Sep 20, 2020 03:54PM Beesie wrote:
Vera, here's what works for me.
I've had oesteoarthritis for 20+ years (and I'm only 64) and I know from my last spinal x-ray that every vertebrae in my back has some degree of deterioration, whether mild or more. With OA throughout my spine, it means that I can get pain or numbness anywhere. I also often get OA flares up in various joints - my wrist, my fingers, etc.. I pretty much always have at least mild pain somewhere. Since I don't want to freak out over it all the time, and I don't want to constantly be going for x-rays, I've developed my own routine for dealing with new pains that arise.
Most normal muscular or degenerative pain reacts to certain corrective behaviours - hot or cold compresses, rest and limiting mobility, proper exercise. What I've read is that the point at which you should get something checked out is if it's not starting to react positively to these corrective changes within a couple of weeks.
A few months back, I started to get hip pain - that was new; my hip was never an area where I'd had pain before. It happened that I had a tele-appointment with my PCP, and when I mentioned the hip pain, she offered that I could get an x-ray if I wanted. I said that I'd rather give it a few weeks. So I looked at my activities to see if something I was doing might be causing the pain. Over time I'd been increasing my speed and incline on the treadmill. Because it was gradual, I didn't think that was it but then realized that it could be cumulative or maybe I'd just hit the point where it was affecting me. I decided to stay off the treadmill for a few days - and sure enough the hip pain wasn't as constant. But then I went out for what I thought was a gentle walk - and the pain returned. So I took it easy for a few days. Then I got back on the treadmill but at a lower speed and incline, and over a couple of weeks, the pain eased off almost completely. Then I tested it out and now know that if I increase the speed (which I still often do) and particularly the incline (which I no longer do), it causes hip pain. I've also discovered that if I've been using the treadmill regularly but then take a long walk outside or if I've mostly been walking outside but then go onto the treadmill, the change in my gait between the treadmill and outside walking causes hip pain, but only for the first day or two. Now that I know all this, I'm okay if I get hip pain and it doesn't worry me. Cause and effect.
Similarly, my shoulder and neck have been pretty bad lately. It started mild and intermittent and got progressively worse and constant. My OA often affects my neck so at first I didn't think about it but after a few weeks the pain was so bad that it started to worry me. I'm used to doing neck exercises but this time I took more drastic action. I have severely restricted my activity and have been extremely careful with my posture and how and where I sit. It took almost a week but finally the pain started to ease. At first, if I was sitting or standing without neck support for only 10 minutes, the pain would return; now, after a couple of weeks, I can be out for hours and just notice a mild ache and muscle tightening. So again, cause and effect. My shoulder/neck pain is reacting the normal way that arthritis pain should react, so I'm not worried that this is anything but a more severe case of my usual arthritis pain.
I admit that I don't know if cancer pain would also react positively to the right behaviours. It might, but I wouldn't think I would be able to increase and lessen the pain with my behaviours to the extent that I can - once I finally figure out what causes and/or reduces my pain, and once I give some time. So my rule is that if I develop a pain where within 2-3 weeks I can't exert some level of control by my activities & behaviours, and by following the "this is what you do to reduce this type of pain" guidelines, then I see a doctor.