Comprehensive Pain Management
(Formally known as Franklin Pain and Wellness and Warwick Pain)

Attleboro, MA(508) 236-8333
Franklin, MA(508) 541-0004
South Kingstown, RI (401) 234-9677
Warwick, RI(401) 352-0007

Franklin, MA • (508) 541-0004
Warwick, RI • (401) 352-0007
South Kingstown, RI • (401) 234-9677

Franklin Pain and Wellness Center

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Coping with Pain on the Job

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 16, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Franklin, MA

Use Computers Properly to Avoid Back Pain and Repetitive Strain Injuries

Managing pain at work is a job in itself. While work is a great distraction, the added stress and physical demands can cause or aggravate chronic pain.

As we spend more of our work and leisure time on computers, repetitive strain (or stress) injuries (RSI) are on the rise.

RSI is caused by the motions that are repeated again and again while typing or browsing the Internet for long periods of time, particularly if the user has poor posture and doesn’t change position for several hours.

Proper ergonomics—the science of designing the workplace environment to fit the user—can prevent repetitive strain injuries.

Revealed in pain in the shoulders, hands, neck, or arms, RSI can also be caused by repetitive movements similar to assembly line work. These types of soft tissue injuries are diagnosed as nerve spasms, trigger finger, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis.

Those with RSI experience constant pain in the hands, elbows, shoulders, neck, and the back, and sometimes cramps, tingling, and numbness in the hands. Hand movements may become clumsy and fine motor tasks increasingly difficult.

In 2002, employers reported a total of 487,900 lost workdays due to work-related RSIs, nearly 50 percent of all lost work days. And of course, people who work in pain may not be as productive as those who are pain free.

  • Computer-related RSIs are caused by several factors:
  • Stress—creating tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Repetitive movements—improper keyboarding and mouse use
  • Force—typing too hard or holding the mouse too tight
  • Poor posture—leaning forward or reaching for the mouse
  • Unchanging positions—sitting too long without a break

If you spend a lot of time at a computer, at home or work, consider these changes to improve your ergonomic design.

  • Adjust your chair so you sit with feet flat on floor or on a foot rest. Knees should be bent at 90 degrees and legs uncrossed.
  • Your desk should be at a height so that your elbows form an ‘L’ and you don’t have to reach for the mouse or keyboard. Consider a keyboard tray support if needed.
  • Shoulders should be relaxed.
  • Place the monitor at eye level, so your neck and head are in a neutral position. Arrange it so there is no glare on the screen.
  • With your back against the back of your chair, place the monitor an arm’s length away from you, so that you don’t have to lean forward to read.
  • Move your legs often. Sitting with the legs immobile for long periods of time can lead to swelling and potentially, blood clots.
  • Be sure that your mouse isn’t forcing you to bend or stretch your wrist, hand or fingers.

If you use a laptop, make sure that you are not leaning forward, with your shoulders hunched, putting stress on your forearms and wrists. This can lead to neck strain. Lower your risk by using a separate monitor, docking station, and keyboard with your laptop.

Change posture and activities often. Take a break, stretch, walk around the office, or do something else for a while.

If you have a coffee break or lunch hour, get out and walk, or do some stretching exercises.

Here are some general tips for alleviating back pain while at work.

  • Make sure your seat is the proper height from the floor and try to maintain a good posture while sitting. Do not sit hunched over your desk. It is important to keep your neck in alignment with your back.
  • It may be helpful to place a small stool at the foot of your chair. When you are feeling back strain, place your feet on the stool to ease the strain.
  • Place your hands on the sides of your chair with your weight resting on your arms for a few minutes. This will take the pressure off your back.
  • When you lift, make sure you bend from the knees and not your back. Bending at the knees puts most of the strain on your legs rather than your back.

For more information on pain management at work, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.


Tips for Managing Back Pain at the Office

Darren Kincaid - Friday, February 09, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Franklin, MA

Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer, cradling a cell phone, carrying a purse over same shoulder, driving, prolonged standing, caring for small children, or even sleeping.

Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture and ergonomics are completely within one's ability to control and are not difficult to change.

The following guidelines suggest several ways to improve posture and ergonomics, especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.

  1. Identify the warning signs of back pain caused by poor ergonomics and posture

    Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.

  2. Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing

    When standing, distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet. While sitting in an office chair, take advantage of the chair's features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Any prolonged sitting position, even a good one, can be tiring. Shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back can alternate with sitting back against the support of the office chair to ease the work of back muscles.

    Some people benefit from a naturally balanced posture that is achieved by sitting on a balance ball; in this posture the pelvis is rocked gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which naturally shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).

    Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward, or tilting the head.

  3. Get up and move

    As muscles tire, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.

  4. Use posture-friendly props and ergonomic office chairs when sitting

    Supportive ergonomic "props" can help to take the strain and load off of the spine. Ergonomic office chairs or chairs with an adjustable back support can be used at work.

    Footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be used while sitting in an office chair, on soft furniture and while driving.

    Using purses, bags, and backpacks that are designed to minimize back strain can also influence good posture.

    Proper corrective eyewear, positioning computer screens to your natural, resting eye position can also help to avoid leaning or straining the neck with the head tilted forward.

  5. Increase awareness of posture and ergonomics in everyday settings

    Becoming aware of posture and ergonomics at work, at home, and at play is a vital step towards instilling good posture and ergonomic techniques. This includes making conscious connections between episodes of back pain and specific situations where poor posture or ergonomics may be the root cause of the pain.

  6. Use exercise to help prevent injury and promote good posture

    Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury.

    There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture. In particular, a balance of core muscle and back muscle strength is essential to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.

  7. Wear supportive footwear when standing

    Avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and induce compensatory alignment of the entire body, thus negatively affecting back support and posture.

    When standing for long periods of time, propping a leg up on a foot rest, wearing supportive shoe orthotics, or placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.

  8. Remember good posture and ergonomics when in motion

    Simply walking, lifting heavy materials, holding a telephone, and typing are all moving activities that require attention to ergonomics and posture. It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury, walking tall with shoulders back for example.

    Back injuries are especially common while twisting and/or lifting and often occur because of awkward movement and control of the upper body weight alone.

  9. Create ergonomic physical environments and workspaces, such as sitting in an office chair at a computer

    It does require a small investment of time to personalize the workspace, home, and car, but the payoff will be well worth it. Undue strain will be placed on the structures of the spine unless the office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen, etc. are correctly positioned.

    It's much easier and less time consuming to correct everyday ergonomics and minimize back or neck pain than to add doctor visits and corrective therapies for debilitating pain conditions.

  10. Avoid overprotecting posture

    Remember that it is important to maintain an overall relaxed posture. Avoid restricting movements by clenching muscles or adopting an unnatural, stiff posture. For individuals who already have some back or neck pain, it's a natural tendency to limit movements to avoid provoking increased pain.

    However, unless there is a fracture or other serious problem, the structures in the spine are designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period of time creates more pain and a downward cycle of less motion and more pain.

The above changes are relatively easy to make and will pay off in terms of a healthier spine and less pain and stiffness over time.

For more information on managing back pain, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.


Understand Your Pain Treatment Options

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 01, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Franklin, MA

Pain can be a debilitating condition, but there are ways to keep it under control. Learn about different pain management options.

Whether your pain is from arthritis, cancer treatments, fibromyalgia, or an old injury, you need to find a way to get your pain under control. What's the best approach to do that?

The first step in pain management is scheduling an appointment to determine the cause of your pain and learn which pain management approach is often the most effective for it. There are many different pain management options available: You can find the right treatment combination to get the relief you need.

Before you try to treat your pain, it's important to understand how pain is defined.

The International Association for the Study of Pain came up with a consensus statement. "Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience. That's extraordinarily important. When we focus only on the sensory aspect, we fail to appreciate the suffering component of the pain, which is important to recognize because pain is not what occurs at the periphery.

Why Do People Experience Pain Differently?

Pain is real and it's physical — there's no mistaking that. But pain is measured and specific to one person based on that person's perception of the pain, and that's why everyone's pain is different.

What the brain perceives is indisputably modifiable by emotions. That means that people who are fearful of pain, depressed, or anxious may experience pain differently and perhaps more severely, than someone who has pain but isn't experiencing those other emotions.

Pain Management: Treating Mind and Body

It is important to approach pain both physically and emotionally and address people as entire human beings. So while chronic pain medication can be effective and important for pain management for many people, it isn't the only tool available when it comes to pain treatment and it shouldn't be the only tool that's used.

Medications. There are a lot of medications that are prescribed for pain, although opioids (narcotics) and benzodiazepines may not be the best options. Those treatments have their own problems, and there are no good studies on using opioids for long periods of time for the treatment of chronic pain.

Types of chronic pain medication used include:

  1. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin
  2. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  3. Antidepressants, which can improve sleep and alleviate pain
  4. Anti-seizure medications, which can be effective in treating pain related to nerve damage or injury
  5. Steroids, like dexamethasone and prednisone, to alleviate inflammation and pain

Therapy. Therapy can be aimed at both the mind and the body. It is important to look at any of these therapies as not being purely physical or purely psychological but a mixture of both of those things.

  1. Physical therapy is a very important part of any pain management program. Pain can be worsened by exercise that isn't done correctly (or interpreted incorrectly as pain rather than overuse), and a physical therapist can tailor the right exercise regimen for you. Proper exercise slowly builds your tolerance and reduces your pain — you won’t end up overdoing it and giving up because it hurts.
  2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy allows people to learn and have a better understanding of what the pain is from, and what they can do about it. This therapy is really about understanding the role of pain in your life and what it actually means for you.

Other pain management options. A variety of approaches and modalities can help you deal with both the physical and emotional parts of pain:

  1. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy
  2. Meditation
  3. Relaxation techniques
  4. Visual imagery, as simple as picturing a peaceful scene, for example
  5. Biofeedback, which teaches control over muscle tension, temperature, heart rate and more
  6. Heat and cold therapy
  7. Manipulation and massage

The bottom line: Seek help for your pain as soon as it becomes a problem in your life. We aren't guaranteed lives without pain. But when chronic pain starts to destroy your ability to function in the world, then it's a problem that needs to be addressed.

For more information on pain management, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.


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