As parents, our busy schedules and being constantly on-the-go (as well as getting old) can catch up with us. Chronic pain is a big deal for millions of Americans but doesn’t have to control our lives. Rather than reaching straight for the acetaminophin, opioids, aspirin or ibuprofen when you experience pain, while they have their place, there are more natural ways to help sooth your symptoms — methods that do not involve drugs or can serve as adjuncts to medication.
Acupuncture and Massage
One of the more well-known, readily-available remedies is acupuncture. The purpose of acupuncture is to correct imbalances of energy in the body. Pain can be reduced by improving the functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, and acupuncture can help with this as well. Acupressure works on the same basis, but the therapist uses fingers instead of needles to apply the pressure. As we all know, human touch is invaluable when it comes to soothing pain. Massage not only feels great, but encourages your brain to release natural painkillers and mood regulators such as endorphins and serotonin, which in turn reduces stress. Stress, anxiety and tension can actually make pain worse; stretching, exercise and fresh air can help relieve pain. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises, or Qigong and Tai Chi, are excellent ways to lessen your perception of pain and induce a deep sense of relaxation. Yoga can also help reduce back pain and can improve symptoms of depression.
Essential oils can also help with pain relief and healing. Some essential oils have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-rheumatic properties. Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils for pain relief, as it can help relieve muscle tension and spasms. Peppermint can help with headache and other pain, and clary sage or wintergreen can sooth menstrual pain. Other essential oils with pain relieving properties include yarrow, frankincense, ginger, juniper, sandalwood, rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, vetiver, helichrysum, chamomile and sweet marjoram. You can blend up to three oils together to provide a pleasant remedy, or choose a blend that has been created for you by the experts. ElanVeda’s Penetrating Muscle and Joint Massage oil is available online from the Elan Veda shop. This blend of essential oils for joint pain can help with pain from exercise, injury or fatigue. A few drops are applied and massaged into the area that is causing you discomfort, or applied to the area on a warm compress for an ache, or a cold compress for swelling. Essential oils can be applied after blending them with a carrier oil or lotion, the aromas can be inhaled, or a few drops of your favourite oil can be added to your bath.
Other Ways to Soothe Pain
Ice can sooth a sports injury, and topical analgesics can be rubbed onto the skin to provide relief. Physiatry uses a combination of pain relief and and physical therapy to treat injuries and disorders. Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy can be effective for musculoskeletal pain, particularly neck and back pain; the therapist uses their hands to help heal inflamed tissues and calm muscle spasms. Chiropractics is a similar concept but focuses mainly on spinal manipulation. Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy has proven benefits, as talking about your pain can change the way you feel about it. If you feel less anxious, you are better able to cope with pain. Herbal remedies are also good for reducing inflammation. Fish oils, turmeric and Vitamin D can reduce pain and inflammation.
Be aware that muscles, ligaments and tendons can cause pain as a result of poor posture, overuse, injury, or repetitive movements. Being physically fit and healthy will help you because strong muscles and tendons are better equipped to support you and less likely to become injured or cause you pain. Always remember to stretch after exercise to release muscle tension and soreness. Prevention is always better than a cure, but when you do experience pain, try natural, alternative remedies to alleviate your symptoms.