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5 Ways to Treat Chronic Pain at Home

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Chronic pain affects 1 in 3 Americans6, and is the number one reason that people go to the doctor. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months. It can be very disruptive and often takes a well-rounded approach to manage. Trips to multiple doctors can be hard to fit into busy schedules, and can get quite costly! Keep reading to learn more about 5 pain management options that can be done at home. Remember, always consult with your healthcare professional before starting a new treatment.

1. Better nutrition. 

Even after an injury heals, pain may still be present. A large factor in chronic pain is inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause increased pain and more tissue damage over time. Our diets can make inflammation better (or worse!) and making a few simple changes can make a big difference. Common inflammatory foods are: refined sugar, artificial sweetener, dairy, processed meat and alcohol. 1  Food sensitivities to things such as gluten and soy can also cause inflammation. Try removing these from your diet for a few weeks and then see if your pain levels change once you reintroduce them.

2. Retrain your brain.

Chronic pain trains our brain to feel like our bodies are under constant attack. This activates our sympathetic nervous system (also known as the “fight or flight” mode for our brain). The good news is that we can switch to the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as “rest and digest” mode) with a bit of practice. Slowing things down and taking time to rest, calming the mind, and meditating can allow the brain to turn off the alarm system to let the body relax, lessening the perception of pain over time. 2

3. Warm it up.

Using heat in the form of a heat pack, warm bath, or spa, can be a great way to relax tense or spasmed muscles. Heat is best used as a “warm-up” prior to doing exercise or stretching. Avoid using heat on a new injury as this can make swelling worse. For chronic stiffness or spasms, apply a heat pack for no longer than 30 minutes to avoid injury to the skin. Also, never use a heat pack on broken skin or areas with infection.3 Check with your healthcare provider to see if it is ok to use a heat pack on your painful areas if you are diabetic. 3

4. Cool it down. 

Using ice or cooling agents can help to reduce inflammation, especially after exercise or stretching. When starting a new activity, the painful area can become sore or inflamed, even with gentle exercise. Chronically painful areas can get aggravated after work due to prolonged sitting or standing. Because ice constricts blood vessels, use an ice pack for no longer than 10-15 minutes to avoid injury to the skin and sensitive surrounding areas. Never use an ice pack on the front of the neck.4  You can use an ice pack several times a day if needed, just make sure to rest for at least 40 minutes in between icing sessions.

5. Get moving.

Exercise and movement are vital for our health. Without daily activity, our muscles (including the heart) and bones become weak and our exercise tolerance decreases. This is called deconditioning. When the body becomes deconditioned, we are more prone to injury, and existing pain can increase since weak muscles cannot support the body well. Stiffness and spasms tend to get worse without some form of exercise. Gentle movement, even a few extra minutes per day, can improve circulation and reduce pain. Set small goals, like a walk to the corner and back, and slowly increase activity as tolerated. 5

By incorporating the steps mentioned above, chronic pain can become more manageable. While nothing can replace a licensed healthcare professional’s help, these small steps at home can add up to big improvements in pain control over time. You deserve to feel your very best!


References:
1-https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/foods-to-avoid-limit/food-ingredients-and-inflammation-11.php
2-https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfulness-in-frantic-world/201501/can-mindfulness-meditation-really-reduce-pain-and-suffering
3- https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/heat-therapy-cold-therapy/how-apply-heat-therapy
4- https://www.scoi.com/patient-resources/education/articles/should-you-ice-or-heat-injury
5- http://medicine.jrank.org/pages/429/Deconditioning-Prevention-treatment-deconditioning.html   Deconditioning – Prevention And Treatment Of Deconditioning
6-http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx

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5 Things Included in the $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

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The Senate approved a historic $2 trillion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus economic decline. The infectious disease is causing businesses to temporarily shut down to limit exposure and transmission of the virus among employees and consumers. The scope of the coronavirus pandemic has affected individuals throughout the country job loss that hit a record of over 3 million that filed for unemployment

An agreement was reached on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Congress to help citizens to cope with the unforeseen effects of COVID-19. With many people out of work unable to earn any means of compensation, the bill is served to provide relief to taxpayers, aid the healthcare system, and help small businesses affected by the pandemic. 

Five things we can expect from the stimulus package include:

Direct payments to individuals

The bill plans to give $1,200 to single Americans and married couples $2,400. Parents would collect $500 for each child that is under the age of 17.

Those with incomes up to $75,000 yearly before starting to phase out and ending altogether for others earning more than $99,000.

Expansion of Unemployment Benefits 

Lawmakers increased the scope of unemployment benefits that would extend jobless insurance to 13 weeks. Adding $600 per week for up to four months on top of state benefits. It expands those who qualify to self-employed people and independent contractors.

Emergency loans to Small Businesses

Loans would be available from community banks to small businesses that plan to keep their employees. The loans would become accessible during an emergency period ending June 30 and would be forgiven if the employer continued to provide compensation to workers during the span of the crisis. 

Suspension of Student Loan Payments

The Department of Education would suspend federal student loan payments till September 30 with no accumulation of interest for loans.

Provide Aid to Hospitals

The bill includes $100 billion for hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the nation.  Lawmakers also approved to increase Medicare and raise payments to all hospitals and providers. The bill contains a $100 billion public health and social emergency fund to pay providers for expenses and lost incomes associated with the coronavirus pandemic. About $65 billion will go to hospitals, with the rest distributed to doctors, nurses, suppliers, and others.

Sources: 

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/stimulus-package-details-coronavirus/index.html
  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/26/weekly-jobless-claims.html
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/25/coronavirus-stimulus-bill-updates-whats-in-the-2-trillion-relief-plan.html
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/us/politics/whats-in-coronavirus-stimulus-bill.html

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Finding Accessible Healthcare During a Pandemic

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Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, you may find it hard to locate accessible healthcare when your doctor’s office cancels your current appointments. This predicament is the reality we are now living in 2020 with the new coronavirus spreading without an available vaccine. It is leaving people confused and scared who may have a slight cold, unsure if they have the disease or are due for a yearly checkup from their healthcare provider. 

Physicians are now switching to telemedicine to connect with patients rather than an office visit to limit transmission and exposure of COVID-19. Staying at home has become the new normal either working from home or even having your scheduled doctor appointments at home.

While the number of infected patients continues to increase with transmission around the globe, MedTech startups, healthcare organizations, and others are introducing applications, including online services. In hopes to help people track the virus in their location, check for symptoms, provide information on ways to help prevent exposures, and testing methods that limit exposure risk. 

Teladoc

Teladoc has seen a 50% increase in appointments with providers just in the last week due to COVID-19. The company helps to provide remote care to patients without having to delay their health needs. Teladoc works with the world’s leading insurers, employers, hospitals, and health systems. People may already have apps through insurance or employers.

CVS Minute Clinic 

Apps like CVS Minute Clinic provide healthcare to all users regardless of insurance for a price of $60 for each visit that makes it possible to access medical attention at a low cost. The app offers video visits to meet with a qualified health professional to receive medical treatment when needed. 

DocClocker

The app allows patients to receive current wait time reporting from their medical providers. The app intended to limit the spread of the virus and avoid long waits in medical waiting rooms to reduce exposure risks. 

Orion Health 

This outbreak monitoring platform gives doctors the ability to interact and engage with patients in the comfort of their own homes. Allowing providers to facilitate communication between quarantine patients and the healthcare service to maintain those who have been recently discharged. Orion will use artificial intelligence over time to permit providers to identify patients who may be at risk for declining progress and maximize their care.

TytoHome

Developed by Tyto Care, this device offers a remote examination that allows quarantined patients in hospitals or home isolation to conduct clinic-quality self-examinations. TytoHome also connects patients to physicians who can evaluate symptoms from a safe distance.TytoVisit platform (includes the TytoApp and Clinician Dashboard) for conducting live video telehealth exams, reviewing exams, and communicating with patients

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization is in the process of developing an open-source app to aid people around the world to cope with COVID-19. The app is considered to be a “Waze for COVID-19” to provide locally focused information to each user. The app plans to obtain people’s data feedback to public health officials to increase the app’s efficiency. The app will utilize each smartphone’s GPS history to identify whom an infected person has been in contact with to detect those who may be at risk and need to self-quarantine. When users initially download the app WHO-approved information for safety measures and guidelines will be presented. In the near future, it might also inform people who are seeking treatment in which local hospitals have available beds.

Telemedicine is the preferred method of contact for patients and doctors since the recent outbreak of the virus. Incorporating telemedicine apps into modern healthcare ensures patients that they’re medical needs are met and maintain the well-being of their health.

Sources:

  1. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/07/how-pharma-companies-are-fighting-against-covid-19/
  3. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak-triggers-wave-apps-online-tools-diagnosis-testing
  4. https://teladochealth.com/who-we-serve/
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/19/telehealth-apps-coronavirus/
  6. https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic
  7. https://docclocker.com/
  8. https://orionhealth.com/global/
  9. https://www.tytocare.com/professionals/products/tytohome/
  10. https://www.who.int/
  11. https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/who-official-coronavirus-app-waze-covid19

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Coronavirus Update: California Issued Statewide Stay-at-Home Order

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On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom addressed the state in an urgent announcement pertaining to the new development of the novel coronavirus. Gov. Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order for all Californians to abide by to contain the virus.

The order went into effect Thursday night, urging citizens to remain in their homes and only leave when absolutely necessary. Newsom emphasized the importance of this measure in containing the virus to flatten the curve. He estimated that the coronavirus would infect 56 % of the state’s population.

Gov. Newsom reiterated that all essential establishments would remain open such as grocery stores, banks, gas stations, and pharmacies. He stated that this is not a time to panic. Citizens may leave their houses to go out for a walk but should practice social distancing to eliminate any possibility of exposure of the virus to others and to keep loved ones safe.

The announcement came after Los Angeles County Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the “Safer at Home” order for the residents of Los Angeles. Emphasizing that it is not a lockdown, it is only to limit the amount of community transmission as coronavirus patients are increasing within the city.

As we have seen with new progress from China slowly recovering from the coronavirus, do you think if citizens work together, we could see a decrease in patients? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Sources: 

  1. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-issues-statewide-stay-home-order-coronavirus-fight-n1164471
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/live-blog/coronavirus-china-reports-no-new-domestic-cases-first-time-nyc-n1163556/ncrd1164446#liveBlogHeader
  3. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/20/could-chinas-new-progress-indicate-hope-for-the-future-of-coronavirus/
  4. https://twitter.com/GavinNewsom/status/1240820390407991296?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1240820390407991296&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fnews%2Fus-news%2Fcalifornia-issues-statewide-stay-home-order-coronavirus-fight-n1164471

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