Tag Archives: pain

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager – Ages 15 to 17

Yearly well-child visits for your teenager help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Your teen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your teen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Teenager’s Development

Your teen’s doctor can help you keep track of their key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you and your teen questions to help make sure your teen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each teenager grows differently. Some kids take longer to hit puberty, to be romantically interested in peers, or to worry about their future. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Spending more time outside the family, like with friends, peers, and dates
  • Worrying about their future, like going to college
  • More interest in romantic and sexual relationships
  • Wanting to try new things, which could include tobacco, drugs, or alcohol

See more milestones for your teens.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your teenager, your doctor will ask you and your teen to answer some questions about your teen’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do you often get any type of pain or headaches?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do you have trouble following directions?
    • Do you often feel sad or bored?
    • Is there someone you can talk to about your problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do you eat on a normal day?

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do you like going to school?
    • What do you like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do you participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
    • Are you experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Do you or your friends use any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friends questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in your family recently?
    • Do you have close friends?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Do you have any questions about your body?
    • Are you dating?
    • Do you know how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy?

  • Future questions, like:

    • Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your teenager, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your teen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your teen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your teen’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your teenager.

Know Your Family and Teen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, a new school, or the serious breakup of a relationship or a friendship.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your teenager’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health so that you’re always organized to talk to your teen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Teen Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your teenager by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or acne
  • Talking to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your teens eat right and get enough exercise
  • Changes in their behavior or mood or loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sexual development
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Helping them drive safely
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

After starting puberty, your teen’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your teens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your teenagers. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your teen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your teen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your teenagers or start searching for doctors in our network.

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen – Ages 11 to 14

Yearly well-child visits for your preteen help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Your preteen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your preteen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Preteen’s Development

Your preteen’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your preteen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some preteens take longer to start puberty or be interested in the opposite sex. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most preteens ages 11 to 14 include:

  • Interest in looks and fashion
  • Mood swings
  • Worrying what their peers think
  • Gaining a clearer sense of right and wrong
  • Getting better at problem-solving
  • Wanting more independence
  • Challenging the rules and their parents

See more milestones for kids ages 9 to 11 or preteens 12 to 14.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your preteen, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your child’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Have they started showing signs of puberty?
    • Do they often complain of any type of pain?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do they have trouble following directions?
    • Are they sad or bored?
    • Do they show signs of depression?
    • Do they have someone to talk to about their problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do they like going to school?
    • What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do they participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Does anyone in your home have a gun? Is it locked and secure so they can’t access it?
    • Are they experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Are they using any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friend questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
    • Do they spend time with friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Have you talked to them about puberty?
      • Most girls start puberty between the ages of 9 and 13, and most boys start between the ages of 10 and 13.
    • Are they dating?
    • Have you talked to them about preventing STDs and pregnancy?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your preteen, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your preteen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your preteen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your preteen.

Know Your Family and Preteen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your preteen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your preteen’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your preteen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your preteen by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma or allergies
  • Getting ready to talk to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

Once your preteen starts puberty, your child’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your preteens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your preteens. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your preteen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your preteen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Well-Child Visits

Well-Child Visits – Ages 5 to 10

Getting your kids to their yearly well-child visits helps them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits

Your child needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Child’s Development

Your child’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your child is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some kids take longer to open up or learn to read and write. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most kids ages 5 to 10 include:

  • Skills for school, like paying attention, reading, and math
  • Listening, waiting their turn to talk, and having full conversations
  • Bathing, brushing their teeth, and getting dressed themselves
  • Learning to try again in the face of a mistake or failure
  • Becoming friends with other kids
  • Joining teams and activities, like sports, ballet, or music lessons, to develop skills and spend time with other kids
  • Helping with easy chores around the house, like picking up after themselves
  • Following rules at home

See more milestones for kids ages 3 to 5, 6 to 8, or 9 to 11.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your kid’s health, and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do they ever complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other kinds of pain?
    • Do they have trouble breathing or always get sick at a certain time of year?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do they eat on a normal day?
    • Are they a picky eater?

  • Activity questions, like:

    • What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do they participate in any physical activities?
    • Do they spend time with friends?

  • School questions, like:

    • Do they like going to school?
    • Are they having any trouble with learning, paying attention, or following directions in class?
    • Are they being bullied?

  • And family questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
    • Have you given them responsonsibilities, like simple chores, at home?

Physical Exam

At your child’s appointments, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your child’s doctor can help you with important information about caring for your child, managing any conditions or diseases they might have, and preventing future problems.

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your well-child visits.

Know Your Family and Child’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your child’s life, like being sick or hurt, a new brother or sister, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your child’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your child’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved

Prepare for your well-child visits by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Worries about their development
  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or speech problems
  • Mood changes
  • Getting ready to talk to them about puberty
  • Problems in school, like signs of dyslexia or bullying
  • Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
  • Screen time and internet safety
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

Once your child is 7 or older, as long as they’re comfortable, your child’s doctor will probably want to spend a few minutes alone with them. This will help them build trust with their doctor.

You can help by going over what they can expect to happen at the visit in advance. You should also encourage them to think of any questions they want to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your children’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Well-Child Visits

Well-Child Visits – Ages 1 to 4

Getting your kids to their well-child visits helps them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

Your child needs to go to these visits at:

  • 12 months old
  • 15 months old (1 year and 3 months old)
  • 18 months old (1 year and 6 months old)
  • 2 years old
  • 2 years and 6 months old
  • 3 years old
  • 4 years old

What Happens at Well-Child Visits

Your child needs to have regular well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your child is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Child’s Development

Your child’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, social, and language skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your child is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on, and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some kids take longer to start talking than others. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

By 12 months, most kids:

  • Have started to get their teeth in
  • Stand up by pulling on furniture
  • Walk with help or on their own
  • Copy animal noises
  • Say mama and dad and maybe a few other words
  • Can follow simple directions

See more milestones for 12-month-olds.

By 15 months, most kids:

  • Bend to the floor without falling
  • Can put blocks in a container
  • Make scribbles
  • Bring and show toys to you
  • Listen to stories and look at pictures

By 18 months, most kids:

  • Walk up steps
  • Run or try to run
  • Climb onto low furniture or chairs without help
  • Build short block towers
  • Use spoons and cups
  • Take off socks and hats
  • Point towards things they want
  • Play simple pretend, like feeding a doll

See more milestones for 18-month-olds.

By 2 years, most kids:

  • Have 16 or more teeth
  • Stand on tiptoe
  • Kick a ball
  • Can tell you they’re hungry or thirsty
  • Understand instructions with 2 steps
  • Copy others
  • Name things in a picture book

See more milestones for 2-year-olds.

By 2 years and 6 months, most kids:

  • Can point to different body parts when asked
  • Play simple games with other kids
  • Brush their teeth with help
  • Jump up and down in place
  • Put on clothing, although they may still need help

By 3 years, most kids:

  • Have all 20 of their baby teeth
  • Use the toilet during the day
  • Can copy simple shapes while drawing
  • Put one foot on each step to walk up the stairs
  • Speak in short sentences
  • Ask questions
  • Know their name, age, and if they’re a boy or girl

See more milestones for 3-year-olds.

By 4 years, most kids:

  • Hop on one foot or balance for a short time
  • Can use child-safe scissors
  • Count to 4 or higher
  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Play with imaginary friends
  • Can name some colors
  • Play simple board and card games

See more milestones for 4-year-olds.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your kid’s health, and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do they ever complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other kinds of pain?
    • Do they have trouble breathing?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do they eat on a normal day?

  • Activity questions, like:

    • Do they play pretend and how?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do they ride in a car seat?

  • And family questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?

Physical Exam

At your child’s appointments, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your child’s doctor can help you with important information about caring for your child, managing any conditions or diseases they might have, and preventing future problems.

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your well-child visits.

Know Your Family and Child’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your child’s life, like being sick or hurt, changing caregivers, or starting daycare.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your child’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your child’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor

Prepare for your well-child visits by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Worries about their development
  • Growth and normal development
  • Sleep schedule
  • Getting enough physical activity
  • Healthy weight
  • Getting them to try different foods
  • Getting siblings to get along
  • Disciplining them
  • Screen time
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your children. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your child’s member number to see what children’s preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your children’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Chronic Back Pain

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

The Opioid Epidemic and Chronic Back Pain

Over the last year, the leading news story in health care has been the opioid epidemic. And chronic pain, particularly chronic back pain, has been at the top of the list of reasons why people use opioids long term. 

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, and for many, it’s pain that can last the rest of their lives. Chronic pain can happen because of a genetic problem or disorder or an injury or accident. Many people who survive serious car accidents or workplace accidents deal with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. 

And back injuries are a leading cause of chronic pain. Business Insider took a look at a study that dug into the relationship between chronic back pain and opioid use disorder:

Amino - Chronic Back Pain and Opioid Use Disorder

Having back surgery increases your chances of relying on opioids to manage pain by over 7 times! Other back problems raise your chances by over 2 times. 

Obviously, these are also people who are likely to get long-term opioid prescriptions from their doctors.

How Doctors Treat Chronic Pain

For decades, the standard for doctors has been to treat this kind of ongoing pain with opioids. Now, with opioid drug overdoses skyrocketing, doctors are making changes.

Early estimates show that opioids took 53,000 American lives in 2016, more than those killed in car accidents.

Opioids don’t just turn off your pain receptors. They also let your brain release more dopamine, which can help relieve stress and anxiety and make you happier.

But when you take an opioid permanently, you can build a tolerance to it, which means you need more and more to manage your pain and to feel good. Both the pain relief for chronic sufferers and the way it makes you feel can become addictive.

Not to mention, opioids can change how often certain neurons in your brain fire, which means that when you’re not on opioids, you actually get more anxious and unhappy until you take more, causing serious withdrawals. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised their guidelines to help doctors try other treatments first, and doctors are hard at work to find new ways to treat pain.

Waiting for Chronic Back Pain

So why is this part of my healthy journey? I have my own chronic back pain.

I’m lucky. I’ve never taken opioids for my back pain, so I’ve avoided those issues, but I do understand what it’s like to live with pain as a part of your daily life and why people would be willing to take opioids to stop it.

My father has had a slipped disc in his back my entire life. I’ve always known what back pain looks like. I also always thought it might happen to me. Not only can these issues be hereditary, but I also take after my father physically.

Combine that with the slouch of someone who hated always being the tallest in her class as a child and now sits in front of a computer all day, and I always suspected that back problems were coming for me.

My Chronic Back Pain

The pain started for me in college, when I was no longer playing sports or working out in P.E. every day. One year, I chose to live in the loop in Chicago instead of by my campus, so as part of my daily commute, I walked about an hour and a half. That was when I really started to throw out my back once in a while.

But it wasn’t until I worked at Starbucks after college that I really started to have serious problems regularly. Being on my feet all day and bending up and down with milk jugs all the time really started to take a toll on my back.

I’ll get building back pain on one side of my lower back. It can switch sides, and one side is usually worse than the other. And when it fully goes out, my knee on that side can sometimes buckle, which if I’m not ready for it, can actually knock me down. And sometimes it’s so bad that getting out of bed, getting up and down, or just falling asleep, is a challenge. 

Getting Help

I’ve always known this pain might hit me one day, and when it started, I talked to my dad a lot about what was going on. My symptoms match his exactly.

Since I knew what the issue was from my father’s medical history, I wasn’t really worried about getting an official diagnosis.

I also already knew that I didn’t want to take opioids or painkillers long term. I’m one of those people who rarely takes even Tylenol. And when I had serious opioids after I had my wisdom teeth removed, they made me feel disoriented and nauseous.

My older brother had a serious workplace injury when I was in high school. He broke his pelvis and some of his spine. He’d seen a chiropractor, among many other specialists, when he was recovering, and he still sees one sometimes to cope with his own chronic pain.

I decided to explore that as a treatment option instead. My new chiropractor ran some X-rays and told me that my pelvis is tilted, which lets my disc slip back and forth instead of holding it in place. 

Through a series of adjustments, he worked to bring my pelvis back in line, and brought me some real relief. 

Unfortunately, I’ve done some state-hopping since then, and while I’m still in better shape than I used to be, I haven’t had time to find a new chiropractor yet. 

Starting to Deal with Your Pain

So what can you do to tackle your chronic pain? 

  1. First and foremost, go see your doctor, especially if you’ve been injured or don’t have a family history of back issues. You might need surgery or other serious help.

  2. Consider your treatment options. Surgery can be an option for many chronic back problems, but it has costs. It’s expensive and can cause its own set of pain problems. Opioids are highly addictive. Talk to your doctor about other options, like chiropractic treatment or acupuncture.

  3. Talk to your insurance company. Insurance companies want to stop the opioid epidemic too, and more plans are covering alternative therapies like chiropractic visits than ever before.

  4. Talk to your employer. If you have insurance through your employer, talk to them about making sure other therapies are covered on your group plan.

  5. Work with your care team on a treatment plan to cope with and manage your pain.

Learning to Manage Pain

So how do I manage my chronic back pain without drugs?

  • Set expectations. Knowing I would probably grow up to develop chronic back pain means I’ve always been ready for it. Accepting that pain will be a part of my life helps me feel in control.

  • Find a treatment that helps. For me, this has been regular chiropractic adjustments that help relieve tension and keep my disc in place. 

  • Get massages. I get the occasional massage to help relieve tension in the muscles in my back too. Many people with back pain get regular massages and swear by them.

  • Exercise and eat right. Even just a few extra pounds can put enormous stress on your spine if you already have back problems. And exercise can strengthen the muscles in your back. Focus on low-impact activities and strengthen your core if you’re already in pain.

    And choose your cardio wisely. Running outdoors or on inclines can be really hard on your back and pelvis. Try running on a treadmill, walking, or biking instead.

  • Try yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Yes, these are technically forms of exercise, but they’re more than that too. A new study found that yoga can actually help relieve back pain itself, but recommends gentle poses. And the routine they used is free online. I find it highly relaxing and a nice way to stretch and wind down, and you can do it as often as you want.

  • Get plenty of sleep. You’d be surprised how sleep affects other parts of your life. When I’m sleep deprived, my back is much more likely to go out. And since I struggle to sleep once my back’s out, it makes for a long sleepless week in that situation.

  • Try little treatments and tricks. I ice my back and use heating pads. I also take over-the-counter pain meds before bed if my back feels like it will go out during the night. If my back’s already out, lying on the floor (if I have someone handy to help me get up later) can help. Putting a pillow between my knees can also help while I’m trying to fall asleep.

  • Meditate. Meditation can help you clear your mind and refocus, and mindfulness can be surprisingly helpful in overcoming pain. There are easy apps you can try to get started too.

  • Talk to someone or journal. Chronic pain can be emotional. You hurt. You can’t escape it, and it can feel hopeless. Talk to a close loved one, journal about what’s happening, or visit a therapist. It can help you blow off steam, lighten your mental load, feel heard, and document your pain’s progression.

  • Practice self-care. Stress and tension can tighten up everything in your back. Find ways to reduce and fight stress in your life. And find little pleasures that you can focus on each day, like your favorite coffee, trading back rubs with your significant other, or cuddling your pet.

Most importantly, get help when you need it. Never let your pain push you so far that you can’t handle it or you fall into depression. Talk to your doctor to keep your mind and body healthy, even in the face of chronic pain.

PCOS Awareness Month

PCOS Awareness Month

It’s Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS Awareness Month. PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women, more than 7 million total.

Learning About PCOS

 

More women suffer from PCOS than the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus combined.

Unity in the Face of PCOS

 

With PCOS, many women develop cysts because of a hormonal imbalance. Insulin may also be linked to it.

Insulin Levels

 

PCOS Symptoms can include infertility, abnormal menstrual cycles, weight gain, pain, and more.

PCOS Symptoms

 

Your doctor can perform an exam or tests to check for signs and symptoms of PCOS. Ask about them at your next well-woman visit.

You and Your Well-Woman Visit

 

If you suffer from PCOS, you’re more likely to have serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.

More Serious Health Risks that Go with PCOS

 

There isn’t a cure for PCOS, but your doctor can help you treat it and its symptoms. You can also donate time or money.

PCOS Treatment and Support

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Fibroid Awareness Week

Fibroid Awareness Week

It’s Fibroid Awareness Week. Fibroids are muscular tumors, usually benign, that grow in the wall of the uterus for women.

Fibroids can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. 20% to 80% of women develop them by age 50.

Fibroid Size and Frequency

 

Not all women with fibroids have symptoms, but those who do can have pain, pressure on the bladder, frequent urination, or even a swollen abdomen.

Fibroid Symptoms

 

Risk factors for fibroids include age, family history, ethnic origin, obesity, and eating habits, like eating too much red meat. Eating plenty of green veggies is associated with a lower risk of fibroids.

Risk Factors for Fibroids

 

If you get pregnant and have fibroids, you might have more problems during your pregnancy. OB-GYNs are used to this situation, though, so talk to your doctor about your fibroids when you find out you’re pregnant.

Pregnant with Fibroids

 

Your doctor can diagnose you with fibroids through an exam or imaging tests like ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.

Diagnosing Fibroids

 

There are treatments for fibroids, including meds and surgery, if you have pain, they’re large, or you want to get pregnant.

Fibroids and Your Future

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