Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. If you have any serious conditions or pain that has not gotten better after a few days, please contact a qualified medical professional before trying anything on the list below. As with all medical advice, please contact your personal doctor if you have any questions or concerns before trying something new.
The list is a few of the things that have helped me with my chronic pain conditions. After years of consulting my doctors and other medical professionals and trying things out, I have found these eight things to work well in dealing with pain. I know a lot of you out there are like me and try to find ways to help with pain issues without having to take a lot of medications. Some of these may also help you, and some may not. I have found that is worth trying out things like the eight on the list below when dealing with a chronic condition. Anything that can help improve your day to day life without having to take a lot of pills is a plus. All the things on this list are also great for people that have pain after exercise or just general pain now and then. A few things are also great for stress relief and anxiety.
1. T.E.N.S. Unit
T.E.N.S. is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It uses an electronic pulse to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. This has helped me tremendously over the years. While you can purchase one without a doctor, I highly recommended going through a doctor or other medical professional to get one. Many insurances will cover it (if you go through a doctor to get it), which could save you money, and a medical professional can teach you the proper way to use it for your pain management.
I love yoga. It is peaceful and helps me with my pain, my anxiety, and gives me an hour or so to just be on my own for a bit before jumping back into my crazy life. Yoga is so fabulous for pain management because you can custom it to what you need. You can start very slow and the stretching is great for things like fibromyalgia. Check out local gyms or yoga studios in your area to see what classes are offered. There are also lots of great DVDs for yoga. If you have never tried it before find a beginning yoga class near you or a beginning yoga DVD.
3. Physical Thearapy
This has been one of the best things I have done for my pain management, and my insurance covers it which makes it that much better. There are lots of types of physical therapists out there, make sure you find one that specializes in pain management or for the conditions you need help with. I personally go to one that specilzes in women’s health and helps with my pain management.
Acupuncture is the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. Though the idea of lots of needles all over your body doesn’t seem like the most relaxing thing, it actual really is (or at least is was for me). I feel so much better after I do this. However it is something that can get very pricey if your insurance doesn’t cover it, so I don’t do it very often anymore. If you are one of the lucky people who does have insurance that covers it or can afford to pay out of pocket regularly this can be an effective way to help deal with pain.
Acupressure is basically the same idea as acupuncture, but without the needles. Practitioners use their fingers, palms, elbows or feet, or special devices to apply pressure to acupoints on the body. There are also way to do this at home using things like tennis balls. You sit or lay so the tennis ball puts pressure on the area of the body that is in pain. If you do a goggle or youtube search for acupressure and tennis balls you will get tons of articles and how to videos. You can also be specific with the online search to the area of the body you are suffering from pain to find the articles and videos that will best help. I personally use acupressure on my lower back and neck. It helps so much and feels wonderful, especially when the really bad knots finally loosen up.
6. Foam Rolling
Foam rolling is a self-myofacial release technique used in physical therapy, but can also easily be done at home. This form of stretching helps loosen tight muscles while using pressure much like acupressure. I do foam rolling on my legs, hips, and lower back, as those are some of my high pain areas.
Also like acupressure, if you do a Google or youtube search for foam rolling tons of article and how to videos will pop up. Make sure to add in the search which part of the body you need to relieve pain to get articles and video specific to your needs. You will also need to purchase a foam roller. They can be found anywhere yoga supplies are sold. I bought mine at a Target for around $25 a few years ago, but I have seen them at places like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and sporting goods stores. If you belong to a gym, they sometimes have foam rollers available for members to use.
7. Water Therapy
Water Therapy is basically physical therapy in water. Water helps pain sufferers exercise while supporting your body weight. Not a lot of places offer water therapy, however taking a water aerobics class does much of the same things and being in the water helps counter act gravity while working out.
This is another one of those things that helps, but is costly. Very few insurances cover it. If you can find a physical therapist who specilzes in things like skin rolling, that can help as much as massage. You also have a better chance of getting your insurance to cover physical thearpy. With pain disorders I highly recommend finding a masseuse that has some knowledge of pain disorders. Or find one you has experince working with clients that have things like fibromyalgia, arthritis, MS, slipped discs, etc. before going for treatment for your pain. I tend to go every now and then especially when I travel, as traveling is really hard on my body.
While the things on the list help me manage my pain, they don’t completely take the place of my mediciations. I do find that I take less of my “as needed” medications when I do the above things on a regular basis. I hope my years of trail and error can help you out too.