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Coping With Chronic Pain: Physical Methods of Pain Management - 7/15/2011

 

Pain is the body's way of responding to an injury and telling you something is wrong. It’s normal for you to have pain when you are injured or ill. But pain that lasts for weeks, months or years is not normal. Pain that lasts for 3 months or longer is called chronic. Chronic pain can occur anywhere in your body. It can range from being mild and annoying to interfering with day-to-day life. The nerves that transfer the pain “message” to your brain may be triggered by a multitude of things including muscle tension, stiffness, weakness, or spasms. Feelings of frustration, anger, and fear can make the pain more intense and long lasting. For example, depression seems to increase a person's perception of pain and decrease his or her ability to effectively cope with it. Often, treating the depression treats the pain as well. No matter where or how you are experiencing chronic pain, focused treatment should be taken seriously as it is the only real way to alleviate it. Below is a list of effective physical methods to remedy chronic pain:

Heat and Ice

The easiest method of dealing with chronic pain is with heat and ice. Heat, in the form of warm showers or hot packs, can relieve chronic pain by loosening stiff muscles and relaxing joints. Cold packs or ice packs provide pain relief by numbing the pain-sensing nerves in the affected area. Cold also helps reduce swelling and inflammation. Switch back and forth, by applying heat or cold for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to the area where you feel the pain. To protect your skin, place a towel between your skin and the source of the cold or heat. Here are some simple ways to make heat and ice packs:

  • Warm towels or hot packs in the microwave for a quick source of heat. (Handle carefully.)
  • Make instant cold packs from frozen juice cans or bags of frozen vegetables or meats.
  • Freeze a plastic, re-sealable bag filled with water to make a good ice bag.
  • Try Healthy Back’s Hotties Micro Hottie, a safe and reliable alternative to the traditional ‘hot water bottle’ without the need for boiling water or tricky stoppers.
  • Cold Therapy Wraps, like the ICE Down, are designed to deliver cold compression in the simplest and most convenient manner possible.


Unfortunately, the heat and ice remedy simply masks the pain without curing it, but is an effective method for immediate treatment and when you are on-the-go.

 

Ointments and Rubs

Specialized ointments and rubs consisting of natural herbs and ingredients have been used to combat chronic pain for centuries. One of the most popular and effective ointments is Tiger Balm, which mainly treats sore muscles and over-exertion, but also alleviates chronic pain including backache, arthritis, stiffness, strains, and sprains. Developed in 1870 by Aw Chu Kin of Rangoon, Burma, Tiger Balm combines camphor, menthol, and other herbal oils to penetrate deep down into muscle tissue and increase blood circulation at the area of application, carrying away broken down cells and fluids like lactic acids which cause pain and discomfort. Tiger Balm is available at the Healthy Back Store, both online and in stores.


Spinal Supports and Braces
Supports or braces reduce pain and inflammation by restricting movement. Following a vertebral fracture, a back brace or support will relieve pain and allow you to resume normal activities while the fracture heals. However, continuous use of a back support can weaken back muscles. For this reason, exercises to strengthen the muscles in the back should be started as soon as possible.


Exercise

Prolonged inactivity causes loss of muscle mass and strength, and can leave you prone for injury. A regular exercise program and physical therapy can help you regain strength, energy, and a more positive outlook on life. Exercise relieves tension, increases flexibility, strengthens muscles, reduces fatigue, and more importantly raises the body's level of endorphins - natural painkillers produced by the brain - to relieve pain. Healthy Back offers a wide range of exercise products including the AeroPilates 700 which combines all the benefits of a studio workout with a crucial cardiovascular workout, all in your own living room! To allow you to get a proper workout the AeroPilates is low impact (gentle on your joints) and since you a lying on your back there is no concussion on your legs, hips, or spine. This exercise helps to relax the mind and rejuvenate the body so that you can overcome chronic pain.


Physical Therapy and Massage Therapy

Physical therapists teach proper posture and exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles without injuring a weakened spine. Water therapy in a pool, for example, is one of the best exercise techniques for gently improving back muscle strength and reducing pain.


Massage therapy ranges from a light, slow, circular motion with the fingertips to a deep, kneading motion that moves from the center of the body outward toward the fingers or toes. Massage relieves pain, relaxes stiff muscles, and smooths out muscle knots by increasing the blood supply to the affected area and warming it. As a warning, deep muscle massage should not be done near the spine of a person who has spinal osteoporosis; light, circular massage with fingers or the palm of the hand is best in this case. Healthy Back offers massage products including various different massage chairs. The INADA Sogno Dreamwave Massage Chair a top-of-the-line high tech chair that incorporates your whole body and customizes massages for every body type. It’s massage therapy in the comfort of your own home.


To find the suggested products or search through our range of ergonomic solutions, please visit www.healthyback.com.


The Healthy Back Store is a specialty retailer that provides high-end comfort solutions and ergonomic products for back pain and other physical conditions. The company offers pain relieving products for sleeping, working, exercising and relaxing including back and neck supports, specialty mattresses, office chairs, exercise and therapy equipment, recliners and massage chairs. Healthy Back sells recognizable name brands such as Herman Miller and Tempur-Pedic, but also represents smaller, specialized manufacturers offering a growing selection of house-branded goods. Healthy Back has 23 stores in 6 states across the United States, and also sells through its website and call center, making it the largest privately owned back care retailer.