Dr. CathyIt’s hard to believe, but spring is on the way. This season brings the highest number of injuries to my practice, because after a winter of hibernating we jump straight into spring cleaning with mulching, weeding, planting, cleaning out garages, washing cars, etc. This drastic increase in activity causes severe overwork to our muscles and joints. Many times, the “weekend warriors” are the ones calling the office first thing Monday morning, because they are unable to get out of bed. To reduce the risk of injury, keep these tips in mind.

  • Stretch your muscles in the opposite direction of activity every 20 minutes.
  • Change activities and chores often to lessen the chance of overworking one muscle.
  • Bend and lift with your knees.
  • Moderation is key. Do a little at a time.
  • ┬áIf possible, hire help. It could end up being cheaper than taking a week off work to recover.

If you overextend yourself, there are many treatments available for pain relief.

  • With new back pain, always treat with ICE and never with heat. Heat increases blood flow to an injured area. The heat will initially feel good, but quickly you will begin experiencing spasms and pain. Instead, use an ice pack wrapped in a wet towel for 10 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Repeating as often as needed. Never place an ice pack directly on the skin or you could end up with an ice burn.
  • GENTLY and SLOWLY stretch the area that is painful.
  • Take physician approved anti-inflammatories as directed or use natural anti-inflammatories. My favorites are higher doses of boswellia and cold water fish oil, both proven to reduce inflammation. It is recommended to take boswellia at 400 mg three times a day. I suggest taking cold water fish oil at 4,000 mg initially and decreasing the dose as you improve. If you are on a blood thinner, consult your physician before taking fish oil, because of its anticoagulant properties.
  • Use a TENS unit. It helps to decrease pain and spasms and increase circulation and healing.
  • Massage therapy can be extremely beneficial in reducing spasms and pain. Typically a more gentle massage is recommended until the pain decreases.
  • Use a liniment such as Biofreeze or Traumeel to soothe and heal the damaged muscles.
  • Rest is a necessary step to speedy healing. If your muscles and joints have been overused, give them a chance to heal by being easy on them. Complete bed rest is seldom recommended, although it depends on the severity of the injury.
  • If the symptoms continue after 48 hours with no improvement, contact your physician or chiropractor. An evaluation may be necessary to determine if this is a muscle injury or a disc/joint problem.

You have all spring to make your yard look better than your neighbor’s yard! Take your time and don’t overdo it.

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