Top Ten Ways to Reduce Body Pain
Americans endure more pain than any country in the world, not to mention the 50 million Americans that endure chronic pain as reported by the Centers for Disease Control.
In response, Americans have consistently reached for pills as their first line therapy for managing pain. This first choice is not the way it is in other parts of the world and using pain pills exclusively may be adding to concerns around oral Opioids and NSAIDS (e.g. Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium or the analgesic acetaminophen), both of which have benefit but also come with significant risks, especially if used beyond the label.
For all OTC pain medications, topical or internal, it is important to read and follow label directions and warnings, including consulting a physician. Pain which is prolonged, or recurring may indicate an underlying disease or disorder which can progress if not evaluated and treated.
The top ten ways to reduce pain include:
1. Talk with your Doctor First – Discussing your symptoms with your doctor is always the best first step. Treatment for body pain depends upon individual patient history and the type and severity of pain. Most lower back pain, for example, improves after four to six weeks and lower back pain exercises combined with topical analgesic therapy are often recommended.
2. Ditch Extra Pounds – “Losing any extra weight is highly beneficial to reducing body pain,” says Dr. Nathan Wei, a board-certified rheumatologist, based in Frederick, Maryland, with over 30 years of practice and clinical research experience. “Not only are mechanical factors involved, but fat cells produce leptins which are chemical mediators that promote inflammation.”
3. Get Physical with Your Therapist – “While pain may leave a person wanting to curl up in bed with a heating pad and bottle of medication to ease their aches, physical therapy can be highly effective for all types of musculoskeletal and neuropathic types of pain,” said Dave Endres, Physical Therapist and Co-Founder of SPEAR Physical Therapy in New York City. “Physical therapy includes many different types of pain management methods, including manipulation of joints and bones, massage therapy, movement therapy and exercise and even micro-current stimulation to increase serotonin and dopamine to alleviate pain naturally.”
“You can choose from a wide variety of over-the-counter pain relief options for back pain, but some physical therapists have a preference and strongly recommend one format over another,” reports Parade Magazine. Endres says his team advises clients to opt for transdermal pain therapy whenever possible in gel, spray, and liquid forms.
4. Strengthen the Core – “The best exercises to help with lower back pain depend on the underlying problem,” says Dr. Wei. “What all lower back exercises have in common is their emphasis on core conditioning.” “The torso is a combination of many muscle groups working together,” says Patrick Lerouge, a Restorative Specialist and founder of Evolve Restorative Therapy, who works with patients to eliminate pain, says that when “the abdominals are weak, other areas over-exert themselves. When we strengthen the abdominals, it reduces the strain on the lower back.”
5. If you Smoke, STOP! – “Smoking causes blood flow to decrease and arteries to narrow,” said Dr. Wei. “This means that with any injury, the healing will be much slower.” A study on smoking and low back pain examined 1,337 physicians who graduated from John Hopkins University and followed some participants for more than 50 years. Researchers found that smoking history, hypertension and coronary artery diseases, which are all risk factors for atherosclerosis, were pointedly associated with low back pain.
6. Get Topical – “Topical pain treatment is generally the best first choice because of its incredible safety profile and high effectiveness,” Bob Arnot, M.D., internal medicine in a YouTube video where he discusses why it helps him pain-free as a competitive older athlete. “The new Salonpas® FLEX patch has the maximum OTC strength 4% lidocaine and outstanding flex patch technology that allows you to move, bend, twist and flex while enjoying hours of continuous pain relief.” Dr. Arnot is a journalist, author, former host of the Dr. Danger reality TV series, and served as medical and foreign correspondent for NBC and CBS.
7. Explore Alternative Treatments – “Patients often respond positively to alternative therapies including meditation, massage therapy, acupuncture and biofeedback for pain management,” says Dr. Wei. “More than one-third of all Americans turn to alternative treatments today for medical problems including physical pain.”
8. Get More ZZZZ’s – About two-thirds of pain sufferers also complain of sleep disorders. Lack of quality sleep can make physical pain worse. Relaxation techniques, eliminating caffeine after 12 noon, using topical OTC analgesic medicine at bedtime, exercising and asking your doctor for a short-term prescription medicine to treat insomnia, are some ways to get restorative sleep.
9. Get Hot and Cold for Pain – “I am a proponent of heat and cold therapy,” says Endres. “Hot or cold packs help ease pain and reduce inflammation for people with pain, allowing for greater mobility among some individuals.” Consider Salonpas® HOT which contains capsaicin, an unscented topical analgesic. It is derived from chili peppers and provides a warming sensation that provides effective pain relief for up to 8 hours.
10. Don’t Vibrate – “If you have a lower back pain problem, avoid sitting on vibrating machinery such as lawn tractors and heavy equipment,” says Dr. Wei. “The combination of sitting and vibration can exacerbate pain.”