Managing the Holidays with Chronic Pain
For most of us the holidays are a wonderful time full of food, family & festivities. However, if you suffer from chronic pain or any condition or injury that results in severe pain symptoms the holidays can be daunting, depressing and stressful. One of the most common complaints we hear from patients and pain sufferers alike is that they feel guilt during the holidays guilt that they are not participating or living up to expectations be that their own or someone elses. These feelings of guilt and stress can actually make managing chronic pain more difficult and creates unnecessary anxiety potentially exacerbating pain symptoms. Here are a few tips from around the web to act as reminders when feeling the pressures of the holidays.
Give yourself a G.I.F.T
Healthcentral.com provides a great article focusing on the GIFT principle:
- Guilt: Accept the fact that you have a chronic illness and make a firm decision not to entertain any feelings of guilt because of what you cannot do. Instead, focus your attention on what you can do.
- Importance: Pick your battles – decide what aspects of the holidays are most important to you and your immediate family. Focus on accomplishing only these things and that way you may avoid overwhelming yourself and creating unrealistic expectations for the holidays.
- Family Matters: It’s great to see the extended family, if you can, but it’s important to make sure that if you can’t you communicate this to your family. The only explanation you need is that your health is your first priority and you will join in the festivities when your health allows.
- Think Ahead: Planning is key to avoiding last minute stress. Write your plans down, make to-do lists and agendas and make sure you give yourself ample time to achieve your plans.
Avoiding “over-doing” it during the holidays
There are multiple ways in which new injuries can be caused and old injuries resurfaced. Reaching to hang the ornaments, dragging that old tree out from the attic, lifting luggage as the relatives arrive, standing, bending turning, the list goes on. Much pain, particularly back pain, and many injuries can be avoided by adhering to proper lifting techniques. What is a proper lifting technique? Bend at the knees, grasp the object firmly, engage your core muscles to support your lower back and lift up using your quad, thigh and gluteal muscles.
This guide from WebMD gives a more detailed explanation of the perfect lift:
- Keep a wide base of support. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other (karate stance).
- Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only. If necessary, put one knee to the floor and your other knee in front of you, bent at a right angle (half kneeling).
- Maintain good posture. Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders back. This helps keep your upper back straight while maintaining a slight arch in your lower back.
- Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back). Keep your back straight, and don’t twist as you lift.
- Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button.
- Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps.
- Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move.
- Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s simple -somethings just should not be done alone ask for help and offer help to others.
Newbridge Spine & Pain Center treats the symptoms of chronic and acute pain. With three locations in Maryland & a new location opening in Leesburg, VA in 2014 Newbridge Spine & Pain Center’s group of trusted and experienced Anesthesiologists have been treating pain since 1996.