Coping with pain

April 5, 2013

Everyday in the UK it is estimated that 10 million people suffer pain, impacting their quality of life, finances, independence and the life of those around them. Back pain alone costs the British economy approximately 5 billion a year. There are many different types and causes of pain which is usually described as acute or chronic. Chronic pain lasts longer than 12 weeks and often continues for many years. Acute pain lasts less than 12 weeks and may heal completely. Unfortunately many people that live with chronic pain rely on medication to manage their symptoms which can have undesirable side-effects such as organ damage, constipation and dependency. So what can you, or someone you know living with pain or injury do?

STAY ACTIVE – or as active as your abilities allow. Unfortunately the repetitive movements of daily life aren’t sufficient and in some cases, may make your problem worse or be contributing to it. Focus on strengthening weak muscles as this will help support your skeletal system and take the emphasis off your joints and bones doing all the hard work. Also, stretch tight muscles to ease tension, improve circulation, reduce toxins and improve posture. Yoga, pilates and resistance bands are great for this and can easily be done in the comforts of your own home. Even chair and floor exercises can be very effective.

REDUCE INFLAMMATION – with nutrition and ice! Inflammatory foods to avoid are deep fried and wheat based foods and processed meats. Anti-inflammatory foods include unfarmed oily fish, linseeds and pumpkin seeds. Vitamin C rich foods such as kiwi fruits, berries, red grapes and many other colourful fruits and vegetables are also essential for healing and help the formation of new tissue. Areas of inflammation can be treated with a cold/ice pack. Do not apply frozen things directly to the skin but wrap them in something like a tea towel and apply to the area for 5-10 minutes. Cold treatment is not suitable for all types of pain and warm or hot treatments may be more helpful for some.

COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES – can be used to reduce symptoms, speed healing and manage chronic pain or acute injuries. Hypnotherapy can be used to learn visualisation, breathing and relaxation techniques including self-hypnosis. This can be a powerful way of managing your pain in a variety of situations with no equipment needed. Body work therapies such as massage, reflexology and acupuncture can be used to ease tension, reduce pain, promote healing and provide relaxation. For some types of pain osteopathy, chiropractic or physiotherapy may be helpful. Even pleasant sounds and smells can reduce our physiological perception of pain so its worth exploring what works for you.

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