Ideas to Relieve Pain

Chronic Pain

For some patients in chronic pain, turmeric has shown significant anti-inflammatory effects.

A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009 compared the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, with ibuprofen for pain relief in people with knee osteoarthritis. Curcumin was shown to ease pain and improve function as well as ibuprofen.

Turmeric has also been used as a treatment for multiple ailments, including arthritis, high cholesterol and shown to decrease deposition of Tau proteins (when paired with vitamin D), which may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Because the active compound in turmeric can sometimes slow blood clotting, avoid taking it at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery, and do not mix with blood thinners like warfarin and Plavix. Caution is urged when consuming turmeric during pregnancy. Discuss with your doctor before taking turmeric to make sure you’re not creating any negative interactions or other problems.


Neck Pain

Neck pain is incredibly common – eight out of ten adults will experience neck pain at some point in their life. For some, neck pain is the result of poor posture, while for others, neck pain can be the direct result of an injury that causes the neck to jolt quickly, also known as whiplash.

Often neck pain is short lived. After sleeping on your neck poorly, or after carrying a heavy object there is a chance that you will develop neck pain that will hurt for a day or two, but gradually get better until it is entirely gone after short period.

To avoid neck pain as a result of sleeping, remember that your neck needs to be supported. Sleep on your back or side. Never sleep on your stomach, as this can cause excessive strain on the neck muscles and joints. When sleeping on your back you might need to use two pillows, layered in a way that the bottom pillow supports your shoulders, while the upper pillow supports your neck.

If sleeping on your side, use a pillow (or two) that is tucked all the way to the shoulders. A body pillow may also help comfort you and enable you to find a comfortable sleeping position, but in either case, be sure to give your neck proper support.

It is a good idea to meet with your doctor or physical therapist to understand the exact cause of your neck pain. For example, pain from a sprain or ligament tear will require very different treatment from pain resulting from tension or tightened muscles.


Using Heat and Ice Therapy to Relieve Pain

The application of heat and ice can help relieve low back pain.

Heat therapy – in the form of heating pads, heat wraps, hot baths, and warm gel packs – can provide both pain relief and healing benefits for many types of lower back pain.

Heat therapy works by dilating the blood vessels of the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. This process increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, helping to heal the damaged tissue. In addition, heat stimulates the sensory receptors in the skin, which will decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve the discomfort. Heat therapy also helps decrease stiffness, providing an increase in flexibility and an overall feeling of comfort.

Heat should not be used if the lower back is swollen or bruised (an ice or a cold pack will help reduce swelling). Patients should consult their doctor if they have heart disease or hypertension before using heat therapy. Heat application is also not suitable in cases of dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, open wound or severe cognitive impairment.

A simple ice massage is also an effective, proven method to treat a sore lower back or neck, especially if the pain is caused by muscle strain.

Ice therapy is most effective if applied within 24 to 48 hours after the injury occurs. Afterward, heat therapy is often more beneficial to the healing process.

Ice therapy works by making the veins in the tissues contract, reducing circulation. Once the cold is removed, the veins overcompensate and dilate, and blood rushes into the area. The infusion of blood brings nutrients to help the injured back muscles, ligaments and tendons to heal.

The goal of ice therapy is to achieve numbness in the area of injury without “burning” the skin. To avoid “ice burn,” limit the therapy to about 5 minutes at a time. When the numbness has worn off, the ice can be applied again.

For many people, alternating heat therapy with ice/cold therapy provides the most pain relief.