4 Strategies for Relieving Pain Without Medication

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4 Strategies for Relieving Pain without Medication

The most common types of pain are from arthritis, lower back, bone/joint pain, muscle pain and Fibromyalgia. Pain can also take on many forms, changing locations and intensity daily or even hourly in the same person.

There are, however, many pain relief options out there, some that you may not yet be aware of. Because pain is often such a complex issue to treat, and the methods that work highly varied depending on your individual situation, adding one, two or several of the following strategies to your arsenal may give you the much-needed relief you need.

Best of all, the following options are completely safe and natural, which means they can be used successfully by just about everybody.
What you’ll notice is that many of these strategies use the power of your mind to heal physical pain. When you focus your mind on healing, relief follows.

Meditation

Meditation keeps your mind focused on the present, which makes the experience of pain less intense. Originating in Eastern spiritual traditions, meditation is now a common form of mind-body medicine practiced by people of all cultural and religious backgrounds. (1)
In a study by researchers from the University of Manchester in England it was found that people who regularly meditated found decreased pain possibly because they spent less time anticipating it, which blunted its emotional impact. (2)
If you’re new to meditation, you can still benefit. A separate study found that after just a single hour of mindfulness meditation training over a three-day period, participants felt less pain while meditating and also experienced less pain sensitivity when they were not meditating. (3)

Many cities now offer local classes to learn the basics of meditation, but you can get started by finding a quiet location, sitting in a comfortable posture, then focusing your attention on your breath, an object or a mantra (a meaningful word or phrase). If you find your mind wandering, simply bring it back to your focal point without judgment. Prayer, tai chi, qi gong, yoga and journaling can also offer meditative benefits, so choose the form that feels best for you.

Laughter

When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers that also contribute to a sense of well-being. This may help to reduce your pain directly, while also distracting you from the pain, similar to meditation, and providing a wonderful form of stress relief.
Indirectly, laughter therapy, which is, as it sounds, using humor therapeutically to get you to laugh more often, can help to relieve pain by:

Relaxing your muscles
Easing digestion and soothing stomach aches
Promoting relaxation and better sleep
Enhancing oxygen intake
Boosting your immune system and circulatory system

Massage Therapy

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Massage therapists use a variety of techniques, including kneading, tapping, pressure and deep circular movements, to relieve a variety of conditions, including pain. According to a survey by the American Hospital Association, nearly 91 percent of respondents agreed that massage was effective in reducing pain.
Further, according to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage stimulates your brain to produce endorphins (natural pain-relieving chemicals) and studies have shown that massage therapy:

•Promotes relaxation and alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in cancer patients
•Reduces post-traumatic headaches better than cold-packs
•Reduces pain and muscles spasms in patients who have had heart bypass surgery

A separate study also found that massage therapy provided some immediate pain relief for patients with advanced cancer.
For best results, look for a reputable and qualified massage therapist who is experienced in helping with pain relief.

I have used massage therapy for a few years now. I find that a therapist that takes into consideration the areas in which you experience the most pain or sensitivity and is knowledgeable about Fibromyalgia is your best choice. As I tend to suffer from inflammation in my abdomen after my treatment, my massage therapist massages me while I lay on my side which makes the experience more pleasant for me. She also uses a heating pad under my body before my massage that allows my back and legs to relax more before the massage gets underway.

Music

Music can be extremely soothing not only for your mind but also for your body. By way of distraction and relaxation, music is a form of pain relief that’s as simple and enjoyable as it is effective.

In one small study, patients with back, neck or joint pain experienced a 20 percent decrease in pain after listening to music for one hour a day for seven days, compared to a 2 percent increase in pain in the control group. (4)

Music has also been found to help reduce post-surgical pain, (5)
chronic and cancer pain, along with reducing patients’ need for pain-relieving medications. (6).

So whenever the mood strikes, put on your favorite musical artist and let the sounds help soothe you.

Photos : http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

References:

1. 12. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008;149(6):369–379.
2. LiveScience.com June 6, 2010
3. The Journal of Pain 2010 Mar; 11(3):199-209. Epub 2009 Oct 22
4. Journal of Advanced Nursing Volume 54 Issue 5, Pages 553 – 562
5. Journal of Advanced Nursing Volume 33 Issue 2, Pages 208 – 21518.
6. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 2.

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Write to the Beat of My Own Drum

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For me writing comes from within, what began as witticism and sadness has evolved into a loving, peaceful harmony of words that barely finds a pulse. The darkest years have long past through the angst of the adolescent fantasies of romantic notions and the Madonna era of dance beats, the marriage of regret, some hopes and dreams dissolved along the way but the desire to write has blossomed and grown. The selection of pieces I choose to write are now very similar to the styles of music I enjoy singing and listening to.  Jazz and more tranquil music is for the softer parts of me that I continue to explore, preferring the lighter side of the art of writing.  The pen has been replaced at times by the keyboard and the tapping of my fingers in tune to the ideas in my head, much like a piano player hitting the keys ever so perfectly.  The pianist and the writer are attuned and very much in their own little worlds whether we play or write alone or for an audience or our dear reader.  The harder rock music serves a purpose in by doing so, I can write material that is edgier if I desire.  It is real, it is a release of a world from my perspective and admittedly writing about nasty or sinister characters is harder than writing about nice people. Many of my writings start as a lyric and soon evolve into a longer progression of words.  Imagery that exists in the mind takes on a different meaning on paper.  I write what I know and see, the analysis from my psychology background aids me well in describing people and places.  My natural senses of observation are fully utilized in the task of writing: I see, I smell, I sense, touch and hear it, all before I embark on writing it down.  One gives away much of the self during the process of writing.  I prefer to not be categorized into any specific style or literary genre, The words should flow freely like a prayer or chant.  The drum beats slower or faster depending on my writing pace.

 

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The editing process is like tuning a guitar, plunking at the strings ensuring that each key is right.  Music has always been vital to the creation of what lies ahead in my journeys that take me away to other places and to some I have already explored.  One of the joys of writing is to explore something new, yet to be undertaken. Once key ingredient to my continued personal successes as a writer is the wonderful fellowship of writers I have met through the WFSC.  Thank you for encouraging and challenging me to become a better writer.

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Natural Headache Relief

In the past year nearly 80% of men and 95% of women have had at least one headache. While most headache sufferers resort to OTC drugs and pain relievers to treat their symptoms, many are now turning to natural headache remedies to provide a safe but effective solution for their headaches.

There are two general types of headaches: primary and secondary. Primary headaches include tension, migraine, and cluster headaches, which are not caused by any underlying medical condition. Nearly 90% of all headaches that occur are primary. Unlike primary headaches, secondary headaches are caused by medical conditions, such as infection or increased pressure in the skull due to a growing tumor. These account for a very small percentage of all headaches.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches, like migraines, are extremely painful. They tend to occur in clusters of several intense headaches during a short period of time, after which additional headaches may not be experienced for many weeks. Cluster headaches have been known to last more than one year and less than a few weeks. Cluster headaches that extend over a year are considered chronic and are difficult to treat.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are severe headaches that many times begin in one area of the head and then spread to other areas. Migraines may become more severe with exposure to light and are usually preceded by symptoms that may include depression, irritability, restlessness, loss of appetite, and visual disturbances such as flashing lights or localized blindness. Migraines many times cause extreme nausea, vomiting, and altered vision.

Tension Headaches

A tension headache is usually experienced as a dull, yet persistent pain in the back of the neck extending to the base of the head. Tension headaches many times are associated with sensitive points in the neck called trigger-points or in the neck muscles themselves. Individuals with a tension headache may also complain of pain, throbbing, and a sensation of tightness in the head. Tension headaches often include irritability, insomnia, and extreme fatigue.

 

The natural options for treatment include, herbal supplements, shaitsu and yoga to name a few.

 

Herbal options:

1. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) This herb treats  migraine pain by interrupting its main cause: inflammatory reactions in your  head that aggravate nerve endings and cause the blood vessels to expand. When  taken daily, feverfew can prevent migraines, according to Gene Bruno, a  nutritionist in New York City, as well as “reduce their severity, duration, and  frequency.” Be patient: The results can take four to six weeks. But if you stop  taking it, your migraines might return.

Take 500 to 600 mg of standardized feverfew daily to treat migraines. Take two equal portions of feverfew on an empty stomach in the morning and evening.

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Feverfew

Butterbur root According to the journal Neurology, the root extract from this daisy plant is one of the best herbs to prevent  migraines; patients who took butterbur extract saw migraine frequency decrease  by as much as 48 percent.

Take: 100 to 150 mg two to three times per day. Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, suggests looking for extracts with low levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which are  naturally occurring in the butterbur plant and can be toxic to the liver. He recommends the brand Petadolex.

 

 

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Shiatsu and You

Shiatsu is a form of massage which concentrates on  placing pressure on specific acupressure points with the fingers to help  increase the flow of energy and improve circulation in the body. Based on  Japanese healing methods, shiatsu is a great alternative treatment for  migraines, helping to reduce the tension and increase the flow of blood which  triggers your migraines. While full body shiatsu sessions must be performed by  qualified practitioners, you can learn a few basic techniques as self treatment  for migraines.

 Begin With Your Breath

Begin by practicing deep breathing techniques which will  help to calm the mind and body. Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose  and exhale through the mouth, finding a smooth, relaxing rhythm. Place your  thumbs on either side of your nose, near your eyebrows and apply a gentle  pressure, holding the position for at least 3 full breaths. Move your thumbs up  about 1/2 an inch until your find the ridge above your brows, again, holding the  pressure point. Using your index and middle fingers, continue this technique  along the top of the head, moving 1/2 an inch at a time until you reach the base  of the skull.

 Pressure Relief From the Neck to the Temples

Once you reach the base of the skull, use your index  fingers and thumbs to gently pinch the tissue of your neck. Your index fingers  should be close together at the base of your neck with your thumbs directly on  the outer edge of the muscles which extend up your neck. Hold this position for  at least 3 full breaths. Now, return to your first position, repeating the same  technique, but this time moving horizontally across the brow 1/2 an inch at a  time until you come to your temples. Hold the temple position for at least 5  full breaths.

 Shiatsu Isn’t Just Relief, It’s  Prevention

These shiatsu techniques for migraine relief will help  to reduce your symptoms during a migraine, but you can use them at any time to  help prevent your headaches from coming on. Whenever you begin to feel tension  in the head and neck, use these techniques. Whenever you take notice of the  warning signs of an oncoming migraine, use these techniques. A combination of  deep breathing and pressure point activation will help you get relief and even  prevent a migraine headache.

 

Yoga

Yoga can be a beneficial therapeutic tool for relieving headaches brought on by muscle tension and stress.  The majority of headaches originate from muscle stiffness and imbalances emanating from the neck and upper back.  When headaches set in, using a series of restorative yoga exercises can greatly relieve both the cause and symptoms.  Here are our top yoga poses and exercises that naturally treat headaches.

1) Cat Pose: The flowing motion of breath and spine helps release tension from the neck and upper back while also pouring refreshing energy through the body and mind.

2) Seated Twists like Half Twist: Besides increasing circulation throughout the entire length of the spine, the twisting motion in the upper spine (cervical region) often alleviates tension coming from the scalene muscles of the neck (anterior aspect).

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3) Chest Openers like Yoga Mudra Arms: Much of the tension in the back body is a result of muscle dominance from the front body (called Upper Cross Syndrome).  Expanding the chest and front shoulder muscles helps break down muscular imbalances and frees the tension coming from the neck.

4) Eagle Arms:This simple crossed arm pose can be done in Mountain Pose or any natural seated posture.  This back expander can reach well into the mid and upper back targeting problematic muscles around the shoulder blades and the base of the neck.  Take time in this arm pose to breath slow and full into the upper back and insure that you perform this arm pose on both sides.

5) Simple Neck Stretches: Gently move through the various muscle fiber lines by allowing your head to float down to one shoulder with gravity, down across the chest and into the other side – repeat with a natural, unforced motion.  Avoid letting the head fall back-keep the motion in a half circle from one shoulder to the other.  Pause where you find extra areas of resistance….

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All images by www.freedigitalphotos.net

References:

: http://www.livestrong.com/article/6381-need-using-shiatsu-relieve-migraine/#ixzz29N5LXg81

Top Yoga Poses for Headaches By Kreg Weiss, B HKin • June 25th, 2009

October 10th, 2012 – World Mental Health Day

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Today is World Mental Health Day which is also part of World Mental Health week.  Unlike other medical conditions many mental illnesses are almost invisible to the untrained eye, one can find compassion for someone who is stooped over with MS or in a cast whereas someone labelled with a mental disorder is not seen as ill or as worthy of our compassion.  Don’ t kid yourself these people are still being treated unfairly in our society.  They are viewed as freaks or people to be feared.

I worked with many people over the years with a variety of mental disorders and there is still a stigma attached to these people.  They are often mocked, made to feel lesser than or even worse, often  misdiagnosed or completely passed over by the medical system.  A client is diagnosed as being bipolar, and almost immediately people envision the personality of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Some people have been suffering with chronic pain or battling cancer and become depressed then seek help for their depression.  Others do not have access to adequate medical care and sometimes end up homeless and they too are labelled as drunks, bums, etc.

Mental illness is not a joking matter as the statistics will show you below:

One in five adult Canadians (21.3 percent) will suffer a mental disorder in their lives.  This figure translates into 4.5 million people.  Anxiety disorders and depression are the most common.  Approximately 2.5 million Canadian adults or over 10% of the population 18 and older will have a depressive disorder. (1,2 ).

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What are the chances of recovering from mental illness?

Most people with mental illness recover well and are able to lead fulfilling lives in the community – when they receive appropriate ongoing treatment and support. However, only 43% of depressed adults seek care from a health professional. (3)

Is mental illness life-threatening?

Mental illness itself is not life-threatening. However, more than 90% of people who take their lives have a diagnosable mental disorder commonly a depressive disorder or substance abuse disorder. (4 )

Suicide

In 1999 there were 449 suicide deaths in Alberta, a 7.7% increase from 1998.  Canada-wide, suicide is the leading cause of death for all males between 10 and 49 and the fourth leading cause for women. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Alberta among males ages 10 to 49 and the third most common among males ages 10 to 65.   Alberta’s suicide rate is the second highest in Canada after Quebec. (5).

 

The number of attempted suicides is estimated to be in the thousands and for every completed suicide there are hundreds of self inflicted injuries.  Over 400,000 Canadians deliberately harm themselves every year. (6)

Four times as many men than women commit suicide however, women attempt suicide 2-3 times as often as men. (5)

Suicide is not the answer but to those that try to take their own lives it could very well be because they felt they had nowhere to turn.

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Maybe as a society we can try to understand mental illness better and be more compassionate to those who are suffering.  It doesn’t take a great deal of time to talk to a friend you may suspect is  depressed or to listen to what others are going through.  Encourage and support them to seek help and let them know we care.

 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

References:

1.  Bland, RC, Orn H, Newman SCLifetime Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders in Edmonton. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 1988: 77 (suppl 338): 24-32.

2. Zoutis P, Ontario Mental Health Statistical Sourcebook Volume 1: An investigation into the Mental Health Supplement of the 1990 Ontario Health Survey Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division 1999.

3.  Murray CJL, Lopez AD, eds Summary: The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambrige MA: published by the Harvard School of Public Heath on behalf of the World Health Organization and the World Bank, Harvard University Press, 1996.

4. Moscicki EK, Epidemiology of Suicide , Harvard Medical School Guide to Suicide Assessment and Management (40-51) Jossey-Bass Publishers 1999.

5.  Leading Causes of Death in Canada 1997 (Statistics Canada Cat No. 84F0503-XPB).

6. Offord DR, Boyle MH, Szatmari P, et al. Ontario Health Study ll: Six month prevalence of disorder and rates of service utilization. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1989, 44: 1069-1078.

Gratitude Quotes By Maya Angelou & Betty White

In a recent interview with Maya Angelou  by Dawn Reiss – Maya stated:  “I’m grateful for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, for being able to taste, for appreciating love – for knowing that it exists in a world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence, and yet love exists.  I’m grateful to know that it exists.  &  “In the midst of hard times, you have to say, ‘I know this will not last forever.’ No matter how bad it gets, I’m always grateful to know that I don’t have to stay with the negative. I don’t have to continue in this climate of cynicism. I may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I know there is one,”

“It’s [old age] not a surprise, we knew it was coming – make the most of it. So
you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a
little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain,
gratitude should be the name of the game.”
Betty
White

Phillips Brooks
Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet.  Believe in man.  Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place.  There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon
You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.

What is a greater priority in your life: happiness or success?

While it is possible to attain both, we often sacrifice one for the other when making major life decisions such as what career to pursue, whether to move to the suburbs or to the country, to afford a bigger house, or work part-time and be a stay at home Mom/ Dad, even if it means getting less work done.

People appear to be working more than ever now that we are all armed with cellphones and can be reached at all hours of the day.  When we are receiving business calls beyond our work hours the line between work and personal life can become blurred.  Some of us are becoming overloaded and reassessing our lives in search of more quality time for ourselves and with our families.

   Does Increased Income Improve Happiness?

Research that examines the correlation between income and happiness has found that increased income has a very small correlation with happiness for most people.  The exception is  people who live in poverty conditions where more money provide basic necessities like food, shelter, and transportation.  Once people reach the middle class stage however, additional income tends to have little effect on one’s happiness.

While winning the lottery may provide an immediate boost in happiness, studies suggest that  lottery winners return to a level close to their baseline happiness in about one year.  One can find that too much money comes with additional stressors while others have been broke within 6 months of winning the lottery as well.  We’ve all heard stories of the miserable millionaire or the unhappy but successful professional.  This finding suggests that it can be a big mistake to pursue a career primarily to gain a higher salary over a career that you intrinsically enjoy.  It appears that the level of job satisfaction often out weighs the higher salary.

The science of happiness, which is known as positive psychology, basically studies human behavior and positive emotions with the aim of determining what factors can result in an increased level of happiness. Conclusions from this research can provide interesting insights into how we can maximize our happiness.

Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined the name “flow” for the idea of engaging so deeply in an activity that you lose track of time.   The Happiness Hypothesis describes flow as the “state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s abilities.   It is what some people  refer to “as being in the zone’”.  Finding activities which lead to a state of flow for you, such as playing a sport or writing a blog/book, and allocating more time to these activities can lead to a more enjoyable career and life.

As one gets older, people tend to evaluate the time they spend at work versus the time they would like to use to enjoy life, perhaps opting to travel or seeing the grandchildren more often.  The passage of time influences our decisions and what may make us happy today may not be as important later in life.

In, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, In 1960, Jung was interviewed by journalist Gordon Young, who asked, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?” Jung answered:

“1. Good physical and mental health.

2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.

3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.

4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.

5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.”

The more consciously aware I am of my happiness, the happier I will become. These five factors Jung outlined above can strengthen those elements of my life, I make myself happier.   Jung also noted that there is no guarantee in maintaining happiness, I think it is always worth my best shot!

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” –Carl Jung

Happiness research may not provide the secret to achieving happiness but it can suggest ways in which we can potentially increase it.  The conclusions are often based on the “average person” so these ideas may not work for everyone.   However understanding the findings from happiness research and experimenting in your own life can help you determine what will ultimately lead to “the good life” for you.

I’m most happy when I’m doing something creative, such as writing, singing or even dancing – I don’t have any worries, I forget the planet.

 

The Word of God

This Day With God

I’ve been sharing over the last few weekend’s on the core value of physical and mental health. Today I’d like to start laying out some strategies to build up this core value. There are various ways including getting help from family and friends or attitude and discipline but today I’d like to start with the Word of God.

The Word of God can brighten a day; providing lessons for the mind and food for the soul. These are two necessary elements in a healthy life that relieves stress and provides inner peace. In this world there will be trouble but we can take heart because there is comfort and value in Christ’s sufferings. We can lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross; access God’s power through prayer and His Word.

As I entered middle aged, my age started to show around my middle. The physical body became…

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