If you’re frustrated with chronic pain but don’t want to become dependent upon prescription medications to help you cope, then natural pain relievers may be the answer. Hopefully, some of these tried and true natural pain-relieving ideas will work for you.
Eat foods rich in resveratrol
This powerful compound blocks the enzyme that is responsible for tissue degeneration. Although more research needs to be done, resveratrol may slow down disc degeneration. Resveratrol can be found in red grapes, cranberries and blueberries.
Release your inner endorphins
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers, and they can be as strong as many medication pain relievers. They work by blocking pain signals from ever reaching your brain. Endorphins help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression which are all conditions that often accompany or magnify chronic pain. Any activity that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period of time will release pain-relieving endorphins into your system.
Try heat therapy
Applying some form of heat can go a long way in easing your pain. Try a hot water bottle, gel-filled pad heated in the microwave, electric heating pad, or hot bath.
Enjoy the outdoors
Just 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure a day can help the body produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps relieve pain by aiding in the absorption of calcium, which is needed for bone growth and repair. Being outside will also help you to relax and enjoying your surroundings may help to take your mind off the pain.
Find good company
Talking to other people who are dealing with the same time of chronic pain as you may help you to make your pain become more manageable. An online support group is a good way to get involved. Some people refer to open forums for pain as free therapy because you can vent your frustrations to others who can understand what you are going through.
Make sure to stretch
Stretching the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and tendons) in and around the spine can help relieve pain. Your back is designed for movement and if your pain is limiting you from moving then it can make your back pain worse. If you suffer from chronic back pain, it may take weeks or months to loosen up your spine, but meaningful and sustained pain relief will follow the increase in motion. Working with physical therapists is a great way to safely find stretches and exercises to help you.
Try to meditate
Meditation comes in a huge variety of forms, but a simple way is to find a sound that is pleasing to you but has no particular meaning. Then close your eyes, sit (or lie) still and comfortably, and repeat the sound in your mind. Take heed when your thoughts wander and return your full attention to your sound. If you feel your pain, notice the pain and return to your sound. Start with a few minutes, and gradually lengthen to twenty minutes. You may find yourself refreshed and reinvigorated, with less pain overall.
Cool down with ice
Back pain almost always comes with some level of inflammation, and ice is the best natural way to reduce it. Ice also helps by acting as a local anesthetic and by slowing nerve impulses, which interrupts the pain signals in the affected area.
The mechanism of action for the ancient Chinese healing technique of acupuncture is still not completely understood, but it has been proven in medical trials to reduce certain types of chronic pain, including back pain.
Get more sleep
Getting enough restorative sleep is critical to managing pain and promoting healing, so make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
Dr. Adrian C. Dumitru is a board certified and fellowship trained pain management specialist. Click here to learn more, or to schedule an appointment please call (713) 461-8555.