Ring in the new year with a resolution to take care of yourself! Perhaps you have nagging aches and pains that you ignored during the busy holiday season or hoped they would go away on their own. Well, it's a new year, and time to make taking care of yourself your top priority!

Many aches and pains can be caused by tendonitis, nerve compression syndromes, or osteoarthritis. These conditions are progressive and become more difficult to treat if they are neglected for long periods of time. Take action today!

See your physician to get a diagnosis. Your doctor will discuss your options for treatment. One suggestion may be hand, occupational, or physical therapy. Typically, therapy involves attending sessions with a therapist one to three times per week. Remember, for your therapy to be beneficial, you must follow through with the program your therapist sets up for you.

No problems, you say? Feeling healthy and strong? Good for you, we hope you stay that way! Overuse injuries and syndromes can sneak up on you, as opposed to an injury with a known cause and sudden onset of symptoms, like pain or swelling. With overuse injuries you may notice a slow, gradual ache or pain that can progress if not attended to. Take a moment to review the course of action if you notice a new ache or pain.

1. Make an appointment to see your physician. Remember early diagnosis and treatment leads to faster recovery. Be prepared for your visit with your doctor. Write down questions you have and be sure to discuss your options!

2. In the meantime try using a gel cold pack wrapped in a pillowcase over the painful or swollen area for 10 minutes, a few times each day. This is especially important for the first three to five days after your symptoms start.

To make your own cold pack get two one gallon Ziploc bags and place one inside the other. Fill it with a 16 ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol and 32 ounces of water. Seal both bags tightly and free until slushy.

3. Respect pain. Throw the phrase “no pain, no gain” out the window. Pain is your body's way of telling you that an activity is stressful. If you can safely stop in the middle of an activity that's increasing your pain, do so.

4. Rest the painful area as much as possible. Plan ahead to avoid or delegate activities you know will be painful.

With each year that passes, our lives and schedules seem to get busier with less and less time for ourselves. Whatever the new year has in store for you, taking time out to “treat yourself” may be just the answer.

Happy New Year!