What Patients Need to Know About Cannabis for Cancer

The side effects of cancer treatment can be particularly harsh, and many people are looking to cannabis products for relief. Would it be a good addition to your treatment program? Read on while we explore the various ins and outs relating to cannabis usage for cancer treatment.

Begin with Some Basics

If you’re considering adding cannabis to your treatment, one of the first things you should do is check to see what’s legal where you live. Different states have different restrictions regarding cannabis products and use. There are plenty of therapies available, but rules vary by product and location, and without checking, you could get into trouble with the law for your decision.  

Next, speak with your doctor. Cannabis contains numerous chemical compounds, and some of them might interact with other medications you’re taking, especially if you take any antidepressants, sleeping pills, or anxiety medications. The effects from some cold and allergy medications can also be altered when used alongside cannabis. The last thing you want is to do something that is going to adversely affect your medical treatment plan, so check before you add anything new.

Lastly, no matter how well-versed you think you are regarding common cannabis terminology, chances are you’ll stumble onto some new words and phrases while you’re learning about therapeutic options. So, do your homework to help you learn any challenging jargon so you can make an informed decision.    

Common But Questionable

When it comes to broadly available choices, CBD oil can be one of the more easily turned to solutions for cancer patients. However, although it’s easily accessible as a supplement, that doesn’t mean it will be safe for your circumstances. What’s more, CBD oil is not yet government regulated. With that in mind, some experts suggest carefully vetting potential suppliers, and you should still discuss the option with your doctor. 

All that being said, Healthline notes that CBD oil appears to offer several benefits for those undergoing cancer treatment. It seems to reduce inflammation, can lower pain levels, and there is speculation it could prevent the growth of cancer cells. If you tend to have anxiety about your cancer or cancer treatment, it could also help relax you.  

There are some potential negative side effects as well, such as hallucinations, low blood pressure, depression, and dizziness. Some side effects could be hard to distinguish from cancer-related side effects, so if you elect to try CBD oil, be alert to those symptoms.  

What About Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana is an option available to many cancer patients. However, Clinical Oncology News notes that while it’s legal in 33 states, each state has its own rules regarding medical marijuana. There are requirements relating to patient certification, whether you can grow your own, and the quantities you can possess. Additionally, there are limitations on certain prescribers. Some places limit what medical conditions can be treated with medical marijuana.  

Cancer patients often use medical marijuana to manage symptoms such as pain and insomnia. It can also help with mood regulation, particularly if you battle depression or anxiety, and there are some indications it could help treat cancer cells, although more research is needed. There are potential negative side effects of medical marijuana, such as dizziness, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat. There is also a possibility of developing respiratory issues from its use.

All in all, while there are some viable options available, you should do some checking before adding cannabis to your treatment program. Examine legalities, products, and side effects, and discuss your situation with your doctor. Cannabis might be an asset to your treatment plan, or it could be a problem — so it’s wise to proceed with caution.

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Everything You Need to Know About Hospice Care

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It’s extremely trying to find out someone you care about is entering hospice. Oftentimes, families and friends don’t know what to anticipate, they only know time is limited. Read on for a better understanding of the hospice process, and what you can expect in the coming weeks and months.

What’s my role?

American Hospice Association explains close friends and family members typically play an integral role in hospice care. It’s a chance to support your loved one in important ways, like communicating with the professional team, and sorting through decisions that must be made. If not already accomplished, you might need to do things like help your loved one with completing end-of-life documents, or gathering other important paperwork. If you can’t locate what’s needed, and your loved one is unable to tell you, you can often find out about crucial documents like life insurance policies by asking other family members, or checking desk drawers or address books. Found business cards or paid bills are a good indicator of insurers.

Get to know the team

Several professionals are typically part of a hospice care time. Your loved one’s doctor, a social worker, nurse, hospice aide, and chaplain, all normally work together to meet the patient’s needs. Care is coordinated by the social worker in light of the patient’s goals. As Very well Health explains, the social worker can also help you with things like grief counseling, funeral planning, and completing Medicare paperwork.

What about holistic care?

A common question that arises for seniors in hospice is whether Medicare covers holistic care. Holistic care involves therapies such as meditation, guided imagery, yoga, and acupuncture. While Medicare covers much of hospice, Medicare does not cover holistic therapies. You can add an osteopath to your hospice team and receive coverage, so long as that osteopath is a licensed physician. Examine your loved one’s coverage to determine if they have a Medicare Advantage plan. It’s a great way to find out if your loved one is eligible for holistic-oriented care, and some plans include things like acupuncture, wellness programs, and chiropractic services.

Where will my loved one stay?

Your loved one has chosen hospice care for comfort, rather than enduring curative treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgeries, or dialysis. Most hospice patients receive their care in-home, although there are also hospice care facilities throughout the country. The attending doctor makes decisions regarding any necessary changes in medical care. For instance, if your loved one develops pneumonia, a hospital stay could be in order. It’s important to understand those transitions would be short-term. The doctor would decide when your loved one could leave the hospital to return home or to a hospice facility.

Opening lines of communication

Sometimes one of the hardest parts of losing someone is knowing what to say to your loved one. As awkward as it may sound, as A Place for Mom explains, it’s okay to keep conversations open and talk with your loved one about the situation. Being honest will help you both to prepare for what’s coming, and it’s a chance to share feelings and support one another. Do try to avoid loading your grief on your loved one’s shoulders, and steer clear of weighty conflicts.

What happens at the end?

Many people don’t know what to expect during the end period of life. Here are some of the symptoms typical of a person nearing death:

  • Loss of thirst

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dry eyes and mouth

  • Disorientation

  • Sleepiness

  • Pain

  • Restlessness

  • Changes in breathing

  • Changes in skin color, and cool to the touch

  • Unresponsiveness

  • Intermittent breathing

Hospice aims to alleviate your loved one’s symptoms, and if you notice a concern, such as pain, being cold, or restlessness, you can request help from your hospice team. Also, hearing is felt to be one of the last senses to fade. Even if your loved one is unresponsive, continue to offer words of comfort.

During this time, it’s not unusual to feel a wide variety of emotions. Hospice is an opportunity to make the most of what time is left with your loved one. By putting quality of life first, you can savor every moment and face this transitional period with peace of mind.

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Men’s Health Month: What Men of All Ages Need to Know

Maintaining good health is a crucial aspect of living a long and happy life. Too many men, however, don’t prioritize their well being. In fact, the overwhelming majority of men don’t visit the doctor when they need to.

June is Men’s Health Month and offers a great time to learn about how to look after your own well being. While it’s important that you don’t worry excessively about your health, it’s also crucial to recognize serious issues in yourself so you can get the help you need. Here are the most important concerns that men of all ages need to look out for in order to lead healthier lives.

Young Men

Most young people don’t worry about their health. While that’s partly justified– it’s fairly uncommon for young people to fall gravely ill– there are still serious issues that often affect the young male population specifically. In fact, men are twice as likely to die young than women are. The two most common health issues that affect this statistic are serious but largely treatable: testicular cancer and mental health concerns.

Testicular cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men ages 18-40 and is typically treated with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. It has a 97% survival rate, however, when discovered early. Be sure to perform regular self-exams, looking for lumps in the testicles, and bring up any concerns with your doctor.

Mental health is another serious problem at this age, yet men aren’t seeking help in the numbers that women are. In fact, young men commit 70% of all suicides. It’s important that you recognize the symptoms of mental health issues in yourself or loved ones, including social withdrawal, low energy and suicidal thoughts. If you notice these, reach out to your physician or find a local therapist to speak with. Most mental health issues are treatable with either counseling, medication, lifestyle changes or a combination of all three, but it’s crucial that you reach out for professional help first.

Middle-Aged Men

As men age, health concerns expand; men in their 40s-60s face very different issues than they did in their younger years. It’s during this age that most men begin health screenings for diseases like colon cancer, diabetes and lung cancer. One of the most prevalent health concerns that occurs most often during this age range, however, is heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the United States. While this is a scary statistic, there are several lifestyle choices you can make to help prevent developing the disease. Try to avoid smoking, limit alcohol use, eat healthily, and exercise regularly to protect your heart and keep blood flowing smoothly. Annual checkups with your physician can also catch and address issues that put additional stress on the heart like high cholesterol or blood pressure.

Older Men

Men over the age of 65 face similar health issues to those in their 50s, so it’s important to continue regular screenings for concerns like colon cancer and diabetes even into your senior years. These are important to staying on top of your health, but it’s also crucial to understand the most common health issue for older men: prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer will affect about 1 in 9 men in their lifetimes, with the average age of diagnosis being 66. This means that men are at a much higher risk of developing the disease as they age. Regular prostate exams administered by your doctor can help detect the cancer and address it before it becomes deadly. Just keep in mind, however, that prostate cancer’s treatments, like surgery and radiation therapy, can cause lifestyle disruptions. These range from hair loss to the development of sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and low libido. If you experience any of these issues post-treatment, mention it to your doctor. Most are easily treated and don’t need to interrupt your life.

One of the best things that you can do for your health this June is to educate yourself on what you’re most at risk for. Although it may be intimidating, this knowledge will help you take back control of your health and spell out when you need to seek medical help.

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Quirky Connections Can Equate to Improved Health

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It’s amazing how much your environment and habits can affect how you feel. Our bodies are amazing contrivances, with some of the most interesting elements influencing our health and performance every day. Here are some quirky connections that might surprise you, and how you can make changes to optimize your quality of life through fascinating and natural means.

Getting Sleep Matters

There is more to slumber than meets the eye. It appears not much is going while you sleep, but your mind and body perform vital processes to restore you from the day and keep you healthy. In fact, Business Insider explains there are a number of benefits you miss out on when your sleep is of poor quality, or if you just don’t sleep enough. Your ability to retain information, think clearly, and your mood all go downhill when your shut-eye is insufficient. Poor sleep can also mean inhibited coordination and increased pain. Aim for seven to nine hours of slumber every night. Also, examine your sleep habits to see if you need to make some changes, and take a hard look at your mattress. If you awaken stiff, sore, or with brain fog every morning, it might be time for an update, since mattresses have a useful lifespan of just seven to 10 years.

Brush Up for Heart Health

Science is revealing an interesting connection between the health of your gums and the health of your heart. It seems those with gum disease are more apt to have heart problems, and vice versa. While keeping your mouth in good order might not prevent heart troubles, there is increasing evidence that the issues could go hand in hand. Be alert to signs of gum disease, such as gums that bleed easily or have inflammation, and make oral hygiene a priority. Brush properly at least a couple times each day, replace toothbrushes regularly, and floss daily. Use a good mouthwash to follow up, and avoid snacking before bed, especially without brushing afterward. If your gums are inflamed, use a salt water rinse to help them heal.

Gut Health and Brain Health

Did you know the health of your digestive tract is directly linked with your mental health? When one is upset, the other reflects there’s trouble afoot. As Healthline explains, your brain and gut are connected in many ways, and when you are stressed or have inflammation in either area, the other responds directly. You can keep your mind healthier, both now and in the long run, by balancing your digestive tract through a healthier diet. Look for foods with fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics. Fiber can be found in foods like beans, chickpeas, bran, and berries. Also, look to fermented foods for probiotics, such as pickles, yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut. Prebiotics are in fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, garlic, asparagus, and onions.

Giggles, Guffaws, and Grins

We all enjoy laughing, and we’ll even go out of our way to pay people to make us laugh or to tune into our favorite sitcom. Could we be seeking healing through entertainment? Some scientists seem to think so since there could be a connection between laughter and improved immune function. It seems we can lower our levels of stress hormones when we spend time cutting up, and at the same time, we appear to have a more positive outlook on life and be less inclined toward depression and anxiety. Even if you don’t find anything humorous, you can slap on a smile and still get some health benefits. A simple grin appears to lower stress levels, lift your mood, and boost immune function — even if you have to force it.

Some of the strangest things can make a big difference in how well you feel and function on a daily basis. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, keep up with your teeth and gums, balance your digestion, and enjoy a good belly laugh. You’ll live a richer, healthier life through these interestingly simple and natural remedies.

Julia Merrill is the editor of BefriendYourDoc.org dedicated to bridging the gap between medical providers and their patients offering information and tips on finding the right medical care.

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How to Get Better Sleep, for People of All Ages

How to Get Better Sleep, for People of All Ages

Better SleepWhile some people are able to fall asleep the instant their head touches their pillow, many others have difficulty relaxing at the end of a hard day. This holds true regardless of the person’s age – children, teenagers, adults, and seniors all occasionally experience sleeping issues. The good thing is that the cause is generally easy to fix. By adjusting your or your family’s nightly schedule in the hours leading up to bedtime, you can help encourage deep, restful sleep for your whole family. Here are some easy ways people of all ages can start to sleep better every day.

Create a Relaxing Environment

If a member of your family has been having trouble sleeping even though they follow a regular schedule, their environment may be at fault. It is important to put away electronic devices an hour or two before bed to allow your mind to rest. Bedrooms should be cool, dark, and quiet, and each person’s mattress should be comfortable. If your mattress or one of your family members’ mattresses is an inadequate size or firmness, it may be inhibiting sleep. Pick a mattress to suit your sleeping style, or that of your family member. One of the most popular sizes of mattress in the world is the queen size. This means that not only will there be more options for you to choose from, but it will also be more likely that you can find a high quality mattress at a lower price point. Be sure to also take a look at your and your family members’ bedding. For example, comforters that are too thin or too thick, aren’t washed regularly, or scratch or itch skin should be upgraded to a more comfortable version.

Make Sure Each Person is Getting Enough Sleep

The first thing you should do is make sure that each member of your family is getting however much sleep they need to function properly the next day. Keep in mind that people of different ages require different amounts of sleep, and that people’s body clocks tend to change over the years. For instance, preschoolers require between ten and thirteen hours of sleep per night, teenagers need between eight and ten hours, and most adults need between seven to nine hours. The rule of thumb is that the amount of sleep people require decreases as they grow up, then levels off throughout adulthood. Seniors generally require the least sleep. Remember that this is not a catch-all rule for every person, nor is there an ideal bedtime for every person of a certain age – ideal bedtimes are determined by each person’s individual rhythms. While children tend to fall asleep earlier in the night, teenagers are generally primed to stay up and sleep later. Due to the relatively small amount of sleep they require, seniors often wake up the earliest of all. This means that when you are determining when each person in your family should go to bed, take into account their needs.

Maintain Your Sleep Schedule Every Day

The most important thing you can do once you’ve created a soothing sleeping environment and found the perfect time for your family members to go to sleep is to maintain that schedule. Even if you don’t have to wake up at a certain time on the weekends, experts advise that you maintain your normal sleeping habits as often as possible. Skewing it by several hours will wreak havoc with your body’s rhythms and cause you to be extremely groggy on Monday morning. A regular bedtime will also help make your body’s processes more regular and predictable in general, making it easier to plan mealtimes. Plus, if your body expects to go to sleep at a certain time, it will be much easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

One of the best things you and your family members can do for your health is to get enough sleep each night. Getting to sleep doesn’t have to be an issue if you figure out the proper amount of sleep each family member requires based on their age and body clocks. Then, you can focus on improving the quality of their sleep by making their environment more relaxing, upgrading their mattresses, and helping them maintain a set schedule.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

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How to Speak with a Tracheostomy

After a tracheostomy you may find yourself cut-off from the rest of the world because you are no longer able to communicate with others through speech. However, you can learn ways to speak with a tracheostomy. It just takes practice. There are even speaking devices that may help you.

Speaking with a Tracheostomy Tube

Air passing through vocal cords (larynx) causes them to vibrate, creating sounds and speech. A tracheostomy tube blocks a lot of the air from passing through the vocal cords. Instead the air you breathe goes out through your tracheostomy tube.

At the time of your surgery, the first trach tube you will be given will have a balloon (cuff) that sits in your trachea. When the cuff is inflated and filled with air it creates a seal to keep air from leaking past the teach tube, but it’s going to prevent air from moving through your vocal cords. This will stop you from making noise or speech.

If the cuff is deflated, the air can move around the trach, into the upper airway and through your vocal cords, and you should be able to make sounds. However, after 5 to 7 days the trach will be changed into a smaller, cuffless trach. This will make speaking much easier.

Getting Started

If your tracheostomy has a cuff, it will need to be deflated. When the cuff is deflated and air can pass around your trach, you should try to speak and make sounds. It’s best to that your caregiver decide when to deflate your cuff. Speaking is going to be harder than before you had your trach. You will need to apply more force to push the air out through your mouth.

Here’s How:

  1. Take a deep breath in.
  2. Breathe out, using more force than you generally would to push the air out.
  3. Seal off the trach tube opening using your finger and then speak.

You might not hear much initially, but you will build up the strength to push the air out using your mouth, as you practice the sounds you make will get louder.

It is important that you place a clean finger over the trach to stop air from exiting through the trach. This helps the air move out through your mouth to produce voice. Be sure that your hands are clean so as not to introduce harmful bacteria into the trachea that can find it’s way into your lungs.

Speaking Valves

Passy-Muir Low Profile Tracheostomy & Ventilator Swallowing & Speaking Valve

Passy-Muir Low Profile Tracheostomy & Ventilator Swallowing & Speaking Valve

If it’s difficult to talk with a trach in place, special devices can assist you learn to create sounds.

One-way valves, called speaking valves, are placed onto your trach tube. Speaking valves allow air to enter through the tube and exit through your mouth and nose. This will allow you to speak easier without having to place your finger over the trach tube to block it each time you talk.

Some patients may not be able to use a speaking valve. If you have severe upper airway obstruction or a risk of aspiration, a large amount of secretions, impaired cognitive status, severe medical instability, or inability to tolerate cuff deflation, a speaking valve may not work for you. The speech therapist will work along with you to ensure you are a good candidate to use one.

If a speaking valve is positioned on your trach tube and you have trouble breathing, the valve may not be allowing enough air to move around your trach. If this happens the width of the tracheostomy tube may be a factor. If the tube takes up too much space inside your throat, there may not be enough room for the air to pass around the trach tube.

It is important to keep the speaking valve clean and clear of secretions to avoid mucus plugs. It should be cleaned with warm water and mild, fragrance-free soap, rinsed thoroughly, air-dried, then replaced in its storage container.

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6 Ways to Simplify Daily Caregiving

When it comes to caregiving, 44 million Americans and growing are taking part in providing care to a family member or other loved one. Caregiving duties may include everything from transportation to and from appointments, managing prescriptions, and more administrative health insurance wrangling to skilled nursing care, feeding, toileting, and the list goes on.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver, don’t miss these 6 helpful tips for simplifying daily caregiving:

Home Health Kit

If you care for someone with a chronic illness or condition that requires skilled monitoring, a home health kit can help prevent emergencies and keep your loved one out of the hospital. Basic devices like a blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter, and thermometer can go a long way to helping caregivers monitor vital signs regularly for their loved one. It also provides caregivers with the information and data they need to alert doctors or home health agencies about concerning issues that may require in-home diagnostic testing.

Support Networks

Caregiving can involve daily struggles and frustrations that may lead to stress, anxiety, or feelings of social isolation. Support groups may be hard to attend in person for a caregiver who lacks the backup to leave their loved one during the day, so online networks of caregivers provide a critical forum for support. Caregiving.com, WorkingDaughter.com, DaughtersUnited.com, Caregiver Space Community, Caregiver Collective, and Caregiver’s Livingroom all have active pages and private facebook groups for caregivers.

Ease of Use Tools

Looking for smart ways to save time, stress, and money? Tools and devices that can make daily caregiving tasks and needs simpler are just the ticket. Do you need to hand-feed your loved one or do they eat from bed? An overbed table with wheels Overbed Tablecan provide a moveable surface that lowers and raises to meet your loved one’s needs when sitting in bed or in a recliner. Does your love one still have the ability to grip and grab things? A grabber reacher tool can equip them with the ability to pick things up or grab things themselves, bolstering their own confidence and independence.

Fixed Schedule

Seasoned caregivers will let you know that a fixed schedule is a must when it comes to caring for someone with special health needs. Not only do schedules provide structure to any given day, they help caregivers stay organized and their loved one’s feel empowered and secure knowing what is coming next. Designating times of day to wake, dress, take medicine, eat, exercise, go to bed, etc. can provide a reliable framework for managing care as well as prioritizing important activities like leisure time and daily fitness.


Self-Care Kit

So often self-care falls way down the list for caregivers below all their other tasks, duties, and work. Building self-care kits and hobbies can play a critical role, however, in helping caregivers de-stress and avoid mental burnout. Simple items like a coloring book with new markers, a candle with a scent you enjoy, new yarn and knitting needles, calming music, a mechanical back or foot massager – these types of basic things can actually make a huge difference in helping caregivers find even a 15 minute respite during their day to unwind and relax.

Helpful Apps

Looking for the next great digital solution to help with caregiving? There are already many apps on the marketplace that can be downloaded to your smartphone or other digital device. Pillboxie helps seniors (and their caregivers) manage prescription doses, alerts, and reminders to refill. CareZone allows you to track all facets of information regarding your loved one’s care and condition, from doctors appointments, to notes, and pharmacy numbers. And the Caring Village App connects a whole care network of family members and friends so they stay up to date regarding your loved one’s care and can coordinate together.

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What are the 5 Ways to Prevent Shoulder Pain?

When you hear the phrase “shoulder pain,” chances are you or someone you know can relate. Shoulder pain can result from a variety of injuries and conditions, typically accompanied by restricted motion and painful inflammation.

The shoulder is essentially a massive “joint” on the body where bones meet and are connected by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Where the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula), you form the shoulder with the collar bone and acromion bones meeting to rest above it, and a bony hook protruding off the shoulder blade, called the coracoid process, helping keep everything in place.

The connective tissues including the rotator cuff, a group of small muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder, the bursa sac that cushions the rotator cuff, and the labrum, a cuff of cartilage that forms the ‘socket’ of the scapula, all protect and support the wide range of motion the shoulder has. Common shoulder injuries include:

  • Osteoarthritis – painful inflammation of the shoulder joint
  • Bursitis – swelling of the bursa sac between the acromion and rotator cuff causing pain
  • Dislocation – partial or total dislocation of the upper arm bone out of the shoulder socket
  • Frozen Shoulder – thickening and stiffening of the shoulder capsule limiting motion
  • Shoulder Impingement – when the top of the shoulder blade presses down and pinches connective tissues
  • Tendinitis – the wearing down and tearing of connective tendons, destabilizing the shoulder
  • Fracture – impact breaks to any of the bones in the shoulder area

While some age-related wear and tear is natural, unfortunately, the shoulder is a rather loose joint that is more susceptible to injury than others. The good news? There are highly effective preventative measures you can take in day to day life, at work, and when training as an athlete to prevent shoulder pain and shoulder injuries. Check out these tope 5:

1) Avoid Bad Posture
Bad posture including slouching and slumping when sitting or standing places constant stress on the shoulder muscles and ligaments which tend to hunch forward when the back is rounded instead of straight. It additionally compresses the spine and strains connective muscles and tendons all the way down your back which work in conjunction with everything else. Inflamed lower back muscles could radiate into pain in your neck and shoulders. Good posture where shoulders fall down and back as your spine lengthens places the shoulders in their natural and most stable position, helping prevent injury and strain.

2) Learn Correct Training Techniques
So often with workouts, and especially lifting weights, people will discover shoulder pain simply from not employing the correct techniques. For example, lifting dumbbells away from your body like wings in a lateral raise can incur subacromial impingement if you lift them over 90 degrees. Stretching post-workout or after a lifting circuit is also vital to preventing shoulder injury and pain. After a workout, muscles are the warmest and most pliable. By stretching them, you re-lengthen muscles (which became shorter and tighter with your workout), helping to foster muscle growth and flexibility.

3) Don’t Overuse Your Shoulder
It always seems to be the major league pitchers who get the worst of the shoulder injuries, right? Simply put, overuse of the same repeated upward and around motion of the shoulder will result in painful degeneration. Tendons and muscles wear down, destabilizing the shoulder. Natural cushioning from the bursa sac becomes painfully inflamed, the rotator cuff starts to tear, and well, it’s not pretty. So you’re not a major league pitcher – your job or day to day life may call on repeated and forceful use of your shoulder. When possible, avoid overuse and stretch and strengthen the shoulder muscles to prevent injury.

4) Wear Supports & Braces
Just like you might employ a brace for knee pain or a thumb splint for hand pain, you can wear a rotator cuff support brace for your shoulder pain as well. Typically recommended during recovery or for playing with a previously injured shoulder, shoulder braces and rotator cuff braces help steady the shoulder joint to limit motion and provide compression to help reduce inflammation. This improves stability and eliminates a large amount of discomfort associated with shoulder injuries.

5) Rest
Obvious one, right? Not quite. Even the beginning of shoulder pain may seem mild or un-noteworthy, but, rest allows your body to address and repair damaged tissues before they limit activity altogether. Repeated motions like throwing a ball or swimming may induce shoulder pain, so switching to cross train with different exercise like riding a stationary bike or hiking can keep you moving while preventing further wear and tear. Continue with gentle stretching, however, to maintain shoulder motion and boost blood circulation to aid healing.

Naturally, if sneaking shoulder pain is preventing you for doing the activities you love, see your healthcare provider right away. They can address your concerns, formulate a diagnosis, and get you on a treatment plan for recovery.

Visit our shoulder and back support page for a complete listing and get moving again.

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4 Life Hacks that Help You Stay Mobile

Man using walker
Age, injury, surgery . . . there are many occurrences and life situations that may affect your mobility. We often take the ability to get around with ease for granted. Whether you’re transforming your lifestyle for the better as you age, or recovering from an injury that affects your mobility, don’t miss these 4 top hacks:

Find a Great Mobility Aid
Hobbling around on crutches or strapping tennis balls to the bottom of a walker is so yesterday.

Knee scooters are the latest alternative to crutches for foot and lower leg injuries. They are essentially a 3 or 4-wheeled walker with a raised pad for you to rest your injured leg on at a 90 degree angle. Additionally, advancements in assistive technology, when it comes to motorized scooters and wheelchairs, have revamped the maneuverability and efficiency of mobility aids.

Sticking to the basics? Find the most reliable walking canes suited to your specific needs by talking with your doctor and shopping around – wide-based canes with 4 small rubber feet instead of one provide greater stability for people with weaker leg and foot muscles. As well, traditional walking canes now come in collapsible frames that can be folded for easy storage and transportation. New and improved mobility aids that have enhanced the original designs from a hundred years ago are readily available online, at your pharmacy, or with an order from your doctor.

De-Clutter Your Living Space
Trip hazards, general ‘junk’ that is just in the way, clutter you can’t let go of . . . all of these obstacles in your living environment might be inhibiting your mobility. When it is easier to get around your own home, you’re more likely to well, get around.

Preventing falls and injury is key to retaining independent mobility too, and eliminating clutter and unused items from your walking space helps do this. With the assistance of friends, family, caregivers, or another support network, ‘spring cleaning’ to boost your mobility can be accomplished with these quick reminders:

Start small and work on one room or area of your house/apartment at a time.

Pack up gently-used clothes, books and appliances to donate to a charity re-store

Remove furniture and larger items that take up a lot of space and provide no use

Eliminate small clutter like piles of paper on the kitchen table, old magazines, and full junk drawers to notice a difference as well

You heard that right – staying active helps you stay mobile! Routine exercise is quite possibly the most important action you can take to stay mobile. Physical fitness not only promotes good heart health, but helps you maintain a healthy weight, strengthens bones and muscles, and even prevents cognitive decline and memory loss associated with aging. In addition, exercise as simple as taking brisk walks, practicing yoga, swimming or playing tennis, supports strong balance, coordination and flexibility – all key requirements for maintaining mobility.

Diet & Hydration
A healthy diet that fuels strong bones and muscles will power your mobility well into old age. Eating calcium-rich foods like sardines, milk, kale, and yogurt help combat bone density loss, while protein-forward foods including ground beef, eggs, cottage cheese, fish, and even quinoa help build muscle mass, repair tissue, and promote a healthy metabolism. Add in whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables to acquire the vitamins and minerals your body and brain need to stay functioning in tip-top shape.

Healthy hydration also plays an important role in boosting mobility. Drinking the recommended 64 oz. of water a day both stimulates a healthy blood pressure and aids in digestion, but also gives you energy, helps you stay alert, and flushes out unwanted bacteria that could make you sick (and inhibit your ability to stay active).

What is your plan for staying mobile? It is never as simple as crossing your fingers and wishing for the best. Proactive steps you take now will make all the difference, whether you are recovering from an injury or simply approaching your Golden Years with a newfound sense of life. What you eat, how you exercise, even your environment all play a role in how long you stay on your feet (or how quickly you get back on them)!

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5 Facts About Bed Sores You Need to Know

Bed Sore, Pressure Sore

5 Facts About Bed Sores You Need to Know

The sneaky thing about bed sores is that they often show up unsuspectingly on people who are already dealing with time-consuming and stressful illnesses themselves – afflictions which render them mostly immobile, like ALS, or affect blood circulation, like diabetes.

Know these 5 facts to be better prepared and equipped to handle potential bed sores (also known as pressure ulcers):

There Are 4 Stages Of A Bed Sore

The beginning of a bed sore looks as simple as a reddened or pink area of skin, or for people with darker skin, may not even be noticeable. This seemingly harmless change to the skin is a warning much to be heeded – physicians call it Stage 1.

In Stage 2 of a bed sore, the skin visibly breaks open and forms a tender and oftentimes painful ulcer. A crater in the flesh forms in Stage 3 where the pressure ulcer is expanding into deeper layers of tissue below the skin. And at stage 4, the breakdown has made its way to layers of muscle and eventually bone, putting you or your loved one at risk for infection or worse.

A Wound Care Specialist Is A Must

No matter what you research online or learn from a friend, a bed sore should be seen by a wound care specialist so they can diagnose the stage, strategize a bed sore treatment and prevention plan, and teach you or your caregiver the steps and practices you need to know to keep it in check.

How do you go about finding a wound care specialist? Call or visit your general practitioner to have a discussion about your pressure ulcer and to receive a medical order for a wound care specialist to evaluate your condition. Oftentimes, they will come to your home or are available in office. They offer education, supplies, and are required to check back in with the progress and prevention of the sore reaching further stages.

Repositioning Is Just As Important As Wound Dressings

“Pressure” is the key word in the term “pressure ulcer.” No matter how you bandage, treat and dress a bed sore, unless you are alleviating the pressure which is causing the skin and tissue breakdown, it will never heal.

Repositioning is as simple as propping the body slightly to one side or the other (typically with pillows) depending on where the bed sore is located. Experts recommend repositioning every two hours at a minimum to alleviate the pressure and weight bearing that occurs for someone who is sitting or lying down for an extended period of time. Don’t forget too that bed sores can occur in seemingly odd places like the bonier areas of the hands, elbows, shoulder blades, or even the heels!

Diet Modifications Can Help

Incorporating foods that facilitate healing and skin growth can absolutely benefit someone treating (or preventing) a bed sore. Foods rich in protein and vitamins A, C and E promote tissue healing – think oranges, avocadoes, sardines, broccoli, nuts and olives. Additionally, a diet rich in whole foods including dark leafy greens, fruits, veggies and whole grains, can help maintain a healthy weight, which is ideal for preventing bed sores, even in bed-limited people.

Being underweight can result in less muscle mass and fat that protects your tissue from bone. On the flipside, being overweight can increase the amount of pressure placed on certain points of the body. A balanced weight is key to preventing unnecessary pressure ulcers, and that happens with a thoughtful diet and routine activity.

Bed Sores Don’t Have to Prevent Activity

Is concern over a bed sore on the coxic or thigh preventing your from going out with your mobility aid? With proper dressing and attention, bed sores don’t have to hold you back. Encourage a discussion with your doctor and/or wound care specialist about staying active, even if it’s just for a few hours every other day.

Exercising, going out for a walk (or roll) in the sunshine, cooking, visiting with friends . . . all of these types of activities are vital to your continued mental and physical wellness. Not only does regular activity boost blood circulation and stimulate brain function, but it can help combat feelings of anxiety and social isolation which often accompany crippling illnesses.

Bed sores don’t have to be a death sentence. Recognizing the signs, seeking immediate treatment, and taking the proactive steps to prevent future pressure ulcers can make all the difference and add years to your life.

Posted in patient Care, Skin care, Wound care | Tagged | 2 Comments