Pain is unfortunately an unavoidable part of life. Whether it comes from repetitive use-related injuries or from a fall or accident, pain disrupts our day-to-day lives, possibly making even the most mundane task difficult to perform. Thankfully, with proper maintenance and care, most types of pain can be cared for easily using these simple means:
Regular exercise is not only good for overall health, but movement of painful areas maintains muscle strength and range of motion, which is especially helpful for people with arthritis and lower back pain. Even simple stretching of muscles keeps the body limber and reduces pain. People should consult their physicians to find out what kind of exercise routine is best for them, especially if they are already experiencing some type of pain.
Like pain, stress is a part of life. While the body naturally produces pain-killing opioids like adrenaline to help block pain, it can't do so on a long-term basis. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, aromatherapy, sound therapy and massage, reduce tension, which can diminish muscle pains, lower blood pressure and decrease headaches. Even simply keeping an optimistic outlook on life can reduce pain, especially for cancer patients.
Massage and holistic medicine are becoming increasingly popular treatments for those who suffer from pain. The gentle massaging of a painful area increases blood circulation to the area, thus aiding in its recovery and decreasing pain. Massage is most helpful for people with back problems, headaches and pains in their extremities.
Any injured athlete knows about RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Those four simple steps are essential tools to decrease inflammation, reduce swelling and gives the body time to heal. It's most effective for minor injuries such as bruises and sprains. Cold packs and ice work well for temporarily relieving pain when used for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Compression — wrapping a bandage around the affected area — aids in reducing swelling, which prevents injuries from healing faster. Elevation is also key in reducing swelling, so the injured area should be raised above the heart if possible. Heat is also a method used to reduce pain and relieve stress. Like massage, it increases blood flow to an area, but health officials warn to not heat an affected area while it is still inflamed because it only makes the inflammation worse.
In instances where other methods don't work, traditional pain medicine is necessary. There are many different types for different kinds of pains — headache, muscle, joint, etc. — available without a prescription. Not all pain relievers are equal, so carefully read the Food and Drug Administration-mandated labels to determine the active ingredients, uses, doses and other vital information to find which ones best suit your needs. Acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs) — both reduce fever and relieve pain. Again, if you have any questions, consult your physician.