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Self Massage Treatment for Lymphedema

A self massage is basically used for improvement in the flow and drainage of lymph. This is done by stimulating the lymphatic vessels by massage. Self massage is also known as lymphatic massage.

Usually a lymphedema therapist instructs patients on carrying out self massage or lymphatic massage. One should understand that this is not a thing to let go but is an important part of managing lymphedema and should be carried out regularly as and when directed.

The self massage is skipped when a person finds out that there is an infection in the affected area or there are symptoms or indications that an infection is developing. If this is the case then the self massage can be modified as need be or skipped completely until the infection is under control.

Also self massage is not recommended by doctors to people that have certain medical conditions. These conditions include certain malignant tumors.

One needs to clearly understand the self massage strokes. This is why you need to pay attention to the therapist that is giving you training on how to carry out self massage.
This process and the strokes used and their sequence are quite similar to the ones as used in manual lymph drainage.
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Self massage is considered to be a technique that is gentle and carrying it out on the affected area should not result in the skin becoming red and/or the area where the massage is done starts to hurt.

Even though similar to lymph massage this self massage is not the same as a conventional muscle massage. Self massage basically encourages lymph drainage. This is the reason why only a qualified lymphedema therapist should be allowed to massage the lymphedema affected area using deep strokes and not anyone else who does not have the knowledge or the experience.

Strokes in a self massage routine do not use a lot of pressure and the hands are not made to slide over the skin of the affected area. In lieu of this while massaging hands are used to move and stretch the skin so as to stimulate flow of lymph through the lymphatic capillaries. These capillaries are located right under the skin.

It is not common to use any oils and lotions during a self massage therapy treatment as they result in making the skin slippery. Only when the skin appears to be very dry should lotion be applied before self massaging. The lotion should be allowed to be absorbed before carrying out the massage.

Infected Finger Causes And Remedies

Because of the major role of our hands play in our lives, we should not let an infected finger occur in our hands. Hands and fingers are very prone to any kinds of infection, because they are used for work and always exposed to bacteria. Proper care and safety are the best preventive measure for any infection. Also, being knowledgeable to the causes of infection will help you understand the risk of finger infections. Causes of finger infection will be discussed later on. Infections on fingers have the potential to become serious, so immediate treatment is necessary.

We get finger infections because of bacteria that invade our fingernail or nail bed. Bacteria can also enter through an open wound or cut. In the case of young kids, they tend to break their thumb skin by continuously sucking or chewing their thumb. The broken skin gives the bacteria a way to enter their thumb.

  • People who have history of diabetes or any traumatic problem should take extra care. Diabetics have a greater chance of contracting an infection through a cut or tear. It may also take more time for their infection to heal.
  • If you have to wear gloves all the time because of your work, make sure that you often remove them to free your hands from perspiration. Perspiration may also cause bacteria build-up. Wash your hands with mild soap and sanitize if needed.
  • Address your problem immediately, if you have animal bites. Apart from the fact that you could get rabies, other bacteria can also be transferred to you through an animal bite. Seek a doctor’s help quickly, and he or she might give you some shots.

There is also home treatment available for finger infections. If you see the initial sign of infection, soak your hands in warm water immediately, and put some garlic paste or some topical cream to kill bacteria that are developing in the infected area. You can buy topical antibiotic cream in any drugstore. If the problem persists, do not hesitate to go to the clinic or hospital to ask for medical treatment. The doctors know what to do with your infection, and what medicine is needed to reduce pain and the spread of infection.

Do not ignore any finger infections, because they may lead to major complications. You may not want to lose your infected finger, so attend to your problem as soon as possible. An infected finger can be treated even if the home remedy is limited, so there is no reason to neglect it.

How To Avoid Neck Pain and Discomfort

Neck pain is one of those common issues that need to be addressed. There are several reasons why people suffer from this kind of pain. Basically, it highly depends on the way we live, our lifestyle and habits. You can avoid neck pain by knowing some daily routines that will help you relax your neck for you can feel comfort the whole day.

Let me share to you simple tips that can give you a relaxing day, free from neck pain.

1. Make sure you sleep at the most comfortable position. A person who wakes up with neck pain will probably have a bad day ahead of him. Here’s what you need to remember, a good day starts with a good sleep. Always make sure that you have a great sleep by making familiar with your comfortable positions while sleeping. This position varies for each individual but I’m sure you are familiar with yours.

Since pillow plays a huge role while sleeping, you can also check out some tips on how to choose comfort pillows. When we talk about pillows, there are lots of things that you need to consider like the size, bulkiness and softness. Make sure your pillow is perfect for you.

2. Exercise every morning. It is advisable to have a short exercise every morning. This will prepare our body for a busy day ahead of us. We need to exercise our neck, arms, feet and back. This doesn’t need to be extraordinary; simple stretching is enough.

3. Adjust your workstation. Discomfort usually starts when if you are not in a proper position while working. Always sit straight; don’t bend your back because it will not be relaxing for you. If you are using the computer, make sure that the monitor is place on a higher position, proportion with your eye sight. Neck pain occurs if your computer screen is in a low position that requires you to tilt your head the whole day while using it.

4. Have a break. In everything that you’re doing, always have few minutes to relax and stretch at least 5 minutes every hour. For example, if you are working with a computer, shake your hands often to release tension with your hands.

5. Use Heart Shaped Pillow. U-shaped pillows are common in the market however it is not the best there is. Heart shaped pillow is much recommended because it holds perfectly our head and neck because of its ergonomic shape. Also, this is small, stylish and light weight. Since it is very handy, you can bring it anytime, anywhere.

Though it is meant to prevent neck pains, you can also use it to relax your wrist especially when you are using computers most of the time.

There are several tips on how to ease neck pains but for me, prevention is better than cure. It is always recommended to have some precautionary measures to avoid this pain.

Should Holistic Therapies Replace Narcotic Treatment?

The most popular method for chronic pain treatment is narcotics. Between the years 1997 and 2006, there has been a 347 percent increase in narcotic usage (Dartmouth Medicine Magazine). There is a frustrating shift among pain management providers who are now asking the question “Is such a dramatic use of narcotics effective?” The answer is that narcotics are an easy option from doctors, but a better option for increasing function is adding holistic treatments to the mix. The pain may not be eliminated, but function may be improved which is extremely important.

Currently, over 100 million Americans are experiencing chronic pain of some sort at a cost of over $500 billion annually. Has it reached epidemic proportions? Absolutely it has, and opiate prescriptions are at the forefront of the issue. Why are they so popular? They comprise an easy solution for doctors, who may simply write a prescription in seeking a quick fix. The medication may relieve the pain, but it doesn’t fix the problem.

Opiates often work well by dulling the nervous system, but they are highly addictive. Tolerance often sets in, where the patient requires more and more medication to achieve the same effect. Even if the anatomical problem is no different, the amount of pain medication necessary for the same relief may start to spiral out of control. In addition, there is a condition called opioid induced hyperalgesia (OIH) where a patient may experience increased pain with increased narcotic dosing.

Other side effects of chronic narcotic usage may include immune system suppression, depression, altered sleep, or endocrine dysfunction.

With chronic pain, unfortunately there is no objective test to identify the amount of pain a person is experiencing. It is a subjective experience. It may cause inability to work, socialize, play with one’s kids, or have fun with recreational activities.

Chronic pain is difficult to completely cure, and the focus should be increasing function rather than simply numbing the pain. Does this mean eliminating pain? Not necessarily. It may mean simply helping patients learn to live with their pain.

Non-narcotic methods of helping patients function better with chronic pain include physical therapy, relaxation exercises, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, spinal decompression therapy, diet and exercise improvement, and stress management.

These types of treatment may be apparent in an integrated pain clinic, utilizing both traditional and alternative methods. One of the main issues is that the integrated treatments work, but are not routinely covered by insurance plans. In these economic tough times, patients often rely on their insurance and do not necessarily have the means to pursue alternative treatments, even if it would result in a better outcome.

How To Know If You Can Avoid Back Surgery

Hundreds of thousands of back surgeries are performed every year in the US. Overall the successful outcomes from these surgeries range dramatically depending on why the surgery was performed and the technical skill with which it is performed.

How can surgery be avoided and how would a person know if they fall into a category of having the choice of knowing that opting out of surgery will not be harmful in the long run?

The first thing to understand is your diagnosis. The most common diagnoses causing back pain include:

1. Degenerative Disc Disease

2. Herniated Lumbar Disc

3. Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

4. Degenerative Spinal Arthritis

5. Vertebral Compression Fracture

Once you understand what’s generating your pain, the diagnosis can then be placed into the categories of either 1) Quality of Life issue or 2) Indicated for Surgery.
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Let’s look first at Degenerative Disc Disease, which often occurs in patients between the ages of 30 and 60. Degenerative discs do not always result in pain, there is actually a significant portion of the population who has DDD noticeable on MRI but no back pain at all. In some patients, though, it may cause significant back pain and lost time from work.

DDD is not a diagnosis that necessitates surgery, it is a quality of life decision. In fact, surgery for DDD, which is typically a fusion, only results in 50-70% success rates and a significant amount of patients end up needing future surgery and continued pain medications. Non-operative treatment for DDD may help considerably including chiropractic treatment, aerobic exercise, NSAIDS, and pain management treatments.

Most diagnoses are similar to degenerative disc in a sense that surgery is not absolutely necessary. If considerable conservative treatment is unsuccessful, then surgery may be considered as a quality of life decision. A lumbar herniated disc that is pinching a nerve may fall into this category if it’s only causing pain and/or numbness. If a patient can deal with the pain, studies show that the outcomes with surgery versus nonoperative treatment are identical after one year.

If however, one of the above diagnoses is causing a worsening neurologic deficit such as a foot drop, then surgery may in fact be indicated and not elective. The longer one waits when a neurologic deficit exists, there is a question of whether or not it will improve even with a surgery performed perfectly.

This is exactly the point with spinal arthritis. No one ever died as a result of arthritis. So if arthritis causes degeneration or a spondylolisthesis along with spinal stenosis and there’s no muscle weakness from pinched nerves, the situation is elective. Opting for surgery is fine if conservative treatment has been exhausted, there is a surgery for the specific condition with a successful track record, and the patient is healthy enough to undergo it. But if the condition is in fact elective, patients need to weigh the risks and benefits considerably to make sure they are okay with the potential for a sub-optimal outcome compared to the potential for marginal improvement with nonoperative methods.

These may include physical therapy, spinal decompression treatment, chiropractor treatment, and pain doctor treatments.

Lumbar Disc Herniation

Disc herniation is a medical condition involving your spinal discs that can cause you successive sleepless nights. The situation gets worsened if the pain and numbness radiates from your spine through your buttocks, back of your thighs into the leg. One of the primary and significant symptoms of disc herniations is Sciatica that is associated with the longest Sciatica nerve. Often caused due to trauma with main impact on the spine, disc herniation is also known as, slipped disc too. Herniated disc can seriously reduce the quality of life though it’s not a life-threatening problem. Good news is, several researches and studies have proved that the drug-free approach of chiropractic care has been quite effective and successful methods of curing and managing disc herniation.

As per the clinical records in the U.S.A. over a million people undergo spinal surgery for the treatment of Lumbar disc herniation each year, with mixed rates of success. In order to identify the better and safer ways of treatment, researches have been conducted to find out patients’ responses to alternative methods of treatment, such as chiropractic care. As per one of the researches conducted upon a sample set of patients who were identified as surgery candidates based on their MRI reports:

  • over 60% reported successful outcomes after the chiropractic care,
  • the remaining 40% people required chiropractic care followed by surgery with 100% rate of success.

Among the second set of patients who chose surgery as their primary treatment method, 15% reported about failed outcomes. Their condition grew even worse after the surgery at varying rates. From the results of the studies, it was quite evident that chiropractic care has been very effective even for those patients of Lumbar disc herniation and Sciatica who have been recommended a surgery as the only feasible choice. In addition, the non-invasive and non-operative treatment of chiropractic care ensured that there were no side effects and no deterioration to the quality of life. Cost effectiveness and reduced risks unlike the surgical treatment, were also the parameters that added to the selection of chiropractic care as the authoritative method of treatment for Lumbar disc herniation.

Chiropractic care for disc herniation and Sciatica works towards restoring the natural functioning of the body relying on its natural healing process. In other words, it works as a catalyst that helps nerve regain their position and functioning, which is very useful for restoring sensation in the leg, buttocks, and lower back. Not only for the treatment, has chiropractic care been proved to be an excellent way to manage several disorders that can hamper the quality of life. Unlike surgery that is invasive and involves several risks, the chiropractic treatment for Lumbar disc herniation benefits from its drug-free and natural methods of providing healthcare.

Over The Counter Pain Remedies

Many people might be surprised to find that many of the OTC medications they are buying and taking for the many aches associated with the back and head and other body parts vary widely and are not the same and could very slowly be causing you more problems that will have to eventually be dealt with. At first glance this method of self-treatment might seem like the answer to an affordable prayer, but in reality it might be setting you up to unexpected consequences as well as reason enough to find alternative means of relief.

OTC medications can be somewhat misleading by the colors, sizes and shapes, but the facts are that they pretty much contain the same medication, with the exceptions of Excedrin, Aleve and Aspirin. Here is a little health information fact for you; unless you monitor your intake of these medications every day for the duration, you could become a poster child for weak kidneys or even a much more serious condition called kidney failure. You should always use some common sense and not only monitor the amount being taken but follow the directions on the bottle.

One of the biggest problems by far with the use of pain relievers, especially over the counter ones, is that just like with any other medication they tend be less and less effective with each use and over time it takes more of this medication to produce similar results until eventually they just stop working all together. This is usually the point at which people begin to up the number of pills they are taking well past the recommended dosage which is where many of the problems begin.

Some people reason that these over the counter pills, because they don’t require any prescription and are usually affordable, are not very potent or have any long-term nasty effects on their body. Following the outlined instructions after reading them completely, including the side effects section, will make you more aware of what can happen if they are misused. However harmless you might think over the counter medications are, if you take too many for too long it can result in kidney failure or become fatal.

Chronic conditions are often the reasons why many people seek out other more effective ways to treat their pain issues when the over the counter medications just are not producing the desired results. This is the time many will consult their primary care physician to be consider their options. While some patients don’t necessarily want to use prescription pain medication, this might be the best viable answer to your pain issues.

What About Disc Surgery?

Have you ever heard a horror story about a back or neck surgery that somehow went terribly wrong, making things worse? Alternatively, do you know someone who has done extremely well after spine surgery, achieving relief of symptoms and a return to enjoyable activities? Disc surgery of the lower back or neck has long been the gold-standard for improving function and pain in those patients with disc herniations. There are, however, good and poor outcomes that may result from any surgery. With this in mind, what can be expected after disc surgery?

As background, the discs in the neck or lower back are the cartilage filled joints that allow our spines to move. As with any other mechanical part, these joints can wear out or rupture, causing pressure on the nerves that are nearby. These “pinched nerves” can generate pain in the arm or leg that can be quite severe. Generally, pinched nerves can be treated with oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, traction and rest.

When the nerve pain is not mitigated using these conservative methods, surgery is considered to provide pain relief. The basic concept of the surgery is to remove the offending piece of disc from pinching the nerve. Only that portion of the disc that is pushing on the nerve is removed and not the whole of the disc. Even with large disc herniations, most surgery only removes 10-20% of the disc. This leaves enough of the disc for the vertebrae to move and prevents them from rubbing on each other.

Over the past 10 years, many improvements have been made to the technology used and the approaches for Spinal Disc Surgery. Surgical incisions are now usually about 1 inch long versus the 3 inch incision of the past. Incisions sites are now injected with a numbing agent after surgery to greatly reduce post-operative pain. The surgery itself takes about 30-45 minutes to perform (previously – 90 minutes) and most patients will wake-up after the surgery without leg or arm pain. The only restriction after surgery is a limitation on lifting for the first 6 weeks of recovery. In our more athletic patients, we allow them to get back to conditioning during the 6 week recovery period. After 6 weeks, there are no restrictions, and patients can return to their normal daily activities as well as their normal athletic activities.
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Several studies have evaluated the effects of disc surgery on a patient’s ability to return to normal activities. The most recent study involved disc surgery done on NFL professional football lineman in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. As lineman are the largest football players, as well as incurring the most strain on their backs during play, these athletes can be completely incapable of a high level of performance, even with mild back pain. This recent study found, of the 52 players treated with surgery, 81 percent returned to play professional football. Of the 36 starting lineman that had surgery, 33 returned to their starting position on their professional football team. So for those of us who don’t stress our backs like professional football players, we should be back to our normal activities very quickly and with high levels of satisfaction about our recovery. There were no complications in any of these patients. The complication rate in disc surgery nationally is less than 1%. Unfortunately, when complications happen, these patients may take 3-6 months to recover.

More than 90% of patients will improve after a disc herniation with medications, injections and physical therapy. However, with progress in surgery and improved recovery, there is no need to live with the pain of a disc herniation. It is important that you consult a highly-qualified, fellowship-trained spine specialist for diagnosis and effective treatment. Leveraging today’s technology and the expertise of a skilled Orthopaedist, herniated disc patients are able to return to their life faster than ever before AND with increased function and complete pain relief.

Compression Fracture Of Spine

A compression fracture of the spine may cause no symptoms, but in some cases can result in back pain and a stooped over posture. In a compression fracture of the spine, one or more spinal bones (vertebrae) collapse. This article takes a look at the reason why these types of fractures happen and delves deeper into the possible medical symptoms and treatments.

Compression Fracture Of Spine Symptoms And Causes

Chronic onset: Symptoms will not always be noticed in a person who develops a compression fracture and the evidence of the condition may first be discovered through an x-ray done for other reasons. In some cases symptoms will develop gradually over time and may include:

  • A gradual onset of back pain
  • Loss of height (up to 6 inches over time)
  • Stooped over posture, referred to as “Dowager’s Hump”
  • Acute onset: In some cases, symptoms will develop suddenly and cause sudden and severe back pain that remains in one local area. The onset of sudden back pain due to a compression fracture will typically be felt in the mid to lower part of the spine. This pain is described as “knife-like” and can be disabling and take months of recovery before pain alleviates.

    There are may possible causes of compression fractures including:

  • Weakening of the bones due to osteoporosis (most common cause)
  • Weakening of the bones due to a pathology such as a cancerous tumor.
  • Trauma to the spine such as a car accident or fall
  • Fractures that occur as a result of osteoporosis typically affect the vertebrae of the mid and lower spine. These types of fracture may produce no symptoms at first, especially at times of rest, but back pain may be aggravated by walking. Multiple spinal fractures may lead to a stooped posture called a kyphosis. This is seen as a hump-like curvature of the spine, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

    Compression Fracture Of Spine Diagnosis And Treatment

    A physical exam and spinal x-ray may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of compression fractures of the spine. Other tests that may be performed include a bone density test to detect the presence of osteoporosis; a CT scan, MRI scan, or bone scan if there are concerns about the presence of a tumor or damage due to high-impact trauma to the spine (i.e. car accident or a fall from a height).

    Treatment will depend on the cause of the compression fracture:

    In patients with osteoporosis, the osteoporosis is treated with prescription medications and pain is controlled with pain medications and bed rest. Patients may benefit from physical therapy to develop the muscle strength needed to better support the spine. Surgery is a rare option, but for back pain cannot be controlled with conservative measures, surgery may be considered (i.e. balloon kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty). Fractures due to osteoporosis tend to become less painful with rest and pain medication, but some can result in chronic pain and disability.

    If the fracture is caused by a tumor, treatment will be focused on treating the cancer. The prognosis will depend on the type of tumor involved.

    If the fracture is cause by trauma, rest, pain medication, and bracing to support and immobilize the area is often required for 6 – 10 weeks. If bone fragments are in the spinal canal, surgery may be necessary to remove the fragments. Spinal fusion to fuse the vertebrae together and stabilize the spine may also be required. Compression fractures due to trauma will typically heal in 8 – 10 weeks with proper care. Recovery time will increase if surgery was involved.

    Dealing With Disc Problems With Holistic Medicine

    Disc problems including sciatica pain, degenerative disc disease and disc prolapse are the serious health aliments that can produce bothersome symptoms. Spinal discs act as a cushion between the back bones and are very susceptible to injury or disease, causing severe pain in the back and legs. These problems greatly affect aging individuals because of wear and tear in the spine disc cartilage, causing the loss of normal function or structure and decrease quality of life. Proper pain management for disc problems is decisive to deal with this painful health ailment and prevent any serious outcome.

    Symptoms of Disc Problems

    The symptoms of degenerative disc issue include:

    • Chronic low back pain which occasionally radiates to hips
    • Pain in buttocks, thighs while walking
    • Sporadic tingling and weakness in the knees
    • Numbness sensation in the legs
    • Severe pain in legs
    • Bad posture and poor body mechanics
    • Chronic neck, shoulder, arms and hands pain

    What are the Causes of Disc Problems?

    There are several factors that can contribute to cause rupture in the discs and lead to severe pain and inflammation.

    • Back injuries
    • Bending over awkwardly
    • Sports injuries
    • Weight lifting
    • Sitting for prolonged periods
    • Obesity
    • Aging

    Pain Management through Holistic Medicine

    To address the extreme debilitating pain, taking immediate pain management treatment is critical to prevent permanent spinal disc damage. Holistic medicine is an ideal solution to treat the manifestation of illness or injury. It includes various non invasive hands-on techniques, strengthening exercises, mobilization and manipulating techniques that all contribute to treating injuries, reducing pain, inflammation and other symptoms of disc problems.

    Holistic Medicine – Helps Treat Disc Problems

    Holistic medicine is an effective pain management technique that can successfully deal with disc problems. Integrative manual therapy is a holistic treatment that involves gentle and profound body touch and helps alleviate pain relief and associated symptoms of disc diseases. A massage therapist provides techniques to increase spinal mobility, reduce acute or chronic low back pain, improve spinal dysfunction and disability with functional and structural rehabilitation.

    Stretching Exercises – Improve Spinal Flexibility

    Physical therapy is another type of holistic pain management technique that can also successfully treat disc problems, providing adequate pain relief and improve associated troubling symptoms. A physical therapist provides various stretching exercises to maintain the disc structure and improve the spinal function. As disc injuries cause pain and inflammation that can limit spine flexibility therefore, physical therapy focuses in improving the muscle and ligaments functions to enhance flexibility. Strengthening the back, neck and core muscle through physical therapy also provide support to spine and help alleviate pain.

    Disc damage or injury can cause a serious debilitating pain and can have a more negative impact on life, bringing helplessness and severe agony. Holistic medicine is a worthwhile pain management technique that can effectively deal with chronic pain and discomfort of disc problems. It will not only help reduce pain but will also improve spine function and provide better structural support to spine.