We may suffer from body aches and pains at some point in our lives. However, as these common physical ailments start to interfere with our daily activities and quality of life, that’s when we begin to despise those helpless moments as each day comes.
If you have ever experienced body aches and pains such as neck and shoulder pain, back problems, spinal issues, hip and joint problems, or stress/fatigue-related aches, you will understand the daily struggle when moving, sleeping, or sometimes sitting, is involved.
While seeking out professional help from a chiropractor would make the most sense in a situation like these to manage pain and discomfort, here are 3 common home therapies you can also try on your own if you are unable to find a chiropractor at the moment.
Cryotherapy / Ice Therapy
What is it:
Cryotherapy or Ice Therapy is simply what the name suggests. Ice or cold is often used to reduce inflammations by decreasing blood flow. This therapy is mostly recommended within 48 hours after an injury is sustained.
When to do this therapy:
You may also consider cryotherapy if you have any one of these conditions:
- Strains to the muscles and tendons
- Tendonitis- irritation in the tendons
- Neck pain or back pain
- Migraine or headache
How to do this therapy:
For at-home therapies, we recommend getting ice packs or frozen gel packs to manage the pain and ache. Remember to wrap a towel around the ice pack as well to protect the skin from getting burnt and to let the temperature slowly penetrate through the skin and down deeper to the affected tissues.
Otherwise, you may consider filling up a water bottle with cold water or a towel/pad cooled in the freezer. Typically- the steps to follow are R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) – where you rest the strained area, ice it, compress it and keep the area elevated. You should keep the inflamed or strained area cool for 10 – 20 minutes for every 4-6 hours up to 3 days. You may also massage the area gently with an ice cube wrapped in a comfortable towel or with an ice pack in a circular motion for 5 minutes, 2-5 times a day.
What we think:
While home cryotherapy may be helpful for the short term to relieve back pain, neck pain, migraines and headaches, bigger and more chronic pain that prolongs over 3 days should be looked at by a professional chiropractor.
Pinched nerves, neck, shoulder, back and lower body aches could sometimes mean bigger issues are at play. While using ice pack can help to reduce inflammation and hence reduce pain level, having it professionally checked by a chiropractor can help patients get to the root cause of the problem and provide better longer term relief through a combination of manual treatments, modern therapeutic modalities and rehabilitation programs.
Furthermore, not everyone is suitable to do cold therapies- if you are someone who is at risk of cramping due to cold temperature, is diabetic, have pre-existing nerve damage or an open wound, cold therapy may not be for you.
Heat Therapy / Thermotherapy
Heat Therapy is the use of a hot water bottle, towel/pad heated in a microwave or simply, a warm bath to promote healthy blood flow and help tight muscles to relax. It can also help decrease pain caused by muscle tensions and spasms. Through active and healthy blood circulation resulting from heat therapy, nutrients and oxygen can promote healing from the cellular level.
When to do this therapy:
If you are someone prone to these conditions, heat therapy may be for you:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Chronic pain in the joints, muscles and tendons
- Joint contracture
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic injury where increased blood flow is desired
- Menstrual cramps
- Urinary Tract Infections (U.T.I.)
How to do this therapy:
Prepare a heat pack either by preparing a heated pad/towel in the microwave (2 minutes in the microwave for a 20 minutes heating session) or steam a towel (soak a comfortable towel in a warm bowl of water and wring out the excess water). You may also purchase a heat pad for ease of preparation- all you have to do is to wrap a towel around it to protect your skin. In other cases, if your condition fits, you may also consider a warm bath or a sauna session.
You can take a break and then reheat and reapply if you would like more relief. Using heated compresses up to twice a day may help with soreness.
What we think:
While thermal or heat therapy may be an ideal relief for some, there are certain conditions where this therapy should be avoided. If you have open wounds, have just sustained an acute injury, have multiple sclerosis rendering you hypersensitive to heat, have dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis or diabetes, you should not apply heat therapy unattended at home.
Heat Therapy does have its role to play at home, as it helps speeds up the healing process by delivering more oxygen, white blood cells, platelets and nutrients to repair damaged tissues. It also helps produce relaxation chemicals to help relieve stress and anxiety.
Nevertheless, if your aches and pains are due to inflammations rather than muscle tightness, you may have to seek out a professional chiropractor to assess your condition. Oftentimes, these practices will have the necessary equipments to help manage your condition better. Coupled with the right advice and chiropractic adjustments, you may be relieved of your pain faster than you think!
What about Bed Rest then?
Traditionally, bed rests would be prescribed for people with back pain. However, there have been many studies since then questioning the true benefits of this therapy. As such, bed rests are currently only prescribed for pregnant women in limited conditions i.e. growth problems in the baby, high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding/abruption, cervical insufficiency or a threatened miscarriage.
Although it may feel natural to consider bed rest when you feel aches and pains, prolonged bed rests (anything more than a few hours over two days) may actually be harmful instead. It gradually slows down the healing process as you stay inactive, therefore keeping active like doing slow lower back pain exercise is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Depending on your specific condition, your chiropractor may advise against bed rest altogether, so it is best to consult with them first on the best therapy to suit your needs.
When to Say When (to see a Chiropractor)…
If your body pains and aches are persisting and you’re unsure of what to do next, book in with one of our leading My Chirocare Chiropractors, get assessed and begin your journey to a better quality of life!
Pain from injury, accident, or illness can happen to anyone at any time. While at-home therapies can help to alleviate your problems for a day or two, professional help may be what’s necessary as a lot of chronic or unexplained ailments come from the accumulation of the stress/ impact that we have had and did not think about it. At My Chirocare, we look at the underlying issues instead of just treating the symptoms.