In the last twenty years I have tried just about everything, at least once. When you are first experiencing pain there is a period of time when you want to try absolutely everything that is out there. I think most people go through this phase. If you are lucky, you won't go broke trying it all out, and you may even find something that works.
I will caution you. If you see a practitioner of any kind, who says they can 100% "fix" you, I would walk away. Chronic pain has been around a long time and if they had the absolute cure for it we would all know about it. When you're desperate you will try anything, so perhaps talk it over with a trusted friend or family member, for that sober second thought.
Here are some of the treatments and products I have used.
I have talked about pain control through mindfulness and meditation in previous posts as well as pain control through medication.
I will break this next section down into three parts. Today I am suggesting most of the "at home" hands on approaches to chronic pain.
(1) Heat and Ice
The first thing to try when you are dealing with pain of any kind is the most simple cost free approach of heat and ice. Generally what is recommended is fifteen minutes of ice then fifteen minutes of heat. There are occasions when heat and ice are not appropriate for pain relief, you must know what you are treating so check with a physio, doctor or pharmacist first. I have used hot water bottles for the heat source but now that there are auto-shut-off heating pads, thats usually what I use. I do however have the microwave magic bags that are flexible and work great on the neck and upper back. These types of bags are also great for the freezer. For ice, I use ice packs or bags of frozen peas. Never put it directly on the skin because it can cause skin damage.
(2) Creams, Rubs and Patches
Creams, rubs and patches are still my go to approach when I want some immediate relief. They come in many different names and there are several different formulas.
The active ingredients in over-the-counter topical pain medications may include: Counterirritants, Substances such as menthol and camphor produce a sensation of hot or cold that may temporarily override your ability to feel your arthritis pain. Examples include Icy Hot and Biofreeze.
Capsaicin causes the burning sensation you associate with chili peppers. Capsaicin creams deplete your nerve cells of a chemical that's important for sending pain messages. Examples include Capzasin and Zostrix.
Salicylates, contain the pain-relieving substance found in aspirin. Examples include Aspercreme and Bengay.
Voltarin gel belongs to the class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It works by reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Natural pain relieving creams I have tried are Arnica, trameel and LivReleif.
I have tried them all extensively and I have found relief with most, however the most effective has been Voltatin for joint and muscle pain and Zostrix for nerve pain. I would ask you to talk to your doctor and or pharmacist before using any of these because it may not be the best solution for you.
(3) Epson Salt Baths
Epson salt baths are another standard practice for me. The heat of the water is soothing and helps with joint pain. According tho the Espon salt council, here is how it works: "Magnesium is a primary component of Epsom salt. It is a mineral that the body needs and, unlike other minerals, is absorbed through the skin as you soak in the bath. The mineral helps relax skeletal muscles by flushing lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which may occur during physical exertion, such as a vigorous workout. Magnesium also plays an important role in the absorption of vitamins in the body. It also helps regulate muscle and nerve function. All of these effects significantly influence muscle soreness, which also affects muscle stiffness."
I use heat and ice to help on a regular basis and bathe daily in an Epson salt bath. I always have voltarin and Zostrix cream nearby and use it frequently. It is important not to rely on one method of pain relief because it seems as though there is not one thing that works one hundred percent of the time. These are tools I use in addition to medication, meditation and so much more. I will discuss other methods in tomorrow's post.