For many years, researchers and medical professionals sought different procedures such as pain mapping to nerve blocks, and surgeries in order to relieve pain. While these invasive procedures play an important role in alleviating pain, scientific advances have also proven that pain is a ‘bio-psycho-social-phenomenon’, in which the brain, the mind, and the body play important roles in controlling the amount of pain a person feels. This means that natural therapeutic remedies to pain management can demonstrate positive effects.
Food and Diet Modification
Chronic pain by itself is a reflection of the state of one person’s body. Stress, illnesses, certain medical conditions, surgeries, aging and ‘wear-and-tear’ of the body also affect physical health. Depending on these factors, weight gain or changes in sugar levels and lipid levels can occur. Diet modification to balance vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates or sugars, fats and proteins are a good idea.
Excess weight increases the stress on the weight-bearing joints such as the knees or hips. This added stress can speed up the development of arthritis and can increase your pain level.
Nutritionists and other health professionals identified specific foods that can help control inflammation. Some call it the Mediterranean diet. Anti-inflammatory foods include the following:
|Salmon, sardines, tuna and some types of cold-water fish||
|These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids; they reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, the two proteins in the body which are believed to be the cause of inflammation|
Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries
|These berries have antioxidants which promote healthy immune system – and may help fight inflammation|
|Contains antioxidants, monounsaturated fat that is healthy for the heart, and Oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain.|
Contains antioxidants. Can also lower heart disease risk, and “bad” cholesterol.
Decreases C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein substance in the blood that indicates inflammation.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or (CBT) is a non-pharmacological intervention created by Dr. Aaron Beck a few decades ago. This therapy teaches patients to harness the power of their thoughts and change their behaviors to improve mood and functioning.
Recent studies in CBT show that chronic pain patients benefit from utilizing how one thinks and behaves towards pain. For this reason, CBT referrals are increasing.
What About Physical Exercise?
Can physical exercise help? Absolutely. Over the last few years, it was revealed that exercise improves the health of humans at the cellular level. Physical exercise was proven effective, as it appears to strengthen the mechanism for pain modulation either by itself or with other treatment therapies.
Deep Breathing Exercises (DBE)
DBE is the most natural, common, and holistic self-care strategy and probably the most beneficial technique to relieve pain, de-stress and achieve overall relaxation.
How does it work?
Performing DBE induces alpha brainwaves, calms the stress response system resulting to low anxiety levels and stress. The brain waves also stimulate the release of beta-endorphins, which are the bodies built in natural pain reliever.
How to Deep Breathe Properly
- Place the hands over the rib cage and exhale.
- Breathe in slowly through the nose, not the mouth. The abdomen should protrude, not your chest.
- Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through pursed lips.
- Repeat steps one to four for 3 or 4 times.
Exercise can be helpful for many kinds of chronic pain, although the word ‘caution’ should be kept in mind. Please seek advice from your doctor before beginning any exercise.
There are many essential oils used to relieve pain, and it can be observed that some people who use them seem to heal more quickly than others. These oils have pain-relieving properties.
Most common essential oils:
- Eucalyptus– effective for muscle pain and nerve pain. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
- Lavender – probably the most common essential oil for pain relief. It also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps to relieve a headache, muscle tension, and spasms, as well as joint pains. Lavender is also used for relaxation.
- Sweet birch –when massaged into the skin, it gives a relaxing and warming sensation. It has anti-spasmodic effect.
- Chamomile– is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Helps to relieve muscle pain or spasms, headaches, back pains, and pain caused by pre-menstrual syndrome.
- Ginger– can ease pain due to arthritis, muscle pain, and sprains. Also relieves back pain and aids in mobility improvement.
- Peppermint – used to treat headaches, nerve pains as well as muscle and joint aches.
- Rosemaryand Thyme – has analgesic and antispasmodic properties. Relieves backache, joint pains, headaches, and muscle pains.
- Yarrow– a strong restorative and analgesic pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties. Can be used for muscle and joint pains.
- Wintergreen– although not a popular essential oil, it contains methyl salicylate, which is the main component of aspirin. It is very effective to treat dysmenorrhea pains or menstrual cramps as well as arthritis pain, headache, and nerve pain.
- Helichrysum– reported as possibly the fastest acting pain relief among some essential oils. It is quite expensive but has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and analgesic properties. Most users usually experience pain relief certainly within minutes of oil application.
It is important to check with medical professionals before using any essential oils. Some are not suitable for women who are pregnant and some are contraindicated to people with certain medical conditions.
- Maletic, V., Jain, R., & Raison, C. L. (2011). 100 questions and answers about chronic pain. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
- Neithercott, T. (2015, December 14). 10 healing foods that fight pain naturally. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://www.prevention.com/health/10-healing-foods-that-fight-pain
- Anti inflammatory diet. Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory-diet-14.php
- What is cognitive behavior therapy. (2016). Retrieved September 15, 2016, from https://www.beckinstitute.org/get-informed/what-is-cognitive-therapy/
- Marten, S. (1999). 6 steps to get pain relief with physical therapy and exercise. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://www.spine-health.com/blog/6-steps-get-pain-relief-physical-therapy-and-exercise
- Perkins, C. (2015, April 17). Deep breathing exercises. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Article Section, http://www.holistichelp.net/breathing.html
- Media, E. H. (2010, June 8). Obesity’s role in arthritis and joint pain. . Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/obesitys-role-in-arthritis-and-joint-pain.aspx
- Hills, J. (2014, January 13). The top 16 essential oils to relieve pain and inflammation. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Aromatheraphy, http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/essential-oils-to-relieve-pain/
- Top 5 essential oils for muscular pain. (2016, September 16). Retrieved September 17, 2016, from https://relaxtherapieswirral.com/2016/09/16/top-5-essential-oils-for-muscular-pain/
- *, N. (2016). Helichrysum essential oil: Uses, benefits & DIY recipes. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Healthy Recipes, https://draxe.com/helichrysum-essential-oil/
- Retrieved September 16, 2016, from https://nutritionalthinking.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/oily-fish-salmon-tuna-mackerel-other.jpg
- Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://previews.123rf.com/images/boarding1now/boarding1now1211/boarding1now121100006/16213530-Collection-of-cherries-strawberries-blueberries-red-currants-raspberries-and-blackberries-Stock-Photo.jpg
- Retrieved September 16, 2016, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/content/images/articles/266/266258/olive-oil-and-olives.jpg
- Retrieved September 16, 2016, from https://hotsoupdiet.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/80896768_red-onion-think624.jpg