Pain Management: Surprising Causes of Pain

Reviewed on 12/21/2017

Foot Pain: Flip Flops

Flip flops are a convenient way to keep your feet cool in the summertime. But not all flip flops are pain-free. When you choose a pair, see how they bend. If you can bend them in half, don’t buy them. They should only bend at the ball of the foot where your foot naturally bends. Also look for pairs with arch support, and be sure your toes don’t bend over them—that can lead to injuries.

Whatever pair you choose, don’t walk in them for too long. Long walks in flip flops can cause plantar fasciitis, a tenderness and/or inflamed pain in your heel.

Thumb and Neck Pain: Smartphones

Along with many conveniences, smartphones have brought with them a few health problems. Some people who use their smartphones heavily have found problems in their thumbs and necks. These conditions are called “text thumb” and “text neck.”

Text Thumb

Have you noticed your thumb popping and snapping when you bend it? Does it hurt? You may have text thumb. The kind of repetitive motions you use to click, drag, swipe, and drop can cause this painful condition. In serious cases the thumb may even get locked into a curling position.

If your thumb has lost mobility from smartphone use, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections. When injected into a stiff area, cortisone reduces inflammation, which also reduces pain in most cases. When treated, text thumbs can be restored to full mobility about 80% of the time.

Text Neck

As we get older it’s common to develop shoulder, neck, and lower back pain. But these symptoms are now being seen in younger people who spend too much time hunched over while absorbed in their smartphones. By dropping your head to look down at your phone, your head puts far more pressure on your neck—as much as 60 pounds of force.

To relieve text neck, your best hope may be to focus on good posture. Do you stand and sit up straight? If not, focus on keeping your spine in line. Try holding your phone up to your face rather than bending your neck to see the screen. And if the problem keeps happening, shoulder extensions are a simple stretch that can ease your pain.

Sciatic Nerve Pain: Wallets

For some, sitting on a fat wallet can aggravate hips and buttocks. The pain refers to piriformis syndrome, sometimes called “fat wallet syndrome” or “wallet butt.” About 1 in 5 people have a sciatic nerve—the largest in the body—that cuts through the small piriformis muscle that extends from the tailbone to the hip bone. They are more likely to develop this problem.

This painful problem is treatable. About 80% of wallet pain-sufferers find relief from ice, rest, over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen, and in some cases prescription muscle relaxers. Stretching and strengthening the muscles in that area can also be helpful, and these techniques can be learned through physical therapists or from your doctor. If those treatments fail, shots of botulism, steroids, or lidocaine hydrochloride can also be effective; consult your doctor before getting treatments.4/24

Neck Pain: Your Commute

Your drive to work can be a pain in the neck. Over time, all those hours on the road add up. It can lead to necks overstretched in awkward positions and out-of-place neck joints.

There are a few ways to deal with this painful problem. The first is to adjust the way you sit when driving. Pitch your seat forward so that your head actually rests in the headrest, and your neck is centered above your hips. Use both hands to steer, too, as using only one can twist your neck and shoulders.

Stretching can help, too. You can even do some stretching in the car. Try pushing your head back into the car’s headrest and holding it there for 30 seconds at a time. Or try pulling your head forward as far as you can go while keeping your chin parallel with the ground for about five seconds at a time. Shrugging your shoulders toward your ears can work, too. A few of these stretches a day can help take some of the pain out of your commute.

Sports Injuries: Motion-Controlled Video Games

Are your video games hurting your health? When the Nintendo Wii was first introduced in 2006, patients started appearing in doctors’ offices with a variety of injuries to their necks, wrists, arms, and shoulders. Collectively, these cases came to be called “Wiiitis.” Other injuries have included bruises, black eyes, and cuts on the hand. Not long after this video game system was released, other manufacturers followed suit, leading to more injuries.

Doctors are advised to ask their patients what games they are playing, and for how long. As it turns out, many of video game injuries run parallel to the sports they imitate. In the worst cases, these injuries can even be life-threatening. One woman who fell from her sofa playing Wii Tennis developed a serious accumulation in her lungs, for instance. A man fractured his spine while swinging the controller too intensely. On the whole these systems are considered relatively safe, but clearly it is important to follow the recommended safety procedures. Among them, make sure you have a clear area to play in, and warn those who aren’t playing not to walk into the playing area.


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Tags: Sciatic Nerve Pain, naturally bends, foot, Wii Tennis, Sports Injuries, Neck Pain, Text Pain, text thumb

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