Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

Because I have had chronic pain most of my life, I have become at expert at managing it (most days). I was actually surprised that I hadn't posted on this before, but after checking, I had posted a few ideas here and there, but this way, they are all in one place if you need to reference them. But before you follow these tips, get medical attention. Chronic pain is a symptom not to be ignored. Something serious could be going on in your body. OK, now that the public service announcement is out there, here goes:

1. Cold Wraps Fill a small baggie with ice (or use a gel freeze pack). Place pack in a cut-off stocking, or use a leg warmer (I had dug mine out from use in the 80s! Still works!) Put in freezer. When you need it you simply take it out and place on body part and tie ends. Because leg warmers are long, it makes tying the ends easy!

2. Hot Wraps: You need two hand towels, a gallon-size ziplock baggie, and some kind of a belt or sash to hold the prepared hot pack in place. First wet one of the hand towels thoroughly. Squeeze out the excess water. Place the towel in the ziplock baggie and close until you have one inch left. LEAVE THAT OPEN or the bag will explode. Now, put the baggie in the microwave and nuke for 2 minutes. In the meantime, lay out your other hand towel on the counter. Make sure it is flat and all the way open. When your towel in the microwave is finished, REMOVE CAREFULLY! You may want to use oven mitts. Open the bag away from you so you do not get steam burned. Place the heated towel on the other towel. Now take the two ends and fold toward the middle (meet the edges in the middle). Now fold the opposite sides in, but this time overlap them so you do not have any hot towel poking through. Place on your skin where it hurts. You may need to put it over a shirt or on top of your pants if the heat is too intense. If you don't want to hold it there, grab a belt or sash and wrap around you to hold it into place. This take a bit of practice, but in the end, it is definitely worth it!

3. Tennis ball: This is one of my favorites. I get horrible knots in my shoulders and hips. When I am in bed at night, I place a tennis ball under the body part that is having pain. I then relax! When I first started doing this, the pain was so intense, so I needed to start slow. First you may want to position the ball a little off center from where the pain is, and work toward centering it directly under the sore spot. Try it! (Don't fall asleep with it! I have, and when I do, mornings can be a bit ouchy!)

4. Yoga: But of course!!!! I find that meditation and restorative yoga works the best for pain management.

5. Walking: When I get a chance to walk, I usually do it by speed walking around the block a few times following my youngest son on his scooter. This really gets the endorphins going.

6. Dance! When my family and I turn on the tunes, dancing around can be a source of fun and love. It really feels great to let go and be a bit silly.

7. Beverage: 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 table spoon Lemon Juice, 6-8 oz. Grape juice. Mix and drink. I've noticed a cumulative effect with this. I take medications and supplements to manage my pain, and I'm always worried about liver damage. This drink supposedly is a liver cleanser. I do feel refreshed after drinking this every morning.

8. Epsom Salt Baths  I take these as often as possible. I use about a pound for every bath, then I soak for about 30 minutes.

9. Massage My hubby is so compassionate. He gives me wonderful massages any time I need them. Often without even being asked!

10. Sleep. This cannot be overstated. Sleep is really the best medicine for pain management, and unfortunately, this is where I have the most trouble. I leave the house for work everyday by 6:15, so I have to get up early. I sure wish at times to have just an extra hour. I do make up for it on the weekends though!

And there you have it. My top ten pain management tips. If you have any that you would like to add, please do! I'd be delighted to share them.


hirleygibbs22 said...

I would like to take the opportunity of saying thanks to you for the professional instruction I have often enjoyed going to your site. I am looking forward to the commencement of my university research and the complete preparation would never have been complete without coming over to this site. If I may be of any help to others, I'd personally be pleased to help as a result of what I have gained from here.
Dr. Carl Balog

Amy Whelan said...

Dr. Carl,
Thank you for those wonderful words. All my helpful hints on this blog are from what has helped me. Not all of what is posted here is appropriate for everyone. I have tried many different techniques to manage my pain. Most days I get it right, some days, not so much. If I could add one more helpful hint: Sometimes crying is the best release. I used to be so frightened of crying, feeling like I had to always be strong, but I have found such therapeutic benefit from it that it cannot be discounted.

Again, thank you for those kind words. I am truly humbled.

Arch Caron said...

Experiencing chronic pain frequently can be a sign that you need help to treat it. Otherwise, it might get worse and creates more trouble in the long run. Your tips would be really helpful if the pain is still bearable. But if you still experience too much pain, getting pain management from experts can really be a good idea to manage it.

Amy Whelan said...

You are absolutely correct, Arch. Many doctors need to be part of the treatment. They are integral to my health. Thank you for pointing out that this needs to be the first course of action with someone dealing with chronic pain.

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Amy Whelan said...

I am glad you found this post informative. Thanks a bunch!