Whether you are battling headaches or going through a debilitating illness, pain can seriously throw your life off-track if not dealt with. One of the most common reactions to pain is to reach for an OTC or prescription painkiller. Painkillers absolutely have their place and are an integral part of modern medicine. However, they can have negative effects on the body over time, such as wearing away the stomach lining, causing nausea, creating liver damage and, in extreme cases, you may even end up addicted to narcotics or opioids.
The next time you reach for your pill bottle, ask yourself if you’ve pursued one of the non-drug options below to alleviate, or at least lessen, the effects of pain on your body first.
Exercise and Diet
Maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating properly may seem like no-brainers when it comes to pain management, but you may be surprised at just how few people realize the intense connection between the two. First, exercise and diet are important to pain management because of weight-related pain. If you have a weight problem and suffer with chronic pain, it is important to realize this may be greatly increasing the amount of pain you are feeling and that one way to get long-term relief will be to take off the extra pounds.
Additionally, many healthy foods such as ginger, olive oil and edamame contain natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that can help lessen pain. According to The New York Times, the more we work out and the harder we push ourselves, the greater our pain threshold becomes. So even if exercise cannot cure us of the condition causing the pain, it can make living with it infinitely better.
It has been generally accepted that sleep is important for pain management and now science is beginning to connect the dots as to why. One new discovery linking sleep to pain relief has shown that pain tolerance is decreased when sleep is cut short. Another new discovery shows that the body performs key healing processes while we sleep, working to decrease inflammation and heal pain points in the body.
Of course, you can find yourself in a vicious cycle because it may be your pain that is keeping you up at night and preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep! Try drinking a calming tea, using lavender oil and turning your screen off at least one hour before hitting the pillow to ensure you are getting much needed snooze time.
There are many pill-free forms of pain relief in clinical settings that have been proven to temporarily alleviate pain. Some of these options are ultrasound therapy, electrolysis and infrared therapy. Unfortunately, many require expensive visits to the physical therapist or doctor.
One solution that is becoming increasingly popular would be to purchase an at-home device that uses clinical grade technology, such as the LumiWave. Besides the fact that the study of infrared pain relief is a key part of my professional history, I also tend to favor it because it has no known side effects, is extremely effective and even promotes long-term healing.
Massage is not just a word for the rich and famous. For many, it is a viable medical treatment option that can greatly help reduce pain. Sometimes it will even be covered by your medical insurance. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, “The effectiveness of massage lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.”
A good massage therapist knows this and will focus on more than just the site of the pain to help your whole body adjust back to “normal.” Massage therapy can especially be beneficial in cases where pain has been caused by an external life event, such as a bike accident, car crash or surgery.
Counseling is one of the most misunderstood medical treatment options available. Not just reserved for people with a diagnosed mental illnesses or who have experienced a severe trauma, counseling can help almost anyone at any time in their life. Much of our physical pain is aggravated when the body has elevated levels of stress. If you can bring peace to your internal world, you’ll help your body relax and focus on healing any physical problems it may be experiencing.
Sherry Fox is the Founder and Chairman of BioCare Systems, Inc.