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Category: pain management

How to set goals to relieve pain and actually reach them

How to set goals to relieve pain and actually reach them

Goal Setting – a topic that comes up every January (or perhaps December for my fellow ambitious entrepreneurs. I see you!).

You might be wondering, why do I need to set goals to relieve pain? Or, I don’t need this, I know I want to get rid of pain.

Okay, that’s cool and everything but the importance of setting a goal is to give you some direction, kinda like GPS, so you know where you are going. This helps you figure out which things you need to do daily or weekly to get closer to where you want to be.

Without actually setting a goal, it’s like getting in your car and just driving without a destination. While it’s fun and exciting along the way, you probably won’t know where you want to go.

Step 1: Choose where you want to go. This is your end goal.

In order to choose the right goal for you, many things come into play.

How much time do you have to dedicate?
How bad do you really want it?
Are you willing to make changes to your lifestyle or current habits?
How quickly do you need it to happen?


These are just a few questions you need to start thinking about.

When it comes to chronic pain, the shortest amount of time it takes (typically) to heal is 3 months to a year with a strategic plan working with a practitioner. Working on your own without any help, it could take 1 year to several years. Just some things to keep in mind when you choose your timeline.

You also want to make your goals SMART.

Specific – exactly what you want to achieve

Measurable – using objective measures to know when you have reached your goal or can see yourself making progress, for example a pain scale from 0-10.

Achievable – something that is actually possible for you depending on where you are on your health journey.

Realistic – you can’t hit your goals magically. There is work involved no matter what it is you want to do. How much effort are you willing to put in? It has to make sense with your lifestyle and what changes you are willing to make.

Time-bound – You want to have a loose deadline. It doesn’t need to be set in stone. This just gives you an idea of how much work it might take to get there. If you choose 3 months from now, you’ll be working a lot harder than someone doing the same thing as you but chooses the slow path of 1 year to reach the same destination. Neither one is wrong. It depends on what you want.

Take some time and write out what you want. Here’s an example below to give you some more guidance:

Jessica has been feeling pain for 4 years now. She has tried a bunch of stuff at home but she hasn’t really found anything that really takes the pain away. It is always temporary relief and she wants a better solution. An actual fix to the problem. No more band-aid solutions or pain meds. This is Jessica’s goal broken into it’s SMART components:

S – manage pain to the point where daily activities are pain-free

M – get down from 7-8/10 constantly to a 1-3/10 occasionally

A/R – I am willing to spend about 1 hour a day to reach this goal and make all the changes necessary by following a plan laid out for me

T – I can do this within 3-4 months since I am working with a coach or practitioner

Now that you have your end goal, we can work backwards from there to know what is needed to get to it.

Step 2: Figure out which areas you need the most support in

In this case, Jessica in the example above wants to speed things up as much as possible. Why be in pain longer than is necessary!? She’s willing to spend the money in order to save time and achieve better health so she can actually feel good. She’s done the whole lone-wolf thing and she’s over it because she’s in the exact same position as she was 4 years ago, maybe even slightly worse.

Jessica has an idea of where she is going because she set up her goal. Now when she works with her coach or practitioner, they can give her the next steps to take and in the right order so she isn’t wasting her time.

If you are doing this on your own, these are the areas that you will need to look at and make some changes for yourself:
Quick Pain Relief

Find something that works for you to relieve pain quickly at the beginning. This can also be helpful on the days where the pain gets worse and you feel like you are moving backwards in terms of progress.

Nutrition

Following an anti-inflammatory protocol or at the very least, removing the processed foods, sugar, and alcohol causing inflammation.

Your Environment

The environment you surround yourself in – both people and things. Are they toxic? Full of chemicals? Negativity? Try to avoid, minimize, or remove these from your life.

Get Aligned

Increase the positivity and get aligned with your soul. Gratitude and affirmations can move things forward here as well as looking at what you spend your time doing. Do you really love it?

Stress

Address the stress. Not stressed? Your body probably would tell you otherwise. Just because you don’t perceive stress mentally, it doesn’t mean your body can’t feel it physically. Meditation and breathwork can be really helpful.

Move your body every. single. day!

This is non-negotiable. It can be anything you love – walking, yoga, dancing, weight-lifting, running, whatever it is. Stretching is helpful but it won’t solve your problems.

Posture

It could be helpful to look at your posture. Change positions frequently. You don’t need perfect posture.

Sleep

Are you sleeping 7-9 hours a night? Do you wake up feeling stiff, sore, tired, or achy? Are you waking up through the night? Can you find a position to sleep in that’s comfortable? What bed and pillow are you using? Do you find it difficult to fall asleep? Try working on your sleep.

Support Your Entire Body

Make sure you are supporting your ENTIRE body and all its systems. Pain isn’t a separate thing. Everything you do/do not do can contribute to your pain. This is why you need a holistic approach to get rid of it for good. That includes your lymphatic system, liver, and guts.

Strengthen

Strengthen your body. Do specific exercises for the area of concern. If you have back pain, you need to do back-specific exercises. These don’t need to be boring or hard. Look into mobility exercises and core strength.

Supplements

Add in supplements once you’ve done the above. Work with your practitioner to choose what’s right for you and your specific needs. Popular ones can include magnesium, fish oils, and curcumin.

Now that you know what areas you might need to look at, focus on the top 3 things that are in need of the most support and start there. Once you hit those 3 goals, focus on 3 new areas.

Step 3: Break down the areas into smaller monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

For example, working on your sleep. Here is how you could break that down.

Lets say your sleep is totally garbage and you can’t remember the last time you slept well. This might be your current biggest priority. If you are willing to spend even 15 minutes a day working on your sleep, that’s better than nothing.

Breaking down that 15 minutes you’ve dedicated to sleep:

Monthly goal:

This month I want to go from sleeping at 1am to 11pm.

Weekly goal:

I will spend each week focusing on one particular habit to change in order to do this in one month – reducing screen time, incorporating a bedtime routine, blocking blue light, and reducing caffeine intake during the day.

Daily goals:
Week 1: Reduce screen time
  • no screens 1 hour before bed
Week 2: Incorporate a bedtime routine
  • incorporate relaxing things into a short bedtime routine such as meditation or breathwork
Week 3: Block blue light
  • install or setup blue light filters on all screens after sunset (including the phone, computer, TV, tablet, etc.)
Week 4: Reduce caffeine
  • no caffeine after 12pm each day

Now that you are sleeping better, you might notice that you have less stiffness in the morning, more energy throughout the day so you can get more done, you feel better when moving your body, and you are able to fall asleep faster. So many wins! Oh, and of course – less pain 😉

Be Consistent

After doing these tasks consistently (consistency is key), you start creating new healthy habits. For more info on how to create healthy habits that stick, make sure you read or listen to one of my fave books, Atomic Habits by James Clear.

This is how you make changes stick and this is how you get closer to your goals.

In no time, you’ll be feeling much less pain by actually focusing on the things that will get you closer to that goal instead of following the advice of Dr. Google or that Insta influencer with that bomb new unsustainable workout routine that has nothing to do with your health goals.

Need help? Book a free call with me. I’d be more than happy to help you how to get closer to your goals, even if that doesn’t mean working with me.

Disclaimer

How to reduce pain flare-ups for neck and back pain quickly

How to reduce pain flare-ups for neck and back pain quickly

3 STRATEGIES TO HELP REDUCE PAIN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE

Are you struggling with pain flare ups or re-aggravation of previous injuries causing pain that stops you from doing your daily activities? Keep reading to find out some of my strategies that may help reduce pain immediately.

Acute pain and pain flare ups can be annoying to deal with, especially if they prevent you from doing your daily activities, such as cooking or playing with your kids.

Knowing what works for you and your body can be critical in reducing pain during these stages. When pain happens, you’ll want an instant solution.

Keep reading to learn 3 different ways that may help in these situations.

The first step is always to get assessed by your healthcare practitioner to rule out anything serious. Once you know that it’s something you can deal with from the comfort of your own home, you’ll feel much more comfortable trying to manage your own pain. It also helps to get an idea of what types of treatments are going to be the most effective and you don’t have to experiment or play the guessing game, because that can take a really long time to figure out!

Remember to use your own judgement. If things feel worse, discontinue and see your healthcare practitioner.

1. HEAT/ICE

Heat and ice are easily accessible and you don’t need to buy anything fancy for this to work. You can use a shower or bath, soak a towel in water, something from your freezer, etc. to have an effect. There are even inexpensive products you can buy such as a hot water bottle or hot/cold packs you can throw into the microwave or freezer.

Heat helps to increase blood circulation to the area that has pain. It opens up the arteries and that may help with healing. It also helps tight muscles feel more relaxed. Heat can be a great way to reduce pain quickly. Keep in mind that it is not safe to use for all conditions and can also make things worse so it’s always best to see your practitioner. Discontinue using heat if you feel worse.

Ice can help to temporarily numb the sensation of pain at the site of an injury. It can also reduce swelling and constrict the blood flow temporarily. Once the body realizes that this area needs warmth, it sends a rush of blood flow to that area, allowing it to potentially heal quicker.

2. GENTLE MOVEMENT

A lot of times, pain increases due to sedentary behaviours or avoiding movement, which can happen if you feel like moving might make things worse or moving causes pain to increase. In most cases, moving is beneficial to healing. Not moving means we allow for our muscles to waste away because they need to be moving in order to be stronger. When the muscles go through a period of immobility, they get smaller and weaker. That means they can’t support your body and simple activities such as walking and gentle movement can become more painful. In the long-term, movement is essential to reducing and getting rid of pain but for right now, focus on easier movements just to get blood circulating.

Working with your practitioner will give you more specific exercises that will help you depending on where the pain is coming from and what parts of the body you need to add specific movements into.

Sometimes walking can be enough to help reduce pain. It helps to get blood circulating in general through the entire body and engages muscles that need movement. Even a few minutes can make a difference.

Some resting positions may also be helpful here, such as child’s pose, legs up the wall, lying down on your back with knees bent, or Savasana (corpse pose).

Gentle moving exercises such as cat-cow and knee to chest may also be helpful.

Depending on what is going on in your body, some of these things might work better than others.

None of these types of movements require more than 5 minutes!

3. CHIROPRACTORS

Chiropractic adjustments to areas where joints are not moving well or muscle work in the areas where pain is originating from can help to temporarily reduce symptoms of pain, speeding up healing. It also releases endorphins which make you feel good and your body also produces oxytocin which helps relieve pain.

They can instantly remove pressure off joints and increase range of motion (ROM) immediately.

Initially, you may need more frequent adjustments until your body gets used to the new sensations from having better joint mobility.

Adjustments can very quickly reduce pain, especially if they are done as soon as you start to feel the pain. There are many other health benefits to adjustments besides instant pain relief.

WANT MORE STRATEGIES?

I created this quick reference guide that summarizes this post and provides a couple of extra ways that may help you to reduce pain. You can download it right here and refer to it the next time you need a strategy that may help to reduce pain quickly!

The key to using any of these strategies is consistency and practice. You’ll want to know how something works while you have relatively less pain so you aren’t thinking about the options you have. Once that intense pain or the flare-up hits, it’s hard to think. Practice so it becomes second nature and you know exactly what you need to do to start feeling better right away.

This blog is only for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as medical advice. Please read the Disclaimer here.

Everything you need to know about sleep to help you reduce and manage back pain so you can move with ease and confidence

Everything you need to know about sleep to help you reduce and manage back pain so you can move with ease and confidence

When you experience pain that keeps you from falling asleep, getting comfortable in bed, staying asleep through the night because it wakes you up, or even feeling like you didn’t sleep when you wake up the next day, it can be frustrating.

Sleep is SO important to our overall health that having interrupted sleep or not enough sleep can affect all areas of your health, not just how tired you feel.

These are some of the things that I do to increase comfort levels:

Lavender:

A lovely and relaxing scent to smell in the evening before bed. You can use it in a diffuser. Be careful if you have pets as some oils may not be suitable.

Sleep schedule:

Plan out a bedtime schedule where you sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Try to be consistent and do this even on weekends.

Getting enough sleep:

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep each night, but in general you should aim for 8-9 hours. Some people need less and some need more. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, make a schedule of everything you do in a day and see what you can shift around or eliminate so you can prioritize your sleep. If you find yourself binge-watching a TV show before bed, maybe try cutting down a bit and sleep earlier 😉

Sleep positions:

Side and back sleeping are the best positions for back pain. Using a pillow under the knees or between the knees can put the back in a neutral position and reduce tension on the joints in your back. Stomach sleeping is generally not recommended because this tends to put the most pressure on the back joints.

Routine:

Having a bedtime routine cues the mind for bed. Doing similar things each night to get you feeling more relaxed can be a great way to fall asleep faster. Avoiding bright lights or blue lights, screens, work, and intense activities can be helpful on top of doing more relaxing things such as reading a book, having herbal tea, meditation, journaling, or any of the other things mentioned in this post.

Relaxing:

You want to aim to feel relaxed. When you are able to relax the mind, you can easily relax the body. They are connected. Sometimes we have a million thoughts in our minds at the end of the day and it can keep us up at night. Writing down your thoughts or doing a guided meditation can be so helpful for this. If you are feeling tension in your body, a yin yoga sequence or stretches, a warm bath/shower or a heating pad may be helpful.

Magnesium:

Many people are deficient in magnesium and it usually shows up as tense, tight, stiff muscles. Either using magnesium topically, in epsom salt baths, or as a supplement may be helpful. Speak to your healthcare practitioner to see which is best for you.

Products that can help:

Water Pillow – I love using a water pillow which you can purchase by clicking on this link here (this is the brand that I use). The water moves with you so you may feel less tension in the neck. This may also help you sleep better without tossing and turning as much, reducing tension in the back as well. It may also be beneficial for upper back pain.

Body Pillow – Great to use while lying down on your side. You can place the bottom part between the knees and then hug the top, keeping your entire spine in neutral position. This is also good for mid or upper back pain.

Lavender Essential Oil

Essential Oil Diffuser

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil or Magnesium Salts

Mattress – while I don’t have brand recommendations, you should choose a firm but comfortable mattress. Replace this every 8-10 years and try to rotate or flip it every few months as needed.

IF THESE TIPS HELPED YOU, LET ME KNOW BY SENDING ME A DM ON INSTAGRAM HERE!

*Read the Disclaimer here

Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency

magnesium deficiency

So, how do you actually know if you have a magnesium deficiency?

These are some of the signs and symptoms that may be related to magnesium deficiency:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Twitching
  • Charlie horses (intense cramping of the calf muscles)
  • Tight and stiff muscles
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Low bone density (osteoporosis, osteopenia)
  • Chronic pain

Here’s what you need to know about magnesium deficiency and why it’s so important for your health:

  1. Up to 90% of North Americans may be deficient in this important mineral.
  2. Magnesium is depleted in our soils so it is hard to get from food sources.
  3. Magnesium is used in over 800+ functions in our bodies.
  4. Without magnesium, your muscles cannot relax.
  5. Stress and exercise will deplete magnesium faster.
  6. Alcohol, certain medications, and supplements may reduce magnesium or interfere with absorption
  7. Gut disorders, food sensitivities, or allergies may reduce magnesium absorption

Here are some foods that contain magnesium:

  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, brazil nuts, etc.)
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard
  • Legumes (ie. peas, soy, lentils, etc.)

Source: https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Food-Sources-of-Magnesium.aspx

Here are some other ways that you can get magnesium on top of food since food sources alone may not be enough:

  • Epsom salts bath
  • Magnesium oils or lotions
  • High quality professional supplements from your licensed healthcare practitioner

If you are experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, speak to your healthcare practitioner today to find out what is best for you.

Never make any changes to your health without speaking to your healthcare practitioner first. Never start a supplement without consulting your healthcare practitioner. There may be interactions with some supplements or medications. Please read the disclaimer.

Do I really need to take fish oils?

Everyone always recommends taking fish oils for the Omega 3 fatty acids for various reasons, such as: brain, heart, eye health, depression, arthritis, and other inflammation/pain conditions. Omega 3s are essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which cannot be produced in the body. This is why it is often advised to take a supplement, especially for those who do not consume fish.

The Omega 3s components that are needed by the body are DHA and EPA. DHA is important for brain and eye health while EPA is great for any inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, or post-injury. High EPA formulations are great for pain management.

Research supports that high EPA fish oil supplements may be helpful to reduce inflammation which can directly reduce pain. This is especially noted in cases of arthritis as well as pain originating from a spinal disc. (See research articles below.)

Omega 3s are also found in plant-based foods such as flax seeds and chia seeds in the ALA form. ALA cannot be used in the body and must be converted to EPA and DHA. This means you may not be getting enough EPA and DHA if you are only consuming ALA.

vegan ala dha epa flaxseeds omega 3 fish oils

Vegan & Plant Based Omega 3s

Vegans and vegetarians have a much harder time getting in the necessary amounts of DHA and EPA since these are not typically found in vegetarian or vegan food sources. However, many more companies are able to get DHA and EPA from algae. Not only is this a vegan/plant based source of DHA and EPA, but it can also reduce the strain on the environment due to the fishing industry. Fish oils can contain many chemicals, heavy metals, and toxins that can be found in our oceans, and subsequently in fish. There are some really good vegan/vegetarian sources of these essential fatty acids. My favourite one is the NutraVege (see image below) by Nutrasea Canada (Ascenta). Not only does it taste great, but there is no fishy taste at all because it doesn’t come from fish! There is also an added benefit of taking an algal oil vs a fish oil. The risk of contaminants such as toxins or heavy metals being present in algal oil is low.

vegan omega 3 fish oils epa dha

If you would like to buy this product, you can do so via my dispensary at Fullscript:

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

PMID: 16531187
PMID: 26925896

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored and is not an ad. All products were purchased with my own money. Any products listed are personal favourites. This is not to replace any medical advice. Please see Disclaimer post.

Feet are important too!

I see many patients who come in to see me for back pain. Some have had it for years and don’t really know why it happens or how it really started. A lot of the time, posture is to blame, as well as other contributing factors, such as your job or daily activities. Did you know that your feet play a huge role in posture?

The first things to touch the ground are your feet. Think for a minute about how much stress goes through your feet, up to the knees, to the hips, to the low back, mid back, upper back, all the way to the head and neck. The most stress occurs to the lower body, including the ankles, knees, and the low back.

It’s a good idea to invest in your feet from a young age. Wear good, supportive shoes, avoid flats and heels, replace them as they get worn, and come in regularly for adjustments! Orthotics may also be helpful. You’ll save yourself a lot of pain in the future!

If you have foot pain or you think your joint pain may be coming from your feet, book an appointment with me today so I can assess and see what treatment would be the right one for you.

*Disclaimer

How Orthotics can help

There are many different types of orthotics out there. Different materials, different brands, different shapes and sizes. They can be inserted into shoes you already wear and can be interchanged depending on the type.

Orthotic companies offer comfortable options that can be made to fit a variety of different shoes and different activities. When you come in for an assessment, I can recommend the best type for your needs.

orthotics feet

They are completely customized to your own feet. There is usually a foam cast taken to get the basic shape of the foot while semi-weight-bearing, as well as a gait scan, which can capture the pressures and gait timing that are difficult to do with just the eyes. The gait scan is done while fully weight-bearing as well as walking.

The majority of people who need orthotics usually are overpronators or oversupinators, both leading to other issues, such as back, knee, foot, or hip pain. The way they can help these issues is by stabilizing your feet so that you can allow the joints to move as they should. This also allows for better distribution of weight throughout your other joints (back, hips, knees, etc) and also helps absorb some shock with any activities, such as walking, running, or jumping.

orthotics

How do you know if orthotics are right for you? If you’ve had pain for many years and have tried various treatments, you may benefit from orthotics. If you know that you overpronate or oversupinate when walking, you potentially will need orthotics. It can easily be determined with a full postural assessment during an initial exam. Book one today with me to find out more information or get fitted for your orthotics.

*Disclaimer

I have knots in my muscles. Help!

Knots in muscles are very common. There are many reasons that these knots form. It could be several things such as overuse, underuse, repetitive trauma, previous injury, not enough exercise, magnesium deficiency, not getting enough exercise, etc.

These knots are called trigger points. They can form in any and every muscle. These trigger points can be present both with or without pain. Sometimes they can refer pain elsewhere. There are certain trigger points that can seem like you have pain going down the back of your thigh, even though it is in your back. Some can feel like headaches behind the eye or the top of the head. There are even some that feel like a sore throat or tooth pain.

When you come in to see a chiropractor, they can determine whether or not trigger points are the source of your headaches, neck pain, back pain, etc. or whether they are caused by something else. If your pain is being caused by trigger points, there are several soft tissue techniques that can be used to treat them.

I am certified in NimmoEd and also use ConnecTx soft tissue techniques to treat my patients. To learn more about the soft tissue treatments and services I provide, click here.

*Disclaimer

What do chiropractors do when they “crack” my back?

You’ve probably heard that sound when people “crack” their knuckles or their neck. The more accurate term for the “crack” is an adjustment. What exactly is that sound?

That sound is gas being released from the joint. It isn’t painful and no, your bones are not being broken!

There are many reasons why a chiropractor will “crack” you when you go to see them for a treatment. Every joint in your body can benefit from an adjustment, whether it is your back, wrist, foot, neck, or even the ears! Yes, there are joints in your ears as well.

Sometimes, your joints don’t function as they should, causing pain or decreased range of motion. This can cause muscles to tighten to protect the joints from further damage. When you have decreased range of motion, your joints are not bearing the loads as they should and nearby joints have to work harder to help take that weight. This is why it is important to have your joints looked at early on before more damage can be caused. Leaving it alone can lead to further injuries, some being severe enough that you may not be able to carry out the same daily functions or play the sports you want.

What your chiropractor will do when they find these joints that are essentially “stuck” and not moving well, is adjusting the joint. This means there is a quick (high-velocity, low amplitude) thrust being given to those joints to restore full motion. This is where you may hear the “crack” noise. The adjustment itself is not painful. This in turn will relax those muscles and decrease pain.

It is always good to go to a chiropractor annually for a checkup before things get worse. If something minor goes unchecked, it could lead to much more pain down the road.

Adjustments are not for everyone. It is not safe to perform an adjustment on yourself or have someone do it for you. It needs to be done by a trained chiropractor. Adjusting yourself can actually cause more damage as the joints that you can adjust on yourself are already moving too much, causing further instability to unstable joints.

Book an appointment with me today to see if you are a candidate for chiropractic adjustments and you can have these great benefits.

*Disclaimer

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