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Self Care

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Aches and Pains in muscles and joints

 

Pain in the shoulder, ankle, or some joint in between, pain in or around joints has similar causes and treatments throughout the body.

A broken bone will cause pain and limit movement, but more often joint pain and limited mobility are caused by an injury to muscles, ligaments, or connective tissue.

Knowing what happened before the pain started gives you an important clue to the problem.

The following are some common causes of muscle and joint pain :

Accidents : A fall, bump, blow, or sudden twist can cause bruising of soft tissues, bone fractures, joint dislocations, or torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments.

Prolonged Overuse : All good things require moderation, including work and play. Too much of any activity such as pitching too many games of softball, or working long hours typing at a computer can cause inflammation and pain to the joint and surrounding tissues.

Muscle Imbalance : When muscles on one side of the body are much stronger than those on the other side (for example, biceps that are stronger than triceps), they put added stress on weaker muscles, often injury. For example, a weight overdevelops the chest and arm but neglects the muscles that upper back and shoulder blades may wind up with a back or neck injury. The reason is the chest muscles overpower the back, causing constant muscle or joint pain.

Concerns for Children :

Muscle and joint pains in children are treated much the same as they are in adults. Never use aspirin for children, to relieve pain.

If the child canít move the joint, or pain increases with movement condult the doctor.


Until a child reaches maturity, the long bones in the body like arms and legs, have growth plates, called epiphyses. The epiphysis allows the bone to grow or lengthen. A fracture or dislocation can damage the epiphysis. This may slow or stop a boneís growth or make the bone grow.

Although it is common sense that any suspected broken bone should be evaluated by a medical provider, this is very important if the child complains of pain around a joint. A fracture to the epiphysis can occur without trauma, often through overuse (pitching too many fast balls lifting heavy weights).

Broken bones and other injuries aside, it is common for children having growth spurts to have vague aches and pains for no apparent reason.

Self Care for aches and pains :

To reduce the pain, follow the RICE (Rest, ice, Compress, Elevate) method for speed recovery of joint and muscle injuries.

Rest : For most injuries, rest the area until the pain stops. For simple sore muscles, gentle stretching will reduce stiffness more quickly. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then rest and repeat 5 to 10 times. Do this several times a day.

Ice : Ice is the most effective treatment for reducing inflammation, pain, and swelling of injured muscles, joints, and connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and bursas. The cold helps keep blood and fluid from building up in the injured area, reducing pain and swelling. Apply ice as soon as possible after injury, even if you are going straight to the doctor. To speed recovery and ease pain, raise the injured area and apply ice for 20 minutes (10 to 15 minutes in children) every 2 to 3 hours while awake. For best results, use crushed ice in a moist towel as an ice pack. You can also use a package of frozen vegetables such as corn, peas, or lima beans as a cold pack. Use an elastic bandage to hold the pack in place.

Compress : Between icings, wrap the injured area with an elastic (Ace type) bandage to help Control swelling and provide support. Begin wrapping at the farthest point away from the body and wrap toward the heart. Donít sleep with the wrap on, unless told to do so by the doctor. Tight wraping should be avoided. If the Wrap begins to cause pain or numbness, or if toes are cool or white, remove the elastic bandage arid Wrap it more loosely.

Elevate : Raising the injured area above your heart will allow gravity to help reduce swelling by draining excess fluid. At night time, place a pillow under the area to support and raise it.

If you need to, take anti-inflammatory drugs : Acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen often effectively treat muscle and joint injuries. Acetaminophen doesnít reduce inflammation. However, aspirin and other anti-inflammatories which can reduce inflammation are often more irritating to the stomach and bowel so that acetaminophen is better for patients with ulcers or other gastrointestinal problems. Also, aspirin should never be given to children or adolescents. When using aspirin, choose buffered aspirin or enteric-coated aspirin. All aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs should be taken with food. If these medications cause minor gastrointestinal upset after 7 to 10 days of use, call the advice nurse.

Slowly strengthen the injured area : Slow strengthening of the injured area after it has healed is advisable for keeping most injuries from occurring again. Your medical provider can recommend specific exercises, including range- of-motion exercises, muscle stretches, and specific weight training.

Heat before, ice after : Once the swelling has subsided, often it takes weeks, and you are working to strengthen the recovering area, you may apply heat before exercise to prepare the muscles, joint, and connective tissues for the workout. Apply ice soon after your workout to prevent inflammation and swelling.

 


 
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