Pain. Can't live with it, can't figure out how to live without it. Evidence of pain related conditions can be found as far back as the pre-ice age era and well over half of all Americans claim to live with some sort of chronic or sporadic pain at any given time. While there is still no secret answer to completely dissolving pain, advances are being made almost daily. Unfortunately, many advances in pain management have undesired side effects or are too expensive or new to help the masses.
What's one to do? While we firmly believe that healing is as individual as the person who is seeking, we would like to share a few of our favorite tried and true remedies.
No longer thought of as just an indulgence, a majority of health insurance companies now offer massage as part of their coverage. Many studies confirm what we intuitively know: massage therapy is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Aiding in reducing the inflammation that causes most pains in the first place, receiving regular massages can drastically reduce pain, improve function and aid in dissolving some of the psychological effects that partner with pain (stress, anxiety, depression).
A recent study found that the single biggest predictor for the development of widespread pain was unrefreshing sleep. Sleep is when our bodies repair tissues and secrete anti-inflammatory molecules, so getting both the quantity and quality of rest that you need can help you feel better and promote an overall better quality of life.
It seems that essential oils can work miracles. There are so many things that they can do for our home, our beauty, and our health. Essential oils are found in the petals, stems, roots, and other parts of plants. They’re typically removed from the plant through steam distillation. These essential oils are really much more powerful than you might think and some of them are really effective for acute and chronic pain relief. Using a diffuser to inhale them or simply applying them topically can also help with muscle tension, neuropathy, inflammation, migraines and much more.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
These healthy fats have been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body, reducing swelling and pain. In one study of people dealing with pain, those who took an omega-3 fatty acid supplement reported a decrease in morning stiffness and tender joints. Foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, fortified eggs and soybeans.
HERBS AND SPICES
Spices like ginger, cayenne, turmeric, garlic, and onions, as well as herbs like rosemary and licorice root, may help block enzymes that fuel the processing of pain and inflammation. Season your dishes liberally with herbs and spices to reap the benefits. And use fresh herbs when you can—they have higher levels of antioxidants than dried versions.
Mindful movement practices, such as yoga, Tai Chi and even meditation accentuate multiple self-healing modalities, provides an opportunity to gain more intimate knowledge of how your body works, and empowers you to play a leading role in your own health. If these therapies are new to you - I invite you to approach the practice of mindful movement with a sense of curiosity.
Tai chi is a mix of meditation and gentle movements—assists in reducing pain, fatigue, and stiffness in people living with chronic pain, while improving their sense of well-being.
Yoga is similar in that it can be helpful in pain management with both physical and mental benefits. Yoga places a focus on breath, body and present moment awareness.
Hypnosis produces a significant decrease in discomfort associated with an array of chronic pain conditions. The effect seems to be twofold: Hypnosis is thought to divert a person’s attention away from pain, offering relief. In addition, hypnosis may have an analgesic effect on the brain, which means it may turn down pain signals.
Reiki is a treatment in which healing energy is channeled from the practitioner to the patient to enhance energy and reduce stress, pain, and fatigue. Practitioners say that it works by opening up a channel between healer and patient to transfer energy — a Reiki healer restores the body both physically and mentally.
During a Reiki session, muscles are relaxed, and energy flow is unblocked. This helps reduce physical tension and pain. Anxiety and stress also are reduced, helping to unblock and release emotional pain. Although you may not be completely pain-free, you feel relaxed, refreshed, and better able to cope with your condition.
Acupuncture is a practice 3,500 years older than traditional Western medicine. It works by applying needles, heat, and pressure to specific points on the body. The theory is that invigorating these points releases or redirects the body’s natural energy known as chi or qi because illness and pain come from blockages or imbalances of this vital life force.
Research also shows that acupuncture therapy triggers a surge in pain-numbing endorphins and releases anti-inflammatory molecules, which reduce swelling and help healing.