Jennifer Halloran

Surgery for Back Pain? Think Twice

Back pain can be an enormous obstacle to your daily life. Our spines are so central to every movement we make that any discomfort or pain can make ordinary activities unbearable. There are numerous causes of back pain, from muscle spasm to disc problems to bone deformities. And there are almost as many kinds of treatments, from massage and acupuncture to steroid injections to surgery. Our little Nurse Tip page is not big enough to provide an overview of all the treatments for back pain, but it’s important to know that according to the Mayo Clinic and recent studies, surgery helps in only a small percentage of cases and can create complications that can be even worse than the original problem. Our advice is not to rule out surgery altogether, but to think of it as a last resort after trying every other treatment, starting with the least invasive. New studies have shown that acupuncture is very effective for treating back pain.  For more information about treatments for back pain, check out these websites: Mayo Clinic webpage & Web MD on acupuncture for back pain  You can follow Everybody Needs A Nurse on Twitter @ENANurse1 image by ginchyqueendangle via...

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The Best Way to Support Your Joints

There are a number of dietary supplements out there that promise to increase joint health. But the best way to improve or maintain the health of your joints is moderate exercise. When most of us think of our joints, we are really thinking of the muscles surrounding the joint itself. These muscles must be strong and healthy to support the joint. But too much exercise—especially in sudden bursts, such as the “weekend warrior” who has a sedentary week and does too much on the weekend—can wear down your joints. If the muscles supporting your joints become strained or sustain micro-tears, the whole support system is damaged and you are at greater risk for acute issues such as dislocation and for chronic diseases like arthritis. The key word here is “moderate.” As in all things, practice listening to your body and stop before you feel any pain or ache in your joints. Work your way up gradually, and remember that some exercise is better than none. Try to set reasonable, achievable goals rather than “tough it out.” You can follow Everybody Needs A Nurse on Twitter @ENANurse1 image by pixieclix via...

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A Refresher Course on Freshening Up

Did you know that most of the dirt and germs we come in contact with on a daily basis get stuck under our fingernails and cuticles? This makes sense because we use our fingertips to touch objects all day long, including things others may have contaminated with the norovirus or other communicable diseases. So, when you wash your hands, make sure to get any dirt out from under your fingernail area. You don’t have to use a nail brush like surgeons do (although you can). All you need to do is rub the fingertips on one hand on the palm of the other, as though you are scratching an itch. Remember to use warm, soapy water and wash your hands for as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Using this technique habitually will cut down on the germs most likely to make you sick. You can follow Everybody Needs A Nurse on Twitter @ENANurse1 image by wiccked via...

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New Year, Same Old You? Maybe That's OK

It happens every year. As the calendar turns from holiday festivities to the new year, we are all deluged with messages to change ourselves and pressure to make ourselves into an ideal person. We need to look, act, and think a certain way and change the habits of decades. But one thing that’s never mentioned in this annual flood of perfectionism is the importance of exploring what we like about ourselves that we can do more of in the coming year. This year, in addition to (or instead of) making resolutions to change, take a moment to jot down five things that are going well that you would like to foster over the coming year. Maybe that means continuing your meditation practice, keeping up your healthy eating, remembering to be grateful for friends and family, or hosting the dinner parties you enjoy. These should be things you already do that provide peace, happiness and feelings of accomplishment. Not everything positive needs to be difficult. The most positive aspects of your life—and the ones you’ll have the least trouble sticking to—are things you already do. And, needless to say, if you can’t find five positive things about your life, your first resolution should be to find some. You can follow Everybody Needs A Nurse on Twitter @ENANurse1 image by kurichan+ via...

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The Unexpected Connection Between Decongestants and Blood Pressure

Here’s some important news about common over-the-counter cold medications. Many decongestants contain ingredients that work by constricting blood vessels, which also raises blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure that isn’t well controlled, taking these medications can be dangerous. The best option is to avoid decongestants—including multi-symptom cold medications—that contain ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, naphazoline and oxymetazoline. There are some cold medicines designed not to raise blood pressure, such as Coricidin HBP. It’s a good idea to check with your pharmacist to see which cold medication she recommends for people with high blood pressure. Other cold treatments that can help you feel better without raising your blood pressure include: Taking a pain reliever, particularly those with anti-inflammatory properties, such as aspirin and ibuprofen Using a neti pot or saline nasal spray to flush your sinuses Drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids Getting plenty of rest You can follow Everybody Needs A Nurse on Twitter @ENANurse1 (icon by david de hoey via...

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Nurse Tips: Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis

With vacation season getting underway, most people are looking to relax and get away from it all. But it’s always important to remember to take care of yourself, especially when you are travelling. One overlooked health risk is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot develops in the leg. This clot can then break apart and move into the lungs, creating a potentially fatal embolism. The risk factors for this condition include remaining in the same position for a long time, such as during a long flight or car ride. DVT can occur without symptoms, although sometimes it presents itself as the feeling of a sharply pulled muscle along with swelling or redness at the site. Simple precautions can help prevent DVT. It’s especially important while travelling to remain hydrated and to get up from your seat every hour to walk around and stretch. Even standing up once an hour and rising up on your tiptoes several times can help keep your circulation moving and prevent clotting.   (icon by david de hoey via...

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Nurse Tips: Get a Grip on the Grippe

Autumn’s change in weather often brings with it an increase in stomach bugs, those pesky germs that bring nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are gripe by the grippe this fall, switch to food that doesn’t irritate your system. Remember the initials B.R.A.T., which stand for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These are foods that are smoothly digested and act as binders to help alleviate diarrhea. Another “T” can be added, which stands for tea — a good beverage for an upset stomach. And while ginger ale can be helpful — ginger in general helps with an upset stomach — avoid sugary beverages, milk and dairy products, alcohol, greasy and fried foods, and raw fruits and vegetables. (feature image via letstalkaboutlauren.blogspot) (second image by tarop via flickr) (icon by david de hoey via...

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