Some Things You May Not Have Tried
Everyone experiences pain from time to time. Sometimes it is more and sometimes it is less but we have all had the experience.
There are all sorts of ways that people manage their pain and mostly that depends on how bad it is and how long it lasts for.
If you are fortunate enough that you seldom experience pain and then only for short periods then you probably just manage your pain at the time with some kind of over the counter medication if it warrants it.
If, however, you are one of the growing number of people living with chronic pain, then you are probably looking for alternatives to medication or additional things you can try.
Pain Can Be a Force for Good
In most cases pain is a signal from your body to stop. The inflammation, swelling and pain are protective so that you will stop trying to walk around on that sprained ankle or stop trying to lift something with your injured elbow.
Your body is saying ‘just stop for a while so we can send in the repair guys….’ Because part of the reason for the inflammation and swelling is to increase blood flow to the area, that’s why the injury often looks red, because of the extra blood flow.
The extra blood flow brings with it your body’s own healing agents, things like neuropeptides and white blood cells which your body uses to heal. The swelling is your body’s effort to immobilise the area because it restricts movement. And the pain is a warning to keep you from doing more damage.
So, while it may not feel like it, your body knows what it is doing and is working to heal.
Sometimes, however, the messaging gets confused and this can ultimately result in lasting, or chronic, pain.
Your Body Has Its Own Pain Relief
Your body has what are called endogenous opiates. These are the pain killers your body makes in response to pain, stress and even for appetite reduction.
Using opiate pain killer drugs may result in upsetting this natural pain management system of your body, so while they can be helpful, it is important to bear this in mind.
Activating Your Body’s Own Resources
It is possible to encourage your body to produce its own opiates and research has been conducted into many alternatives which can be helpful.
Some of these are: meditation, laughter, manual therapies and medical devices.
Let’s have a look at these in a bit more detail.
Because it is your brain’s perception of your pain that you experience in the real world, it may be possible for you to change that perception using meditation or mindfulness techniques. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4
If you are a chronic pain sufferer and haven’t tried meditation, it may be something you could add to your pain management toolbox.
You may not know it, but laughter because it causes a release of endorphins, can be helpful as pain relief. The difficulty, of course, can be finding something that is funny enough to help you overcome your pain. The interesting thing is, that your brain doesn’t know the difference between real laughter or pretend laughter, so even pretending to laugh can be helpful.
There is research to support laughter as pain relief and this research is what led to the advent of Clown Doctors through the work of Patch Adams. 5- 6 – 7
A number of manual therapies can be helpful to provide pain relief and for many people are part of their pain management picture.
If you haven’t already tried them, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture may all be helpful as part of your ‘toolbox’ for pain management. You may also like to explore some lesser known therapies such as the Feldenkrais method. Just because you haven’t heard about it before doesn’t mean something can’t be helpful. Do some research to see if it could be for you and then maybe try it out.
Although not technically a ‘manual therapy’ you may also like to explore things like yoga and Pilates as regular pain management options. There are so many variations of these that, even if you don’t like one particular style, it could be well worth trying a different one.
Most people think of medical devices as a last resort because they think of the implantable ones but there are a number of medical devices which can be applied externally to good effect.
TENS and TENS-type devices are usually a battery operated device which you apply to your skin. There are a number of these on the market in various price ranges.
Most of the cheaper devices are TENS devices which have been around for several decades now. These deliver a signal through the skin which you adjust to a comfortable level.
The more expensive devices have usually improved on the original TENS technology to help deliver the signal and interact more closely with your body. You can read more about the sanaKey device, which is one of these devices here. Again, do your research and see if a device might be a solution for you.
Pain Relief patches mostly fall under the ‘medicines’ label because they deliver something through the skin.
There are however some which, once you stick them on, prompt a response from your body which in turn provides the pain relief. You can read about one of these here.
Using some kind of patch can be useful because you can get on with other things while you have the patch on. Again, do some reading and research about what may be suitable for you.
Remember, although you may feel that some of these ideas may not help you, it probably won’t hurt you to give one or more a try. You have nothing to lose except your pain.
All information contained in this article is of a general nature and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any concerns you should consult your doctor or health professional.
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