When you have chronic pain, you get very familiar with pain that makes itself known every day. You may have some good days and some bad days, but either way its good to have a toolkit of things you can do at home to help reduce, manage or avoid pain flare ups.
This is even more important now, while Melbourne is under Stage 4 Restrictions in response to COVID19 and seeing your Myotherapist is no longer an option.
Your toolkit will likely be different to someone elses, but these are some of the things that you can incorporate at home to help keep pain as low as possible.
Gentle movement - Walking, yoga, pilates, dancing, cycling, and other low impact exercises to keep your joints and muscles mobile. What you can achieve may change day by day, work within your own limits. There are plenty of free or affordable online options, my favourite that I'm personally using throughout lockdown is Erica Webb Yoga & Pilates virtual studio ($37 a month for unlimited classes)
Stretching - Make time to stretch each day, especially the muscles that feel tightest. If you're working from home, its really easy to get stuck sitting for hours at your desk - or couch, coffee table, hammock, whatever your work from home set up looks like.
Self care tools - Foam rollers, tennis balls and spiky balls, acupressure mats, TENS machines: these can all help reduce muscle pain and tension. Don't have one? You can pick these up cheap online on eBay or through sports stores.
Hot or cold therapy - Heat packs, hot water bottles, electric blankets to keep you warm and take away some of the ache. Ice packs or cool compresses can work better for acute inflammation areas or for numbing persistent pain.
Nutrition and hydration - Eat well, drink water, and avoid foods that tend to flare up your pain. Pre-plan meals and snacks so you can have some easy to grab options on bad pain days where you don't have the energy to cook (or clean!)
Stress management - Easier said than done during a pandemic, right? Find things that bring down your stress levels, that will be different for each person, but some classics include reading, listening to music, taking a nap, having a warm soak in epsom salts, booking a telehealth appointment with a counsellor, writing in a journal.
Seek support - Don't suffer alone! Reach out for a conversation with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbours. Don't forget there are plenty of services to support you, including talking with your GP, a counsellor, and support groups online.
Pain relief - I know a lot of our patients choose not to use pain relievers, but in these times where its hard to get access to hands on treatments that help, you may find that taking pain relief is helpful. This may include prescribed medications from your GP or over the counter recommendations from your pharmacist.
Gels and creams - There are a heap of options for topical pain creams, the most commonly used ones include Deep Heat, Fisiocrem, and Voltaren. My personal favourite is a non-pharmaceutical blend by Doterra called Ice Blue Rub, its got a cooling menthol effect that is fairly long lasting, but it is on the pricey side for a cream. A little goes a long way!
Sleep - What can you do to optimise your sleep cycle? A well rested body has the best opportunities to repair and recover. Some things to experiment with are an earlier bed time, switching off screens well before bed, changing your pillow, listening to relaxing music.
We hope it won't be long now until we're able to offer hands on treatments again. As soon as we know more, we'll make an announcement and get our online booking page active again.
In short: Yes, we will be closing our doors again for a short 6 week period.
The new restrictions coming into place today have big consequences for almost all Melbourne residents, but lets talk the specifics of what this means in relation to your Myotherapy or Remedial Massage treatment plan.
We've been advised that Myotherapy and Remedial Massage can't continue. Yes, we do screen every person we see, we clean thoroughly between every single appointment, and therapists and patients are both wearing masks. We've done everything we can to mitigate risks, and follow the ever-changing rules so we can keep you safe. But the DHHS have asked us to help by taking a temporary break.
There are significant fines for businesses and individuals who don't adhere to the new restrictions. The fines for a business staying open when they are not permitted is up to $10,000, and the fine for an individual is $1652. Thats a very expensive Myotherapy treatment!
Myotherapists and Remedial Massage Therapists are not alone in this restriction though. In fact, it will effect all Allied Health practitioners in some ways. Over the last few days the advice has changed, depending who you ask, but in general it appears that urgent care can still be accessed from Allied Health providers like Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and Chiropractors. The initial advice was that all patients would need a referral in the form of an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) or Chronic Disease Management Plan, but I have now seen the Chiropractic Association indicating that referrals may not be needed.
If you're in doubt over whether you can be seen by someone for urgent care, your GP is always a safe bet. They will be able to clarify which Allied Health practitioners you are able to see, and may also be able to give you additional guidance or prescribe you medication if its needed. Dr Wajib Dib at Together Medical Family Practice is a fantastic bulk billing GP, and is still taking new patients for phone consultations.
What does "urgent care" mean?
Urgent care may include things like:
Who should you see for urgent care?
We know and trust these local Allied Health practitioners:
I'm very sad to be closing my doors again, for the third time this year. One of the hardest parts for you, my local Knox and outer Eastern burbs patients, is that our local government area is actually one of the lowest in all of Melbourne for total and active cases. While other areas have huge rising numbers of cases, our area stays fairly low risk. I'm sorry I can't be here for you for face to face support for these next 6 weeks, but my phone and email are always here to offer advice, send you links to exercises and self care, or to answer questions.
As we've all seen over these last few weeks, there are a small number of people doing the wrong things, and unfortunately its come to that time where its now impacting everyone with a blanket restriction across the whole Melbourne Metro area.
Thank you for doing the right thing so we all get through this quicker. Thanks for getting tested if you show symptoms. Thanks for staying home til you get those test results.
Can't wait to see you again soon!
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.