Whether it’s spending more time in the backyard with kids or grandkids or taking time to enjoy favorite outdoor activities, there are many ways to take advantage of longer days and warmer weather. However, if you’re among the millions of Americans with some type of chronic pain, the days of summer may not be so appealing. However, there are some steps you can take to better manage persistent discomfort and enjoy the many wonderful things about summertime.
Due to its natural buoyancy, water can be good for an aching spine or joints affected by inflammation. What’s great about summer is the abundance of opportunities to be outdoors while still enjoying the soothing effects of water. Even if you don’t swim, you can still benefit from:
• Spending time in shallow water pools • Soaking in an outdoor hot tub • Using cold packs to ease pain flare-ups
Chronic pain sometimes affects nerves enough to increase sensitivity to heat and humidity. Joints can also be affected by barometric pressure and temperature changes. On summer days when you’ll need to be careful about such things, compensate by:
• Going outside when it’s cooler in the morning or after the sun sets • Wearing light, breathable clothing and/or a protective, wide-brim hat • Taking water with you when outside
Summer often brings outdoor concerts, ballgames, and long rides in cars as you get to and from your vacation destinations. However, some of the surfaces you may encounter while doing such things won’t be good for your joints, bones, and soft tissues. Reduce your odds of triggering pain while sitting by:
• Using a lumbar support cushion • Taking a portable travel chair with you • Bringing some extra cushions to help you maintain your comfort and natural alignment
There’s no better time to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies than in the summer. The extra vitamins and minerals can also be good for your spine and everything that supports it. Include selections such as cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, oranges, and spinach among your fruit and veggie choices and you may have fewer issues with inflammation.
Studies suggest pollution in urban areas may increase inflammation. If you live in a bustling city or similar urban area, make your summer more pleasant by getting into the habit of checking air quality before going outside. You may also benefit from some time away in rural settings on weekends or while on vacation.
Summer doesn’t mean taking a vacation from the treatment plan recommended to help you manage your chronic pain. Continue to check in with your Los Angeles spine surgeon periodically. If you normally have physical therapy sessions, talk to your therapist about exercises or stretches you can do on your own for times when you might miss an appointment or two. Also, remember to:
• Keep taking your medication as directed • Listen to your body so you’ll know when to slow down or rest • Report any unusual changes in your symptoms or level of discomfort to your doctor
Another smart way to minimize chronic pain in the summertime is to try to manage it year-round. During the colder, shorter days of winter, find ways to gently work your core muscles indoors. Such efforts might include using an elliptical machine or swimming in a heated indoor pool. This way, when summer arrives, you’ll be less likely to be distracted by chronic pain.
If you think you might need surgery to alleviate your chronic pain, get in touch with The Spine Institute to find out about your options for fusion procedures and back fusion alternatives. Los Angeles patients can call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.