And finally, we will be discussing one of my favorite topics today – the importance of proper posture! You can`t even begin to imagine how beneficial is proper posture, not just for our physical health but for our mental hygiene as well.
By practicing good posture you will get back pain relief, safeguard your back for future problems, be sure your back muscles are developing properly, but you can also boost your self-confidence raise your self-esteem.
Many people label poor posture as a “condition” or a state our body is in right now, but I like to think of poor posture as a way of life. You can`t just wake up one morning, look yourself in the mirror and say “What is this, poor posture? Well, this wasn’t here yesterday!”
Of course, you can say that but people have to realize that back posture is the result of our accumulated choices and decisions (good or bad) literally from the day we became aware of the fact that we had a back, up until this very day.
So what is poor posture? Well, it basically represents an imbalance within the muscles of our back. Due to certain sitting, standing and work habits in combination with repetitive movement, some muscles of our back can become tight and shortened while others might stretch and become weaker; resulting in overall poor back posture.
Proper posture is not something easily achievable, but it is definitely possible. Any good posture practitioner will surely tell you that it took them months or even years just to grow more awareness of their posture, and to develop the discipline to correct themselves.
Proper development of bones, joints, and ligaments
And overall good appearance
Psychological benefits – I don’t see many articles online dealing with the psychological/emotional benefits of proper posture. I don’t know if you heard of Tony Robbins, but he is one of the most incredible people I had the pleasure of listening to.
In one of his seminars, he associates emotional distress, fear, anxiety and stress with the way our body acts. In those moments our breath is shallow, we lower our voice and also hunch over, bringing our shoulders forward.
Now, when we are happy, free of stress and generally feeling good about ourselves, our body looks quite the opposite of the picture we`ve painted above. You start breathing deeply, gain a sense of certainty and fill yourself with self-esteem. Not only that, your body changes as well – you are no longer hunched over, your back is straight, your shoulders are back, basically you are opening yourself (and your body) to the world.
So, if you understand these basic principles (I`ve made an effort to simplify them as much as I could), you can “manipulate” the way you feel simply by manipulating your posture.
If you don’t believe me, try it. Next time you feel down, just shake up your body, start breathing deeply, put your shoulders back and assume the proper posture. You will feel an unbelievable difference, trust me!
Yes, it`s hard to imagine but we can actually influence our posture while we sleep, and we influence it by making the right choices before going to bed. Those choices are:
Try sleeping on your back (I can`t seem to master it but you are free to try)
You can also try sleeping on your side
Get some cushions for better back support
Go to bed and get up on time – meaning go to bed by 10:30 and get up no later than 6 AM.
These are all smaller changes, but if you combine them together, you will feel a great deal of difference.
If you are really serious about your back and want to improve your posture, there is no way you can do it without implementing some sort of exercise system you could follow on a daily basis.
First you must get in touch with your proper posture. Get a mirror, and try to align your ear, shoulder and hip in a straight line. You cannot correct yourself if you don’t know where is your starting point. I recommend doing this at least couple times a day, for a week; or until you get the hang of it.
Prone Cobra – I have to admit I have been doing this exercise for quite some time and have just recently found out it is called “Prone Cobra” :) Anyways, it is really easy, just lie down flat on your stomach and bring your face, arms and legs up. This exercise will strengthen your back muscles.
The second one is also performed while lying down flat on your stomach but this time you will just be lifting your arms along with the shoulders. Bring your arms in front of you and try lifting them and, at the same time, try to squeeze the shoulder blades to each other.
Don’t forget stretching. As we`ve said earlier, the result of poor posture is tightening of some of the back muscles so we need to get the blood flowing through them and stretch them properly. The best way to stretch them is to flex your head, bringing your chin closer to your chest. Hold the stretch for couple seconds and then release; repeat 10-15 times. You can also use your arms to force a bit more stretching, but only if you are comfortable with it.
Wave with your elbows. This is a great little exercise and I use it quite often. You can stand up straight or sit, lift your arms to 90 degrees and flex them in the elbow (so your hands are touching your shoulders). Now move your elbows up and down as though they are wings and you are about to take off :)
You can also practice yoga. There is a great course I found online, you can take a look here: Shapeshifter Yoga
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It`s important to note that a flat poop is just a symptom of something else going on in your body, it is not a disease in itself! That being said, this is a sign a lot of people tend to ignore (not ignore per say, but not a lot of people stare at their poop).
The good news is that there are not a lot of conditions related to the way your stool looks like, so we will be covering most, if not all, in today’s article.
We’start off with Irritable bowel syndrome since this is the most common cause of a flat stool.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
As the name suggests, IBS „attacks“ your large intestine and causes some changes its movement. Luckily, this disease does not leave any permanent damage behind – it does not alter the tissue of the intestine and does not lead to cancer!
The bad thing about IBS is that it is usually chronic, and treating it will require alterations in your diet, cutting back on certain drinks, foods, and general lifestyle. Treating IBS is certainly a marathon, rather than a sprint, so be prepared for a long fight.
IBS currently affects more than 30 million adults in the USA and is more prevalent in women, though is certainly not uncommon in men. One of the biggest problems with this disease is that we don’t have a test we can use to diagnose it. All the doctor can do is rule out all other possible causes until they are left with IBS.
As with the test, there is no one specific cause of this condition. What happens is the communication between your brain and your digestive system gets impaired due to your poor daily habits. There are, of course, some other factor which can contribute to the development of this disease, those are:
Eating unhealthy food
The symptoms may vary from person to person, but you should note that they will not go away on their own, you need to do something about it.
The most noticeable symptom is the abdominal pain that gets worse after eating, especially if you eat unhealthy food. The pain might be mild and bearable in the early stages of the disease (which is why most people ignore it), but it will get worse as the illness progresses. And this is why you must visit a doctor.
Other common symptoms of IBS are:
Bloating and stomach swelling
These are some of the most common symptoms, but they are related to some different conditions and can be benign in nature. This is why they often get ignored, but should you notice the following symptoms you should see your doctor as soon as possible:
Pain during sex
Loss of weight
The treatment will depend on your symptoms, but it will require some significant changes in your lifestyle, avoid foods that trigger your symptoms, exercise more, sleep more, and drink more water.
Eliminate gluten – though the research is not conclusive in this regard, some patients reported alleviation of symptoms related to diarrhea. You can try avoiding wheat, rye, and barley and report back to us to share your results
Eliminating gas producing foods – eating high-gas foods is contraindicated if you are experiencing bloating, gas and stomach swelling
Restricting certain carbs – some patients might be sensitive to certain types of carbohydrates. This is something your doctor will help you with, but if you want to do it yourself, you can try eliminating all the carbs, then introduce them one by one to see which triggers your symptoms
A colon polyp is a growth in the inner lining of your colon. The polyp itself is benign but, unlike IBS, it can become cancerous, life-threatening, and even fatal if not dealt with in time!
The good thing about this condition is that it can be quickly diagnosed and eliminated, but if it goes unnoticed for several years, it can become a serious health threat.
Here are some of the risk for a malignant colon polyp:
Age – this disease almost never „hits“ kids, it is prevalent in adults over 45 years old
Genetic factors – colon polyp can „run in the family,“ so if it appeared in your family history you are at risk of developing it as well
Eating unhealthy foods
We already said that diagnosing this condition is relatively easy, but there are a few different types of polyps, based on their appearance, location and its probability of becoming malignant. Here are the most common types:
Adenomatous– adenomatous polyp is one of the more common types of polyp found in the large intestine. They can become cancerous, in fact, the most common type of colon cancer develops from this particular polyp class.
Serrated – serrated polyps are commonly small (though they may vary in size) and are found in the lower section of the colon. Most common types of serrated polyps are hyperplastic, traditional serrated adenoma, and sessile serrated polyp. Though they are rarely malignant, they can lead to colon cancer.
Inflammatory – this is the third type of polyps, and they are not an immediate threat to your health. Though they do not lead to cancer, they can be an indication of another disease present, such as Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis, in some cases.
One more thing, though these polyps can lead to colon cancer, it is very rarely that they do. We did not list them here to freak you out; we just wanted to let you know that you should not ignore the signals your body is sending you… even though this signal is something as insignificant as a flat poop.
Here is the problem with polyps – it is not easy to spot that there is something wrong. This is why you should be extra careful and try to detect them before it’s too late. These subtle symptoms you know already, we’ve listed them above, as for the more severe symptoms, these are:
Blood in your stool (it can be on surface)
Some patients have dark stool (dark brown or black)
Lethargy and body weakness
Sometimes polyp can cause headaches
The colonoscopy is the easiest way to diagnose and remove malignant tissue. The only problem is the masses needs to be small in diameter; larger affected tissue will require surgery.
You should note that, even after you’ve removed the cancerous polyp, there is a chance it will grow back. This is a concern your doctor will share with you and advise you to act accordingly, test regularly and change your diet.
Anxiety And Constipation
Constipation is relatively common even in healthy individuals. The problem is when constipation appears along with other symptoms – bloating, abdominal pain and swelling.
Of course, a lot of people get scared when faced with such symptoms and immediately jump to cancer. Having thought like these is not at all healthy since anxiety and stress, not only affect our mental and physical health but can affect your bowel movement as well. In addition to affecting your bowel movement, it can make your muscles tight and tense and lead to constipation.
The important thing here is not to panic; chances are you don’t have cancer. What you should do is get yourself checked out by a medical professional, do a colonoscopy (if necessary), check your family history for digestive problems (diseases) and let your doctor know about anything in your life that might be adding to your stress levels (problems ar work, home, etc.).
Swollen vaginal lips are certainly not the most pleasant condition, but in this article, we will try to help you understand why it happened to you and how you can get through it.
Where there is swelling, there is a pain, and due to the location and origin of this pain, you might not be able to do all the regular daily things you are used to. In some cases, this pain can be quite severe and debilitating, but this rarely happens.
As you already know, the most predominant symptom of swollen vaginal lips is a pain. The pain is, of course, made worse when moving… Most patients also note that sleeping on their stomach is virtually impossible, so changing your sleeping patterns should be a good idea, until the pain goes away.
Another thing to keep in mind is selecting appropriate underwear. Goes without saying that you should wear something comfortable… Maybe even go commando, if you can.
As for the cream, we know that many of you will probably reach for some generic, over-the-counter cream, and avoid going to the doctor altogether. We urge you not to do this since putting the wrong cream onto such a delicate area may cause harm and irritation.
All in all, getting yourself checked out by a professional is the best thing you can do.
Anatomy of The Vagina
This is going to be a short overview of the anatomy of the vagina, just to give you some idea as to why your vaginal lips can be sore and painful.
The vagina is a part of a woman’s genital tract, and it “stretches out” from the vulva and the labia(vaginal lips) to cervix of the uterus. It is an opening between the urethra and anus, and during sexual intercourse, it receives the penis.
Another structure we can mention here is hymen. This is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. This layer will tear or rupture during sexual intercourse.
As for the color, it can change over the years. In your 20’s the color of the vagina is usually pink and everything is as it should be. When you enter 30’s (and beyond), you might notice a slight change in color due to hormones, pregnancy (f you’ve been pregnant) so your inner lips and vaginal opening may become darker.
Some other causes of changes in color are due to weight gain, vitamin deficiency, regular shaving, cosmetic products you use, etc.
The Anatomy Of The Vaginal Lips(Labia)
Vaginal lips are the structure that primarily protects the opening to your vagina, so their role is a crucial one.
In humans, there are two parts of labia: Labia Majora and Labia Minora. Labia majora is the outer, larger and fatter labia, the main reason for this is the fat tissue. Labia minora, on the other hand, is soft and thin as it is fat-free.
The reason we are “interested” in inner lips today is that at their base (on either side of the vaginal opening), we can find Bartholin’s glands. These pea sized glands are responsible for lubricating the vaginal opening, and if these get inflamed or develop a cyst, your vaginal lips will become swollen.
Causes Of Swollen Vaginal Lips Without Discharge
Now, after we’ve covered the anatomy of the vagina and the inner and outer vaginal lips, we can discuss the reasons for the swelling and pain in this region. Keep in mind that these causes are interlinked (one can lead to the other), but we decided to present them in the form of a list, just to help you navigate more quickly:
This is very rare, but jockeys can have swollen lips, because of riding a horse
As you can see, most of these symptoms are benign and can go away on their own, but there are those that won’t, such as yeast infection or a cyst in one of the glands. And this is why we are going to talk a bit more about these two in the following paragraphs.
Yeast infection is surprisingly common, as much as 70-80% of all women have had this infection at some point in their life. It is important to note that there is even bacteria and fungus in a healthy vagina. The problems start when these numbers go over a certain limit, and the good bacteria starts overpopulating and hurting your organism.
Vaginal yeast infection (or vaginitis) is caused by a species of fungus called candida.
Some of the main symptoms of a yeast infection are:
Intense itching, burning, and irritation
Localized swelling and pain
How can I avoid Candida?
One of the main reasons candid over-populates is eating sugar. When we eat sugar, we provide a fantastic energy source for this fungus, and they start growing like crazy. And before you know it, you will notice itching, burning, and discomfort in the vaginal area.
Yeast infection may appear as a result of a compromised immune system. Various factors can lead to a weakened immune system, some of those are:
Another major problem we encounter in our daily life is stress. As a society, we don’t talk much about stress and its devastating effects on our body and minds. We used to think that stress only affected our mind, but now we know that it can present itself with a genuine, palpable problems with our entire body.
Daily stress (at your job or home) will weaken your immune system over time and allow these bacteria and fungus to grow and bring harm to the body.
One last thing – buying medication without a prescription and without consulting your doctor. This is one of the more dangerous practices, but everyone does it. There are some conditions and drugs that you can use without having to worry, but if you are taking antibiotics, for example, you need professional advice.
We already mentioned these cysts previously, but now we are going to go more in-depth.
Bartholin glands are a set of small glands located underneath the skin, to the left and the right of the vaginal opening. The primary role of these glands is to produce fluid and lubricate the outer genital area. This fluid is “transported” from the glands to the surface of the skin by tiny tubes called Bartholin ducts.
Now, when these ducts get blocked, the fluid builds up in a gland, forming a cyst. The ducts can become blocked due to various reasons, usually due to some infection of thick mucus, but the good news is, this condition usually goes away on its own.
Obviously, if you feel discomfort spanning across several days, you will want to pay a visit to your doctor and, in case of an infection, get appropriate treatment.
Genital herpes is an STD caused by two types of viruses called herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2.
The disease is common in the adult population and quickly spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex.
How Do You Know If You Have Herpes
The problem with herpes is that it often has mild or no symptoms at all; so once you realize you have it, it might be too late, and you’ve already infected someone else.
Oral herpes resembles an ingrown hair or blisters around your mouth while genital is much more distinguishable. Genital herpes will cause blisters to form around your genitals and/or rectum.
We can not still cure herpes; we can only use medication to shorten and suppress the blisters outbreak.
The good news is that most of the symptoms of herpes will go away after just 2-3 weeks, but the bad news is the herpes virus remains in our body.
This virus may lie dormant, but it may flare up suddenly weeks, months or even years from the initial outbreak.
Cervicitis Somtimes Causes Swollen Vag Lips
Cervicitis is a condition characterized by swelling and inflammation within the tissue of the end of the uterus (cervix).
The condition is usually caused by one of the following sexually transmitted diseases:
Human papilloma virus
Cervicitis can also happen as a result of an allergy to latex condoms or spermicides used in birth control.
Most common symptoms associated with this condition are:
Vaginal lips swelling
Anbormal vaginal bleeding
Unusually colored discharge
Pain during sexual intercourse
The feeling of pressure in the pelvis
How Is It Treated?
The treatment depends on the primary cause – we will treat chlamydia and gonorrhea with antibiotics, and herpes with antivirals.
If the treatment proves unsuccessful, the doctor might resort to a procedure designed to destroy the affected tissue.
Burning Vulva Syndrome
Burning vulva syndrome, also called Vulvodynia, might sound like something out of a science fiction movie but the condition is very real, causes quite a bit of discomfort and may indicate a serious health problem.
*The vulva refers to the external reproductive female organs – labia, clitoris and vaginal opening.
Though the exact cause of the Burning vulva syndrome is yet unknown, the symptoms of this condition are apparent and distinct – burning, itching, tingling, and stinging sensations. Your vaginal lips might also be swollen, but there will be no noticeable discharge.
There are several distinct types of vulvodynia:
Generalized vulvodynia – the case where the pain is felt through the entire area of the vulva.
Localized vulvodynia – pain in one specific area.
Provoked vulvodynia – the most common type of vulvodynia, provoked by physical contact – sexual intercourse, tampon application, even wearing tight underwear.
Spontaneous vulvodynia – this is the term we use when there is no distinct cause of this condition.
How To Treat It?
There is no clear cure for this condition as it depends on many factors, which is why you need proper medical attention.
Contacting your doctor would be the best course of action.
Allergies And Other Irritations
Allergies and daily irritations are one of the leading causes of swollen vaginal lips.
Substances in your immediate surrounding that can trigger an allergic reaction are:
Chemical and artifical fragrances found in the toilet paper, soaps, and personal hygiene products you use on a daily basis
Latex in condoms
Spermicides in contraceptives (spermicides are chemicals that stop sperm celss from reaching the egg)
Certain types of fabric
Certain tampon brands can also cause irritation and allergies
The good news with irritations and allergies is that you can easily get to the bottom of it and determine what’s causing it yourself.
If you notice irritation, you can slowly start to eliminate the causes, one by one until you’ve figured it out. The downside of this process is that it takes time…
So, getting yourself tested for allergies in a specialized facility is what we would recommend.
Lichen sclerosis is not often talked about (since it does not affect that many people) but it is a serious, long-term condition that affects the skin of the genitals, and can sometimes spread to the upper body (breasts and arms).
Patients often fear this disease as it is “linked” to cancer, but the critical thing to note is that it will only increase your chances of getting cancer if the skin is scarred. For this reason, regular checkups are required every 6 to 12 months.
What Causes It And What Are Its Symptoms
As with some other diseases we’ve mentioned today, the exact cause of the disease is still unknown; what we do know is that you can’t give it to someone else (it is not an STD).
Some contributing factors to the development of the disease are:
An overactive immune system
Disease running in the family
Injuries and skin damages that may induce it
As for the symptoms, here are some of the most common ones:
White spots in the skin of the genitals (early signs of the disease)
Ithcing, pain and swelling
Skin slowly getting thicker and the patches getting bigger
Skin that is becomming scarred, bleeds, and tears easilly
Painful blisters on the skin
How To Treat Lichen Sclerosis
The patches on the skin of the arms will usually go away on their own without treatment, but genital skin requires some attention.
There are various ointments your doctor may recommend, and if they don’t help, surgery is used.
Not all bacteria are bad. There are trillions (just under 40 trillion according to the scientists from the Weizmann Institute) of bacteria within our body. A vast majority of those assist daily functions of our body and help us live a healthy life.
Sometimes, however, good bacteria in certain parts of our body gets overwhelmed by the bad ones. This is precisely what happens during Bacterial vaginosis.
Common symptoms of BV are:
Swelling of the vaginal lips
Unpleasant odor (fishy scent)
In most cases, the good bacteria will eventually “regain power” so you won’t have to treat it.
If for some reason, the body cannot restore this balance on its own, certain antibiotics are introduced to help us win this fight.
Swollen Vaginal Lips As A Result Of Medication
This condition is closely linked to the previous section of the article because the medication can sometimes attack good bacteria as well.
It will do a good job ridding you of the bad ones, but some good may “die” in the process.
The good bacteria, healthy vaginal flora, helps keep the germs in check, so when their number is weakened, infections and other pathogens strike, causing swelling of the vaginal lips, itching, burning and other related problems.
Swollen Vag Lips On One Side?
Though not common, there are cases where only vag lip on one side is swollen or itchy.
There are few common reasons this happens, and those are:
Physical Trauma To The Vaginal Lip
Physical trauma to the vaginal area usually happens during sexual intercourse.
Genital skin is sensitive and susceptible to damage, especially when there is not enough lubrication.
Vaginal lubrication is an essential part of the intercourse as it readies the vagina for penetration while reducing friction and irritation.
This is a process that occurs naturally, but sometimes women may experience “vaginal dryness.” It is crucial for the partner to be aware of this as well since sex without proper lubrication can be painful for women can cause physical trauma, irritation or swelling in one of both vaginal lips.
Bartholin Gland Cyst On One Side
We mentioned earlier that Bartholin glands are located to the left and the right of the vaginal opening.
Now, swelling in this area can co-occur on both vaginal lips, but it is much more common for one side to be swollen.
In most cases, this swelling will be quite noticeable, and you will be able to feel it under your fingers. In which case you should contact your doctor.
Sciatica is a sciatic nerve problem characterized by pain in the lower back and hip which is radiating down the back of the thigh, and further down the leg.
It is estimated that every adult experiences this type of pain, but the intensity may vary. In the beginning, pain will be mild and annoying, but if left untreated it can get progressively worse. The good news is you can treat it at home by following advises outlined in this article.
What Are The Main Causes Of Sciatica?
Sciatica is not a physical condition, it is just a common name for a group of symptoms associated with sciatic nerve irritation and compression. The following conditions may lead to this irritation:
Our spine is made up of individual bones called vertebrae, between each vertebra lies intervertebral disc – a cartilaginous structure which allows flexibility in the spine but also acts as a shock absorber, protecting the bones when we walk, run or jump.
Disc herniation, or slipped disc, is a condition where intervertebral disc slips out of its original place and puts pressure to the surrounding structures.
Herniation of the disc between lumbar vertebrae IV and V will put pressure and compress the L5 component of the sciatic nerve and cause pain we know as sciatica. It will also compress nerves passing to lower levels, as you can see on the image below:
Intervertebral Foramen Narrowing
Each pair of vertebrae forms intervertebral foramen (openinig in Latin) through which nerves exit the spinal column. It is not uncommon for these opening to become narrower over time and put pressure to the nerves passing through it. This is also one of the more common causes of sciatic nerve irritation.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra slides forward, out of its original position. In kids, this condition is most commonly caused by some congenital defect; while in adults it can develop as a result of wear and tear (arthritis).
A person may have spondylolisthesis without even knowing it, but some of the most common symptoms are:
Contrary to popular belief, sciatica is not more common in pregnancy. Though increased weight will put additional pressure to the spine and the entire back, structures around the sciatic nerve are generally not affected.
Chances are you would have developed sciatica whether you were pregnant or not.
Other common causes of this condition are:
Bone spurs – also called osteophytes, are classified as natural bony projections which can grow along the edges of the bones. They are most common in individuals over 60 years old. Even though bone spurs are considered natural, if they start developing around the edges of the vertebrae (or along the intervertebral foramen), they can irritate the nerves and lead to sciatica
Violent twisting motions and sudden spine flexing – violent twisting motions (during a golf swing) or sudden spine flexions (when a player gets tackled in football) in healthy individuals may damage intervertebral discs, causing them to protrude and compress the nerves
Pelvic injuries or fractures
How Do You Know You Have Sciatica – Most Common Symptoms
The most common symptom of sciatica is pain. Patients generally describe it as intense, sharp pain which starts in the lumbar spine and shoots down the buttocks and down the back of your leg.
There are cases where the pain is mild, felt only as slight tingling along the path of the nerve, but sometimes it feels like a sharp knife stabbing your but.
Pain may be worsened when coughing, standing or sitting for longer periods of time.
Sciatica Diagnosis – When Should You Go See A Doctor?
Medical history plays a key role in diagnosing sciatica. The doctor will sometimes be able to make the diagnosis solely based on it, but a physical examination is also required along with a chat with the patient regarding the symptoms and the exact location of the pain.
Doing an MRI or an X-ray initially may not be necessary, because herniated discs and bone spurs are commonly present in healthy individuals (without any symptoms). If the pain persists, however, imaging and lab studies may be required to better access the condition of the patient.
X-ray – X-ray is used for detecting changes on the bones of the spine (bone spurs) and see if they are putting pressure to the nerves
MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging is a technique used to produce cross-section images of your back using radio and magnetic wave technology. MRI`s advantage over X-ray is the ability to produce images of both bones and soft tissues, such as herniated discs, to see if they are compressing or irritating the nerves
Lab studies – the doctor might order a blood test to detect infection or inflammation
CT scan – CT is an imaging method that uses X-rays and requires special dye, called contrast, patient needs to take before the test starts. This dye will help certain areas to show better on the X-ray
Treating Sciatica – Exercises, Medication and Natural Treatment
The usual course of action for sciatica pain relief is self-care measures. These measures include activities patients can do on their own, usually in the comfort of their own home. And if the pain does not subside, doctor may suggest medication, steroid injections and surgery.
Home Treatment For Natural Pain Relief
The Importance Of Rest
Rest is a crucial component in sciatica relief and patient rehabilitation… but only during the initial flare up – first day or two. This will allow the body to start healing itself, the symptoms will subside and the pain will become less intense.
Many patients fall into the same trap of resting for too long. Avoiding exercises, stretches and activity, in general, will weaken the muscles. Weak muscles are unable to support your back properly which can lead to more pain!
Rest is only good if it is followed by a good exercise routine, which we will cover in the following chapters.
Ice and Heat
Ice an head can and should be combined with rest. They are easily accessible, inexpensive, easy to apply and, most importantly, very effective in providing relief from sciatica.
Ice – applying ice will reduce inflammation and numb the tissue, resulting in pain alleviation around the path of the sciatic nerve. Ice should not come in direct contact with the skin, it would be best to wrap it in a piece of cloth and then apply for 15 minutes at a time, couple times a day, 2-7 days. You can also massage the area gently using an ice pack, rather than just holding it in one place
Heat – heat will dilate blood vessels and supply more nutrients and oxygen to the area, this will help speed up the healing process. Heat is best used after that initial, “sharp” pain phase. For best results though, it is best to combine ice and heat
Stretches For Sciatica Pain Relief
Stretching and exercising routine usually comes after those few initial days of rest and it is designed to relax tense muscles, improve lower back flexibility and release sciatic nerve compression. NOTE: before starting with this exercise routine, it is advised to consult your doctor.
Knee To Chest
The main goal of this stretch is to improve the flexibility of your lower back.
Lie down on your back, flex your legs in the hip and in the knees (you can place a small pillow under your head). Bend your knee towards your chest, grab it with your hands and slowly increase the stretch. Stretch your leg as far as you are comfortable with and hold it for about 20 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times with each leg.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
Assume the same position as the previous exercise. Flex your knee towards your chest, grab your hamstring with your hands and slowly extend your leg in the knee. Hold the stretch for up to 20 seconds (shorter if you start to feel pain, tingling or discomfort) and repeat up to 5 times with each leg.
Keep in mind this stretch can be challenging if you are out of shape, so start out slow.
Deep Gluteal Stretch
This is one of the best deep stretches for glutes and piriformis muscle. Starting position is the same – lie down on your back, flex legs in knees and hips, but this time you need to rest your left foot (ankle) on your right knee.
Then grab your right knee and pull towards your chest, you will feel this stretch deep in the buttocks. Hold the stretch for up to 20 seconds and repeat couple times with each leg. (if you can`t grab your hamstring wrap a towel around it and grab on to it)
Push Up Position Stretch
This stretch is a bit more advanced and harder to do, but if you feel comfortable you should definitely incorporate it into your sciatic relief stretching routine.
Get in a push-up position, slide your right knee in line with your left shoulder and rotate your right ankle so that it is flat on the floor. After you assume this position, start pushing your hip toward the ground gently, stretching your hip. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and repeat couple times with each leg.
Supine Crossed Leg Stretch
Lie down flat on your back with your legs extended. Cross your left leg so that the ankle is lateral to your right knee. Place your hands on your left thigh and push the leg inward. Hold the stretch for up to 10 seconds and repeat up to 10 times with each leg.
This is a simple standing lower back stretch. Stand up with your spine erect, straighten your legs and bend over slowly, as far as your flexibility allows it. Hold the stretch for up to 10 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.
Strengthening Exercises For Sciatica Relief
Without exercises, muscles become weak and unable to fully support the back, which may lead to the deterioration of the patient`s condition and increased pain.
Typically, strengthening exercises may be divided into two subgroups:
Core strengthening exercises and
Specific exercises depending on the diagnosis and the underlying cause of sciatica.
Most exercise programs will be tailored to the specific needs of the patient and depend on the cause of pain, so it is not advised to start them on your own. But if you want to strengthen your core, you can check out this short video with some basic core exercises (exercises are performed with a Swiss ball, you can get one cheap on Amazon.com; we`ve created a list of the best ones you can choose from, Click Here to see it):
Tens Machine For Sciatica
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is often used as an alternative to painkilling medication. It sends small electrical pulses through the skin which are then transmitted through the body.
So far, there has been no concrete scientific evidence to confirm the effectiveness of the TENS unit treatment, but the majority of patients who tried experienced short-term acute and chronic pain relief.
Most scientists are still unsure as to what causes this pain relief, but there are two predominant theories:
Scrambling normal pain signals – the electrodes stimulate nerves in the surrounding area and interfere with normal pain signals that are being sent to the brain. This disruption leads to the feeling of pain relief
Endorphin production – endorphins are painkillers body produces naturally. It is believed that this steady flow of electricity helps the body produce more endorphins
TENSE units for home use are generally not expensive, and if you are interested in trying one out, we recommend Zewa Spabuddy.
Spinal Decompression and Inversion Tables
Spinal decompression involves stretching the spine using a motorized decompression machine or a decompression table. It is based on the principles of spinal traction performed by chiropractors and other health professionals.
The main goal of spinal decompression procedure is to take the pressure off damaged spinal discs and allow herniations and bulges to retract.
Inversion (table) therapy involves being upside down at an inverted angle. When the body`s weight is suspended from the lower body (when you are hanging by the feet on the inversion table) the gravity may decompress the joints and align them. This method has been used for centuries but if you are looking to invest in it, you should consult your doctor first.
Best Creams For Pain Relief
We already stated that sciatica is not a physical condition and, as such, it can`t be “cured;” all the creams which promise this are usually using this claim for advertising purposes. A good cream should address the symptoms, deal with the problem of inflammation and reduce pain.
If you stop by your local drug store, you will probably be able to find some good topical pain relief creams; if you can choose, however, our advice is to go with Penetrex or Sombra.
Using A Cushion To Fight Sciatica
A cushion will not slide your disc back into its place, it won`t strengthen your muscles and reduce the inflammation… but, a medically proven orthopedic cushion should:
Encourage correct sitting posture
Reduce pressure on your lower back and coccyx
Adjust to the weight of your body and
Does not flatten after prolonged use
Adjusting your seated posture alone can relieve pain and it is beneficial with people suffering from sciatica, hernia or have poor posture. Which is why a good memory foam cushion is never a bad investment:
How can you prevent the most common symptoms and causes of sciatica? You need to:
Practice good Alignment and Posture – most jobs today result in an unnatural alignment of the spine (slouching the shoulders, bending forward), so it is crucial that you maintain proper posture and keep the back straight to prevent the discs from popping out
Strengthen your core muscle – these muscles protect the spine and help the back support our upper body. Keeping the abdominals and the back muscles strong and in good shape should be one of your top priorities
Be aware of your body and daily activities – you need to keep a close eye on the activities you perform on a daily basis; whether it is picking up your briefcase off the floor or taking your child into your arms, you need to keep your alignment and bend with your knees, rather than your back
Buy a firm mattress – your mattress should be firm enough to support your entire body and keep your spine straight. Also, the pillow needs offer proper neck support
Doctor Endorsed Sciatica Exercise Routine For Quick Pain Relief
When faced with sciatica pain, many people think it`s too late, that they were too late to address the condition and the only way to get pain relief is surgery. But things are far from over!
Your most important takeaway from this article should be that sciatica is not a condition in itself, this is just a label we use for a group of symptoms corresponding with problems with the sciatic nerve. So, by addressing the symptoms you might get a temporary pain relief, but the underlying cause of your sciatic pain will still be there.
This is the reason I am bringing up a certain e-book I came across some time ago. The book is called Sciatica SOS and was written by Glen Johnson. What I like about this book is that, rather than just offering you a number of different exercises to choose from, it is divided into 6 different sections:
EfS (exercises for sciatica) caused by a herniated disc
EfS caused by spinal stenosis
EfS caused by degenerative disc disease
EfS caused by isthmic spondylolisthesis
Efs caused by problems with piriformis muscle
Efs caused by sacroiliac joint problems
As you can see, you will get a different set of exercises based on the underlying cause of your sciatica pain. The book also covers traditional pain relief options along with some quite interesting home remedies you should definitely try!
All in all, this is a great little e-book that will definitely help you experience pain relief in days!
But that`s not all, I`ve got two great news for all you who are interested in getting this e-book today:
A huge discount – the book is currently on a 52% discount! I don`t know how long this discount will last so my advice is to get it sooner rather than later.
Full 60-day money back guarantee – the book is not only on a huge discount, but it also comes with a full 60-day money back guarantee meaning you can buy the book, give those exercises a try over the course of 60 days and if you find the book was not helpful you can just contact the seller and get your money back.
NOTE: HelpYourBack.org is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
“Why does my belly button smell?” – Have you ever asked yourself this question? I`m sure you did, at least once, since you are reading this article!
Stinky/smelly belly button is, in most cases, not a serious health threat but it may point to a certain medical condition. More often than not, it can be linked to poor hygiene, but there are cases when the belly button area produces a smelly discharge, poop or fish-like smell, itching or pain. (you can clikc here if you havepain around your belly button)
In the following paragraphs, we are going to cover the most common causes of a smelly belly button, ways to deal with it and a proper way to maintain a healthy belly button hygiene routine. But first:
Belly button, the navel (clinically known as umbilicus), is basically a scar on our abdomen. We generally don’t view it as a scar since we`ve had it for as long as we can remember but it is just that – a scar at the attachment of the umbilical cord.
The navel is so prominent and relatively consistent on the abdomen, it is used to visually separate it into four quadrants: right upper and lower and left upper and lower quadrant. (see abdominal quadrants here)
The Belly Button’s Rain Forrest
To give you a better idea of what goes on in the belly button and why does it sometimes stink, we thought we’d share the results of a research study published on National Geographic Website.
The main goal of the study was to examine the microbial contents of 60 volunteers’ belly buttons. And the results were nothing short of amazing – the scientists discovered a total of 2.368 bacterial species, 1.458 of which may be completely new to science! Meaning an average belly button harbored around 67 species!
Unfortunately the goal of the study was not to answer the question “Why do our belly button smell,” but studies like these help us get a better understanding of ourselves and our bodies.
“Outies” And “Innies” – Anatomy and Smelly Belly Button
Accoring to a certain non-scientific poll, over 90% of all individuals have what is called a innie belly button (a belly button that faces inwards). The rest have an outie.
Now, even though an innie is considered more appealing visually (there are even surgeries designed to transform and outie into an innie), an outward facing belly button is less prone to bacteria growth therefore, less prone to bacteria-induced “foul odor” problem.
We are, of course, not suggesting you should get a surgery if you have and inward facing belly; this is just an anatomical curiosity…
Why Is Your Navel Smelly – Most Common Causes Of A Smelly Belly Button
Navel is generally a place where oil and dirt accumulates, so a “smelly situation” is not as surprising as it may seem at first.
Based on people’s complaints, we can divide this smell into two distinct categories:
a strange, undefined smell, harder to pinpoint and
a distinct foul smell, resembling poop, cheese or a fish gone bad
Either way, a strange smell (that comes back after you’ve cleaned your navel) is a clear sign that something is wrong and it would be best to get it checked out. Meanwhile, here are some of the most common causes of a smelly belly button:
Fungal Infection – from what you’ve read so far, you must think that the belly button is the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of infections… Well, you are not that far from the truth actually… The belly button is dark and damp and, as such, suitable for yeast infection growth. Most common symptoms of a belly button yeast infection are:
Itching – since the yeast infection will erode healthy skin cells, it may lead to itching. The best way to deal with this itching is to get an anti-itching cream
Redness – skin will often become red when irritated but this redness will go away as you start dealing with the infection
Discharge and Odor – a thick, white or yellowish discharge is usually a clear sign of a yeast infection, accompanied by a foul odor
Bacterial infection – belly buttons are prone to bacterial infections, especially when unclean and unwashed. These infections will often lead to a yellowish or even brown discharge, pain and unpleasant smell. A common way to identify a bacterial infection is a fouls smell that keeps coming back even after washing.
Infected belly button piercing – as surprising as it may seem, the infected navel piercing rate is quite high (in excess of 30%). Common causes are unsterylized piering equipment, touching your piercing with dirty hands and generally poor “piercing” hygiene. You will know your belly button is infected if you notice swelling, redness and tenderness around the piercing. Also, you might notice a rash and a foul-smelling discharge. Since the skin integrity has been broken, these infections can lead to more severe health problems and should be addressed as soon as you spot them.
Diabetes – Diabetics are prone to infections in general, not only in the navel region. Also, the infections last longer and are more difficult to address and heal. Depending on the severity and duration, these infections may lead to a horrible smelling discharge, resembling fish or cheese gone bad.
Pregnancy – foul smelling belly button during pregnancy is nothing out of the ordinary and here is why. During pregnancy, obviously, the body goes through a number of changes – physical, psychological and hormonal, and as the hormones start going wild, the metabolism might speed up and result in increased perspiration. This extra sweat will find its way to the belly button and you may notice a certain odor. A quick fix is to clean your belly button twice a day using q-tips with rubbing alcohol.
UV ligh exposure – it is a well-known fact that UV light damages the skin. The extent of this damage will largely depend on the amount of time you spend exposed to the direct sun light. Overexposure can lead to skin damage which in-turn increases the risk for the development of infections.
Sebaceous cysts – sebaceous cysts are small, noncancerous bumps under the skin. They are most common on face, neck and on the trunk. These bumps are usually small, reddish with a tiny blackhead opening at the very top of the cyst. Most common way of treatment for these cysts is just to leave them alone. In some rare cases, your doctor will make a small incision and drain them. Even if you do not attempt to drain them, they will sometimes leak with a foul-smelling, thick, yellow pus.
Urachal abnormalities – Urachus is a remnant of a channel wich connected our bladder and belly button during the first trimester of pregnancy. This channel usually goes away completely around the 12th week of pregnancy. In some rare cases, urachus does not go away and leads to a condition known as patent urachus. Patients with PU are more prone to belly button infections which are accompanied by a strong-smelling discharge.
Why Does My Belly Button Smell After A Tummy Tuck?
It is important to note here that the smell does not appear right after the surgery, patients usually notice it after a few days (even months or years!). When this happens, we usually suspect one of two things:
Retained sutures – if you notice a foul smell coming from the navel region few weeks or months following the tummy tuck surgery, chances are there are still some remaining sutures that need to be removed. You should contact your surgeon and sort it out.
Navel contraction – sometimes, due to scarring, the navel opening might contract and essentially become too tight so you just skip over it when washing yourself. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to give it a little stretch and allow yourself to access it and give it a thorough, deep cleansing.
Treating Belly Button Smell
Treating is not the same for all patients, it will largely depend on the underlying cause (this is why we always advise seeing a doctor). For example:
if urachus is the problem, you must undergo a surgery to remove it
infections are usually treated with topical creams and/or ingestible medication
diabetes will require lifestyle changes and
cysts will usually be better off left alone
A Proper Way To Clean Your Belly Button
In addition to pointing to a more serious health condition, a smelly belly button can be plain embarrassing; this is why most people don’t even talk about it and, in some cases, adopt poor hygiene habits.
After reading this article, you won’t be able to make any more excuses ’cause we are going to give you a full navel cleaning routine:
Preparation – it is always a good idea to gather all the necessities before you begin the cleansing process. Nothing is set in stone here, but you can start with water, baby oil, alcohol, a cotton swab (q-tip) and an astringent
Dip and clean – dip the cotton swab into your desired cleaning solution and swab your navel. Repeat several times until you get all the dirt out and your navel is nice and clean
Remove solution – after you remove the dirt, repeat swabbing your belly button with a clean cotton swab until your navel is nice and dry
Aftercare – after you’ve cleaned your belly button, you should apply a skin care ointment or a cream to nurture and care the skin you’ve just treated!
In medical terminology, itching is generally referred to as pruritus. Pruritus is, therefore, not exclusively tied to itchy ankles, but it may still be used to describe this condition.
The skin is the largest organ of our body (it accounts for 15% of our total body weight) and its main role is to serve as a protective barrier. For this reason, we can view itching as a distress call, signaling that something is wrong with the specific area of the skin (in our case, the skin around the ankles).
Itchy ankles usually point to a certain dermatological problem (skin diseases and conditions) but is can also be a symptom of an internal disorder such as diabetes mellitus, problems with blood vessels and, in the most severe cases, occult carcinoma.
As you can see, there are a lot of potential causes of itchiness around the ankles, and we will go through each and every one of them in the following paragraphs.
What Leads To Itchy Ankles?
Before we dive into the list of causes (that lead to itchy ankles) we cannot control, I would like to first point out a few we are in our control of:
Inappropriate footwear -often overlooked, this is one of the most common factors which contributes to the development of itchy ankles. As we all know, socks come in direct contact with the skin around our ankles and the material they are made of will play a crucial role here. If you ever wore wool socks you know what we`re talking about. Wooly socks can also irritate your skin even if you are wearing cotton ones underneath, so be careful when choosing your footwear. Also, you should try to avoid socks that are too tight around the ankles (wooly or not), as they can also lead to itching and contact dermatitis.
Insect bites – the infamous mosquito bites; it seems that nothing else can produce such an intense itching feeling as a mosquito bite on the ankle (wrist can also itch like crazy). Mosquito bites on the ankles are especially common in the evening because most of our body is covered, but our wrists, neck, and ankles are usually vulnerable to attack! Other insects can also cause itching around our feet and ankles such as bed bugs and mites.
Heat Rash – heat rash is common in athletes, golfers and runners especially. This rash typically occurs in people aged 50 and over, during hot and humid summer months. The main cause of this rash is sweat – what happens is sweat glands become clogged (when wearing tight socks) and the perspiration becomes trapped beneath the surface and irritates blood vessels.
Bandage – just like the socks, different kinds of band-aids and bandages can irritate the skin, especially if worn over longer periods of time, and cause itching.
Harsh soaps – most of you are probably not aware of this, but there are very few sweat glands around the ankles; and if you are too harsh with your cleansing routine, or use a harsh soap, you can strip the skin of its essential oils and dry it out, which will result in ankle itching.
Neurodermatitis – neurodermatitis is a condition that starts with a small patch of itchy skin. As you scratch it, it makes it even itchier and as this cycle repeats, the skin becomes hard and thick. This condition is not life-threatening of contagious and, if you resist the urge to scratch, it can be easily taken care of with over-the-counter creams.
Most Common Causes Of Itchy Ankles
In this section, we are going to go over some of the most common medical conditions which lead to itchy ankles:
Poor circulation – poor circulation is commonly present in extremities (arms and legs) and is not a “condition” by itself but it can lead to other health issues. Among others, it leads to:
Varicose veins – varicose veins are enlarged veins that are damaged and can’t move blood as efficiently as other, healthy veins. This condition may lead to swelling of your feet and ankles, pain and cramping, discoloration, and itching around the ankles.
Diabetes – at first glance you would probably not link these two, but itchy skin is usually one of the symptoms of diabetes. High blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time may result in nerve damage and kidney problems. Unfortunately, people who experience itchy legs, feet and ankles are usually those who had very high blood sugar levels for a longer time period.
Neuropathy – neuropathy is a disorder where nerves sensory response becomes impaired.
Asteatotic eczema – asteatotic eczema is characterized by excess water loss from the epidermis (surface layer of the skin). When cells lose water they shrink, lose their elasticity and fissures appear. This condition may lead to itching and inflammation with the risk of an infection. This eczema is common in the elderly population.
Nummular dermatitis – nummular dermatitis, also called discoid eczema, is a condition where people can observe distinct, coin-shaped sores on the skin around the ankle or elbows. This condition is more common in women.
Cholinergic urticaria – this is a relatively common immune system disorder characterized by skin`s hypersensitivity to stimuli (heat, emotional stress, or exercise). This condition is relatively easy to diagnose since its most prominent symptom are small hives and patches of red, itchy skin.
Itchy Skin In Pregnancy
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience itchy skin, especially in the first trimester. This is the time when skin becomes much more sensitive and even something you would usually disregard (like the quality of your socks) may the be the main culprit behind your itchy legs, feet or ankles.
It wouldn’t hurt, though, to talk to your doctor should you experience itching that seems out of the ordinary in duration or intensity; just to be on the safe side.
Treating Itchy Ankles
Even though itching may seem benign (and it most cases it is), you should generally address it sooner than later. Of course, seeking medical attention is not always necessary, but if your itching is persistent and it just won’t go away, you should get it checked out.
Meanwhile, here are some of the best practices you should follow if you decide to tackle itchy ankles on your own:
Stop scratching! I know that this may be easier said than done, but you saw earlier (when we were discussing neurodermatitis), that you can actually do yourself more harm if you scratch that patch of itchy skin consistently.
Stopping the itching – one of the most common (and cost-efficient) ways of stopping itching dead in its tracks is using a cold pack. Cold packs will cool down your skin, and should reduce the itching feeling. NOTE: you should apply cold packs up to 20 minutes at a time, no longer. When dealing with insect bites, I also like to use heat. I make sure I set the water temperature to the maximum my skin can take and just let the water run for about 10 minutes. I feel that hot water has a similar effect as itching does, but without the skin damage and irritation.
Menthol lotion – applying a moisturizing menthol lotion will have a soothing effect and reduce the intensity of the ankle itching. It will also moisturize (as the name suggests) your skin, prevent it from going dry and cracking. You can use pretty much any lotion you can get your hands on, but if you have sensitive skin make sure you pick one with natural/organic ingredients.
Clay – I’ve used clay successfully for battling acne when I was a teen, but clay is also very helpful with itching and skin irritation. When buying, make sure you get untreated clay. Once you apply it, let it dry and rinse off.
Aloe vera – aloe vera is pretty much a miracle plant and is used for every skin condition under the sun. All you need to do is break a leaf off the plant, and rub the gooey gel directly onto your skin.
Call your dermatologist! This goes without saying really, dermatologist will be able to diagnose your condition and pinpoint the underlying cause of your itching.