Chronic pain is a chronic problem, so every little helps in trying to make managing it a little easier. Chronic pain is complex and what works for one person may not work for the next. In my opinion, it may require a combination of things, for many individuals that includes medications, as part of a more holistic approach to managing pain. For most people it’s a case of trial and error to see what can be of benefit to you personally in some way. Today I’m sharing a guest post with 6 ideas for natural pain relief.
Note: My MacBook is going to the Apple partner store for some TLC 5th August. I will be without a laptop for a few days so I may be behind on blog posts and emails for a little while. My laptop is my life, so I’m lost without it already! Apologies in advance.
While medication can be useful for some in treating chronic pain conditions, there are various ways to effectively treat and help manage chronic pain naturally. You might think that sounds too good to be true, but these methods are proven to help reduce symptoms and provide relief for pain patients.
Natural Pain Relief
Let’s take a look at 6 ways you can naturally relieve your chronic pain.
1. Mind-Body Therapy
Our mind and body are intrinsically connected: every process in our body is controlled by our brain, even pain! This doesn’t mean that your pain is ‘all in your head’, as stigma so often dictates. In fact, all pain including acute pain (meaning the type of pain you get when you are injured or have an accident) is created in our brain.
Our brain sends out pain messages in reaction to outside threats, to help keep us safe. However when pain becomes chronic, the brain has ‘learnt’ to continue producing pain messages, even when there’s no threat present! The good news is, the brain can learn to stop producing these pain messages.
Mind-body therapies treat the patient as a whole, using this mind body connection to help patients manage and reduce their symptoms. There are lots of types of mind-body therapy which can be useful for chronic pain patients. Three of the more well known types include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
You’ll likely hear of this one a lot, but for good reason! CBT helps patients to replace negative perceptions of pain and behaviours which may be contributing to the pain cycle, with positive thoughts and coping strategies to reduce pain.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Rather than focusing on changing thought processes, ACT helps you to accept your thoughts and understand that even if your thoughts are negative, they don’t need to lead to negative behaviours. Instead, ACT teaches you to commit to helpful coping behaviours to reduce pain.
Mindfulness focuses on being present in the moment, reducing stress and promoting complete relaxation. Stress can contribute to chronic pain, so this can be incredibly helpful. Mindfulness can also help you to sleep more restfully, to regulate your emotions and to make more positive decisions.
Mind-body therapies can be accessed through a referral from your doctor; privately if your resources allow; through local charities; online; or through a chronic pain therapy app like Pathways.
Pathways is developed and run by pain patients who understand the experience of chronic pain, and have had success in overcoming their own chronic pain. The app focuses on mind body therapies which you can do in your own time, wherever you choose, to help you achieve long lasting pain relief.
As cliche as it can sound, exercise can be so useful for those with chronic pain. It can feel impossible at first, but with a slow, manageable approach you can build up your fitness and your confidence! Exercise can help to reduce stiffness and inflammation; reduce pain; help you sleep; decrease fatigue; boost your mood and more! I know that personally, exercise has been an absolutely pivotal part of my chronic pain recovery journey with fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Massage involves the use of varied pressure on specific areas of your body to release muscle tension, promote relaxation and ease pain as a form of natural pain relief. You can access massage from a trained massage therapist, or you could use an at home massager to provide some relief. I have a full body massage mat which I can lie on for 15 minutes a day; it makes the world of difference for my muscle tension and stiffness.
4. Heat & Cold For Quick Natural Pain Relief
Using heat and cold can be a great way to relieve pain and provide some comfort at home. You can use hot water bottles, microwavable wheat packs and heating pads. Heat can also be very comforting and even help you to drift off to sleep at night.
Cold pads, ice packs or even cloths dipped in cold water can help to ease pain and reduce inflammation. Sometimes alternating between heat and cold can be really helpful, especially on high pain days.
Natural supplements can be an effective way to reduce symptoms by providing some some indirect natural pain relief over time, such as by reducing inflammation. It’s important you do your research to see which supplements are backed by appropriate research and what the potential side effects are. Always consult your GP before starting a new regimen & seek professional advice if you have any queries.
Some supplement options include:
Turmeric comes from the root of a plant in the same family as ginger. It’s often used as a spice in currys. Turmeric is proven to reduce inflammation, which can help to ease joint pain and stiffness.
- Devil’s claw
Devil’s claw comes from an African plant. It reduces inflammation and eases pain. It has been found useful in reducing, “arthritis, low back pain, and headache.”
- Willow bark
Willow bark simply comes from the bark of a willow tree, with an active ingredient called salicin. This article explains that willow bark, “has been used for centuries as a pain reliever”. The salicin works in a similar way to aspirin to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Fish oil
Fish oils are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can help improve your immune system function, reduce joint inflammation and help to maintain healthier joints.
These are just four of the many supplement options. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any new supplement (even if it’s natural) to ensure it’s safe for you.
One of the most essential ways of managing your chronic pain is practicing good self-care. Self-care refers to any positive habit you use to look after your physical and mental health. This can include:
- Practicing good sleep hygiene: This includes going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day; making your bedroom a relaxing place; winding down before bed; and practicing relaxation techniques.
- Eating well: Giving your body and mind the right nutrients helps it function optimally.
- Exercising: Keeping active helps to keep you fit and boosts your mood.
- Making time to relax: Finding ways to relax and do things you enjoy are great ways to keep you feeling more positive.
- Resting: As much as it’s important to keep active, it’s vital not to overdo it and cause a flare in your symptoms. Taking rests when you need them and pacing your activity is helpful.
- Finding purpose: Setting goals for the future and having things to work towards keeps you motivated and enhances determination.
There are natural ways that you can manage and reduce your chronic pain to improve your quality life. There’s always hope, so don’t give up and remember to be kind to yourself!
References : David Kiefer, MD, Traci Pantuso, MS, (2011), “Guide to Dietary Supplements Most Commonly Used in Pain Management”. Practical Pain Management, Volume 11, Issue 6. Rena Goldman, Kathryn Watson, (2017), “Willow Bark: Nature’s Aspirin”. Healthline.
[ This is a sponsored guest post & as such the ideas expressed here are that of the author ]