years of body pain; rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, widespread muskuloskeletal pain, do these qualify me to speak a bit on the matter? :)
Pain is pain!
Latin writer, Publilius Syrus once said that, "The pain of the mind is worse than the pain of the body." Now, I will not downplay the wisdom of that man nor his inspiring history, but we must really beg to disagree. Pain is pain, and considering the state of the environment we live in today, with all the medical conditions that have developed through the years (Yes, Sir Publilius, the world and man in it are way different now than how things were during your time from 85 to 43 BC.), it's kind of hard to make severity comparisons among different types of physical pain or to be less concerned with other types of pain. For Will Rogers was right in saying, "Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling that even a tiny amount of it is enough to ruin every enjoyment."
How do you deal with physical pain?
When you wake up with physical pain (or, sadly, live with it), there's over 90% of a chance that your day won't be good. Body pain can be debilitating and downright depressing. It's good if the sensation quickly passes and does not come back for some days. But, what if it comes and goes regularly, daily, moment by moment? Then, it's important to will your mind and body to accept it and apply strategic ways to deal with it each time you're having a painful episode. Read on for top 6 ways you can deal with physical pain.
1. Do some light stretching.
Body pain has a way of stiffening and curling you up. As the body unwillingly gives in to the suffering, muscles start to tighten and once bones and postures may sort of retract. You must understand that this is a reactive response; the pain wins and you actually allow yourself to be a willing victim.
The next time you feel physical pain, choose a proactive response. One proactive way of meeting the pain head on is to do some light body stretches. We highlight the word "light" here so that readers realize that stretching is not only for the young nor flexible. Stretching doesn't require you to be a seasoned yoga practitioner. You can do light stretches which are highly beneficial to your body's management of pain.
A study on the effect of exercises and flexibility training (stretching) showed that among participants, stretching:
- decreased pain levels,
- increased flexibility,
- reduced muscle stiffness, and
- decreased levels of compression.
So, do some body stretches to manage body pain. You don't need to search or buy into a program and you don't need to block an enormous amount of time in order to do it. Just do it. Do it in the mornings when you wake up and at night before you retire for bed. More importantly, do it every so often during the day, more so when you are having body pains. Get out of the posture you are in, take a break, and do some light stretches.
Some guidelines about stretching:
- If you have problems with maintaining balance, have a chair or support nearby when you're doing body stretches while standing.
- If you are prone to dizziness, pace yourself when doing reps and choose stretching patterns that will not trigger dizzy spells.
- Stretch your body up to what is comfortable. Never ever do any stretching. The result of proper stretching is to relax, relieve, and release your body from pain and tension. There shouldn't be any discomfort.
Following are 2 visual articles and 1 video on stretching recommendations::
- 8 Relaxing Full Body Stretches
This total body flexibility workout stretches all the major muscles of your body with little or no equipment needed. Do this routine anytime to relax.
- 15 Deep Stretches To Ease Everyday Aches And Pains | Prevention
These simple moves will ease everyday aches and pains. The best part? They can be done almost anywhere with minimal equipment.
- Body Stretches for Pain & Stress Relief (for Beginners)
2. Listen to soothing music.
Music is known to lift the spirits and increase productivity. People turn it on when they're doing chores. They put on a favorite song to get their moods up. Music can also put the mind and body to a state of calm and stillness. Music is proven to help relieve and manage pain. Authorities on the subject calls it "Music-induced Analgesia", whereby listening to music triggers the release of dopamine, a hormone that eases the mind and body into happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, and relieves one of body pain.
A study on patients afflicted with fibromyalgia showed that participants who listened to pleasant, relaxing, and self-chosen music experienced:
- reduced acute and chronic pain, and
- a significant increase in functional mobility
This experience by FM sufferers will likely be similar with people afflicted with other pain-causing sicknesses. What music to listen to? The popular belief is that classical music is the kind you should listen to. But as each person is different in their taste and response to music, you will likely know best what type of music can put you at ease. It must be soothing to your mind and body. It goes without saying that volume levels should be just right. Loud, competing music is unlikely to relax you and relieve pain.
3. Practice aromatherapy at home and at work.
The US National Institutes of Health released an interesting report that revealed how pain relief was more significant when the methods were combined with essential oils:
- Massage therapy combined with ginger oil provided more relief.
- Patients who were exposed to lavender oil required fewer analgesics.
- Acupressure combined with lavender oil significantly reduced acute and chronic back pain and an improvement condition among patients who received a 3-week (8-sessions) course of treatment.
- 2 groups of women dealing with menstrual pain received either aromatherapy+abdominal massage or acetaminophen. Results show higher rate of relief among the group who received aromatherapy + abdominal massage.
Another interesting information we can gather from this report is that aromatherapy is now being used for pregnant women in labor, undergoing delivery by natural method or C-section. Aromatherapy or the use of essential oils from herbs and plants that have healing and relaxing properties is fast becoming a supplemental management for different medical conditions and procedures.
Some guidelines on practicing aromatherapy:
- Keep in mind that it is entirely different from using or spraying fragrances in your surroundings. Fragrances mixes chemicals and natural scents to produce a good scent. Aromatherapy uses essential oils derived from plants and herbs that have medicinal properties. Aromatherapy is backed by evidence of an ability to influence or modify one's state of body and mind.That's the one you want to use in your home or work space.
- Remember to check labels for certain ingredients you may have an allergy or aversion towards. Further verify brands for authenticity and quality. You will be inhaling these properties so you need to be sure that you are ingesting quality and safe products.
4. Schedule body massages.
The medicinal and health benefits of body massages have long been established. Even without a background in health and science, any ordinary person who's even been to a massage therapist can feel what difference a good, legit body massage can do to their overall wellbeing.
Now for some authenticated proofs:
- Mayo Clinic conducted a study with 58 cardiac surgery patients as participants. All post-op were given 1 to 3 massage therapy sessions at 20 minutes per session. The evidence for corresponding pain relief and recovery rate was so significant that a full-time massage therapist was hired by Mayo Clinic for its inpatient unit.
- 53 participants were enrolled for massage therapy in the southwestern US region at a nonprofit community hospital. Mean scores were taken before and after the massage and pain levels after registered a significant reduction for each participant. Additionally, patients reported an improvement in their sleep.
Some guidelines for having body massages.
- Stay well-hydrated especially after a massage.
- Inform the therapist beforehand of the strokes and pressure you prefer.
- Be informed on the type of therapeutic massage that will be best for your particular type and location of body pain.
- Just like with stretching, the right kind of massage should not elicit pain. At first, you may feel some pain in problematic areas of your body. When that happens, a seasoned and qualified massage therapist would know when to relax pressure or how to work on those problem areas.
5. Practice spirituality.
Spirituality is closely connected with religion, but it's not singularly tied with it. One can NOT be religious yet be spiritual; because spirituality has more to do with with the human soul or spirit or soul and not material or physical things. Spirituality looks into your very own soul. It also looks away from your possessions, current surroundings and situations towards something else which is more important in life. Whatever that is, you'll find out as you practice spirituality.
When you become spiritual as opposed to material or physical, you find or develop:
- meaning to life
- a set of beliefs and practices on: religion (Christianity, Buddhism, etc.), self-awareness, meditation, yoga, minimalism, and more.
How does spirituality help you manage physical pain?
- You gain new perspectives about your condition. You see more positives, you see more potential.
- You learn acceptance and you increase endurance levels.
- You learn about positive distractions or preoccupations. You make time and priorities for your passions.
- You find a higher being or a higher cause that helps you surmount your difficulties, challenges, and burdens.
- You stop wasting time, efforts, and other resources. You learn to prioritze and invest in yourself and all you have in what is productive and high in value.
How do you become spiritual?
There are a number of paths you can take to being a spiritual person:
- Try meditation. It raises self-awareness. It also helps you restore proper focus in life.
- Try yoga. You may initially do it for the exercises and reps that promote health and relieve stress and pain. But as you acquire the discipline, you'll find your body and mind becoming more and more whole and in agreement.
- Try reading the Bible. For a long time now, the Bible has held the record for being the best-selling book of all time. There are amazing things about the Bible. Those who're read it swear to a changed life. It has a way of helping you find meaning, purpose, and certainty in a world that is uncertain.
- Support a charitable cause. Volunteer for programs that help other people. There's something about doing good. It just lifts you up and helps you look beyond your personal situation. It is a most fulfilling type of distraction you can engage in.
6. Take pain medications.
No list would be complete without including pain medication as a top way to deal with physical pain. A big chunk of pharmaceutical company finances go to the study and research of medicines. They are engineered to work. They are proven to work.
Some guidelines on taking pain medications?Discuss with your doctor all there is that you could know about maintenance medicines you have to take for pain
- Know the proper administration of the drug.
- Know what to avoid taking or doing while you're under maintenance pain meds.
- Hydrate regularly.
- Know the side effects you are at risk of.
Never self-administer or self-manage body pain. Seek recommendation from your doctor. Also, ask how you can start with lower level meds. Don't go ahead and take heavy pain meds when regular meds still work on you. Else, you'll build an early resistance against regular meds and they may no longer work on you the next time you try taking them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Ana Menez