Simple and effective ways to manage chronic pain -part 2 of a series

In a previous post I talked about non-drug methods to manage pain in the spine-neck and back. You may want to review it now, but reading  this one first is fine. This post will focus on other painful conditions.

While people often discover methods to relieve pain that work for them, I am focusing here on treatments that are supported in the medical literature or recommended by knowledgeable professionals. For this post, I reviewed many articles which summarized current studies.

Finding trustworthy medical information

How do doctors know what works and what doesn’t? Since medical knowledge has changed since we went to medical school , how do we know what is current information?

We read literature pertinent to our fields on a regular basis, attend conferences, and talk to other doctors. But when we need a specific question answered , we do what you do-we Google it.

shelves in a library with adjacent computers

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Library, located on the organization’s campus, in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC collections span the field of public health. Print and electronic resources cover such topics as disease prevention, epidemiology, infectious diseases, global health, chronic diseases, environmental health, injury prevention, and occupational safety and health. The main library in Atlanta and selected branch libraries are open to the public. used courtesy CDC/ Emily Weyant; MSLIS; ORISE Fellow

One of the most frequently reviewed is PubMed listing  more than 28 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. The service is free and anyone can use it. PubMed is a service of  the National Library of Medicine, the largest biomedical library in the world ,located in Bethesda, Maryland,

Another major reference is the Cochrane Library, a collection of databases in medicine and other healthcare specialties ; a fee is charged to use this service.

Basic points about complementary treatments for pain management

We should use medication and surgery when appropriate, but when these can’t be used or are not helpful, we can consider alternative methods, or what I and other doctors prefer to call complementary or integrative treatment.

This post focuses on symptom relief, not necessarily curative treatment.

Herbals and supplements are drugs and can be effective for certain conditions, but this post will discuss non-drug treatments only.

Many cases of pain improve spontaneously with no specific treatment.

Almost everything works sometimes.

There are few if any down side to any of these treatments. Used under supervision they are unlikely to have adverse side effects or result in long term complications.

The most important ingredient in managing a chronic or persistent condition is having a therapeutic relationship with your physician and other healthcare professionals- physical therapist , mental health counselor, nutritionist.

SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MANAGE CHRONIC PAIN-WATERCRESSWORDS.COM

Migraine

Migraine is more than just a bad headache; it is a disorder of the brain which causes pain as well as other common symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.  Dizziness, numbness, and  loss of vision occur less frequently.

diagram of the human brain.

The major parts of the brain, including the pineal gland, cerebellum, spinal cord, brain stem, pituitary gland, and cerebrum are labeled. I photo courtesy of Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Alan Hoofring (Illustrator)

Most people with migraine require some type of medication for relief, but non-drug treatments can supplement meds and can be helpful for prevention. Integrative treatments that work according to studies include

  • acupuncture
  • biofeedback
  • CBT-cognitive behavioral therapy
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • relaxation training
  • yoga

Fibromyalgia

I mentioned fibromyalgia in my post about back and neck pain, but  include it here  since it causes pain in other body areas.

Fibromyalgia seems to be a disorder of nerves which makes them super sensitive, leading to diffuse muscle and joint pain that can become disabling. Complementary treatments recommended include

  • Mind-body-guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, mindfulness meditation , relaxation
  • Tai chi
  • Hydrotherapy, balneotherapy

Osteoarthritis of the knees (degenerative arthritis)

It is likely that arthritis in other joints responds to these therapies but there aren’t enough large studies to confirm.

  • Acupuncture,
  • tai chi
  • walking and  strengthening exercises
  • Balneotherapy-bathing in hot water mineral baths
people in a gym exercising

photo courtesy Amanda Mills, CDC.gov, Public Health Image Library

 

 

 

 

Tessa Frank  discusses how she became frustrated when increasing doses of opioids didn’t relieve her chronic pain, and what she’s doing now to manage her pain.

How I’m Managing My Chronic Pain Without Opioids

“While I no longer use opioids, I do use non-opioid prescription medications and a spinal cord stimulator to provide pain relief for my CRPS, complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic, debilitating neuropathic pain condition.

I’m also hyperaware of how stress triggers my increased feelings of pain, so to mitigate stress, I personally have found relief in meditation, relaxation and yoga among other approaches.” (excerpt)

 

 

 

 

If you didn’t read it earlier, here’s a link to the previous post about treating pain, along with a brief excerpt.

Surprising effective ways to relieve back pain

“Pain in the spine results from many medical conditions, ranging from minor to life threatening. Most cases are due to routine or excessive physical activity or a minor injury causing strain of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and will go away with no or minimal intervention in less than 12 weeks.”

 

 

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In a future post I will talk about  non-drug treatments for other conditions.

always exploring the HEART of health with you.

                       Dr. Aletha  WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health

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How moms-to-be can handle morning sickness

This article has been updated with information from JAMA October 4, 2016

Treatments for Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy

 

Morning sickness– 70% of pregnant women experience it.

 Still, we don’t understand a lot about it.

 

A review in the Clinical Evidence Handbook, published by the BMJ Publishing Group and reported in American Family Physician (Volume 92, Number 6) summarizes what doctors know about this baffling condition.

  • Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy doesn’t just happen in the morning, but can occur all through the day.
  • It typically begins at 4-7 weeks’ gestation and stops by 16 weeks.
  • The cause is unknown, but may be related to increased levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, HCG.  Pregnancy tests are based on measuring urine or blood levels of HCG.
  • About 1 in 200, or less than 1% of pregnant women develop severe nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum. This can lead to dehydration and weight loss, and may require treatment in a hospital.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (aka Princess Kate of England) suffered severe nausea and vomiting with her first pregnancy.

Women who experience pregnancy related nausea and vomiting look for relief. Since it is difficult to study drugs in pregnant women due to risk to the baby, few treatments are proven to work or not. But here is what we know from limited information.

Likely to be beneficial are  acupressure , ginger and pyridoxine (vitamin B6), all available without prescription.

Prescription meds shown to help are the anti-nausea drugs metoclopramide, prochlorperazine,  promethazine, ondansetron and hydroxyzine.

Most women can manage nausea by

eating small meals of bland foods, 

avoiding spicy foods, and

 avoiding strong or offensive odors.

 

Nausea of pregnancy is uncomfortable, inconvenient and sometimes dangerous. Anticipating the joy of holding your new baby helps make it bearable. And speaking of holding babies…

Dr. Aletha and grandbaby

Here I am holding my first grandchild

 

 

 

man with baby

My husband holding our second grandchild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some affiliate links to books about pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood you may find helpful.

(Affiliate links provide a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you; thank you)