Welcome, to Part 2! In this post, I cover three therapies that have provided pain relief for me and my patients (I used to be a nurse).
7. Heat & Cold Applications For Pain Relief
Over my life time, I’ve had several back injuries, whiplash, and have dislocated my shoulder three times. Cold packs are a new injury’s best friend, because it helps to reduce swelling and inflammation in the initial 24 to 48 hours post-injury.
Using cold can be as simple as a frozen bag of veggies, all the way to a specialty shaped cold pack for your knee. To safely use ice you can watch this video:
One note to add: don’t put ice on bare skin. Always put a towel, clothing, or a blanket between you, and the ice pack so you don’t cause damage to your skin.
Usually heat is recommended for older injuries or to help loosen up muscles/joints before exercise. For example, physical therapists will often apply heat to a painful joint before stretching or having you exercise it.
The moist heat pads that physical therapists use can feel wonderful, however even a pack that you heat in the microwave, a hot water bottle, or a heating pad can provide relief. Limit heat applications to 20 minutes. If it feels too hot, add more padding between the heat and your skin or remove it. You don’t want to burn your skin.
Use heat or cold with caution if you have reduced sensation in the area. If you have no sensation in the area only use heat/cold with your doctor’s recommendation. Skin can be damaged if you can’t feel that it’s too cold or too hot.
With chronic pain, you may need to alternate between heat and cold. In some situations heat or cold will make the area hurt worse. Please listen to your body. It really does know what it needs.
8. Physical Therapy & Prescribed Exercises
While Physical Therapy is exhausting, and it sometimes increases our pain for a bit, it is very effective over the long haul at decreasing pain, and improving overall function. If you can get this therapy, use it. I will also say to keep doing your exercises once your therapy period is over. I’ve made the mistake more than once of stopping my exercises for my back and shoulder and then have them start hurting badly again 6 months later.
As with any other treatment for pain, you know how you feel. Don’t let anyone push you into doing something that makes your pain worse. If its still hurting the next day, you did too much. We don’t all progress in therapy at the same rate. Sometimes we need to decrease the repetitions or the weight, for a bit longer than others, before we’re ready to increase it.
Well trained physical therapists will welcome your input during your rehabilitation process. So let them know how your body is tolerating their program.
9. Massage For Pain Relief
Massaging sore areas can help increase circulation and relax muscles. I used to get a back massage once a month, and it was very effective at keeping my back spasms/tightness at bay. Unfortunately, it’s expensive.
However, I’ve found that it’s possible to reach some of those tense trigger points by myself. The corner of a wall can be an easy way to reach those trigger points along your spine and shoulder blades. Just be very gentle with yourself and don’t push too hard. Ease into the sore spot.
You can also massage any other trigger points with your hand or any of the self massage tools on the market. I used to have a massage pad that I could place on a chair for my back. It was nice, but didn’t last long before it was broken. Use whatever massage tools you can afford.
Massage therapists seem to have two styles for their massages. Some believe in deep, hard pressure to force muscles to submit. Others believe that sore areas need to be worked with gentle pressure first, and only increase that pressure as you can tolerate it. I’ve received both kinds of massages. The first type has increased my pain for days afterwards. The second type has worked so much better for my fibromyalgia.
Once again, you know your body best. Don’t use a massage therapist who won’t listen to your feedback about pressure. If you’re cringing and tensing up during your massage, the therapist is only making things worse. Speak up!
Wrap Up of My Favorite Pain Relief Tools
Finally, in my experience with chronic pain, none of these pain relief tools will completely cure pain. However, used together these tools can help keep my pain at a manageable level. I hope you learned about a new pain relief tool that you haven’t tried before that will help you manage your pain!
If you missed Part 1 you can read it here.
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Till next time, Kathy