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Preventive care and pain management

Preventive care and pain management

Is there such a thing when it comes to Pain Management? Preventive care is a mainstay among the many medical specialties. We are constantly exposed to messages advocating for one or another form of preventative care, to help avoid any number of medical conditions.

Pain is usually dealt with after the fact, seldom do we focus on changing habits today to avoid pain in the future as we do with obesity for example. Pain is also a side effect secondary to events that can sometimes be avoided or minimized. The prevalence of repetitive strain injuries is one such example of how little focus is placed on prevention.

So why has preventative care played such a minute role in pain management?

“If it aint broke don’t fix it!”

That tends to be our general attitude towards preventative care. Reality tends to be more akin to “If it ain’t broke YET” eventually something will give.

Preventative care in pain management will by necessity be many-sided and by and large most of it will be based off three key areas that are interrelated:

  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise
  • Diet

In other words, a more holistic approach in place long before any intervention by a physician and designed to prevent such interventions being necessary in the first place. Mind-blowing! Isn’t it?

Biomechanics

The importance of proper Posture cannot be overstated. Many chronic pain problems have a posture related component to them and could benefit for a correction of bad posture.

Expanding on this idea of posture we can also venture into concepts of Form. Posture can be thought of as a static position i.e.: seated or standing, whereas form can be thought of as our posture during dynamic situations, i.e.: walking, lifting, running etc.

Executing actions with proper form not only helps avoid injury but facilitates strengthening, increased strength in turn aids in maintaining proper form. Can you see a pattern emerging?

Our musculoskeletal system is constantly working on maintaining our postures, bad posture can often reflect or be a cause of muscle weakness. Imbalances in one part of the body leads to misalignment and compensation from other parts, eventually leading to pain.

Another aspect that affects posture is proper FIT. Shoes, chairs, steering wheels etc.,these are some objects we encounterdaily, that we can immediately tell if even the slightest change is made to how they fit us. Improper fit can affect our posture and form and will eventually lead to pain. With the advent of 3D printing there will be increased availability for personalized customization. Personally Optimized Ergonomicscan become more commonplace, and expand beyond the realm of the custom orthotic or prohibitively expensive customizations. Everyday items such as your running shoes, can be made for a precise fit and to account for minor anatomical differences such as slight variations in limb length directly from the factory.

Exercise

Exercise directly benefits you by strengthening your musculoskeletal system and improving your cardiovascular condition.

Check out this article on the benefits of exercise:
benefits-of-strength-training-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-muscle-size

Maintaining a healthy musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system is extremely beneficial as we age and if done correctly can help you avoid chronic pain in the future. Knowing how to exercise correctly is not just knowing your way around the gym, but also learning how to “read” your body. Performing exercises with proper form and intensity is key if you want to prevent long term injury.

Diet

When we talk about exercise, it is almost certain that one would also consider the importance of diet and nutrition, but seldom do we think of diet in relation to pain relief.

The one obvious correlation is the effect extra weight (obesity) has on our joints (Hips, Knees) in the long term. The painful effects of some metabolic conditions like Gout are well known and directly linked to diet.

But as Science and Medicine advance so does our understanding of our bodies and the effects our diets have on it. Certain foods like chili peppers are rich in Capsaicin which is a neuropeptide that helps control peripheral nerve pain. People following the popular KETO diet have reported decreased overall pain. We also know of some foods known to increase the inflammatory response of the body like, refined sugars, corn oil, processed grains etc.

As you can see there remains much work to be done in establishing long term strategies for Preventative Care in Pain management, but it is evident that the first steps in this direction have already been taken. Technology makes the integration of these three aspects (Biomechanics, Exercise and Diet) almost seamless, the wealth of data being collected and stored willopen new dimensions in retrospective analysis and can help shape our approach in preventing chronic pain in the future.