ANN ARBOR – Brady, a happy, energetic five-year-old boy, does not fit the image of a stereotypical physical therapy patient. However, physical therapy is helping Brady attain a life with less pain, less obstacles, and more mobility.
Brady has Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a condition that leads to avascular necrosis of the proximal femoral head. In layman’s terms, the top of Brady’s femur is not receiving an adequate blood supply, causing that portion of his bone to slowly die. While most people affected only have the disease in one hip, both of Brady’s femurs are deteriorating.
Many of Brady’s family members have this condition, including his father, Josh, a colleague at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
While Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is not life-threatening, it does cause severe pain and mobility issues. For Brady, he was in so much pain that it became a struggle for him to walk. His left foot was tilting in, and he couldn’t bear pressure on that leg.
He was referred for physical therapy, with a choice of going to the University of Michigan or to Probility’s pediatric clinic in Ypsilanti. His parents chose Probility because they had heard such positive things about pediatric physical therapist Dan Santioni, and because the clinic was closer to home.
Probility Physical Therapy has 15 locations throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Lenawee Counties. The pediatric clinic opened in June 2018, and added occupational therapy and speech therapy services in February 2019.
Brady was extremely anxious about physical therapy, which was scheduled for three times a week to start. This was heightened by Brady’s fear of new people, common for a child of his age. Thankfully though, Dan was able to form a deep connection with him. Brady’s mother Nicole shared, “Dan made physical therapy fun and interactive for him. He incorporated games, and Brady started to actually look forward to his sessions.”
Through the use of massage, stretches, and drills, Brady has made incredible strides forward. He is able to walk with ease again, and is learning how to manage his condition outside of physical therapy. When he is in pain, he’s able to use the stretches from physical therapy to help ease it.
Brady has grown attached to Dan, so his parents were worried when a new physical therapist assistant, Kathryn Perry, joined Brady’s care team. Fortunately, she too was able to bond with Brady. According to Nicole, “That office is filled with people who are there for the right reasons, and they all provide wonderful care.”
As Brady ages and the disease progresses, the pain will lessen. He will still require “Mr. Dan tune-ups” occasionally, to help him maintain his flexibility. It is also possible that he will need surgery in the future, but his parents hope that through physical therapy and the lifestyle changes Dan and Kathryn have taught Brady, he may be able to avoid it.
Nicole expressed her gratitude for Probility’s pediatric program, stating, “I really feel Probility was brought to St. Joe’s for a reason. It’s been a great help to our family.”
Looking for a Physical Therapist? Visit Probility Physical Therapy or call 734-712-1589 and we will guide you through the process.
After three grueling days of riding into the wind, more than 40 Team Trinity cyclists crossed the finish line of the 2019 Wish-A-Mile® where they were greeted by the young wish heroes.
Colleagues from St. Joe’s, IHA, Probility, Mercy Health and Trinity Health rode 300 miles over three days for children battling life-threatening illnesses. They dedicated their ride to the 7-year-old daughter of Mercy Health colleague Ashlee Senn.
Brynlee Senn has a disease known as “Mito,” when the mitochondria of cells fail to produce energy for organ function. Her younger brother, who passed away at four years old, also had the disease.
“I can’t speak enough about how proud I am to work for this organization,” Ashlee said. “They truly care about us as colleagues and especially for the communities we serve.”
Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Trinity Health Michigan Region, led Team Trinity to raise more than $144,000 – the highest total among large teams. The event raised $2.3 million overall.
An avid cyclist, Casalou first rode the course solo in 2011 when he was the president of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. Over the years, more colleagues joined him on “Team Joe’s” to raise support and awareness for children with serious illnesses.
As CEO of the Michigan Region, Casalou changed the group’s name in hopes more colleagues join Team Trinity for future WAMs.
“Team Trinity is more representative of the health ministries that together comprise Trinity Health Michigan,” he said. “We are all proud to display our Trinity colors in an event that embraces our mission to serve the most vulnerable people of our communities.”
Brynlee greeted the cyclists at the finish line and presented them with medals for completing the ride. The Make a Wish Foundation made Brynlee’s wish come true a few years ago, when they sent her and the family to Disney World to meet Jesse from Toy Story, enjoy the water park and go to McDonald’s.
Ashlee knows firsthand the positive impact Make a Wish has on children. She treasures the memories of her son’s wish trip just a few months before he passed.
“Those memories will never go away,” she said. “It’s one of the few times he got to be a kid without doctors and nurses surrounding him. The pictures, videos… We will treasure everything that encompassed that trip.”
Brynlee is “the spunkiest little girl” looking forward to starting second grade this fall as a mainstreamed student in elementary school. Ashlee said she’s excited to be part of the next Wish a Mile ride benefitting wish heroes. “To know these riders are willing to take on this long-distance ride to ensure other kids like Brynlee have opportunities… is huge for us.”
If you’re reading this, it means I survived. For
the last two weeks, 17 family members have been staying at my house. Yes,
sisters, brothers, spouses, nieces, nephews and a few dogs. It was a family
Like so many families in the modern world, my
siblings are spread out all over the world. I’m the only one who stayed in
Michigan. So if we want to see each other, we have to plan an extended visit.
No one wants to travel this far for just a weekend. And in theory, we all
really wanted to spend time together. But making the plans, dealing with the
air travel, the cost of the flights, packing, figuring out sleeping
arrangements and two weeks of meals… it’s stressful.
And when they finally arrived, they were
exhausted. Two arrived sick with what we called “The Plague”— a bad virus with
fever and cough that quickly spread through the family ranks. Tempers shortened and our eagerly anticipated
joyous family visit morphed into family drama, hurt feelings, lack of
communication and a messy house.
In families, it is not unusual to be irked by the
same frustrations with your siblings that were there 50 years ago. These
unresolved hot buttons get pushed without any warning. And just like when we
were young, we were all staying in the same house and I had nowhere to run. So
I made a list of survival tips for
getting through an extended family visit:
Remember they’re never going to change. Every time something got under my skin, I reminded myself that there’s no fixing these people. They are who they are— for better or for worse. Find the better. They will never change and they don’t have to.
Focus on their talents. If you look at my family
tree, there’s a dancer, a gourmet chef, a lawyer, an artist, singers and
acrobats. They all have wide ranging talents. They’re smart and funny and
always game for adventures. Rather than
think about what they don’t bring to the table, try thinking about the
incredible gifts and laughter that they do bring.
Limit the trip. This was my biggest mistake. If you know you have strong personalities
and age-old sibling rivalry, don’t stretch it out for two
weeks. (Just because you love your
family doesn’t mean you like them in your home for 14 days.) If a few days is
your tipping point, set your limits. Why
didn’t I think of that earlier?
Lay down the ground rules and stick to them. Someone will always try to push your boundaries. Don’t let them. When my brother tried to change the dinner location or my brother-in-law tried to invite more people to the party, I had to stand firm. “I’m so happy the family is here, let’s keep it to the family and the plans we’ve made.” Do whatever you can to minimize the chaos.
Plan your escape. When every sofa, stool and chair in your home is taken and you just can’t seem to get away from family or their barking dogs, it’s time for operation time-out. Go for a walk. Go do some yoga or meditate. It’s important to regroup. Alone time isn’t selfish. When family’s around, it’s self-preservation. I would disappear sometimes for two hours just to breath.
In short, happiness is a close, tight-knit family
in another city. But if they do come to visit for an extended period of
time, try to keep in mind that it’s just temporary. I kept asking myself, “What
if this is the last time we’re all together? Can’t you just hold it together
for a few more days?”
Now that they’re gone, I do realize what a blessing it was to have them all under the same roof. But families are definitely like fudge. Mostly sweet with a lot of nuts.
Inspired by a love of his native land’s
culture, 1 East Nurse George Otieno, RN will be sharing folk tales and legends
during African Storytelling Time at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor from 3-5 p.m. in
the Auditorium on Saturday, August 10 and again on Aug. 24.
George organized the free community event as a fun way to bring colleagues and
families together. Through stories, mimes and dramas, attendees will learn why
the giraffe’s neck is so tall, and how the tiger got his stripes, among other
tales. Born and raised in Kenya, George moved to Michigan in 2000 and has been
with St. Joe’s for 15 years. He is a member of the Wakenya in Michigan
Assoication (WIMA) dedicated to promote African cultural awareness and educate
our children and communities.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Garry Faja, the longtime president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor who served as the first regional CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. Garry passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, July 21, in his home in Traverse City.
His extraordinary leadership and vision united the southeast Michigan Trinity Health hospitals into one large regional health delivery system, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
In addition to this major achievement, Garry made many significant contributions over his 32-year career with St. Joe’s. Some of the major revitalization and expansion projects he led include the creation of a 15-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 2001 and the new patient towers and surgery pavilion at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor; a two-story addition with 54 private rooms and new Emergency Department at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea; a new eight-story tower with 136 acute care private beds at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and a 154,000 square foot addition at St. Mary Mercy Livonia.
With a background in engineering, Garry’s indelible handprint is evident in details throughout the patient tower at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, from the position of the patient bed to the automatic night light that illuminates the floor for patients.
His touch can be seen throughout St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor in other ways, such as the Century of Caring exhibit in the hospital lobby which features a large image of the hospital made up entirely of photos of individuals who have served in the ministry of St. Joe’s. This display reflects Garry’s deep commitment to patients as well his dedication to both employees and medical staff.
“Regardless of how health care has changed over the past 30 years, Garry has always said it’s about people caring for people,” said Sister Yvonne Gellise, Senior Advisor for Governance at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, who added that Faja has valued the legacy of this hospital started by the Sisters of Mercy.
“Garry has always appreciated the presence of the Sisters, and he felt fortunate that we were still serving in the hospital. He would periodically stop by the Sisters’ house in the late afternoon to give us an update and ask about our concerns or ideas.”
Garry was very active in the community, including serving as a key voice in Medicaid expansion, a founding member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, and a founder of the Mercy Cancer Network. He was instrumental in the establishment of The Quality Institute at St. Joe’s as well as Michigan’s first Senior ER program and supported the major expansion of St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea making them the newest member of our health system.
A leader in the health care industry, Garry served as chair of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Board—receiving its notable Meritorious Service Award in 2014—and was also a delegate for the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board.
Garry is survived by his wife Barbara, who has dedicated countless hours to fundraising and other philanthropic efforts for the health system, and daughter Christine.
Please see the obituary for more information. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
The modern world is a noisy place: the shriek of ambulance sirens, the blare of the television, the jackhammer of construction—the list goes on. Yet as loud or irritating as they may be, noises like these are often so prevalent they seem to fade into the background.
The problem is that loud sounds can have a serious—and permanent—effect on hearing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 17 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69—or roughly 26 million people—have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
“NIHL is the second most common cause of hearing loss, right behind age-related hearing loss,” says Joseph Seymour, MD, an otolaryngologist with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “It’s a very frequently encountered problem.”
How does noise-induced hearing loss occur? NIHL can be the result of long-term exposure to loud sounds, such as a daily ride on a tractor or headphones worn with the volume cranked up for hours on end. Your hearing can also be damaged by what’s known as an “impulse” noise—an extremely loud, one-time sound, such as an explosion or a gunshot.
The good news: Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, as long as you follow some strategies to safeguard your ears.
Why are loud noises problematic? Hearing is not only an extremely complicated function, it’s also surprisingly fragile.
Thousands of tiny hair cells inside your ears perform the vital role of translating sound waves into electrical signals and relaying them to your brain, where they are perceived as sound. Very loud noises can harm, or even destroy, those cells.
“Noise-induced hearing loss is a cellular injury within your inner ear from increased volume and pressure,” explains Dr. Seymour. “The cells within the inner ear are different from skin cells. They do not re-grow. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.”
And it’s not just those tiny yet essential cells that can be damaged by loud noises. The auditory nerve, responsible for moving electrical signals to the brain, can also be harmed.
What factors contribute to NIHL? When it comes to understanding your risk levels for NIHL, there are three key factors to keep in mind:
How loud is the sound? You may be surprised by what qualifies as “loud.” Noise levels are measured in decibels (dBA). For context, a personal listening device, like a smartphone with earphones, can crank as high as 100 dBA—well past safe listening levels. The higher the decibel level, the less time you can safely listen to a sound at that volume.
If you’re not accustomed to thinking of sounds in terms of decibels (and most of us non-audiologists are not), here are the levels of some everyday sounds, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):
Conversation with friends, a dish washing machine: These noises are around 60 dBA and are safe for your hearing for any amount of time. So, go ahead and gab (or wash dishes) all day.
Subways or motorcycles: Measured at 91 dBA, this level of noise presents risk to your hearing. The ASHA advises wearing hearing protection.
Headphones at maximum volume, a food processor, a snow blower: At 94 to 112 dBA, these noises are “extremely loud” and dangerous to your hearing.
Sirens, a plane taking off, jackhammering: These noises—ranging from 120 to 130 dBA—typically last for more than a few seconds but are considered unsafe for any amount of time.
Firearms, firecrackers: These are “impulse” noises, measured in decibel peak pressure (dBP). At levels of 140 to 150 dBP, any period of exposure to these sounds can cause instant, irreparable damage to hearing.
2. What’s your proximity?
A siren that’s half a mile away is not as problematic as one blaring on your street corner. How close you are to a loud noise will determine how harmful it is to your hearing.
What’s the duration?
As the decibels climb, the amount of time you can safely listen to the sound falls dramatically. At 85 dBA, you can listen for eight hours. At 88 dBA, that safe listening span shrinks to four hours, while at 91 dBA, it drops to two hours. (The rule of thumb is that safe exposure time is halved with every 3 dBA increase in volume over 85 dBA.) A single second of an impulse noise, meanwhile, can result in permanent hearing loss.
A simpler rule, according to Seymour: “Less noise equals better hearing.”
Know the signs of NIHL
The two most common symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss are the inability to hear and tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears, says Seymour. Some other tip-offs include:
Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
Difficulty hearing when there is background noise
Needing to steadily increase the volume on your television or headphones
Sounds being distorted or seeming muffled
NIHL is completely preventable
Avoiding all loud noises is easier said than done, but it’s worth reducing your exposure as much as possible. If you work in a loud environment, such as a manufacturing plant, your employer must follow certain guidelines, says Seymour. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide hearing protection when decibels exceed 85.
You can also follow these general strategies to reduce your exposure to loud noises and protect your hearing:
Measure it: Download the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App to track the decibels of noise around you. It’s available for free from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Inform yourself: Get a sense of what types and levels of noise can cause damage to your hearing. If you’re in a place where people are conversing in shouts to be heard, the noise level is probably posing a threat to your ears.
Avoid noise when possible: If you can, stay away from situations where loud noises occur. If you can’t avoid them completely, take breaks. Remember, the duration of your exposure is a factor, as well as the noise’s volume. If possible, position yourself at loud events as far from the source as possible.
“Every time you go to a concert and leave with a little ringing in the ears or muffled hearing, you’ve experienced what we call a ‘temporary threshold shift,'” says Seymour. “That means that your hearing levels have actually changed.”
While this change is apparent for only a few hours, there’s evidence suggesting that people who have many temporary threshold shifts experience worsening hearing over time, Seymour explains. In other words, your hearing may seem to go back to normal the day after the concert, but it’s possible that permanent damage has occurred.
Use protection: Stuffing cotton balls in your years won’t get the job done. Instead, use earplugs that fit into your ear canal or snugly-fitting earmuffs that cover your ears completely. For the loudest noises—such as those higher than 105 dBA lasting eight or more hours, or impulse sounds higher than 140 dBP—use earplugs and earmuffs together.
“Even if you’re using the lawnmower for an hour or two, it gets loud enough that you can cause an injury,” says Seymour.
Turn it down: Resist the urge to pump up the volume and go easier on your living room television, headphones and any other controllable audio outputs in your life.
Be smart with headphones: Seymour recommends patients follow what he calls “the rule of 60”: Cap your headphone use at 60 percent of the device’s volume capacity for no more than 60 minutes. When you do listen alone, use over-the-ear headphones instead of earbuds, which can be up to 9 dBA louder. And consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones, which may help you resist the temptation to crank up the juice to compensate for other sounds in your environment.
If you are routinely exposed to loud noise, it’s wise to get your hearing checked regularly, particularly if you suspect hearing loss. Early detection can help you pinpoint a situation that’s causing damage and avoid it in the future. A consultation with a trained professional like an audiologist or otolaryngologist can also determine whether you may need to wear hearing aids.
Every time I visit my Mom, it’s a crapshoot. I never know who I will find when I punch in the code and open the door to her memory unit. Will she be wandering the living area talking to herself? Will I find her marching down the hall as though she has something important to accomplish? Or will I find her sitting on the sofa, her chin hanging to her chest, fast asleep? It is hard to know what her mood will be like after days upon days in the same room. And when she finally sees me, I never know how long it will take for her to recognize my face. I try not to have any expectations. It seems each time I come in, it takes a little longer for her to light up.
I know I’m blessed that she still knows me, but it’s so scary when someone you love has an incurable disease that erases bits of them one day at a time. So rather than lament what’s lost, I’m trying to enjoy what’s left. That means shifting the way I connect with her and finding new ways to communicate. She no longer can have a conversation because she can’t reach the words. But she can still laugh and sing and dance.
My Mom has always loved the arts. She was the founder of the JET Theatre and she loved opera, symphony and ballet. And although her dementia continues to progress, turn on a tune and you’ll find she hasn’t lost her love for music. Plenty of research shows dance and music can clear the dust that accumulates with dementia and Alzheimer’s and actually create better connection and communication. It seems to open a backdoor to her brain so she can still access good feelings and memories. Just hearing the music seems to wake her up, lift her spirits and bring a big smile to her face.
While she was never a singer before, she is now. And even though we never used to regularly jump up and dance when we were together, we do now. Without words, she seems to do better with experiences that connect us rather than conversations. Music always seems to get a positive response. Recently, I walked in to find her sitting by herself, mumbling words and looking so forlorn. Then the music started and everything changed. (Check out this cellphone video!)
She loves to move, go for a walk, play catch with a balloon. Exercise is both invigorating and calming for her. And it’s a relief for me to have something I can do with my Mom that brightens her day. We can bond without even a word.
If you’re a caregiver to a person with dementia, do what you can to incorporate their senses. Put on music, give them colorful flowers to arrange or something delicious to eat or a fluffy pet to hold. My Mom was never a dog lover but she is now. I think she relishes their unconditional love. So I usually will bring my dogs, Yogi and Lulu, when I visit.
And when the visit is over, make sure to hold their hand or give them a strong hug. I love when my Mom throws her arms open for a hug. It reminds me she’s still in there. A good hug is sometimes all that’s needed— just as much for me as for her.
Looking for a doctor specialized in memory care? Visit stjoeshealth.org to find a doctor near you, or call 1-800-231-2211, and we can guide you through the process.
LIVONIA – The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) presented one of three 2019 Ludwig Community Benefit Awards to Healthy Livonia, a community collaboration led by St. Mary Mercy Livonia that brings together community partners committed to making Livonia a healthier place by leveraging resources to create a greater impact. The award was presented at MHA’s annual membership meeting held today on Mackinaw Island.
The award is named in memory of Patrick E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in the community’s overall health, and was presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents. In addition to the award recognition, Healthy Livonia received $3,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.
Launched in July 2016, Healthy Livonia is backed by the hospital, the Livonia Parks and Recreation Department, Livonia Public Schools, the Livonia Chamber of Commerce and the city of Livonia.
With a special emphasis on infrastructure, parks, children, and seniors, key target areas for Healthy Livonia include reducing obesity, addressing behavioral health issues, and focusing on engaging Livonia residents to take command of their health by making healthy choices when it comes to food and exercise.
St. Mary Mercy has been a leading supporter of the Healthy Livonia initiative and has committed initial funding of $200,000 per year over five years.
Healthy Livonia’s accomplishments include launching an accessible play space at Rotary Park, installing a pedestrian bridge at Tatigian Park and Nature Preserve, implementing the Carrot Wellness walking program app, and sponsoring community activities such as a 5K walk/run, Kirksey Recreation Center memberships and a 100 Days to Health program.
For more information about Healthy Livonia, please call Healthy Livonia’s program coordinator at 734-655-8421.
OAKLAND – Shannon Striebich, president of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, was honored this morning with the Healthcare Leadership Award, a recognition given by The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) during its annual membership meeting held on Mackinaw Island. Shannon was selected for the award based on her proven record of providing exceptional leadership to St. Joe’s and her strong commitment to the health and well-being of communities served by the hospital. In addition to the award, MHA also donated $1,000 to Grace Centers of Hope, a charity chosen by Shannon.
Since joining the St. Joe’s administration in 2002, Shannon has held positions of increasing responsibility. In 2016 she was appointed president of the hospital and tasked with completing its $300 million campus rebuild. She was the lead executive on construction of the hospital’s $145 million South Patient Tower and $60 million Surgical Pavilion.
Beyond facility improvements, Shannon has increased St. Joe’s footprint throughout Oakland County. This includes strategic investments into the Clarkston Imaging Center, Waterford Medical Complex and growing the hospital’s physician network — known as the St. Joe’s Medical Group.
During her tenure Shannon has promoted population health through innovative partnerships and improved collaboration with EMS agencies, adoption of award-winning telemedicine technologies, support for the hospital’s Faith Community Nursing Program, and funding of Mercy Support programs, which offer assistance to low-income residents with barriers to care.
Striebich is a servant leader and staunch supporter of the hospital’s 2,500 colleagues. She has helped establish the conditions for their success by developing an award-winning culture, which includes implementation of workplace safety programs, improved colleague engagement, and creation of mutually supportive relationships throughout the hospital.
Shannon has served on the MHA Legislative Policy Panel for three years, is a member of the MHA Keystone Center Board of Directors, and has served on the MHA Quality and Accountability Committee.
Whether chronic or acute, aches, pains and injuries can put a damper on everyday activities. Along with rest and elevation, we’ve been told that heat and ice can speed recovery, but which is best for your particular ailment? Jonathon Faber, DO, a sports medicine specialist with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Livonia, Michigan, explains when you should apply ice or administer heat, and when it’s time to see your doctor.
When to opt for ice Acute pain is sudden, brought on by a specific incident. Broken bones, sprains, strains, burns, cuts and surgery can all cause acute discomfort. As soon as the cause of pain is remedied, the uncomfortable sensation should subside. But what to do in the meantime?
As a general rule, acute injuries should be treated with an icepack or a bag of your favorite frozen veggies. “Typically, when you have an acute injury, like an ankle sprain, it’s very appropriate to apply ice for the first 48 to 72 hours,” recommends Faber.
When used promptly, ice helps reduce swelling. Swelling is caused by the rush of fluid and white blood cells to an injury, which works to promote healing and help prevent you from using the affected area. “[However,] a lot of times, swelling can be excessive enough, especially in places like the ankle and knee, that it prevents further healing,” says Faber. So, reducing swelling quickly can help speed recovery.
For some injuries, ice isn’t enough. Rest, compression and elevation are also necessary. “The acronym RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation,” says Faber. “These methods reduce swelling and inflammation at the site of an injury.”
When to reach for heat Not all types of discomfort should be treated with an ice pack. Chronic or long-lasting pain, which can persist for more than 12 weeks, is often better soothed with a heating pad. This type of discomfort may be caused by an injury or illness like arthritis or fibromyalgia, but in some cases, has no known cause. Frequently, the goal in treating chronic pain is minimizing discomfort as much as possible, to enhance your quality of life.
Here’s why heat helps: while ice reduces inflammation in areas with a buildup of fluid, heat is better suited for pain not caused by swelling, like arthritic joint pain. “Heat tends to be more appropriate for joint pain in people who suffer from osteoarthritis, because it increases blood flow to affected areas,” says Faber. There are exceptions: some with arthritic joint pain may benefit from applying ice to numb the sensation of pain, as well.
Heat also helps ease discomfort linked to achy joints and stiff muscles. By improving blood flow and circulation, it relieves pain and stiffness caused by conditions like tendinosis, chronic stiffness of tendons attached to the joints.
Sometimes, pain from injuries older than six weeks can also be alleviated with heat. “After a few weeks, icing sprains and strains doesn’t tend to be as beneficial,” says Faber. “At that point, it’s personal preference, and you should do what feels better.”
See your doctor Some injuries shouldn’t be treated at home. See your doctor if:
An injury significantly affects your range of motion, rendering you unable to complete everyday tasks like bathing, cooking or dressing.
You injure certain parts of your body. “With any lower extremity injury, the hip, knee or ankle, that leaves you unable to bear weight, you should see your doctor,” says Faber.
You have a minor injury, and swelling doesn’t improve after a few days of at-home treatment.
Ignoring an injury or compensating for the pain by putting more pressure on other parts of the body can lead to permanent dysfunction, making treatment difficult. In that case, your injury may be less of a job for heat or ice and more of a job for your healthcare provider.
Looking for a doctor or ready to make a switch? Visit stjoeshealth.org to find a doctor near you, or call 1-800-231-2211, and we can guide you through the process.