Experiencing chronic pain and attempting to manage it can be an exhausting and overwhelming endeavor. Individuals who suffer from chronic pain are hit with a double whammy: both having to endure the chronic pain as well as having to suffer through attempts to manage that pain. For those who are dependent on medication to manage their pain, an entirely separate layer of frustration enters the picture. People who are in pain are left to ingest medicines that are supposed to alleviate their pain, but instead cause an entirely different set of side effects.
Here are some of our favorite natural and holistic pain management treatments that can free you or the chronic pain sufferer in your life from big medicine.
“Prolo” means to proliferate or grow, and it does this in the formation ofnew tissue at t he molecular level. Prolotherapy treats a wide variety of musculoskeletal and tendonous injuries that occur in the body. These may include torn or overstretched tendons in many areas of the body, including the shoulder, elbow, neck, knee, ribs, ankle, low back etc. Prolotherapy has also been shown to have the beneficial effects of lowering pain and promoting the proliferation of joint spaces in degenerative conditions such as herniated discs, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. So how does it work? Prolotherapy is a minimally invasive injection technique using a simple solution of dextrose and lidocaine (a local anesthetic). This solution is injected into the torn tendon, ligament, or damaged joint capsule. From there your own body does the rest of the work. Prolotherapy initiates the body’s immune response to the site of injection leading to the formation of more collagen, fibroblasts and growth factors and leads to the formation of new connective tissue thus alleviating pain and helping to heal the area. Prolotherapy is not for everyone, but should be considered in all cases of joint and ligament damage or even chronic pain. There is much research being done currently to solidify Prolotherapy in mainstream medicine.
GET YOUR BLOOD PUMPING.
The release of endorphins is easily one of the most effective and instantaneous treatments for pain management. While we all know that exercise can help shrink your waistline, it is also incredibly effective in reducing pain and alleviating anxiety and depression (two symptoms that are often exacerbated by chronic pain). The natural endorphins that are released when the blood starts pumping causes your body to block the pain signals from ever reaching your brain. Studies have repeatedly shown that endorphins are as effective, if not more effective, than many modern day pain reliever medicines. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way: You don’t have to run ten miles or lift heavy weights. Simply taking a ten minute walk can result in huge outcomes.
REVERE THE RESVERATROL.
A recent study at Rush Medical University found that resveratrol has
the ability to block enzymes that are responsible for tissue degeneration. This powerful compound that is found in red grapes, blueberries, and cranberries has been shown to slow down tissue degeneration and has shown very promising data to suggest that it slows down disc degradation. The studies are ongoing, but as your Naturopathic Doctor will tell you, there are so many other reasons to keep these fruits in your diet that there is no reason not to include these to help reduce chronic pain. Other supplements such as zinc, vitamin C, glucosamine sulfate, calcium and adequate intake of protein can also aid in healing.
HEAT THINGS UP.
Heat therapy is a simple and incredibly effective method of pain management. Whether you use a rice pack, hot bath, heating pad, or sauna, heat therap is filled with so many benefits that it boggles the mind that it is not the first option sought out by modern medicine. Heat therapy works by increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area, all while suppressing pain signals that are being distributed to your brain. The increased oxygen that flows to the affected area has major healing properties, so you are repairing the damaged area while reducing your pain. It is a two fold solution.
BE READY TO CHILL OUT.
Just as heat can send healing oxygen to an area, ice can reduce inflammation and work as a natural anesthetic for a body in pain. Ice not only is the most effective natural method to reduce inflammation, but the cold ice also slows down nerve impulses which interrupts the pain signals being sent to the brain.
As we mentioned when discussing heat therapy as an incredibly effective method of pain management, oxygen is a powerful healing tool for the human body. Practicing deep rhythmic breathing will allow an added flow of oxygen into your blood stream, which will greatly promote healing. Additionally, deep breathing exercises and meditation have been proven to reduce pain by calming the central nervous system and yes, releasing calming and healing chemicals into your blood stream.
SLEEP ON IT.
This might seem like a tall order to someone with chronic pain. To tell an individual who can’t sleep due to chronic pain that one of the best methods of pain management
is to get some rest can seem counterproductive, if not downright cruel. However, the studies show us again and again that the practice of getting restorative sleep has one of the most lasting and profound effects on pain reduction. If falling asleep seems like an impossible task for you, try employing some of the above methods to aid you on your mission for restorative sleep. Exercise will lead to exhaustion which will help sleep. Eating a good diet of restorative foods will allow your body to heal from within and promote healthy sleep. Heat can be a soothing an easy way to enter into rest. The numbing effect of ice on the pained area can help alleviate the pain just long enough to allow the body to enter into sleep. Deep breathing and meditation will allow you to fall asleep and increase the quality of your sleep greatly. Employ all the methods at your disposal – but get some shut eye! (And yes, naps count!)
Please note that like most things, you will want to find the solution that works for you. Not every remedy works the same way for everyone, and a consultation with your Naturopathic Doctor will be needed. The great news is that these are easy to try and better yet, relief is on the way.