If you have spent any amount of time on the blog, you should probably know how I feel about masking symptoms. Symptoms are your body’s cry for help and the only way to answer that cry is by finding the cause of those symptoms. However, chronic pain is not an easy thing to live with and if one is going to soothe pains I would rather it be through the channel of natural and safe methods rather than through a prescription pill bottle. Here are some safer ways to manage your chronic pain while you search for the root cause.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique that has been in practice for thousands of years. It involves placing hair thin needles under the skin to manipulate the body’s meridian system. The meridian system is the channels by which Qi (pronounced chee) flows. When there are blockages within this system, the placement of a needle near the blockage site will unblock and allow the Qi to flow once more, alleviating stress.
Studies have shown a decrease in pain among people with rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, and cancer who use essential oils. Some notable oils include peppermint, lavender, chamomile, and rosemary. Just make sure you use them safely.
Biofeedback is a pain management technique that teaches the patient to consciously affect normally involuntary bodily functions, such as blood pressure and heart rate. The thought is that, by becoming aware of these functions, one can manipulate them in accordance with one’s pain. It is inconclusive why biofeedback helps with pain, but one theory is that it simply allows one to relax, which in turn reduces symptoms that are typically worsened by stress. Electromyography, or EMG, measures muscle tension and is the type of biofeedback that has been shown to be most helpful in pain management.
Turmeric is a root often ground and use as a spice in Indian cooking. It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it perfect for pain management. A dose of about 240 to 500 milligrams of turmeric a couple times per day should help, but check with your doctor to be sure that is right for you. Don’t use turmeric if you are on blood thinners or are pregnant!
Heat and cold therapy are easy, inexpensive ways to target pain directly. Hot epsom baths relax the body and draw out toxins. Ice applied directly can reduce inflammation locally. The key is knowing when to use either. Use ice on red and swollen acute injuries. Using heat in these situations will increase blood flow and swelling. On muscle aches and spasms, use heat. Ice will tighten muscles and make spasms worse.
Researchers who assigned sufferers of chronic pain to either a meditation program or a wait list found that those who did the meditation reported less pain, as well as lower anxiety and depression and a better mental quality of life, than those who did not.