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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The Power of HealingTouch

After a stressful week, all I could think about was my upcoming massage appointment which was this past Monday.  Now, for me massage is one of the things I use for pain management often brought on by stress.  Stress takes it’s toll on many of us, leaving some of us with sore backs, & tense shoulders, the list continues.  My lower back had been in knots for several days and that tension was also wreaking havoc with my IBS and knee pain.

Upon my arrival at the massage therapy centre I was feeling emotionally worn out, tired, sad, lonely, etc.  Once inside the room where the massage was to take place I told Amy ” I am feeling very emotional today so if I have a cry, don’t be surprised.”  She immediately asked me ‘ if I wanted a hug?”.  I said “Yes,please.”.  We hugged and I know that hug was what I needed more than anything.  I thought to myself Monday night after the massage, why didn’t I ask for a hug?  Well I am going to ask whoever is around when I need a hug but now I know what I need.

What I did not realize is how good it feels to be pampered for 45 minutes under the gentle touch and care of my talented and kind hearted massage therapist Amy.  I have only seen her twice for treatment but she truly listens to where I tell her my body hurts and offers suggestions to me that are extremely helpful..We also discuss things going on in my life that are causing me additional pain and hurt..I laid down on the massage table on top of a warm towel, the room smelled of flowers, the lighting minimal and the music peaceful and serene.

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We undervalue the power of touch.  When we are babies psychologists tell us that we require cuddling and attention from our Mother’s or we may develop abandonment issues later on during the preschool years.  Those hugs and kisses were given freely and with much care behind them but as adults we do not often see the value a hug or a touch can bring to ourselves and the other person.

In life we have burdens that we must carry which Amy and I discussed at great length.  Both of us recall from our university days – she in massage therapy, while I was pursuing a BA degree in psychology that psychological and physical stress combined with heavy responsibilities creates tension ( the burden we bear goes to our backs).   It is also important to note that responsibilities involving our jobs, paying the bills, etc. are just as heavy as the obligations and expectations our loved ones and families have of us and the ones we want for ourselves.

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Healing touch is not just limited to humans, our pets want us to hold them, carry them and hug them too.  They radiate love … Trust me on this one if you are a dog owner don’t tell me rubbing their tummies does not make you feel just as good as they do, while you are doing it.

Many people can be reached with a hug, a stroke of their shoulder or holding their hand.  No words are required when we see people in pain or feeling hurt…  I dare you to stand up and hug someone and soothe a soul without saying a word..

My massage on Monday left me pain free, relaxed and full of energy but this was not a clinical massage.  This was beyond that, it was two virtual strangers being human, I see your pain, I feel your pain, and I am going to lessen that pain with a hug.

If you would like to read more material on the topic of Healing Touch, please follow this link for some research findings at http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/02/massages-mystery-mechanism-unmas.html

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

Some New Approaches to Healing the Mind Body Connection

Life is not perfect and we all have those days that have torn a heart ot two.  Days where some tears are shed and those are a part of life.  The old expression ” you always have your health.”, may not apply to you as well but there are many blessings yet to come.

Chronic pain and fatigue plagues many of the new friends I have met, all of which are dealing with some condition(s) that is/are deemed chronic or degenerative in nature.  There are many options in the treatment of these conditions that do not require the use of medications or painful procedures.

We are living in blessed times, the possibilities are endless but attitude is one area we can change.  With any illness, one’s mental outlook on life must remain positive and upbeat. Reading inspirational books or using a daily reader, such as my soon to be published ” Little Bursts Of Inspiration” for person’s with chronic conditions that include pain and fatigue such as Fibromyalgia, IBS, and person’s dealing with cancer can allow us to view things differently..   Listening to relaxing music.

A wide variety of treatments are available for healing such as: herbal preparations, reiki, reflexology, & psychotherapy to deal with life changes and situational factors many of us now face.

One can never underestimate stress as a factor in exacerbating pain or fatigue.  What the mind thinks can greatly influence one’s level of pain and fatigue.  I recall having a day in which the pain in my knee was brutal and laughing at something my dog Molly did and how that release made the pain subside.  My body had been tense most of the day and I was not aware how tense it was until I laid down to try and sleep.

The following excerpts were taken from “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann (c) 1927

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Be yourself.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy. [1]    — Max Ehrmann, 1927

Some Approaches to Healing the Mind Body Connection

Life is not perfect and we all have those days that have torn a heart or two. Days where some tears are shed and those are a part of life. The old expression ” you always have your health.”, may not apply to you as well but there are many blessings yet to come.

Chronic pain and fatigue plagues many of the new friends I have met, all of which are dealing with some condition(s) that is/are deemed chronic or degenerative in nature. There are many options in the treatment of these conditions that do not require the use of medications or painful procedures.

We are living in blessed times, the possibilities are endless but attitude is one area we can change. With any illness, one’s mental outlook on life must remain positive and upbeat. Reading inspirational books or using a daily reader, such as my soon to be published ” Little Bursts Of Inspiration” for person’s with chronic conditions that include pain and fatigue such as Fibromyalgia, IBS, and person’s dealing with cancer can allow us to view things differently..

Listening to relaxing music can be very therapeutic in helping most of us relax and calm our bodies and minds.

Physical exercise that is appropriate for you, such as: yoga or walking helps keep the body limber and releases endorphins that tend to raise one’s spirit.  Simple stretching exercises for people that are confined to a wheelchair or not able to walk can be beneficial in alleviating tension in our bodies.

A wide variety of treatments are available for healing such as: herbal preparations, reiki, reflexology,  massage therapy, & psychotherapy to deal with life changes and situational factors many of us now face.  Don’t do it alone, try a few things and find ones that work for you.  We are all different so keep an open mind and give them a try.

Prayer can be a powerful resource, by asking God to give us the strength to cope with the pain or for his healing.  I say “God is healing me”, several times a day.  Even if you are not a religious person or a spiritual person, you can still verbally announce that : “I am healing everyday, my condition is getting better, I am no longer in pain.”  Positive affirmations combined with relaxiation music can be a good way to start and end your day.

One can never underestimate stress as a factor in exacerbating pain or fatigue. What the mind thinks can greatly influence one’s level of pain and fatigue. I recall having a day in which the pain in my knee was brutal and laughing at something my dog Molly did and how that release made the pain subside.  Laughter has been proven to improve our moods and it is hard to be mad or sad when you are smiling.

Emotions can be lethal with any of the aforementioned conditions. When we listen to what our body tells us there is usually a story behind it.  Guilt, shame, anger, fear & loneliness are all feelings many of us have faced.  Many of us are not working or having to work less, putting more strain on our relationships.  Maybe we lack the energy to spend time with our friends and loved ones.  We may find we feel alone with our friends and partners at work all day.  Whatever is eating you up, confront it and talk to your family about it.  Fear is worry and worry is not a great place to live either.  Worry will fatigue you and cause you physical pain  and can lead to anything from headaches to body aches, to insomnia.  We may not even be aware of how tense we are until we lay down to sleep at night.  Like my yoga instructor, Sharon tells me “Breathe” and she is so right!  I don’t deep breathe as much as I should as I am  often tense but I am learning just as we all are.

Last, but not least go with the flow, somedays will be worse than others but use these as opportunities to rest and rejuvenate.  Keep a positive outlook because the sun will shine again and you will always have better days.

The following excerpts were taken from “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann (c) 1927

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Be yourself.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy. [1]Max Ehrmann, 1927