Mental Health and Chronic Pain

Did you know that chronic pain can affect your mental health? Experts say that it can cause depression and anxiety. I can attest to that. When my pain started, I didn’t know how I was going to manage. I wondered how I could even get out of bed, much less go to work. I was very worried about my future. So anxiety became a secondary issue along with my pain.

Depression

Although my pain did not lead me into depression, I have experienced this at other times in my life. Depression is the main result of chronic pain. Depression can become chronic as well. Then we fall into a spiral of suffering with our pain, and suffering depression and anxiety. That’s why it is so important to be proactive about our condition. Natural pain remedies can include the following “non remedies”. The following are more suggestions that I hope will help you deal with your suffering.

Community

That is another reason why I have this website. I encourage you to become part of this community. As fellow sufferers, I believe we can help each other. Just talking about our problem does help. It fosters hope. It connects us emotionally. Having someone understand my suffering lifts my load a bit. Therefore, your comments and involvement here are important to all of us. You don’t have to have all the answers! In fact you don’t have to have any answers! By being available to others and “listening” to their struggles, you are providing a priceless service.

I hope as well that you have someone close that is understanding and helpful in your search for relief from pain. Not all friends/family are understanding. I have found the most understanding people are the ones that suffer or have suffered themselves. Perhaps through our sharing here, we can discover other natural pain remedies. If one good thing has come out of this pain I suffer, I think it is that I am much more understanding and compassionate with fellow sufferers. This was a motivating force in creating this website.

And don’t think that people are just suffering from physical pain. We already know that physical pain can cause emotional or mental pain. By reaching out to others, we can relieve some of their suffering and lift ourselves up as well. Isn’t that amazing?

Exercise

Another coping skill is exercise. When I first started to seek alternatives to treating my pain, I searched for exercises to help. I was even sent to a physical therapist. Some of the movement at PT hurt me. Sometimes I would push through in hopes of finding relief. I don’t know if that was such a good idea. The physical therapy didn’t really help, even though I did it regularly and faithfully. So I suggest you find what works for you. And start slow. Can you do some stretches while in bed? Can you do some chair yoga? Or merely walk a little around the house. Change positions often. In fact, if you have been sitting here, reading through posts and websites, I suggest you take a break right now and move for a little while. Then come back!

Every little bit helps. What I have found works best for me are gentle yoga stretches. And when I feel up to it, walking. What could be more natural than some sort of movement or exercise to relieve your pain?

I hate to admit it, but exercise is one of the hardest things for me to do. Which is crazy, because I know how much it helps me. I can actually tell the difference in how I feel depending on whether or not I do my stretches. So I have a mental fight with myself to make myself do the stretches. And they only take me half an hour! Half an hour for a pain free day is worth it, right? I’m thinking of building in some sort of reward system to help motivate myself. Suggestions are welcome. (But not food; that’s a whole other issue!)

Food

Speaking of food! Ha Ha. What I was referring to in the last paragraph is that I don’t want to use food as a reward. I have lived too long with the philosophy of “Living to Eat”. I now want to have the outlook of “Eat to Live”. Eating what is best for my body will not only impact my physical health, and my pain, but can also affect my mental health.

In her book, Happy Foods, Karen Wang Diggs spends a whole chapter (Chapter 5, Say Goodbye to Sad), writing about foods that affect our happiness. The whole book is an excellent resource of information for healthy eating, with easy recipes. I highly recommend it. She lists some of the same ideas I have here, on page 146 for ways to say goodbye to sad. The ones I haven’t listed above include: massage, volunteer work, gardening, therapy, and pets.

As far as foods, some good places to start, according to Diggs are:

  • remove gluten and any other foods that may be allergens
  • eat probiotics
  • remove processed sugar
  • eat organic and free-range
  • enjoy healthy fats

I’ve been challenged in my search for eating better to consume less meat. It makes sense to me that eating fruit and vegetables which are in a natural form should be healthy. I’m investigating Flexitarian and Nutritarian (A term I read about in Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live.) philosophies. This is still a work in progress.

In Conclusion

At this point, I think it would be wise to sit with your thoughts and write out some goals for yourself. This year my overall general goals were make money, save money, and be healthy. Then I broke those down in to measurable tasks. I can imagine one of your goals is to be pain free. Can you try one of my suggested remedies? And give it some time. It took months for me to feel better. Even though I still have some pain, it isn’t as bad and I believe these remedies have been the reason. Please let me know what you did, how it worked and anything else that’s on your mind.

 

The Community of Pain Sufferers

I’ve been reading a book titled, Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants, by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey.  This book challenged me to look at my pain differently.  One of the author’s premises is that we in the Western world focus on how to get rid of pain, instead of accepting and living with it.  Dr. Brand spent his life working with leprosy and diabetic patients, who lose the ability to feel pain. 

While I respect the attitude that acceptance is a step toward peace of mind, I am still of the mind to take proactive steps toward lessening my pain.  But the author did challenge me to be vigilant about my health, taking responsibility to be my best advocate.  No one knows our body like we do, so I recommend you be your best advocate. But I do have friends that are concerned about my health and will listen and make suggestions to help me. I hope you have people like that in your life.

I am now more aware of what causes pain.  Since my pain is in my right buttock, I now realize:

Cold weather causes pain

Too much sitting causes pain

Wet weather causes pain

Lying down too long causes pain

Over doing activity causes pain

No exercise causes pain

Here’s an interesting video from TED about chronic pain.

Continue reading The Community of Pain Sufferers

Are There Natural Remedies for Muscle Pain?

Are There Natural Remedies for Muscle Pain? I think so! I’ve been searching for months now, as my previous posts suggest. I have nerve pain, joint pain, and yes, muscle pain. Are there natural remedies for muscle pain, joint and nerve pain? Please check out my other posts for various options.

But today I want to talk about what has helped me more than anything so far. And they are completely natural. But two take discipline and work on your part, and the other is kind of scary for some people. Interested? Read on.

The three things that have helped me the most are, stretches, yoga, and acupuncture.

Acupuncture

Let’s address the scary one first. Scared of needles? Of the needles hurting you? Of quacks? I understand. My friend spent months denying my suggestions for treatment for his glaucoma, high blood pressure and edema. When I finally convinced him to try it, he saw immediate relief for his edema. He is maintaining a good eye pressure for his glaucoma (he does take medication also), and his blood pressure is improving (he takes medication for that too).

I have been under my acupuncturist’s care for over a year now. Not only does he treat my pain, but he monitors all my health concerns. I strongly recommend this type of treatment as a natural pain remedy. Be sure you get a qualified and honest practitioner! I had to go to 2 others before I found my current doctor.

In fact, if you live in the eastern part of LA county, I highly recommend Dr. Terry Chang.  You can see my Yelp Review here:  https://www.yelp.com/biz/terry-chang-acupuncture-and-herbs-pomona-4

Scientists can’t yet explain why acupuncture works.  They say “it helps the body heal itself by activating the self healing mechanism”.  They refer to “channels” or pathways that connect nerves and organs.  Makes sense to me since we know everything is connected in our bodies.  My  understanding is the needles stimulate the nerve to heal itself and reduce the pain.  There is also the claim that the needles stimulate the nerve to produce a pain relief hormone that is more powerful than morphine.  All natural!

Acupuncture has not been a cure.  But I feel better after a treatment.  I go once a week.

Yoga

I have two yoga DVDs that I can use in the comfort of my own home and at my convenience. The one that has been most helpful is Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams. Because I am in my late 60s, this program is the perfect workout for me. She introduces stretches that seniors can practice. She moves slowly and gives explicit instructions. Not too hard, but certainly helpful! Definitely a natural muscle and joint pain remedy! I always feel less pain after doing this. And because it is yoga, I find myself calmer, more relaxed and with a positive outlook. Pretty good outcomes; and all natural!

Stretches

The Complete Healthy Back System; Back to Life Series DVD is a great addition to my program. This woman has had severe pain in her young life and researched until she found these stretches for her pain. I respect her journey and how helpful her stretches have been. Her DVD is The Complete Healthy Back System; Back to Life Series, by Emily Lark.  Emily moves fairly fast in her instructions.  I recommend you watch each section first before you try them so that you have an idea of what she is talking about.

I combine the Yoga and Stretches.  This takes about 1/2 hour for the two segments I chose.  Both DVDs have different sections for different parts of your body.  My goal is to practice these 5 days a week.

Comments

I welcome your comments and questions. I will respond to all. And I hope that you find relief in your pain. Trust me; I know what you are experiencing.

Other Natural Pain Remedies

Pain.  Nobody wants to have it.  Few people want to hear you talk about it.  But for some of us it is a reality.  It is a constant companion.

My pain has changed my life.  I am limited in my physical activities.  It hurts to walk.  And I know exercise, which is a natural pain remedy, is vital in so many ways!  A real Catch 22; exercise would help manage my pain, but it hurts to do it. So here are some alternatives to exercise that may help you manage your pain.  They are natural pain remedies, because they aren’t products at all!

Stretches and Yoga

I have a few CDs that I switch around that seem to help lessen the pain.  They vary in length from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.  Doing one or two of them as often as possible seems to help.  I know that I’d rather just sit, but that’s not good for me.  Here’s what I have:

The Complete Healthy Back System, Back to Life by Emily Lark – a fellow pain sufferer, she speaks from experience

Yoga over 50 with Barbara Benagh – gentle and relaxing, but still challenging

Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams – also relaxing and focuses on various parts of the body

Classical Stretch The Esmonde Technique – 30 challenging but doable active stretches that will get your heart going

I recommend you use a yoga mat.  If you don’t have one, here is a link to purchase an affordable one from eBay.

Natural Pain Relief
Child pose

Laugh with friends

Does this sound obvious?  But when is the last time you did this?  I am blessed to have friends that make me laugh, and I always attempt to return the favor.  Laughter releases those feel good endorphins, that may numb pain.  And when you are with people you love who make you happy you aren’t focused on yourself and your pain.  It makes you forget for a time.

A few words of advice though.  Don’t be a Debbie Downer when you get together with friends.  Yeah, you’re in pain, but ask about them, see what makes them happy.  Come prepared with a few jokes.  Be the person that everyone wants to be around.  I’m not being Pollyanna here.  I know from experience what kind of people attract others.  People that complain and talk only about themselves are lonely for a reason.  Don’t be that person.  Practice asking questions.  Think about others.  Don’t talk about yourself so much.

I can speak from first hand experience that when I am laughing with others I forget completely about my pain.  What a relief!

Keep busy

I don’t watch TV.  It is a time waster for me.  For relaxation I read.  But otherwise, I keep busy.  This seems to work like laughter; if you are focused on something else, you don’t focus on the pain.  Focusing on the pain makes it stronger.  Find projects and activities that you can participate in.  On good days I attempt something physical.  On bad days, something more sedentary.  Have lists that will provide you with ideas to work on.  Just making lists and plans helps your attitude.

It is my hope that these natural pain remedies will give you some relief and joy.

Limit certain foods

Did you know that alcohol and caffeine can increase pain?  There seems to be evidence that stress hormones can affect pain, increasing it’s level.  Caffeine increases the stress hormones, therefore, caffeine increases pain.  Alcohol affects the body’s ability to absorb several vitamins that are essential for nerve health.  If your body is unable to function at it’s peak, then your pain could be worse.

Is There a Natural Remedy for Pain?

I assume you are on this website because you are in pain.  Or someone you love is suffering.  You have my empathy, because I live with pain constantly.  Because of that, I have spent hours researching alternative treatments for pain or what I call natural pain remedies.  In case you are wondering, my pain is like sciatic, but is caused by a bulging disc.   Most of the pain is in my buttock, but sometimes radiates down my leg.  It hurts to walk, and sometimes I can’t get comfortable when I try to sleep.  It has very much impacted my life.  Pain wears on you

I need to tell you up front that none of my recommendations are cures, and that none of them have given me a pain free life.  But the number one reason I like natural pain remedies and can recommend them, is that there are few side effects.  This is unlike the medications and drugs that our western medicine seems to rely on.  The few alternatives I tried that did adversely affect me will be discussed later.  Also, I am not a doctor or a scientist, so I can only speak from my suffering and experience.  The recommendations I make are based on my results only.

It is my goal to help you wade through the numerous options available to you in this field.  I have only scratched the surface.  My reviews will cover: chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, fish oil, turmeric, ASEA, books and foods I have found that seem to make my pain worse.  Along with these recommendations I will provide links where you can purchase these products if you are so inclined.  I do receive a small percentage from the purchase of these products.  So I thank you in advance.

Chiropractic

There are various forms of chiropractic available.  I recommend ones that do manipulation.  The benefits of chiropractic are pain relief, and realignment of your spine.  My pain makes me lean to one side, so I am messing my spine up continually.  My chiropractor’s goal is to keep me aligned.  Check with your insurance and the chiropractor; many insurances cover this now.

Acupuncture

The number one question I am asked is, “Does it hurt?”.  My honest answer; yes and no.  But mostly no.  The needles are so thin that you barely feel a slight pinch.  Some people feel nothing.  Sometimes, depending on how sensitive my pain area is, I do feel pain, but not so much with the needle as with the nerve that the doctor is treating.  It is an ache mostly.  He can adjust this to stop it.  My understanding of this treatment is that it deals with the nerve to enhance its ability to function.  The needles also stimulate the body to release a pain hormone that is stronger than morphine.

acupuncture as a natural pain remedy

A note here about practitioners.  The first acupuncturist I went to was dishonest.  I found this out after a few months of treatment, when I wasn’t getting any documentation from my insurance.  My current one is my 3rd one.  The second one was honest, but I didn’t feel I was getting the care and concern I needed.  My current doctor is very attentive and seems invested in my wellness.  This is very important to me because much of the time I feel I am not understood.  Or even heard.  So, check around.  Some insurances cover this as well.

Massage

Some doctors say not to do this.  Others say to do this.  I had one massage that set me back; the pain got worse.  But I have recently found someone who apparently understands what needs to be treated and has given me some relief.  Plus, it is a real treat to have the rest of your body massaged.  I would do this more often if I could afford it.  Investigate how much the therapist knows about joint pain, and what they would do to treat it.

Thumper Mini Pro Massager

My acupuncturist uses a hand held massager.  After the needle treatment, he massages my pain areas for a few minutes.  Currently this is in my hip and back.  Boy does it feel good!  The massager is called Thumper Mini Pro.  Of course if you need massage on your back you may need someone to operate it for you.  But if you can reach the spots, it is self administering.

Food and Supplements

Fish Oil

This product claims to reduce inflammation and thereby relieve joint pain.  I tried a few products and settled on OmegaXL (by GreatHealthWorks) as one of the best I could find.  A friend told me how he found relief from arthritis pain.  This product gave me extensive relief for weeks but doesn’t seem to be helping that much now.  I may adjust the dosage.

Turmeric

Also an anti-inflammatory, this product gave me relief for a time.

ASEA

This is a liquid that tastes a bit like salt water.  They claim to renew the cells in the body.  It also gave me relief for a time.  It appears that it has renewed my skin health, so I continue to take it.

Foods

So far, my research shows that beef can be an inflammatory food.  Too bad, because I sure love my steak!  I have cut back on beef consummation and look for the grass feed, non-chemical enhanced beef.  A very good video to watch regarding the drugs put in our meats is What the Health.  I am eating way less meat, and therefore ingesting less chemicals.  That has to be a good thing!

Essential Oils

So far, I have yet to find an oil that gives relief.  But I am using lavender to relax and sleep better.  Since my sleep is impacted by my pain, I feel being able to relax has been helpful.  More research needed on this topic.

Books

Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain

The best book I have read so far is Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain, by Micozzi and Dibra.  This book is an extensive goldmine of treatments available.  It also has a test of your emotional type to predict how well you may respond to alternative treatments.

Conclusion

In my continuous search for natural pain remedies, I will post new discoveries as I find them.  I would welcome information that you may have found helpful as well, so that we can help others who suffer.  I truly want this website to be a community of support for all of us who suffer with pain.