

Once your pain seems to be better, it’s tempting to discontinue your exercises, and eventually your pain comes back again. I know it is a drag to have to get down on the floor when all you want to do is relax, but you’ll be glad you did when your pain level improves. Schedule an exercise session on your calendar at least three times a week and stick to it.

How has physical therapy helped your pain level?