People who don’t suffer from persistent or chronic pain have no idea how easy they have it. Until you’ve experienced days, weeks or even longer dealing with constant or regular pain, you take for granted how much quality of life is tied to being pain-free.
For those unlucky enough to have to manage regular pain, the good news is that there are many good ways to manage or alleviate pain. Some techniques are more or less effective depending on the type of pain. Others tend to be relatively effective for a wide range of pain.
It’s important to understand that many alleged pain relief methods aren’t backed up by scientific research. When it comes to these methods, it’s best to be cautious, as many will be ineffective, even fraudulent.
In the end, whatever works to manage your pain is great. But your chances of success increase when using science-backed pain relief techniques. Here are some of the most popular and effective.
Any physical injury, such as a lower back injury, will cause inflammation. Inflammation is the way the body heals itself, but it also produces pain.
One of the time-tested, science-approved methods of dealing with inflammation is applying ice or other cold sources to the affected area of the body. Cold reduces inflammation, which reduces pain in many instances.
Applying heat sources to an area of persistent pain is another proven technique for reducing pain. However, it should be noted that applying heat can oftentimes be counterproductive within the first 24 to 48 hours after experiencing an injury.
This is because heat can increase inflammation, and inflammation will always be at its most severe in the immediate aftermath of an injury. While heat treatments can be effective in reducing pain, it’s a good idea to use ice or cold in the early going. Heat can be a second wave of treatment after the first couple of days have passed.
Most people think of pregnancy when they think of ultrasound machines. But ultrasound treatments are effective at managing many types of chronic pain.
An ultrasound device transmits sound waves. When used for scanning or imaging, those sound waves can create a picture of internal regions of the body. But those same sound waves can affect the tissue of the body as well.
Ultrasound treatment can reduce pain in two ways. The first is known as Thermal Ultrasound therapy, in which the metabolism of tissue cells speeds up as a result of the friction and warmth the ultrasound produces.
The second is Mechanical Ultrasound therapy, in which the ultrasound waves expand and contract microscopic bubbles of gas within inflamed tissue. In doing so, the ultrasound waves reduce swelling and inflammation, decreasing pain and speeding the healing process.
Ultrasound therapy is also effective in treating muscle spasms and is a commonly used tool in the arsenal of physical therapists.
Another technique used to manage inflammation is compression. The idea behind compression is that an injured or unwell part of the body is bound or in some way enclosed by a bandage, article of clothing or another medical item. This compression keeps the body from swelling, which reduces pain and can aid in recovery.
Another benefit of compression may seem counterintuitive – Compression can increase blood circulation and accelerate the healing process. While it may seem like compressing an area would constrict blood flow, properly applied compression stimulates veins and arteries.
It’s worth noting that applying compression too tightly can have a negative effect both on pain and the healing process. A too-tight compression will increase swelling rather than decreasing it. If you’re experiencing numbing or tingling after applying compression, make sure to loosen the wrappings or compression item.
Finally, it’s sometimes worthwhile to turn to modern pharmacology for pain relief. Medication for dealing with pain is available in a wide range of options, from mild over-the-counter remedies to powerful medications requiring a prescription.
Pain medication can nearly completely deal with the pain caused by many ailments and injuries. However, it’s important to be aware that these medicines are often only masking the feelings of pain, not healing the condition or injury.
All of the above pain management and treatment options have been demonstrated by clinical studies to be effective in dealing with pain. That doesn’t mean each or any of them are right for a specific type of pain or a person’s situation, though.
It may be necessary to try more than one of these techniques, or even several of them in conjunction. As always, it’s important to listen to your body when managing pain. If a technique leads to a decrease in pain, keep with it. If not, on to the next method.