About a 100 million people suffer from chronic pain. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids are the most widely used treatment option for pain. But new federal rules are making it harder for chronic pain patients to get narcotic painkillers. And the FDA has strengthened their warning about the health risks of taking NSAID’s. Both of which, make it important to learn to manage chronic pain without medications.
Living with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia can be challenging. It can become increasingly difficult to fight the pain. The things that give your life joy and meaning no longer seem possible. You may even start to lose hope. But, chronic pain doesn’t have to ruin or take over your life.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2002. Many medications including painkillers are not an option for me. First of all, I am allergic to opioids. Secondly, I cannot take medications that are hard on the liver (most are). I have no other choice than to use natural ways to control my fibromyalgia symptoms. I have some simple strategies I use every day to manage chronic pain.
Good sleep is critical for reducing chronic pain and improving energy and mood. Sleep disturbances are common in fibromyalgia. The presence of chronic pain with fibromyalgia makes falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult. Sleep deprivation, in turn, can make people more sensitive to pain.
Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia does not lead to poor sleeping patterns, but that sleep disturbances come first. A new study suggests that sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of developing fibromyalgia.
Improving sleep should be a top priority in a treatment plan for fibromyalgia. There are many herbal remedies, over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help with sleep problems. No one drug is consistently helpful for treating sleep in people with fibromyalgia. You may have to experiment to find what works for you.
Regular exercise has proven to be one of the best treatments for fibromyalgia. Even though exercise can make you feel worse short-term, the lack of it can make your symptoms more severe long-term. Gentle, low-impact exercises are best. Yoga, Pilates and tai chi can be particularly helpful to improve flexibility, strength, balance and feeling of relaxation.
Massage may be helpful in reducing tension and pain. It improves blood flow and encourages relaxation. Self-massage is the most convenient and effective treatment to manage chronic pain.
Trigger point massage is used to treat tender spots within the muscles or fascia. A trigger point is a tight area within a muscle tissue that causes local pain and referred pain to other parts of the body.
The easiest way to perform self-massage is to invest in a few simple tools. I regularly use a foam roller and tennis ball to relieve tight and aching muscles. How-to videos, pictures, and articles for treatment routines are available online for free
Both heat and cold can help reduce pain. Cold works well for acute pain or a new injury with swelling.
Heat is best for chronic pain. Heat increases blood supply. It stimulates the elimination of toxins. It also relaxes soreness and stiffness. Moist heat is best.
Capsaicin is the ingredient found in chili peppers that give the peppers their spicy kick. Capsaicin is thought to decrease substance P, a neurochemical that transmits pain. Capsaicin provides temporary relief from joint, muscle and nerve pain. It can be used 3 to 4 times a day to provide prolonged pain relief.
If you are using the cream, gel, lotion, or ointment:
Magnesium deficiency is common with fibromyalgia. Some studies have found that magnesium supplements can help with pain caused by conditions like migraines, muscle spasms, and fibromyalgia. Magnesium helps relax muscles and eliminate spasms.
Studies also show that magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive tract. Magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin, which brings us to Epsom Salt. Epsom salt baths help relieve stress and soothe your muscles while improving mineral and sulfur balance in the body.
As the bathtub is filling with hot water, add:
Soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Adding more hot water as the bath cools.
Despite the benefits, Epsom salt baths aren’t for everyone. They generally aren’t recommended for people who have conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes.
More than 100 plants are known to have pain-relieving properties and are good alternatives to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help manage chronic pain. These are my favorites:
Be cautious when buying herbs and supplements. Some can be risky for people on certain medications or with certain medical conditions. Supplements should be taken under the supervision of your doctor.
Being able to distract the mind away from the pain is a valuable self-management skill. Any activity that you must focus on can be used for distraction. Reading, listening to music, a puzzle or working on a hobby are ways to distract yourself from the pain.
I love to read, so getting lost in a good book always works for me. Spending time with the family, your children or grandchildren, or with a pet can be good distractions.
Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and chronic pain. Relaxation techniques include:
Music therapy may provide a less invasive treatment option for people who are battling fibromyalgia. A study from researchers in Mexico, Denmark, Finland, the U.K. and the U.S.A. reveals that music can have a positive impact on patient health. Pleasant music helped fibromyalgia patients reduce their pain levels compared to a control group.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from plants to enhance psychological and physical well-being. Aromatherapy is a widely used term for a range of therapies that use essential oils. The essential oils are either absorbed through the skin or inhaled.
There are many essential oils for chronic pain relief, these are just a few:
These are the strategies I use to manage chronic pain. Have you found something that works?