Chronic pain is one of the most common long-term conditions in the United States with every 1 in 5 adults now reporting that they feel pain on most days or every day. Even though people’s pain may vary based on the root cause, the location in the body, and overall intensity level, constant pain still causes needless suffering for anyone who experiences it and can really reduce one’s overall quality of life.
But you don’t have to give in to the pain. Today there are a wide variety of researched-backed treatment options that are proven to help people manage and reduce their pain. If you are experiencing any pain and are waiting to consult with a medical professional, try out some of these pain relief tips to help alleviate your discomfort.
Hot & Cold Therapy
You can try hot and cold therapy for quick and safe pain relief.
Applying heat to the affected area will dilate the blood vessels, increase blood flow to the area, and relax your muscles and joints. You can apply heat with a heating pad or by taking a hot bath or shower. Heat is generally recommended for muscle pain.
Cold on the other hand is great for reducing swelling. You can apply an ice pack or frozen vegetables to the area or even take an ice bath to temporarily reduce swelling and numb any pain you might be feeling from acute injuries.
Get A Therapeutic Massage
Massages are a lot more than just a relaxing luxury. They can offer therapeutic pain relief through soft tissue manipulation that offers myofascial release—a process through which our body’s connective tissue, also known as facia, loosens up to release unwanted tension out of the muscles and joints effectively.
Massages also reduce pain by minimizing stress and anxiety and offering a competing, positive sensation in the body that can help distract from pain.
The benefits of massage for the mind & body include:
- Increased flexibility
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved posture
- Improved circulation
- Reduced stiffness
- Relief from headaches
- Relief from back, neck, and shoulder pain
Deep breathing and meditation can be powerful tools for decreasing pain. They do so by allowing the body to truly relax, easing tension from tight muscles, and overall reducing stress and anxiety which can produce negative consequences for the body’s immune system, the adrenal glands, and blood pressure.
To meditate, all you have to do is close your eyes and focus on your breath. If any thoughts or feelings pop up as you attempt to meditate, acknowledge them, let them go, and come back to the breath. A daily meditation practice will help you regulate your nervous system, which can lead to reduced pain.
It may sound simple, but it is actually incredibly challenging to meditate. Start with a small amount of time, like 10 minutes, and then try to work your way up from there once you start to feel more comfortable.
Integrative Movement Techniques
You can also combine meditation techniques with physical activities to help reduce pain in the body. This is known as an integrative movement. Integrative movement techniques tap into the mind-body connection by combining the power of the breath, movement, and mindfulness.
These techniques not only help one feel more control over their body, but they also turn down the body’s fight or flight response which can cause chronic muscle tension and pain.
A couple of the most effective integrative movement techniques are yoga and tai chi. They work to relax the mind, strengthen the body, and increase flexibility through stretching. They also include the added benefit of improving posture which can also minimize chronic pain.
If trying out yoga or tai chi seems intimidating, you can always start out with breathwalking—a mindful exercise that combines yoga breathing exercises and walking.
Regardless of the physical activity you choose, exercising is a healthy daily habit that can dramatically improve your lifestyle and reduce pain in the body. It works to minimize pain by loosening stiff muscles, improving blood flow, and increasing nerve function, mobility, and overall strength.
In addition to all of the physical benefits, exercise also helps alleviate stress and anxiety while naturally boosting endorphins—brain chemicals that reduce the communication of pain signals in the body.
If you are new to exercise, try starting with some gentle aerobic activities like walking, swimming, or cycling. Remember to take it slow and listen to your body as you exercise more regularly.
The Bottom Line
Of course, if you are in pain and waiting to consult a doctor, you can always turn to over-the-counter medications to offer a short-term solution. Just remember that besides OTC’s, there are many other holistic alternatives you can try to incorporate into your daily life to alleviate pain.