Chronic pain is a chronic problem, it rules your life and it will make decisions for you. So many people deal with some sort of pain on a daily basis and what may work for one person may not work for the next. It may require a combination of different things and for many people, it includes medication as part of it and for some, they prefer to go with a more holistic approach to managing their pain. It can be trial and error for some, finding the right medication and/ or alternative methods until one can finally manage the pain on a daily basis. Leading to better overall physical and mental health.
Here are 7 proven methods that may help reduce symptoms and provide relief for those suffering with pain of any kind.
Natural pain relief
Let’s look at seven different ways that you can relieve your chronic pain or at least lessen the symptoms so that you can get back to living your life on your terms.
I know this sounds counterintuitive since some people think that exercise will cause chronic pain and can feel impossible at first but with a slow approach you can build up your fitness and your confidence. Exercise can help to reduce the stiffness and inflammation of the body, it can help reduce the pain, help you sleep, and decrease your fatigue, which will also help to boost your mood and more exercise will provide the endorphins that you need to get through your day. There are different programs that you can register into to have someone help you and coach you through your exercises to make sure that you are not stressing your body any more than it needs to. Or you can speak to a physiotherapist who will help to give you a suggested routine and schedule to ensure the maintenance of your body. Exercise tends to be an absolutely pivotal part of a chronic pain recovery journey.
2. Mind-Body Therapy
Have you ever had someone say to you it’s all in your head! There is much about our mind that plays into chronic pain. Our mind and body are intrinsically connected and everything in our body is controlled by our brain, even pain. But this doesn’t mean that the pain is “all in your head” as stigma tends to dictate. The truth of the matter is that all pain including chronic and acute pain is created within our brain. Pain is actually An injured body's reward and penalty system which is telling you to not do something that might cause further damage. "Chronic Pain is Brain Plasticity Gone Wild.
Your brain is neuroplastic, meaning it physically changes form and function based on your repeated experiences, mental and physical. Neurons that fire together wire together strengthening and increasing their connections, firing faster, and becoming more efficient. The opposite is also true, and connections are weakened and lost over time when neurons are not activated together. Neuroplasticity is both a blessing and a curse and chronic pain is brain plasticity gone wild. Acute pain is your body’s way of getting you to immediately attend to injury or disease. Chronic pain is acute pain’s uglier, stronger ghost.
Signals from parts of the body are processed in the brain with adjacent body areas usually represented beside each other in the brain. When pain receptors in one body area’s pain map fire repeatedly, they can undergo neuroplastic change, becoming stronger and more sensitive and even enlarging the brain map (meaning the pain is experienced over a larger area of the body), and continue firing after the original cause of the pain is gone. Pain signals can even “spill” onto other brain maps causing what’s known as “referred pain” in completely different parts of the body.
When this happens, the pain isn’t in the body anymore. It is in the brain. A vicious cycle of the pain reinforcing itself has taken hold and the body’s alarm system in the brain is stuck on.
Acute pain is the brain interpreting sensations originating from the bottom up. Chronic pain is a more complex, top-down process. Studies have shown that when determining our subjective experience of pain perception, our brain factors in its expectations for whether action can be taken to diminish the pain which greatly influences the level of pain felt." (Pain Is In Your Brain (and can end there) - The Best Brain Possible)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy better known as CBT helps patients to replace negative perceptions and behaviors which may be contributing to the pain cycle; IE: Pain from trauma, physical or mental abuse. Using positive thoughts and coping strategies to begin the healing process. Long story short, it is time to let go of Anger and the many issues we may have stored up inside for if we do not, we can undo all the good
Acceptance and commitment therapy better known as ACT helps you to expect your thoughts and understand that even if your thoughts are negative that they do not need to lead to negative behaviors. He teaches you to commit to helpful coping behaviors to help reduce the pain. Rather than focusing on changing thought processes.
Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment. By doing this it can reduce stress it relaxes the mind and body allowing healing on all levels to take place. Meditation is one of the best ways to achieve this although there are many ways to create mindfulness. There are programs out there that people are running to help people understand how to create mindfulness. It’s not something that we do naturally. The thing is that stress in our everyday lives can contribute to chronic pain, so using mindfulness as a strategy can be incredibly helpful. He can also help you to regulate your emotions, and help you become more positive, and create and make positive decisions in your life.
Mind-body therapies can be accessed through a referral from your doctor, privately if your resources allow you to do so, and also through online or through a chronic pain therapy app like pathways.
Massage involves the use of very pressure on specific areas of your body to release muscle tension, to promote relaxation and ease your pain as a form of natural pain relief.
You can access massage therapy from a trained massage therapist, or you can use an at-home massager to provide some relief. Another way that works really well is the foam rollers.
4. Heat and cold
This is something that has been handed down throughout the ages. Using heat and cold can be a great way to relieve that pain and sometimes provide simple comfort that you can access at home. To do this we can use hot water bottles and microwaveable heat bags at home. It can also be very comforting and even help you to drift off to sleep at night. Now the cold ice packs, or even a cloth dipped in cold water can help decrease pain and reduce inflammation. If you’ve ever heard from the older folks speak about alternating between heat and cold it can be really really helpful, especially on your high pain day
There have been so many different things in our society that have been used for natural pain relief for so many years, I am talking about hundreds of years. Supplements are known as being an effective way to reduce it by providing some indirect pain relief over time, such as reducing inflammation or increasing blood circulation. The thing is it’s very important that you research to see what supplements are going to actually work for you and what the potential side effects may be. It’s a very good idea to consult your doctor before starting a new regimen and ask for professional advice if you have any questions. Some supplements can interact with medication so you want to be very careful of this. Let’s take a look at some of the different supplements that are out there.
I’m sure you’ve heard of turmeric. Turmeric comes from the root of a plant in the same family as Ginger and it is often used for spicy curry. However, turmeric is proven to reduce inflammation which can help you ease joint pain and stiffness.
This vitamin is best known as coming from the sun.
A deficiency in vitamin D is linked to body-wide inflammation and weakened immune systems. Increasing your vitamin D can help to support muscular strength and provide natural pain relief. If you choose to use vitamin D as a supplement ensure that you use D3 as it is more readily absorbed by our body.
Willow bark simply comes from the bark of a Willow tree and it has an active ingredient called Salicin. Willow bark has been used for centuries as a pain reliever and it works in a similar way to Asprin to relieve your pain and inflammation.
Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in North America. Some of the symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can be such things as leg cramps at night, high blood pressure, constipation, cardiac arrhythmias and even fibromyalgia. That’s why it’s so difficult to pinpoint whether or not you have a magnesium deficiency. The best forms to supplement with are chelated magnesium, magnesium glycinate, citrate, and Ascorbate based on the absorption rate and how much you need depends on your body. If you take too much magnesium you may end up with loose stools or diarrhoea, if this occurs reduce your dosage. Magnesium allows the body to reduce inflammation, muscle cramps, spasms, and myofascial tightness. It is actually even said that magnesium can reduce migraine frequency and improve your sleep levels.
Omega-3 fats are a type of essential fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation in the body. A common form of omega-3 is fish oil. Omega-3 essential fatty acids can help improve your immune system function, reduce joint inflammation and to help maintain healthier joints.
6. All Natural Topicals with Essential Oils
Lavender Oil has been used for centuries to relieve migraines and headaches. It contains compounds that can be a mild sedative which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Lavender essential oil has a tendency to help get rid of tension headaches at the source and it’s also wonderful for muscle pain. In a study in 2015 lavender oil was found to contain anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. In the clinical trials, researchers found that find Lavender oil topically or within a carrier for pain relief was just in the back of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories and analgesics.
Eucalyptus offers a higher level of polyphenol which is an antioxidant and functions as free radical scavengers. Eucalyptus is also known as a powerful pain reliever to help get rid of nerve-related pain and discomfort in the body.
Peppermint essential oil is an antispasmodic and is used to treat arthritis and intestinal problems as well as helping to relieve the arthritic pain it is also an anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and kills fungal infection. It is refreshing and cooling and contains a significant amount of menthol.
Menthol is known to help relax and ease tension headaches and muscular pain and aches. Many of these essential oils can be found in the handcrafted pain relief creams that are created through Natures Reality Botanical Blends
Last but not least we’re gonna talk about self-care. One of the most essential ways of managing your chronic pain is practicing good self-care on a day-to-day basis. Self-care refers to any positive habit that you use to look after your physical and mental health. This can include such things as eating well, giving your body and mind the right nutrients that it needs to function optimally.
I know this is one that a lot of people have difficulty with. Resting as much as it is important to keep active it is also very important not to overdo it. Taking rest when you need it and pacing your activity will be super helpful in your journey forward.
Good Sleep Practices
This includes going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day and to ensure that your bedroom is a relaxing place somewhere that you can wind down before bed and relax.
As we said before exercising is something that is incredibly important especially since it does fall under self-care. Keeping active helps you to keep it and also will help to release those endorphins thereby boosting your mood. Make the time to relax. Finding ways to relax and doing things that you enjoy is a great way to keep you feeling more positive.
As we said before a positive mindset is one of the strengths when it comes to dealing with chronic pain even on the days that it’s very very difficult to get out of bed and you’re finding it overly hard taking your situation and working on trying to reframe it will help you to move forward.
The final thing that we can suggest is finding purpose. Set goals for the future and have things to work towards. When you were dealing with chronic pain it is very difficult to look into the future because you don’t want to look at another day that you’re going to be in pain. Thereby if you have something that you’re looking towards that keeps you motivated and it has your determination whether it be spending time with family or creating a new product or getting out there and getting in a new again simple simple steps towards finding a purpose will help to change your mindset and will help you to find a more positive outlook.
There are natural ways that you can manage and reduce your chronic pain to improve your quality of life. There’s always hope so don’t ever give up and remember each day is a part of your journey and you don’t need to be the best, you need to do what’s right for you and you need to be kind to yourself.
Resources: 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.
The Top 20 Essential Oils for Pain and Inflammation (Research-Based) (healthyandnaturalworld.com)