Categories
Natural Pain Remedies

Are You a Chronic Pain Warrior?

The Pixelman – Pixabay

Today was the first time I ever heard this term, Chronic Pain Warrior.  What’s that? So I read about it. And concluded that yes, I am a Chronic Pain Warrior.  Read on to find out if you are one.

Who are Chronic Pain Warriors?  

They are people who suffer with pain on a daily basis.  Day after day, they go on working, living, functioning, but doing so while in pain.  Is that you? It’s me! And because it is a struggle, it becomes a fight. And warriors fight, right?  In fact, the Oxford dictionary defines a warrior as “a brave or experienced soldier or fighter”.  I don’t know about you, but this is sort of inspiring!  It gives my experience a powerful positive edge, don’t you think?  

We are brave.  We are brave because we face the enemy of pain every single day.  

We are experienced.  We are experienced because we deal with pain constantly, week after week, month after month.

We are soldiers and fighters because we are in the midst of the battle, doing the work of the ground fighter.  Soldier also has another meaning as a verb, which is to “soldier on”. Which means that you do not give up even when life is tough.  That’s you and me, right?

So what if you are a Chronic Pain Warrior?  If you want to take some action to be a victorious warrior, read on about how I believe you can do that.  

 

Warriors need weapons, right?  What are some weapons of your warfare?

Warriors can’t fight without weapons.  Sometimes warriors are on the offensive, sometimes on the defensive.  I hope the following suggestions will help you in your fight.  

Community

A soldier fights with an army.  So too, you need an army. Our army is made up of community.  Our community is distinctive. Following are some of our fellow fighters.

I hope you have loved ones who support you daily in your fight.  Your own personal army. They know you so well they can figure out how best to fight alongside you.  They don’t judge you, but understand how you are pushing on. The best kind acknowledge your weaknesses and support your strengths.  

Just as an aside, I suggest you don’t waste time with negative nellies.  They can make your pain worse by their toxic personalities. Fight to keep them out of your life. 

This article was the one that gave me the term, Chronic Pain Warrior.  It is a great resource for helping others understand your fight. It discusses 15 things to know about Chronic Pain Warriors.  

There is actually a community on Facebook with this name.  Click here for more information, and to Like and/or Follow.  I’m trying to find out if they are the originator of the term.  In the meantime you should find some compassion and community there.  

Other options for community are online forums.  I haven’t joined any yet, but I plan to. If you are a member of one, and recommend it, please leave that information in the comments below.  

I also found a great organization called American Chronic Pain Association.  They have helpful videos and a database of sufferers that you can contact.  They also support local chapters, which I hope to get going in my area. Getting one going is going to be a battle in itself, as just doing any activity while in pain is difficult.  But being active and engaged is also a tool to fight pain, so I’m going to do it. I recommend you click on the above link to learn more about them.  

Movement or Exercise

I say it all the time, in almost every post, that moving is vital to dealing with chronic pain.  I feel like a broken record, but it can’t be said enough. And because I, like you, have chronic pain, then I feel I can speak about this topic with some authority.  Besides, what warrior do you know that lies in bed all day?  

Yeah, it’s not easy to push yourself to move, but it is a must as we Warriors fight through the battle.  

Even getting out of bed is a challenge.  I wake up knowing my pain will begin as soon as my feet hit the floor.  (If it’s not already bothering me because I slept in the wrong position, or I couldn’t sleep because of the pain.)  What I do is something Tony Robbins does (except I say it to God): Give thanks for at least 3 things, Pray about at least 3 things, Set goals to accomplish 3 things.  Doing this focuses my mind on something other than my pain.  

Then during the day, I commit to walking and stretching.  I wish I could do more, but I will be thankful for what I can do.  If you have some exercise program or routine that you do, I would like to hear about it.  It may be helpful to other Warriors. I’ve included some links for posts I found that hopefully will be helpful to you.

Links for various workouts: 

  • Here’s one where she tells she works out to prevent chronic pain. 
  • Or see this one on how to modify exercises when in pain.
  • This author says these exercises helped her get rid of pain.  I can’t do many of these, but perhaps you can.
  • There ab exercises may be similar to the previous ones, but helpful as well.
  • Here’s an encouraging article because it states you CAN exercise with limited mobility.

This small list is just a start.  Search the web for more help! And leave comments below if you have something that would help all of us.  That’s what an army does!

And I believe warriors don’t stop trying do win.  Warriors keep fighting to the death.

Portrait – Left Hand Bear Chief – David Mark – Pixabay

 

Management tools

I suppose the army doesn’t call them management tools.  Battle plans? So, I may have to diverge from the comparisons for a bit.  The point is, you need a plan and how to manage that plan.  

Not surprisingly, the American Chronic Pain Association (referred to above) has a page called Pain Management Tools.  They feature Self Management Skills and The Art of Pain Management. Here’s the link to that page.  

Maybe I should have listed this first, because deciding to manage your pain is the first step.  You are an active participant, and only you can decide what to do while you are in pain. So the first question should be, do you want to manage your pain, or do you want to let it manage you?  If you want to be the manager, the commander, the warrior, then you have to take action.  

Many of my previous posts are about this.  They are about you taking some sort of action.  That is what managing pain is all about. And the action isn’t just exercise.  It is much more. See some of my other posts like these: Can Music Relieve Chronic Pain? Or A Pain Sufferer’s Guide to How to Get Out of Bed.

Breathing exercises, imagery and mindfulness are promoted as great management tools.  I have written a little about them, but have yet to fully practice them, so I feel I must use them more before I speak about my experience.  However, if you have some authority on this topic, please let us know.  

Humor

Laughing may seem like the last thing you want to do, but I highly recommend it.  Having a sense of humor about your situation is a very powerful weapon.  

When caring people ask me exactly where my pain is, I tell them, “I have a pain in the butt!”  If I can do so with a smile then they usually smile too. For just a few seconds, I don’t hurt as much.

But you can prolong humor’s effect by thinking about humorous jokes, watching a funny movie, or just laughing with friends.  I hope you have heard about Norman Cousins’ book Anatomy of An Illness.  In it, he recounts his fight (a warrior!) against a disease that his doctors told him would kill him.  He credits high doses of Vitamin C, and continuous laughter to his recovery. This is a beautiful example of the power of laughter.

I’ll share one of the funniest jokes I’ve heard in awhile.  It’s long but worth it. I don’t know who to credit it to. Here it is:

 

Dave was bragging to his boss every day, “You know, I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone, and I know them.”

Tired of his boasting, his boss called his bluff, “OK, Dave, how about Tom Cruise?”

“No dramas boss, Tom and I are old friends, and I can prove it.” So Dave and his boss fly out to Hollywood and knock on Tom Cruise’s door, and Tom Cruise shouts,

“Dave! What’s happening? Great to see you! Come on in for a beer!”

Although impressed, Dave’s boss is still skeptical. After they leave Cruise’s house, he tells Dave that he thinks him knowing Cruise was just lucky.

“No, no, just name anyone else,” Dave says.

“President Trump,” his boss quickly retorts.

“Yup,” Dave says, “Old buddies, let’s fly out to Washington,” and off they go.

At the White House, Trump spots Dave on the tour and motions him and his boss over, saying, “Dave, what a surprise, I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let’s have a beer first and catch up.”

Well, the boss is very shaken by now but still not totally convinced. After they leave the White House grounds he expresses his doubts to Dave, who again implores him to name anyone else.

“Pope Francis,” his boss replies.

“Sure!” says Dave. “I’ve known the Pope for years.” So off they fly to Rome.

Dave and his boss are assembled with the masses at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square when Dave says, “This will never work. I can’t catch the Pope’s eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know all the guards so let me just go upstairs and I’ll come out on the balcony with the Pope.” He disappears into the crowd headed towards the Vatican.

Sure enough, half an hour later Dave emerges with the Pope on the balcony, but by the time Dave returns, he finds that his boss has had a heart attack and is surrounded by paramedics.

Making his way to his boss’ side, Dave asks him, “What happened?”

His boss looks up and says, “It was the final straw… you and the Pope came out onto the balcony and the man next to me said, ‘Who the heck is that on the balcony with Dave?’

 

I copied the below image from this post called Chronic Illness Humor.  All those boxes should sound familiar.  Either we say them or someone else says them.  Maybe at the end of the day, fill in as many boxes as you can.  Maybe you can laugh at it. Or use it as a tracking record of how your day went.  

 

Chronic Illness Bingo
Pins & Procrastination

Can you find anything humorous in your situation?  I would very much appreciate it if you would leave jokes or recommendations for funny movies, or any funny thoughts.  I need that and I’m sure others do too. Leave them in the comments section please.  

Hope you ended this section with a little smile.

Conclusion

We have to fight to keep going.  So be a Warrior and get in the battle.  

 

Categories
Natural Pain Remedies

What Do You Mean? My Chronic Pain Can Cause Fatigue?

whoismargot – pixabay

Can Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?

I am almost always tired.  And I’m pretty sure it’s not because I:

  • Don’t eat right 
  • Don’t get 8 hours of sleep
  • Don’t exercise

Because I do all those things!  And more. I concentrate on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  I go to bed at a reasonable hour and set my alarm for 8 hours later. I try to walk and do yoga everyday. My blood labs are fine too. So why am I tired? 

I think my tiredness has to do with having chronic pain.  Pain wears you out, and if it is chronic, it wears you out everyday. And it can impact your ability to function, your ability to sleep restfully, and affect your emotional and psychological outlook.  

What is Chronic Pain?

First off, let’s define chronic pain.  It is an unpleasant sensation or discomfort that lasts longer than the cycle for normal healing.  It may or may not be a result from an injury. It remains active in the nervous system for months and years.  It may cause tissue damage, or may be a result of tissue damage. 

nastya_geep – Pixabay

Through my research I have noted that chronic pain has several side effects, besides the obvious one of being in pain.  Some of those effects are:

  • Tense muscles
  • Inability to move, or a reduced desire to move
  • Overeating or not eating at all
  • Depression or feeling sad
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Fear
  • Worry over expenses of treatments for pain
  • Limited activities and social connections
  • Focusing on the pain and nothing else, so you’re not much fun to be with

What is Fatigue?

This is an overall feeling of lack of energy and motivation, even tiredness, although fatigue is more than being tired.  It is frequently associated with illness, especially if pain is involved. I read that it accompanies arthritis and fibromyalgia to name two.  But other illnesses can be associated as well. Furthermore, I read that inflammation can cause fatigue. And some medications can cause the side effect of fatigue.  So, make sure that you have all these issues investigated for you to reach a conclusion of what is causing your fatigue.  

For this article, I am focusing on chronic pain and fatigue.  I want to know the association, and more importantly, how I can manage it and hopefully feel better.  

I read in this article (Fatigue) that fatigue affects us all differently.  This is a very helpful article, and I recommend you read it.  I did find there were some sentences that repeated but overall the article is very good.  

Can Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?

Probably the biggest correlation between chronic pain and fatigue is that chronic pain can interfere with sleep.  If you aren’t sleeping well, then you are going to be fatigued. I know, not very profound, huh? Even if you plan to get a good night’s sleep, sometimes that doesn’t happen.  I have written an article on getting a good night’s sleep. Click here.  Hopefully one of those suggestions might help you.  Let me know in the comments if it did. Or if you have other sleep suggestions.  

Furthermore, the physical, emotional, and mental energy you expend to deal with the pain can be exhausting, and this leads to fatigue.  Pain can just plain wear you down. It takes a physical toll as the body tries to adjust to the pain signals and inflammation. There is an emotional cost in feeling down, being discouraged and possibly depressed.  And our mental state of being tired interferes with being able to think clearly and even stay awake!

So in answer to the question; yes, chronic pain can cause fatigue.  Therefore, be gentle to yourself as you deal with not just the pain, but all the additional results from chronic pain. 

What Can You Do To Feel Better?

PLAN YOUR DAY:

Food: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve used is to cook a healthy meal with several portions involved.  That way you have expended the least amount of energy for several meals. You are using your mind to plan ahead.  This is very important when you are in pain and fatigued.  

I am on a limited food plan, high in protein and produce.  Finding something I like can be a challenge. When I do, I make a lot.  I just made a pork tenderloin with acorn squash in the crockpot. I’m going to have it for breakfast tomorrow.  It helps when I have something yummy to look forward to in the morning.  

The crock pot is a great tool!  I understand the Instant Pot is even better, but I don’t have one yet.  I highly recommend tools like these to make your life easier. That is one of the recommendations I found.  Think of ways to make life easier.  

If you have some tips for making life easier please leave them in the comments.  You will be helping all of us.

Watch your caffeine intake too.  There is that desire for a cup of coffee when you are tired, but it can boomerang on you and keep you awake when you want to be asleep.  I read that we should stop caffeine 10 hours before our scheduled bedtime. Since I go to bed pretty early, like 9 p.m., that means I must stop drinking caffeine by 11 a.m.  

Also, check to see if you are getting enough Vitamin D.  A deficiency in this vitamin can contribute to fatigue, as well as other problems.  Apparently most of us need a supplement.  

May I also suggest you keep a food diary?  Track what you eat and how you feel at the end of the day and the next day.  You will feel better as you eat better. Tracking it will help you practice better eating.

Free-Photos – Pixabay

Work:  Those of us who have chronic pain and fatigue take longer to complete tasks.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t complete them. I know some of my fellow bloggers produce 2-3 blogs a week.  I can’t! But I can produce one a week. I plan out my week and split the task up into 4 days. I use 3 days to write about 500 words a day and the 4th day to finalize it.  Then I post on the 5th day.  

That’s all I can do!  So plan your goals realistically.  As you go through your days, you will find you have to tweak your schedule.  But I highly recommend you make a schedule. You will gain a great deal of satisfaction from completing your list.  And even if you don’t complete them all, you will have accomplished something, which is a great feeling. And by evaluating your list and your accomplishments you will be able to adjust your schedule.

Some other good advice I read about was to pace yourself.  Know yourself well enough to not push if you don’t feel up to it.  The word balance comes to mind. And balance is critical to those of us in pain.  Self care and awareness of our capabilities as well as our limitations is crucial.

Breaks:  This is great advice for anyone, whether you suffer with chronic pain or not.  I read that short frequent breaks can make a positive impact on your fatigue, work output and general wellbeing.  Just a two minute break can help! And especially for those of us in chronic pain, changing positions is vital.

So get up from reading this and take a two minute walk.  You’ll also help your eyes to avoid strain by changing your focus.  And it clears your mind, especially if you are able to go outside and commune with nature for a bit.  Try it. I bet you’ll find you are more productive and feel better.  

Pexels – Pixabay

Movement:  In almost every post I have made on this site I strongly encourage movement.  That is particularly important if you are in chronic pain. Again, even if it’s just a little movement, it’s a start.  

Sometimes I walk.  Sometimes I do stretches or yoga. See these articles of mine for what I enjoy doing. Review of Jane Adams’ Gentle Yoga DVD – A Self Care Natural Solution for Pain and Inflammation.  And Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life DVD – A Natural Remedy for Pain

I hope to get back to swimming, which I can do all year round in SoCal!  What do you do? Let us know, we might like to try it too!

This following link is to a great website I just found.  I tried to contact them to see if they had a newsletter, but was unsuccessful.  But they have some great information about chronic pain, seeing as their name is Institute for Chronic Pain.  That link directs you to their article about Fatigue and Chronic Pain, which as you will see, gave me some of these ideas.  I hope you go there and find some help for your suffering. And investigate the other articles.  

RyanMcGuire – Pixabay

 

Find Joy:  I know it sounds like that would be the last thing you can do, but by focusing your mind on that which gives you joy, you are rewiring your brain to not give the pain as much power.  You can go with meditation practices, or just watching a funny movie. The meditation will probably help you sleep. Laughing produces happy hormones. Whatever you choose, take the bull by the horns and go for it.

Conclusion

Yes, your chronic pain can cause fatigue.  But you can start practicing some of these suggestions to make a difference in your life.

Your comments and thoughts will be helpful to this community of pain sufferers.  Please contribute. Thank you.

 

Categories
Natural Pain Remedies

Can Sugar Cause Joint Pain?

FoodieFactor – Pixabay

Introduction

We hear and read that sugar is a bad thing.  In my head I know this. In my mouth; not so much.  I said before in another post that I know it is related to inflammation.  And that I am addicted. And that I need to give it up. But why? And how?  

Don’t read this article if you don’t want to fix your sugar addiction.  I researched this kicking and screaming.  

Why am I writing this article?  Because I’ve read, however superficially, that sugar can cause inflammation.  So I decided to get to the bottom of this claim. If that is really the case, then what am I going to do about it?  Because if sugar makes my pain worse, then I should do something. Because I have chronic pain and want to find natural remedies and relief to my pain.

What is sugar?

To quote Wikipedia, “ Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food.”  If an ingredient ends in the letters “ose”, it is a sugar.  We are most familiar with sugar made from the sugar cane plant.  I was shocked to read that this product is the ninth most valuable crop harvested in the world.  Most processed foods (i.e. foods not in a natural state) contain sugar.  

Sugar is a natural part of many food groups, like fruit, vegetables and milk.  Our bodies convert sugars to energy. If we have too much sugar in our system, the body stores it as fat.  If you want a deeper explanation of sugar see this article called Understanding Sugars

Do you have inflammation?

First of all, I needed to understand exactly what inflammation is.  I hear it a lot. In my mind it implies an area of my body that is “on fire”. A helpful definition for me from Study.com was, “a series of defensive biological reactions to harmful agents that leads to pain, redness, and swelling, and heat in the affected areas of the body.”  Our amazing bodies have the ability to fight harmful enemies that attack them. And one way they fight is with inflammation. So that’s a good thing, right?  

Yes.  But not if it is chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is caused by disease like diabetes or heart disease.  It appears to be part of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. And if a nerve is injured, secondary problems like inflammation may result.  

My condition is caused by spinal stenosis.  The pain I have in my buttock is very similar to sciatica pain, from what I understand.  When I am at my worst, the pain can go into my upper thigh. It used to go into my calf, but the stretching and exercises I do have helped relieve that.  

The research I have done states that my pain might be a result of inflammation, or at least exacerbated by it.  It is important to know if your pain involves inflammation. But I’m not sure how to find that out. I found this medical abstract that suggests there are studies being done to link inflammation to neurological pain.  This is an exciting time to be alive as research advances in this area.  

From my research I understand that inflammatory arthritis is a type of arthritis so if you suffer from that, then inflammation is an issue for you.  Rheumatoid arthritis is where the body’s immune system attacks its own joints and causes pain. Inflammation is involved here also. Ask your doctor if your pain might be related to inflammation.  If so, then read on to see how you might help yourself.

nattanan23 – Pixabay

How does sugar affect inflammation?

In my research I was surprised that I couldn’t find more scientific support for the relationship of sugar to inflammation.  It seems it is just stated without research backup. The closest thing I could find was an article that stated that, “Sugar stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.” (Medical News Today) See their article, Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body?  

Our bodies seem to see sugar as an attacking enemy and start the immune system working.  Our immune system sends out the troops to fight the enemy and that process can produce heat, swelling and pain.  If this process is triggered to be ongoing, it results in chronic inflammation and therefore pain.

Since I couldn’t find any studies that showed a clear association of sugar with inflammation, I’m going out on a limb to say that I think sugar does affect inflammation.  I’m looking at it this way; the sugar feeds the bad cells and our body has to attack those guys. In the attack, swelling, heat and white cells are formed. Hence inflammation.  I know that’s not very scientific, but it’s the best I can do to understand this.  

Then to answer my question in the title; yes, sugar can cause joint pain.  

Dr. Manuel Gonzalez Reyes

How is sugar making your feel bad? 

So, if we can assume that sugar and inflammation are related, then the first way sugar makes you feel bad is by causing inflammation.  And inflammation may cause pain. So I’m going to challenge myself to cut back or cut out sugar.

There are other ways sugar is making you feel bad.  You also probably know how sugar can affect people with diabetes by raising their blood glucose.  Prolonged high blood sugar can lead to all sorts of problems for diabetics, including blindness and loss of limbs.  Too much of it is related to weight gain. It appears to be related to heart disease. And it ages you! I’m vain enough to be motivated to stop eating sugar just for that reason! 🙂

So What?

You think you ought to cut down on sugar?  Or cut it out?  

Only you can make the call.  I do recommend that you start out slowly, with small changes.  From experience I know that making little changes raises my success rate in sticking to those changes.  For example; I just had intestinal surgery. I was told to start walking immediately, but very small amounts.  So I just walked around my room for a few days. Then down the hall. Then back and forth in the hall. Then a fourth of a mile out in the parking lot.  You get the picture. I’m up to one to two miles a day now.  

Here is another article which helped me to cut down on my sugar called Everything You Need to Know About Sugar.  It helped me make some changes in my sugar consumption.  I like that it recommends baby steps.

Here’s another great article with 14 Simple Ways to Stop Eating Sugar.  It’s very informative and helpful.

What Should I Eat?

While there are seemingly millions of options to choose from, finding the right food plan for yourself is a challenge.  

I have promised myself that I am cutting back on sugar as of the beginning of this week when I started the article.  And I have. But oh the cravings! I personally am finding it helpful to:

Stevepb – Pixabay
  1. Drink water 
  2. Snack on protein  
  3. Have fruit on hand when a sweet craving hits.  
  4. Let some time pass.  The craving usually goes away.

But you might have to approach it differently.  

I found a post that has some really interesting looking recipes that promise to cut down on inflammation.  Click on this link of 15 Inflammation Fighting Recipes.  I haven’t tried any yet, but plan to.  The cold brew ice cream recipe calls for sugar though!

Is Atkins Diet a possibility?  Yes, it is. Since the basis for this diet is a low carb diet, than you are going to avoid most foods that have sugar in them.  This diet became popular in the 1970s after Dr. Atkins promoted his book based on this diet. It has since been researched to show that it is a successful weight loss diet.  But it can be a successful plan to follow if you want to cut out sugars. Google Atkins Diet if you want more information.

Is Keto the way to go?  As far as I can see, the Keto Diet and the Atkins Diet are the same.  I recommend you google this term if you are interested in more information.

I am on a low grain diet due to my stomach issues.  I have found my stomach issues have improved and I have lost weight.  Losing weight was a secondary concern for me. I mean, I needed to lose, but more than that, I wanted my intestinal pain to stop.  It has. This diet isn’t one you will find anywhere. My gastroenterologist told me that diverticulitis came on the scene when humans started to mill grains.  So, I figured cutting out grains might make a difference. It has.  

What Else?

I’ve found at least two articles that highlight how important sleep is to overcome sugar addiction.  But is you are a pain sufferer, you are probably challenged by getting a good night’s sleep in the first place.  I know! Me too! I’ve written an article about this topic. See this link.  

I am also considering joining a support group online or a forum with fellow sugar addicts.  I know from experience having someone else support me in my struggles, as well as being accountable to them, is very important.  It also increases your success rate.

You have some other ideas for success?  Or comments about what I have written. Please leave them here.  Your comments and ideas will help others.  

Categories
Natural Pain Remedies

Pain Management of Chronic Back Pain

Introduction

Feeling down because you have pain?  Me too! It is often a challenge to get out of bed, because I know my day will start with pain.  You too? I just read a post that stated one-third of Americans live with chronic pain. That’s like 100 million.  And you thought you were the only one!  

Because I live with chronic pain, I am constantly researching new information to make my life more liveable.  Then I use the information to create posts that I hope will be helpful to others as well.

The following information is from several articles I have researched.  It is from articles I have read in a continuous search for relief from pain.  These topics only scratch the surface, so read some of my other posts to gain more information.

Walking

MabelAmber/Pixabay

 

Movement is vital to those of us in pain.  However, it goes against what we feel like doing.  Usually what I feel like doing is nothing. But that is the exact opposite of what I should do.  

Walking is still one of the best exercises we can do.  It is low impact and a natural activity. There are days when it hurts me to walk.  But then it hurts for me to do pretty much anything. So I figure I may as well get out and move as not.  

In my other posts you will note the benefits of exercise that I talk about.  My post, Exercises for Back Pain is one of them.  I suggest you take a look to see if it would be helpful for you.

Start with just a few minutes.  That’s what I had to do. It seemed sort of silly to put on my sneakers for just a 10 minute walk.  But you have to start somewhere. Maybe you have to start with 5 minutes.  

I have to attest that walking can help.  Just today I woke up with pain. About a level 6.  But I went walking with a friend, and by the time I got back it was down to a 2.  Yeah, it hurt to walk at first, but the longer I did it, the better I felt.

Now, my acupuncturist tells me that sometimes walking isn’t good.  So, you should consult with your doctor(s) and find what is best for you.  But most of the time movement is good. Dr. Chang (acupuncturist) told me that the exercise increases the circulation to the body and that helps with the pain.  

Keep a Record

I like this article that I found because it suggests keeping a log of your walks.  I track mine on an app on my phone. There are many out there. I like the Endomondo app.  It’s free for the basic app, which is what I use. Research shows that tracking your exercise can keep you motivated.  I like to review my exercise records because it makes me feel like I did something productive and proactive to manage my pain.  I think you will find this to be true for yourself.  

As you get into a regular routine you can increase the time, and/or distance.  That article has other suggestions and information including all the benefits you’ll experience, some thoughts to be aware of, and ideas to keep you going.  

You know it helps to have a buddy to walk with.  Since I live in a senior complex, many of my neighbors walk, and at a pace I can maintain.  This is very helpful. It keeps you accountable and encouraged. It also helps to tell someone what your goals are so that you have committed it publically. This helps with motivation.  

This article was very honest and helpful.  I recommend reading it a few times to get yourself up and moving.  Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump.  

Stretches

I have several articles that can help you with this.  I’m not going to rewrite or plagiarize them. I’ll give you the links.  

Let me just say that stretches have made all the difference in my pain management.  In my mind I am visualizing lengthening those muscles and tendons that are tight from the pain.  And maybe pulling off the nerve, so it is not pressing on the nerve. I have reviewed two DVDs that I use.  See the links here. (Review of Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams, Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life)

Other articles that might be helpful are the following: (click on the title, it will take you to the link)

8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Back Pain (I use some of these on an almost daily basis. I highly recommend them.)

A Surgeon Reveals Exercises That Heal Your Spine Before It’s Too Late (These seem a bit harder, so be careful.)

Exercise: 12 Workouts For Lower Back Pain (Some of the same as the 8 Simple ones above; try them both, see what works for you.)

Tai Chi

I don’t know enough about this practice to write about it, but it has come up in my radar twice within the last 24 hours.  So I did a little research. (And by the way, doesn’t it seem that the Chinese know something about health? Yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi, longevity; I think they got something here.)  It is referred to as “moving meditation”. That alone involves two concepts I recommend for managing pain.

It can generally improve balance and movement.  It apparently has a positive impact on other health concerns like hypertension and brain function.

So I think it is worth investigating.  This article recommends you seek out a class to make sure you are doing it correctly.  I plan on investigating this more also.

Are You Tired of Me Mentioning Movement?

Well, sorry.  But this is so important.  Plus I know for a fact that this is a natural pain remedy.  Find what’s right for you. Perhaps you have a different practice.  What is it? I would love to hear from you. You will be helping others too.

I am open to hearing about different forms of movement.  And willing to research them. Everyday is an opportunity to learn more.  Your comments are key for that to happen. So please comment. 

Here’s a great video that reinforces much of what I have researched in my journey.  The Pharmacist does promote a product, but the other information he communicates is very helpful.  I plan on investigating his philosophy/products in the future.

 

Someone to Check Out

I have found a new personality to follow while I continue investigations.  He is Dr. David Foreman, aka the Herbal Pharmacist. He no longer works in the pharmaceutical industry, but instead promotes what he calls The Four Pillars of Health.  

These Pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Supplements
  • Spirituality

He has been featured on all sorts of television stations and has his own website. Herbalpharmacist.com.  I highly recommend you go to his website and explore it.  There is a wealth of information. Plus I feel he is very down to earth, easy to understand and humble.   For those of you that are Christian, as am I, I was thrilled to note that he is also.

Foods

Now that you see that Dr. Foreman promotes exercise, I want to discuss one of his other pillars; diet.

I admit I am not where I need to be when it comes to food.  I am addicted to sugar. And sugar is one of the worst foods for people in pain.  Apparently it increases inflammation which is related to pain. So I know I need to break my addiction.  I am promising myself right now, today, that I shall begin to do so. I am promising you. Please comment and ask me how I’m doing.  If I have success, you know I will be writing about it. (When you see Dr. Foreman in a video he looks so healthy! I am sure it is because he doesn’t eat sugar.  And he is in his 50s!)  

So in one of his interviews he gave advice on healthy snacking.  Some suggestions are:

  • Eat more protein for a snack.  This helps the body build muscle.  Some ideas include, peanuts, edamames, and beans.  How much protein do we need? He said we should consume 1 gram of protein for every pound we weigh.  Protein contains essential amino acids which are necessary for our body to maintain itself.
  • Vegetables should be increased in your diet.  Ideally we should have veggies at each meal. And being in a hurry or on the go is no excuse for not getting veggies, since you can grab a salad or veggie cup almost anywhere.
  • Make sure to add berries to your diet.  Although blueberries are considered a superfood, all berries contain vitamins that keep us healthy.
  • Eat avocados which contain healthy fat and are packed with vitamins. (They are awfully expensive right now though!)
  • And finally, although it does contain sugar, dark chocolate is actually good for you.  It has a high amount of antioxidants (which fight disease) and apparently lowers the risk of heart problems.  
Silviarita/Pixabay

Why am I listing these foods in a pain management article?  Because if you are taking good care of your body by giving it the nutrients it needs it will function at its best.  Don’t you want that? Improving your diet is an easy fix to help you feel better. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Let’s do this together.  Comment on this post so we can encourage each other.

Comments Please

Throughout this article, I have asked you to comment.  The success of my posts depend on your interaction. I welcome questions and concerns.  If I am wrong about something I have said in this article I want to be corrected. Or if you have a product that has helped you, I want to hear about it.  I could be featured in an article and others may benefit.  

Thanks for your time!

 

Categories
Natural Pain Remedies

Why Pets Are Good for Your Health

Why Pets Are Good for Your Health

Pixabay/Gellinger

Did you ever think that having a pet could be helping you manage your pain?  Well, it can! This article will discuss the benefits of owning a pet. Not only can pets help you manage your pain, but they can benefit you in other ways.  Read more to find out the great benefits of owning a pet.

Movement

If you have read other articles on this website, you know that I promote movement.  Whether it is yoga, stretching or something else, research shows that moving your body can help you manage pain.  See my article on the benefits of exercise.  Or see my articles on how I like the two DVDs I use.   (Gentle Yoga, and Back to Life

So how does owning a pet get you moving?  

Taking care of it.  You can’t just sit and look at your pet.  Even goldfish need feeding and cleaning of the tank/bowl.  And perhaps you need to research about the care of the pet.  (Which I recommend.) Then you need to get to the pet store for supplies.  Having a pet takes planning and commitment, part of which keeps you moving.

Walking it.  The obvious pet that needs walking is a dog.  What a great pet to have to get you out and about.  And this has to be done at least twice a day, every day.  A great motivator to keep moving. So having a pet to walk just naturally increases your opportunity to exercise.  

Grooming it.  More movement.   Especially if you have to bathe the dog!  But cats need brushing too. Maintaining your pet’s appearance engages you in moving and caring.

Loving on it.  Just the simple act of stroking your pet, even a turtle, takes movement.  The tactile experience of touching another living thing raises our feelings of contentment.  Then there is playtime with your dog or cat. These times give you movement as well as laughter and joy.  

All this movement releases endorphins.  And endorphins are feel good hormones that do just that; help you feel good.  

 

Mental Health

I have an article that I wrote about Mental Health and Chronic Pain.  I suggest you read it to see how pain can impact your mental health.  

Research shows that pets can improve your mental health.  There are studies (although not a lot) that state having an animal around can reduce anxiety and increase attentiveness.  

We have all heard about pet therapy in hospitals and nursing homes.  This article about Pet Therapy Science was interesting to me because it shows that a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or cat.  

Having a pet decreases your feelings of loneliness.  Coming home to a pet makes you feel needed and even loved.  I remember a humorous article I read that a single woman wrote about her dog.  She said she loved that her dog looked longingly into her eyes and hung on her every word.  She said she hadn’t met a guy to do that! 

Pets can reduce depression, lower stress and increase your self-esteem.  Apparently stroking, grooming, touching and interacting with pets releases oxytocin, a neurochemical that calms us.  Pets increase our opportunities to socialize, especially if we are out walking our pet.  

There are programs and studies of the use of dogs in assisting schizophrenic patients.  The same is being studied in prison programs, where rescue dogs are trained to be service dogs by the inmates.  

Taking care of pets keeps you busy, engaged, and fulfills having a purpose in life.  

As our mental health is improved this leads to improved physical health.  With all the positive hormones produced by having a pet, we feel less pain and therefore feel better.  

 

Other Health Benefits

There are studies that report that having a pet can:

 

  1. Decrease blood pressure
  2. Decrease cholesterol levels
  3. Decrease triglyceride levels
  4. Sense illnesses in owners

A dog’s ability to sense illness has been studied in diabetics.  Dogs can smell changes in the breath of a diabetic and if trained to do so, can alert the human.  This link to Wikipedia discusses the ability that dogs have to detect cancer cells.  

This article from Health.com about how pets improve your health is worth reading.  

Here is a great article by the CDC (About Pets and People) that is helpful in considering the right pet.  It also outlines health and safety concerns. It serves as a thought provoking reminder to prevent you from getting the wrong pet.  

Let’s Not Forget Cuteness

Apparently we as humans are programed to love the faces of baby animals.  Their faces pull at our hearts, filling us with the urge to care for, cuddle and form attachments to them.  These feelings produce those feel good hormones again. Here’s an article about this phenomenon.  (With cute pictures!)

 

Pixabay/JACLOU-DL

 

Pet Owner Comments

 

Some comments from pet lovers (who allowed me to use their names and comments).  Just in case you thought I made all this up! 🙂

Carolyn:  The benefits of having a cat for a pet are several.  First is that you are taking care of something outside of yourself.  Petting a cat is therapeutic. They are cute and do funny things. They provide companionship and accountability.  They can make great Christmas card pictures. Being a cat owner, she says cats are less work than dogs.  

Theresa: A pet’s love is unconditional.  Everyone needs to be loved unconditionally.  Also, they are good for your physical, emotional and mental health.  Pets have a calming effect, which helps relieve stress. Dogs must be exercised, which helps our physical health.  Pets are companions, which help with feelings of loneliness and depression. They are also protective of their owners.  So many benefits.  

Bryan: So here’s a tale about my cat Mephistopheles. I went to the SPCA to rescue a cat roughly a decade ago and picking the right one can be daunting as there is never a shortage of cats needing rescue and many wind up being euthanized due to space limitations. My system was to pick a dozen or so who responded enthusiastically to my presence outside their cage and then take them individually into the “test room” to see how they behaved around me. Of many would be contenders, he was the warmest and immediately jumped up on my lap and sat down purring – the decision was clear.

Every cat owner likes the think their cat is “dog like” in behavior and isn’t skittish or mean as many can be (which I believe leads a lot of the population to have a distaste towards cats in general), but mine really is that. Sure at the end of the day he’s a cat and occasionally lets people know what is his claimed territory, but he is always welcoming to strangers and curious vice skittish. But his behavior towards others  isn’t why I’ve come to love him so much; rather it’s how he interacts with me. Prior to having him in my life I never really understood how people can be so emotionally passionate towards their pets but he opened my eyes in this regard and I’ve come to not be able to imagine life without him. His long annoying fur that gets all over everything, the litter he tracks on the freshly cleaned floor, the vomit he always prefers to leave on surfaces that are hard to clean are an insignificant price to pay for his companionship and love.

Every day when I come home from work I can hear him shouting before I even open the door and as soon as I enter it’s hard to even open the door all the way because he’s instantly rubbing against me begging for attention and won’t stop until properly pet. Every evening when I sit on the couch to relax he runs over and jumps on my lap to collapse and often fall asleep. In the darker times when life isn’t going as was ideally desired, he breathes fresh life into me and provides an easy place to find solace.

Linda: I’ve not noticed any reduction in physical pain because I have a cat but definitely better emotionally.  She’s my “family” and misses me when I’m gone.  If I leave a room for more than 5 mins, she comes to look for me.  The house would be really lonely without her.  She’s the boss, the house runs on her schedule (feeding, etc.)  She wakes me up every day at the same time and if I’m not in bed at the usual time she sits in the middle of the room and talks about it.  It’s nice to have her to take care of, she depends on me for everything and I love that I can give her her forever home.  She also makes me laugh out loud.  Her personality is goofy and she can play with a thread on the floor and ignore a purchased toy.  She’s the best fly catcher there is.  She gets bored chasing a flashlight beam after about 3 seconds.  She loves to have her ears and head scratched and would let me do that all day. I guess to sum it up, she’s the best company and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

 

Conclusion

The conclusion we can reach is that pets have a positive influence on our lives.  They can help us feel better mentally and assist in pain management. Having a pet is a win-win scenario.

What about you?  Do you have a comment or story to add to this article?  I would love to hear from you. I enjoy hearing stories of how a pet helped you.  You would be adding to everyone’s experience by sharing. Please do so.  I wanted to add a cute/funny video of animals, but I couldn’t decide what to use.  If you have a recommendation, or one of your own, please share it!  Thanks.  

If you love to read and love animals, I still enjoy re-reading the books by James Herriot.  He has wonderful observations about people and animals. The stories will make you cry and laugh out loud.  A few of the titles are: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, All Things Bright and Beautiful.  I welcome your comments on these as well.  

If you want a more scientific article to read, I recommend this link from the British Psychological Society.  The article does state that research regarding all the above claims is sparse, but favorable.