at home pain remedies

At-Home Pain Remedies Through COVID 19

Living with pain is difficult.

Headaches, arthritic pain, muscle pain, or pain from cuts and breaks can become unbearable. The current COVID pandemic is making matters worse for people who suffer from pain daily. 

Emergency departments are accepting less urgent patients, and many planned joint replacement surgeries are being canceled. People are desperate for solutions to end their pain.

Pain relief medicines are sometimes referred to as analgesics, from the Latin for “without pain.” 

If you’re currently struggling to manage your pain, there are many at-home remedies you can try to relieve your pain. 

We’ll get right down to business now, kicking off with cold and hot therapy…

Cold and Hot Therapy

If you have swollen aching joints, try applying ice for 15 minutes. It should relieve the swelling and soothe the aching. A pack of frozen peas is ideal as you can mold it around the joint. Do this several times throughout the day.

Heat can also soothe pain and stop muscle spasms. Place a hot water bottle on the painful area until it goes cool. Or you could purchase a heat pad that you can plugin. You could also try alternating between hot and cold. So place ice on the area for 15 minutes, dry the area then place the heat pad in the same place.

Try to rest the affected area as much as possible. Avoid making any movements that could worsen the pain.

Why not try a hot bath? The heat will soothe aches and pains. It will also relieve the weight on your joints. If you struggle to get in and out of a bath you may want to consider getting assistance or a bath lift. 

Electronic Pain Machines

TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines help to relieve pain by sending electrical impulses to the pain site. 

This battery-operated device is connected to electrode pads that stick to the skin. When it is turned on, the electrical signals create a tingling sensation that interrupts the pain signals. After a time, the pain is reduced temporarily. 

This method is highly effective at relieving pain for a short time.

Over The Counter Medicines

If you’re unable to see a physical therapist or osteopath, over the counter medicines can relieve pain to an extent. There are two main types of over the counter painkiller – acetaminophen (also called Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), aspirin, naproxen (Aleve).

You can take acetaminophen with NSAIDs for added pain relief. Just ensure that you don’t take more than the stated dose on the pack. It’s easy to overdose from acetaminophen and NSAIDs. You may be tempted to take more but you can become seriously ill or die from an overdose.

Topical Painkillers

If you didn’t know already, you can purchase creams, patches, and sprays that you apply to painful joints. Some people find topical painkillers effective. This type of painkiller is better for older people who may have digestive problems and can’t take oral medicine.

Types of topical painkillers include diclofenac (sold as Voltaren and Solaraze) and salicylates which are a type of anti-inflammatory.

Topical analgesics are ideal if you’re worried about side effects from oral medication as they don’t interact inside the body.

Prescription Pain Relief Medicines

If over the counter medicines don’t work then it’s time to contact your physician. Due to the social distancing rules, physicians are consulting with patients remotely via teleconferencing software.

Your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs at a higher dose than isn’t available over the counter. 

The most potent pain relief medicine is opioid painkillers. However, these pills are highly addictive and are the root cause of the current opioid crisis in the US. 

If taken over a long time, a person develops a tolerance to opioid painkillers and they need to increase the dose. This becomes dangerous as the person is at risk of overdosing or turning to street drugs for their pain.

Sadly, many good people who have never taken drugs are now addicted to opioid painkillers. As the prescriptions are too expensive many are turning to heroin to relieve their pain.

Opioid painkillers work effectively for pain because they target pain receptors in the central nervous system. There are different types of opioids such as:

Oxycodone

Oxycodone is typically prescribed for moderate to more severe pain. 

Morphine

Is usually administered in hospital to people after they have had surgery.

Codeine

Codeine is prescribed for moderate pain in the form of opioids and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen.

If your physician prescribes opioid pain medication, never exceed the stated dose. If you take too much, your breathing could slow down so much that you slip into a coma and then stop breathing. It’s imperative to monitor your usage to avoid becoming dependent. Take them sparingly only when the pain gets too much.

You should try all other remedies before requesting opioid painkillers. 

Diet

While it is not proven that a certain type of diet can relieve pain, it can certainly help if you are overweight. Obesity puts incredible strain on the joints. So if you are overweight and suffer from joint pain, you can reduce your pain levels by losing some weight.

A recent study found that a plant-based diet may help to relieve musculoskeletal pain such as arthritic pain. Try going vegan or vegetarian and see if it makes a difference. But try to ensure you eat plenty of protein.

Interestingly, a 2019 study discovered a link between protein and pain. If your pain is caused by nerve injury or inflammation, you may want to try eliminating meat to see if that works.

On the other hand, some physicians recommend eating a high protein diet for chronic pain. You may want to try eating more nuts, beans, and legumes rather than more meat. Beans and legumes are high in fiber and healthy minerals and don’t have the fat content that meat has.

See what works for you by eliminating certain foods to see if it makes a difference.

Dopamine Diet

Dopamine is a natural pain reliever produced by the body. To ensure you can produce the right levels of dopamine, eat foods with tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid, a building block of protein. 

Eat plenty of bananas, avocados, chicken, fish, eggs, and beans and drink caffeine to maximize dopamine production. Eating less fat also helps to increase dopamine levels.

Exercise

You may feel that you are in too much pain to exercise. Try to manage what you can. At least go for a walk if you’re in a lot of pain. Or try any home exercises using parts of the body that aren’t in pain. Pushing through and getting moving can help to produce natural pain killers such as endorphins and dopamine. 

If you can go swimming that would be the ideal form of exercise. Your weight will be supported and you can get a good workout just by kicking your legs or swimming using your arms.

Perhaps you could try chair yoga or pilates videos. But, always take care and don’t overdo it. You can’t risk injuring yourself and causing more pain. Done sensibly you should feel some benefit.

Exercise helps to improve flexibility and strength which will enable you to hold yourself better and stop your pain getting worse.

Mindfulness and Meditation

It may sound strange but many people find meditation helpful to manage pain. Meditation allows the brain to zone out. If you meditate daily you will find it easier to slip into a calm, relaxed meditative state. 

Relaxation techniques like meditation help to relax the central nervous system which is responsible for pain. So it makes sense that sitting quietly and calming the mind can have surprising analgesic effects. 

A 2016 study found that people with chronic pain who meditate can reduce the severity of their painful symptoms. It is thought that while it doesn’t eliminate pain, a person can learn to observe the pain rather than get distressed about it.

One particular type of meditation that is particularly effective for pain management is a body scan mindfulness exercise, according to Harvard University. It is recommended to do this exercise for 45 minutes a day, even if it isn’t enjoyable. It is not to relieve pain but rather to become accustomed to it. 

Body Scan

To do a mindfulness body scan, lie on your back or any comfy stretched out position.

With your eyes closed breathe deeply so that your belly expands and contracts. Each time you exhale, try to sink more into the floor.

First, focus your whole attention on your left foot. Experience every sensation including pain if you have any. If your mind wanders elsewhere, just bring your attention back to your foot.

When you experience any pain, draw your attention to it. Identify it and observe any thoughts or emotions that arise with it. Then breathe into it. The pain won’t necessarily disappear but you will be in a more relaxed state of mind.

Then move onto the right foot and repeat the process. Move onto the legs and the rest of the body and lastly your head.

Repeat this exercise daily and you will emotionally adapt to the pain. 

Music

Another form of mindfulness is to play your favorite music. Your body produces dopamine when you hear a song that touches you. Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time, when it is enjoying a piece of music it distracts your consciousness momentarily from pain.

Numerous studies have proven that listening to music can reduce pain. So stick on your favorite tunes, whack the sound up and sing your heart out.

Writing

Some people find great solace in writing their inner thoughts. Try buying yourself a nice notebook you can treasure. Fill it with your thoughts. Getting those worries, hopes, and fears onto paper enables you to take a step back.

Make sure to fill it with positive thoughts too when you’re in a happier place. When you are down you can look back on those thoughts. This mindfulness technique is really powerful. 

For many, writing is great therapy. 

Isolation During COVID 19 

If you’re alone and isolated during these strange times you must look after your mental health. After all, if you keep a positive frame of mind you will be able to better manage your pain.

Anxiety and stress can make pain appear worse. Try to stay connected with friends and loved ones as much as possible. A good laugh with an old friend can help with the blues, even if it’s by phone or Skype. 

Online Support Groups

Try connecting with others who are also suffering from pain. Peer group support can help people with pain manage their symptoms and nurture a more positive attitude. Knowing you are not alone or that there are others worse off than you can help you.

While there isn’t a lot of research on the topic, some research suggests that pain management support groups can help people to manage better. Pain is often accompanied by depression, and connecting with others can be a tonic when you’re feeling unhappy. 

Giving and receiving support and encouragement is an effective way to lift your mood.

Final Thoughts

These are strange and uncertain times. To manage pain while isolating try to take a holistic approach to manage pain.

You may not be able to eradicate the pain, but you can learn to cope. By taking responsibility for your pain with a 360-degree approach you can better manage your symptoms. 

Eat right, exercise daily, meditate, listen to music, and stay connected with others. Granted, staying connected is a challenge today but we must all try to pull through together. Reach out when you need it. Don’t suffer in silence. A sympathetic ear from a caring person or someone else in a similar situation can help to lift your mood.

If you implement the strategies listed above and you are still experiencing severe pain you might want to contact a pain management specialist. To book a telemedicine consultation with a pain management specialist call (602) 795-8700.