“How to beat aches and pains if you’re a couch potato”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Let’s face it... couch potatoes get a bad rap.
Who would contribute to the Nielsen ratings for the Superbowl and March Madness if it weren’t for couch potatoes. Couch potatoes are pretty common. My dad and my father-in-law are both couch potatoes. But being a couch potato can (besides being a brunt of barbs and jokes) can also lead to PAIN!
Being a couch potato is a set up for neck pain. The long hours spent in the Barcalounger with the channel changer can lead to neck strain. This causes muscle aches in the neck and shoulders. You can also get headaches. So what do you do? Well, first, recognize that this is going to happen if you don’t take frequent breaks particularly if you hold your head in one position for a long time. It’s a good idea to stretch at commercial breaks, at timeouts and at half time.
Your shoulders can also hurt. When you work the channel changer with your arms held in one position, you can run into a problem called impingement syndrome. This is when your rotator cuff tendons get pinched. It’s a common problem. Also, posture problems from sitting on a couch or easy chair when you watch the Celtics or the Yankees can also lead to shoulder, neck, and back problems. Specific stretching exercises for the shoulder before and after you watch should help. Also, make sure you take frequent breaks. Ice packs after you work sometimes help with the pain as do over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
Elbow pain is a common problem after any type of repetitive arm motion. Using that channel changer can lead to a painful condition called lateral epicondylitis. This is a type of tendonitis that affects the outside part of the elbow. Stretching before you “play” can help as can stretching and ice after your game. Anti-inflammatory medicines, an elbow band, and physical therapy also can help. You may need an injection with platelet-rich plasma, a concentrate of blood that contains a large number of platelets. Platelets are cells that are packed with growth and healing factors and heal tendon tissue. The old form of treatment, cortisone, might have helped with the pain, but studies have shown, it weakens tendon tissue. cortisone injection. Just don’t let your doctor know what activity brought the problem on.
Hand and wrist pain is another common problem. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition where the median nerve into the hand gets pinched. This causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand. Treatment consists of physical therapy, a splint, and sometime injecting with steroid. In some instances, surgery is required. Different forms of tendonitis can also develop after repetitive motion. You can get trigger finger where the finger seems to stick. A painful tendonitis of the thumb can also be a result of changing channels.
Low back pain can come on from sitting too long in one place. Stretch before you watch THE GAME. Use ice packs (a cold can of beer... unopened of course, will do) if you strain your back. Over the counter medication can sometimes help also. See your doctor if the pain is severe or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
Stretching and massage are two important areas of treatment to consider if you love being a couch potato and develop aches and pains.
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