What can you get to help keep pain under control?
When you’re in pain, it’s hard to be your best self. A pulled muscle, a headache or backache or the effects of conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia or diabetes can make it difficult to tackle ordinary tasks. And chronic pain can even impact your ability to think clearly and make good decisions at home or work. But health care visits can add up, and prescriptions can have some nasty side effects.
While we would never advise you to skip visits with your doctor, or refuse a prescribed medication, there are some less invasive options you can use to help manage acute or chronic pain at home. Here are some tips on how over-the-counter products can help control pain, without interfering with your medical practitioner’s recommendations.
Back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain in the U.S. One study found that nearly 74% of adults had suffered with back pain in the past year. And 13% dealt with this type of pain every day. Physical therapy can help many suffers, while others require medications or even surgery to find relief.
But there are also drug-free, over-the-counter options which help many people reduce pain and increase mobility. We all know how effective heating pads are, but have you considered wraps and supports that help improve posture? Thanks to hours spent hunching over computers and phones, plus those comfy sofas that just scream for us to slump in for hours and watch TV, our poor posture is a major contributor to rising levels of back pain.
Choose a tool or wrap that provides solid support for your entire back for general pain, or one that targets just the shoulders or neck if your pain is more localized. Some even combine support with soothing power of heat, for double the relief.
Second only to back pain is knee pain, with about one third of adults experiencing knee pain in a given year.
Knee pain can occur as a result of excess weight, injury, or deterioration due to age or disease. It can also happen because we’ve worn the wrong shoes (no more high heels, ladies!), or because of alignment issues in the hip or back.
Fortunately, many people find relief from their knee issues with non-prescription knee braces and wraps. There are braces for people of all sizes and shapes, so make sure the brace you select fits snuggly, but does not restrict blood flow in any way while sitting, standing or walking. If you have circulatory issues or diabetes, be sure to consult with your doctor before choosing any knee wrap.
At night, a knee support that keeps your knee from bending sideways can make mornings pain free, too.
Hand and wrist pain
Experts say there are right and wrong ways to use a computer keyboard, tablet, or cell phone. Unfortunately, most of us use these everyday items the wrong way… and that can mean wrist or hand pain.
Thank goodness there are wrist supports that not only work well to ease pain caused by too much tech, but also prevent further damage that could necessitate surgery and an extensive recovery period.
Of course, we should try to follow the pro’s recommendations for wrist position, exercises and keyboard arrangements. But when that’s not enough… or when it’s not possible because of work demands, look for a comfortable support that extends onto the hand and up above the wrist without interfering with needed movement. As with the knee braces, it’s important to choose a brace that fits comfortably without causing fingers or palms to feel numb or tingly.
Most of us have to deal with a headache now and again, but for some, it’s a weekly or even daily problem.
If your medical practitioner has eliminated a serious cause of chronic headaches, you may be able to find some drug-free relief by working on posture, selecting a supportive pillow. Incorrect positioning of the neck can cause headaches, so resolving these issues can sometimes end the chronic headaches.
Another over the counter option for headaches is to use essential oils such as lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus. Using these oils in a diffuser or rubbing a dilute solution of essential oil (mixed with a carrier oil such as almond oil) on your temples can also help relieve headaches with pills.
If you’re dealing with pain, do your research. Ask friends and family what has worked for them. Think about how you’re holding and moving your body, and how that might play a role in creating or exacerbating pain. Look for low-impact, easy-to-use solutions that have worked for decades.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended to substitute for the advice of your health care provider.