Monday, July 25, 2011

Pain Management is a Pain in the Butt. Literally!

According to WebMD 46% of American adults suffer from chronic pain.  That is a lot of people.  And let me tell you,  I feel your pain.   But we still have to go on with life.  I would like to share with you what I do to manage my pain.  Everybody is different and it won't be the same for every individual, this is just what works for me.  You should talk to your doctor about pain management to find a routine that works best for you.

1)      Swimming.  I love swimming.  It is the perfect exercise for me.  It is really a Godsend that I have my own heated pool at my condo.  I can go swimming anytime.  I love getting the exercise.  The strength that I have gained has improved my life so much. 
2)      Cane and crutches.
Leaning on my cane for support
  I have a super cool walking cane.  It doesn’t help a whole lot with the actual pain of walking, but the great thing about it is that I can sit on it like a chair when I get tired.  Yes, I know, I have great balance.   Walking with a cane also signals to others that I have trouble walking.  If anyone gives me any trouble I can whack them over the head with my cane.  This is great therapy.
This is me sitting on my cane.  I know it looks like I have a stick up my butt. 

          I always keep my crutches in the car with me.  Usually I need them at the end of the day or if I know I will be walking or standing for more than 5 minutes.  For example, at the shopping mall or when I go to Fisherman's Wharf.

3)     Physical Therapy.  I go to PT once a week (use to be twice a week).  Not only does going to PT give me the opportunity to do my strengthening exercises, but my physical therapist also motions my leg.  Getting motion into my leg is crucial.  She also massages my hip flexor and piriformis muscle.

4)  Traction.  Traction is when someone pulls on my leg to give it space in the hip socket.  My physical therapist does this for me.  I can also do this myself at home.  I tie a rope to a pole and then to my ankle and hold on to a doorway and pull.

5) Chiropractor.  Okay, I know some people think chiropractors are quacks, however, I am now a 95% believer in chiropracty.  

This is called side posture. 
    When I first began going about 3 months ago I was very skeptical.  Hey, I would try anything though, I am in pain, right?  I would stand on my head for 3 hours while drinking orange juice if it would help.  As my chiropractor explains it, the nerves from your spinal cord pass through the vertebrae in your spine.  If your spine is sublaxed, or not moving correctly, it pinches on the nerve.  Now the nerve cannot operate at 100%; maybe it is only operating at 50%.  If you can get your vertabrae moving, the nerves are freed up and can operate like they are suppose to.  This means all the organs in your body will be functioning better.  I really am feeling better after seeing the chiropractor.

6) Acupuncture. I love, love, love acupuncture.  It makes my muscles so relaxed.  My acupuncturist also uses elctro-stim.  Every time I have a treatment I have to take a long nap afterward.  It is so relaxing.  However, it is not for everyone.  Gavin HATES it and thinks it is pure torture.

7) Drugs. I have completely stopped taking anti-inflammatories because, frankly, they don't work for me.  I have been taking these since 13.  I don't think it is good for my liver either.  I have also stopped my vicodin (I did use it for a week following my wedding).  I totally support vicodin as a pain management tool, but it is just not for me.  The risk of addiction is too great, I cant drive while taking it, it makes me feel loopy, and it only last for 4 hours.  Now I am taking an anti-depressant, Lexapro.  The thing is, I am not taking it for depression.  I couldn't be happier. I am taking it for pain and anxiety. Anti-depressants are suppose to block pain signals to the brain so I can manage my pain better.  Being in pain causes a lot of anxiety as well.  Going out of the house is a big event.  I am always worrying, "will this cause more pain?", or, "who will be mean to me today?".  It is really stressful, but Lexapro is really helping me.  Also, even though I am happy, I do have down days.  I think, "when will this pain ever end? Will I be in a wheelchair someday?  Can I ever go for a walk on the beach, go to Disney Land, walk around a big city?" Lexapro helps me cope with these worries.

8) A support system.  Having a support systems is so crucial.  Gavin is mynumber one cheerleader.  He is so kind
 and understanding.  He pushes me to get better, but makes sure I am not pushing myself too hard.  No one can understand what someone with FAI is 
    going through unless you walk a mile in their shoes, but Gavin sure acts like he
    understands my pain.  That means a lot to me.    Gavin never asks me to lift a finger around the house.  He never complains when the house is messy because he knows some days I can barely get out of bed.  Gavin always drops me off at the front door when we go out shopping or to dinner.  He always finds me a place to sit down when we are out of the house.  If I complain about my hip he will bring me ice and cater to me.  I know some people with disabilities dont have friends or family that understand how they feel, so I feel truly fortunate.

9) Distraction.  Distraction is key.  You need to escape your pain.  I like to watch movies or read a book.  I can escape into the storyline and forget about how much pain I am in for a couple of hours.  Right before falling asleep is always the worst time for me because I dont have any distractions.    Im concentrating on falling asleep and sometimes I cant.  I usually read before I go to bed to distract from my pain, then when I am dead beat tired, I turn of my reading lamp and fall right to sleep.

10) A good mood.  Being in so much pain puts a frown on my face and makes me grouchy. Staying in a good mood one is probably the hardest for me because sometimes I just want to punch people.  When some lady says "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?" I just want to say, "beeeahhhtch, what the fricken hell is wrong with you?"  But I have to remember to have a positive attitude about the situation.  It is a perfect opportunity to get on my soapbox and advocate rights for people with disabilities.  So I say "beeeahhhhtchhhh, I want to speak to your manager.  Right now!!!"  But the point is, just try to be in a good mood, have fun, and do what you can do within your limitations.  I know I cant go snowboarding, but I CAN go for a romantic drive in the mountains with my Sweetheart. I know I can't go for a long walk on the beach, but I can sit on the beach and read a book.  I'm so lucky.

11) Eat healthy.  Not only will your body function better, but you will be at a healthy weight.  For some people with chronic pain losing weight can help.  If I carried around an extra 5 pound weight with me, that would mean my hip would start hurting sooner than without that weight.  So because of this, I make it a point to maintain a low weight.

12)  Wear comfy shoes and clothes.  I only wear the most comfortable shoes.  I dont care if Uggs are ugly, they are comfortable.  Of course in my case, shoes can make a big difference.  High heels would kill my poor hip.  Also, I usually wear work out clothes.  I like to be comfy.

13)  Don't do too much.  I know for people with chronic pain, you like to test yourself.  Can I still clean the whole house in 3 hours?  Can I still walk around the shopping mall without a break?  Well even if you can do these things, you will pay for it later.  It is better to take it easy.  When I clean my house I take breaks in between each chore.  When I am at the mall I sit down in between stores.  Who cares if it takes 30 Xs as long as the average person to do something.  

14) Sit down.  In my case sitting down really helps.  Sitting doesnt increse my pain much as long as I sit correctly, sit on a comfy chair and stretch every 30 minutes or so.  Standing up and walking is what kills me.   

Well that is all I am doing to manage my pain for now. What does everyone else do for pain management?

1 comment:

  1. Your site is great! By the way, I had hip dysplasia too. I had it most of my life from birth til I was 36. I had an operation. The surgeon cut my pelvis in three places and put metal in. It took me 2 years to learn to walk. But I did it. (That was in 1992.) I had a baby and everything. It's not perfect, of course. I have pain sometimes; and I may need a hip replacement in the future. I understand what you go through. I lived with pain my whole life. I went to a chiropractor which helped. I did advil and more stronger stuff. I did acupuncture. But the operation really solved it. I'm 53 now. But it's never totally over. I have pain but not so much and I live in Hawaii so it helps.
    Take Care.
    Kim Fujioka