Allergies and Chronic Pain

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Did you know that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States? According to the Center for Disease Control, over 50 million Americans experience allergies on a yearly basis. While it is fairly common knowledge that lack of sleep, poor diet and dehydration contribute to chronic pain, you may not realize that allergies can play a role, as well. 

Seasonal allergic sensitivities to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, or to airborne mold spores cause sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, watery eyes and itching of the nose, eyes and throat. These allergies can also intensify chronic pain.

How seasonal allergies contribute to pain

You may have noticed that when seasonal allergies hit, your chronic pain worsens. When seasonal allergies occur, your respiratory and immune systems become stressed. Your immune system begins to work in overdrive to combat environmental triggers. The body releases histamine as an immune reaction to environmental irritants. This leads to inflammation in joints and more intense chronic pain symptoms such as headaches, neck and back pain, fatigue and lack of mental clarity. 

Tips on ways the manage this issue

Some of the most popular seasonal allergens are ragweed and pollen. While it may not be feasible to avoid environmental triggers entirely, there are several adjustments you can make to decrease your symptoms. 

Limit exposure

Staying inside all spring and summer isn’t necessary, but it is wise to monitor pollen and mold levels so you can make informed choices on when (and how long) you venture outside for. When pollen counts are up, it is best to remain inside, with windows closed to regulate your exposure to the elements. When it comes to seasonal allergies, an excellent time to enjoy the outdoors is following rain. If you do go outside, always be sure to shower immediately after, so you aren’t transferring pollen onto furniture or bedding.

Prepare your home

There’s probably no such thing as a completely allergen-free home. However, there’s plenty of things you can do within your home to diminish allergic triggers. Rely on your air conditioner to cool your house, instead of ceiling or box fans. Fans tend to kick up dust and pollen, then redistribute it throughout the home. There’s even specialty HVAC filters you can purchase that are designed specifically for allergy sufferers. These filters stimulate better indoor air quality by filtering air particles more efficiently than standard filters. Air purifying systems and humidifiers can also help alleviate severe allergy symptoms. Lastly, it’s advisable to clean your home frequently and wash bedding weekly, in an effort to decrease pollen and dust particles from settling.

Seek treatment options

Over-the-counter antihistamine and decongestant medication may work for some individuals. More intense allergies may require an in-office allergy shot to help control the immune response. If you are experiencing watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing or fatigue, yet are unaware of what is causing it, allergy testing can be administered. Testing pinpoints which allergens are causing your allergic response. Upon diagnosis, your doctor may provide additional treatment options, such as immunotherapy, which builds your tolerance to the allergen.  

If allergy symptoms are contributing to your chronic pain, you may want to discuss treatment options with a doctor at either our Newnan or LaGrange locations. At Georgia Spine and Pain, we work to create a customized plan that addresses minimizing allergies and alleviating chronic pain. Contact us today to learn more, or to schedule an appointment. 

Strengthen Your Back Through Stretching

Strong muscles and a strong body mean that having a strong spine and back go hand in hand. If you find that chronic low back pain or a recent injury that is causing pain in your back then some of the following might be perfect for your recovery and prevention. One of the biggest benefits of exercising your spine is that it increases stability while at the same time promotes flexibility. That means while you are being active or non-active your spine is aligned and ready for whatever comes. 

How Stretching Activates Your Back

Compression and misalignment are major factors in chronic back pain. Now if you are currently experiencing this then doing too much can increase the pain so be careful. It is also important to remember that every back is different and that you should consult with your doctor before starting any type of program. If you do not have a spine doctor then we have one for you!

Some of the benefits of stretching come from reducing the tension in the muscles that are actually supporting the spine. When there is too much tension you may suffer from pain or end up having a number of back conditions. 

You will improve your overall range of motion in your spine through stretching. This gives more of an opportunity to move fluidly. Last is stretching can assist in reducing the risk of disability caused from back pain. 

Top 6 Stretches For a Stronger Back

  1. Back Flexion
    1. Pull both knees into your chest
    2. Push your head forward meeting your knees gently until you feel the stretch on your lower back and neck
  2. Bridge Stretch
    1. This works both your back and your lower body at the same time
    2. Lie flat on the ground with your feet on the ground and your knees bent shoulder width apart.
    3. Raise your hips off the ground while keeping your shoulders on the floor
    4. Hold for sets of 5-10 seconds
  3. Chin to Chest Stretch
    1. This can be done standing or sitting
    2. Simply slowly move your head forward until your chin touches your chest
  4. Hip Crossover Stretch
    1. Lie flat on your back with both legs out in front of you
    2. Bend your knees and place your left ankle over the right knee
    3. Grab the right knee and pull it into your body
    4. This will loosen up the hip flexor and buttocks
  5. Lumbar extension in prone prop
    1. Lie on your stomach
    2. Get into the plank position
    3. Sink your stomach to the ground causing the stretch
  6. Cat Cow stretch
    1. Get on hands and knees
    2. Arch your back and hold it for 5 seconds
    3. Sink your stomach to the ground and hold for 5 seconds

Prevent Back Pain Through Exercise and Stretching

The biggest takeaway from this post is keeping the muscles loose and strong around your spine. If you are currently dealing with pain we recommend you speak with your doctor or come to one of our locations in LaGrange or Newnan and let us consult.  Doing this before starting any type of workout / stretching program can make sure it is right for you. A strong back can prevent injuries and keep you mobile as you age. Using the stretches here can assist you with just that. 

Pain-Free Walking For Exercise and Overall Health

Walking has so many benefits from increasing your heart rate to lowering your stress levels. It might seem like an intuitive thing to do without any thought, but there are good techniques when it comes to walking. Our focus here is how to utilize the many benefits of walking for health but without the negative implications of pain associated with it if done too long or too much. 

As we age many people turn to healthy walks as a form of their main exercise. The biggest question here is what can be affected if done incorrectly or if you have a pre-existing issue. 

Bad Posture During Walking Can Harm

  • Spine
  • Hips
  • Feet
  • Joints

Let’s explore the tips below on how we can walk long distances or even walk a lot without hurting the body in the process. 

What Is Correct Walking Posture?

Our last article was about good posture while sitting as we seem to be doing much more of that nowadays. Here are some tips to keep correct posture while walking and to prevent pain. 

  • Make sure you are standing straight with no leaning to the front or back. It is better to walk slow straight than fast with a bend in either direction. 
  • Your feet should be at shoulder distance, too wide can hurt the hips, and too narrow can affect balance. 
  • Toes pointed forward and not inwards or outward. If you typically have this problem then a mindful walk where your focus is on fixing this can do wonders. 
  • A straight back is good but an arched one can cause problems in the lower back region. 
  • Engage your core by sucking in your gut a little. This will cause your abs and back to work and strengthen at the same time. Another benefit is the good posture that comes from this as well. 
  • A walk is great for releasing tension which many times is in your shoulders. Relax your shoulders and breath. 

The stride of your walk matters

Typically you would like long fast strides are the key to getting that heart rate up and making walking useful. Not the case though if you are walking for exercise consider shortening your stride. What it does is lessen the stress on your hips, joints, and knees. A quick walk into a store or even just a typical distance does not matter, but for exercise let the bodywork with support. So, on that next walk just be conscious of your walking stride and see if you can tell a difference. 

Your Arms Get a Workout Too

Walking uses a lot of muscles but your arms are normally not affected too much. You can include some very, very small weights to walk with like two water bottles. The key here is to include them by holding them at 90-degrees and swing them with your stride. This will activate them and help get that blood flowing. 

Shoes Can Make All The Difference

This article is focused on using walking as exercise and not having pain as the result. Your shoes play a major factor in this. Find a shoe that has the right padding, support, and most of all fit will make a huge difference. Before you take them on a long walk maybe wear them around the house for a day to break them in. From there consider going on a long walk and seeing the outcome if they are perfect then you have your new pair of walking shoes. 

Our goal here is to make sure you can manage any chronic pain you may have and also prevent any future pain is possible. If you have any questions on walking for health and preventing pain please feel free to contact us today or even give us a direct call at any of our three locations (LaGrange, Newnan). 

Good Posture During Quarantine Can Prevent Future Pain

With so many people working from home and in general spending almost every waking moment at their house means sitting and even standing at a desk is happening much more. During this time making sure you are keeping good posture can assist in preventing future pain, or making sure your current ailments are not irritated even more. 

Pain management does not only happen at the doctor’s office. Georgia Pain & Spine Care is here to provide some tips with all this time in one place to keep your mindset on good posture. If you do have any questions regarding any pain you may be having or even information on how to manage it better we do offer telehealth services so don’t hesitate to reach out. Our spines are not meant to be in odd positions for a long period of time and the more that we keep them correctly positioned the less pain a person will feel. 

For example, have you ever been watching a movie on the couch and not realizing it but go to get up and either feel pain or need time to adjust? That is a BAD POSTURE in the works!

What is Posture?

This is the position that we hold our bodies when we are sitting, standing, or even when we are lying down. The goal of Good posture is when your body is in the correct alignment and all the body parts are being properly supported. Most of the time our muscles will keep our body posture in place. 

Good Posture During Quarantine Can Prevent Future Pain

Good Sitting Posture:

  • Keep your feet on the floor and not tucked under a leg or dangling, if you need to use a footrest for stability.
  • Do not cross your feet, but instead always keep your ankles in front of the seat, and not tucked back.
  • Your knees should never be above your hips.
  • Ensure your back has support in both the low and mid parts of your back. 
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed with your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Most of all avoid sitting for too long and every 30-45 minutes if possible get up and move around a little.

Good Standing Posture:

  • Try to make your weight rest mostly on the balls of your feet.
  • Do not lock out your knees, but instead keep a slight bend.
  • Your feet should be as wide as your shoulders.
  • Tuck in your stomach and have your shoulders pulled back not to slouch
  • If standing for a long time move  your weight from your toes to your heals

These are just some tips for proper posture, but now you might be asking why? So many are working from home now that you need to have the right tools for the job. That means if you choose to use a standing desk keeping those standing tips on your mind, or if you find that your work attire is now sweatpants and a teeshirt sitting for hours comes too easy. 

Tools For The Posture Correctness

  • If you are using a standing desk make sure it is at the right height for your shoulders and consider using a fatigue mat.
  • An office chair with proper support has never been more important if needed maybe ask your boss if you can take the one from your work home. This is so important for good posture as a quality chair will have proper lumbar support and height adjustments. 
  • Believe it or not routine exercise to keep your supportive muscles strong.
  • Last and most important keeping how your posture is at all times on the front of your mind. Make it a goal to think about how you are sitting or standing and if you can improve it. If some back pain is starting reflect on how your posture is and why that might be happening. 

Georgia Pain & Spine Care is here to help in any way so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions on this. We have offices in Peachtree City, Lagrange, and Newnan with a team of doctors that put patients first. We are all getting through this together so, during these times on the couch, floor or seat let’s keep our bodies healthy as possible.