Don't Let Pain Rule Your Life: How to Manage It Naturally
Pain is defined as suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury. Everyone experiences pain differently which can make it difficult to define and treat. Pain is the body’s way of telling us there is something wrong and plays an important role to protect us from harmful situations. For example, when we touch something hot, our brain reacts quickly to a signal of danger. Chronic pain, however, can be debilitating and reduce our quality of life.
Some common terms used to describe pain include: Aching, burning, stabbing, shooting, tingling, and dull, sharp, and/or throbbing. These descriptions help me as a doctor to determine where the pain might be coming from, but because pain is so different to every individual this job can sometimes be difficult.
The most common causes of pain include: Muscle overuse and trauma, tension, stress, and minor injuries.
There are 2 main categories of pain:
- Tissue damage or visceral pain
- Nerve damage or neuropathic pain
Visceral pain occurs when organs, muscles, or tissues are inflamed, damaged, or injured. Some examples of visceral pain include: Appendicitis, gallstone pain, chronic chest pain, diverticulitis, and pelvic pain.
Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage. There are many causes of neuropathic pain, a few examples include: Diabetes, herniated discs, arthritis, spinal cord compression, and Multiple Sclerosis.
How our body registers pain:
- Sensory receptors send messages through nerve fibers to the spinal cord and brainstem
- The brain receives a message regarding where the pain is being felt
- In response to pain, the brain releases chemicals called endorphins, which are morphine-like substances
Researchers have discovered that brain activity changes in response to acute vs chronic pain. (This discovery might explain why treatments of acute pain aren’t always effective for treating chronic pain.)
Acute pain is relatively more sharp and severe, and typically lasts less than 3 to 6 months and is related to soft tissue damage.
Chronic pain lasts beyond 6 months and the nerve signals continue firing even after you've healed. Often, chronic pain occurs without an obvious cause. For some, chronic pain is the consequence of an injury or health condition.
Some well-known causes of chronic pain include: Past injuries or surgeries, back problems, migraines and other headaches, arthritis, nerve damage, infections, and Fibromyalgia.
The main goal of chronic pain treatment is pain reduction as chronic pain can be debilitating and often cause daily activity disruption.
Thankfully, there are natural solutions available for those not comfortable with medication and surgery.
Some natural solutions for pain management include: Chiropractic care -- specifically upper cervical, massage, breathing exercises, essential oils and supplements that help reduce inflammation.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic care employs a specialized technique of pain management by utilizing a whole person approach. If you’re looking for a safe, natural, and effective treatment for pain management, upper cervical chiropractic care might be perfect for you.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic care aims to help relieve pain, improve functions or mobility, and help patients better manage their condition at home.
Treatments start with an initial exam and discussion of health history to evaluate your condition and identify potential causes of pain.
An upper cervical chiropractic adjustment involves the application of a controlled correction close to the brainstem with the goal of correcting brain to body alignment in order to allow full function of the spinal cord and attached nerves.
Research reveals that the services provided by chiropractors are clinically effective, safe and cost effective.
Chiropractic therapy can also apply massage to ease pain. As part of a chiropractic session, a chiropractor may massage the soft tissue to improve circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation associated with the pain, and encourage quicker healing.
Traction massage is a form of decompression therapy that relieves pressure on the spine by stretching and taking pressure off compressed discs. This process straightens the spine and improves the body's ability to heal itself. You can look at my last TV segment on this here on my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nagG0uoYW4E&t=6s
Self-management techniques allow individuals to become an active participant in his or her pain treatment.
Research shows self-management programs have reduced many barriers to effective pain management, helping individuals to significantly increase their ability to cope with pain.
The best self-management programs help by teaching individuals various methods of thinking about and responding to pain, thus making their actions to alleviate pain more effective.
Experts have identified several key tasks to aid in self-management of chronic pain. These tasks include: Building a partnership with your healthcare provider, using medications only when needed, applying cognitive and behavioral strategies, getting help with emotional consequences of chronic pain.
Many chronic pain sufferers struggle with no longer having full control over their own life and having to rely on others to help with even mundane tasks. Therefore, self-management aims to help individuals regain some element of control. Learning how to keep pain from dictating daily activities is what self-management is all about.
A number of techniques have been identified as helpful tools when learning self- management tools to help chronic pain sufferers gain control of their day.
- Effective Pacing
- Food Choices
- Physical Activity
- Ease Tension
- Sleep Better
- Positive Thoughts
Many chronic pain sufferers refer to ‘good days’ and ‘bad days.’ As pain can be so debilitating on bad days, individuals tend to overwork themselves on good days to catch-up on activities that were missed on bad days. This often leads to needing more recovery time following a good day. Pacing is the difference between doing too many activities and not enough. Rather than doing everything on a good day, break up activities so you, not the pain, oversee how you plan, start, stop, and change what you are doing.
Some effective examples include: set rest breaks to break up tasks, frequently change tasks to limit repetitive movements, and simply work slower.
Food is one thing everyone can control. This is VERY good news, as what we eat and drink throughout the day impacts overall health and wellness! I recommended getting a food allergy test done to evaluate what foods are causing an immune response that might be causing your underlying pain. I see this all the time. A patient comes into my office with chronic pain, I run a food allergy panel and the patient’s pain is reduced when they no longer eat the food triggers. If you want more info on what panel I run, you can email me and I will determine what panel is good for you based on your needs.
Constipation is a common side effect of medications. Getting plenty of fiber and water daily can help manage this annoyance.
Regular physical activity can help improve the body’s strength, flexibility, and endurance. Chronic pain can lead sufferers to rest more frequently, which can negatively impact muscle mass and increase disability.
Low impact activates are ideal: Even 10 minute sessions a few times throughout the day can help improve overall well-being and reduce your risk of long-term disability!
Exercises to try:
- Core strength like Pilates
- Deep breathing
For most people, physical activity with a friend is more enjoyable than going at it alone. Try looking for meet-up groups or classes offered in your area. When exercising at home, turn on your favorite music or TV show to help pass the time. Music can change your mood when working out.
As stress levels increase, tension increases as well, often leading to increased pain. Finding techniques to help ease stress and tension will help you feel more relaxed. Managing stress can help develop a more positive outlook. For more information you can buy my Learning How to Breathe book on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Corinne-Weaver-DC/e/B01NBFY939/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Lack of sleep leads to fatigue, irritability, stress, and tension, all of which make it harder to cope with pain. Depression, sleeping too late, napping, and resting in bed contribute to sleep disturbances.
There are several things you can employ for a better night’s sleep. Use your bed only for sleep, avoid watching TV or other activities in bed. Make your bedroom peaceful, keep it tidy and clutter free.
Set up a nighttime routine:
- Try taking a warm Epsom salt bath before bed
- Listen to some relaxing music
- Read a favorite book
- Do some stretching
- Avoid eating large meals right before bed
- Avoid eating or drinking anything with sugar or caffeine
Many people report their perception of pain changes according to what they are focused on. When pain occupies most of your thoughts, pain can become amplified. Changing your focus to a hobby, reading a good book, watching a favorite TV show, or engaging in an interesting conversation can help distract the mind away from pain. Brain research shows specific areas of the brain which are active during pain. These same parts of the brain show lower activity when our attention is directed to something else during episodes of pain.
Redirecting focus during a pain episode can be particularly difficult. However, with practice, it will come more naturally. The more you can fill your conscious awareness with other, more enjoyable things to focus on, the easier changing your focus will become over time. Challenge your assumptions that being productive or happy is not possible with pain. Once you understand that pain can be influenced by your thoughts, you can take back control over your pain. Keeping a gratitude journal near your bed can be a great therapy.
Ergonomics is the science of refining the design of products to optimize them for human use. The goal of ergonomics is to minimize the risk of injury when doing certain tasks or using tools. Applying ergonomics in your daily activities can be as simple as improving your posture while sitting or standing. Being mindful of the way you might lift, reach for, or move objects can help minimize the risk of injury during tasks. Many office settings offer ergonomic tips or tools for employee use. Check with your IT or HR department to find out what may be available at your company.
If you want more healthy tips you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/drcorinneweaver. Like and comment on my channel so I will know what tips and topics you want to know about. I am forming a community of people who want to take action in their own health with my social media channels and I want to know what health topics you want to hear.
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing his gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! For more information, you can go to www.nomoremedsmovement.com and sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.
Dr. Corinne Weaver
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was recently named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.