Chronic Pain Management
Natural treatments for dealing with daily pain
While chronic pain cannot be cured, its impact on your life can be minimized. Many treatments offered by doctors often fail to cure the problem, and may also have side effects that can be as bad as or worse than the pain. Happily, there are many natural treatments you can use to help alleviate chronic pain.
Run Hot and Cold
Many types of pain respond to heat. A heating pad or hot shower can be effective, but you can also do something that adds enjoyment to your life such as a Jacuzzi or sauna. An ice pack can also be helpful. You can use a commercially made one, a bag of peas, or a Ziploc baggie filled with ice. Generally, apply the ice for 15-20 minutes at a time as often as every 2 to 3 hours. Be careful not to give yourself frostbite.
Walk it Off or Stretch it Out
Activity may help decrease the pain, and help take your mind off of it as well. This can be as simple as walking around the house, light dusting, or taking a relaxing walk outside.
Tight muscles can create additional pain, so it can be helpful to do stretching exercises. Muscle strength can also help decrease pain. Alternative movement activities can also be very effective - both yoga and pilates can help stretch and strengthen muscles, as well as relax and calm the mind.
In many cases, acupuncture can be helpful. The Chinese topical herbal remedies Tiger Balm and Po Sum can also be useful.
Remember Your Wellbeing
Living day-in and day-out with overwhelming pain takes a psychological toll. Though we all admire people who rise above it and do productive things with their lives, this is not possible for all people. Just as we cannot expect every able-bodied young man to be a football star, it is unreasonable to expect every chronic pain patient to be a high achiever. Pain is not only exhausting, but it also leaves the individual with a sense of helplessness.
There are some strategies that help with both the psychological and physical aspects of chronic pain. Massage not only helps treat painful areas, it can also help to promote relaxation and provide a distraction from the rest of life.
Meditation can soothe the soul, as well as give chronic pain patients the hope of transcending the pain. Similarly, pleasurable activities such as sitting out in the sun can be very soothing for those who suffer from pain.
Heal the Mind
Psychological treatment can be an important part of the overall treatment plan for chronic pain. It can help a patient understand the interaction between pain and depression. It can also help a patient learn to cope with the doubting or negative comments from outsiders, or even family and friends.
Additionally, techniques such as hypnosis and biofeedback can bring an individual some relief.
The Internet has many useful resources including The American Chronic Pain Association. Chronic pain support groups may be helpful to some people, and these are found throughout most communities.
The advice listed on this page is not intended as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult a physician before starting a new exercise plan.
By Frances Simon