How can you help manage pain, stiffness, or an injury outside of treatment & rehab?

By Chris Kinch (Osteopath)


Many factors play a role in recovery or management of pain. Our daily activities, stress, and lifestyle often contribute more than you may think. So let’s outline some of the significant factors that can affect pain and your injury recovery, and some ways you can address these things outside of consultations to help get things back on track sooner.

In no particular order of importance:


STRESS


Stress is another factor that plays a significant role in not only physical and mental health, but also pain. Long term stress increases inflammatory processes (including cortisol) as well as altered immune function.

Stressors come in many shapes and forms, so being aware of them will help reduce or manage them.


Some stressors may include:

· Work-related stress

· Relationship stress

· Arguments with family or friends

· Death or illness in the family or your friend circle

· Financial concerns


Have activities you enjoy or find relaxing that you can introduce on a regular basis to manage stress. These may include:

· Exercise

· Breathing exercises

· Creative activities (drawing/painting, colouring, playing music, writing, craft)

· Meeting up with family or friends

· Puzzles, boardgames, video games, reading

SLEEP


Sleep is obviously a huge part of our lives. For most of us it makes up more than 1/3 of our day, but it’s not just important for restoring energy and resting the body.


Sufficient sleep duration, and good quality sleep (not disturbed and broken) is essential for both mental and physical health.


Poor sleep can lead to an increase in inflammatory processes, altered immune function, reduction in pain tolerance, as well as increase risk of chronic illness or disease processes (including cardiovascular health).

Adults should aim for 7 or more hours a night.

Ways to help improve transitioning to sleep:

· Reduce alcohol, caffeine, or other stimulant consumption in evenings

· Reduce the use of stimulating light (such as from screens)

· Have the room cool, with dim lighting (or no lighting)

NUTRITION


Good nutrition is crucial for good health (including managing pain and inflammation in the body). I doubt that statement is a surprise to anyone reading this, but as most of us know, life can get busy and good nutrition can fall to the wayside occasionally.


Ensure you are providing your body with:

· Plenty of water (ideally choose this over alcohol and soft drinks)

· Vegetables, nuts, legumes etc

· Sufficient protein (whether that be animal or plant-based)

· Sufficient calories. Ensure you are actually eating through the day (I know, sounds odd, but sometimes we forget to eat!)

Supplements and vitamins are not typically required if you are eating a healthy and varied diet. Speak to a dietician or nutritionist if you need ideas on dieting or more variety.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY


Physical activity can be a brilliant pain reliever. A large proportion of musculoskeletal aches and pains will feel better for getting up and moving. There are no particular exercises or activities you need to focus on. Just find something you enjoy, that is tolerable, and do it often.


That might include:

· Walking

· Swimming

· Riding

· Yoga/Pilates

· Weight training

· Surfing

And the list goes on…

PAIN RELIEF MODALITIES


Many individuals are not keen on taking pain medications to assist in pain relief. Using pain medications long term is not ideal and yes, there are negative effects to long-term use of these medications. However, in the short term (days to weeks) these medications can help you get on top (or stay on top) of symptoms, and allow you to carry on with daily activities or exercise as you recover.

I cannot provide specific advice on the use of these medications, so if you are unsure of what you can take, or how to take them, speak to your local chemist/pharmacist.

Over the counter (OTC) pain medications might include:

· Paracetamol

· Aspirin

· Ibuprofen

Or a combination of these

Other options for pain relief that can provide significant relief include:

· Heat or ice (whichever you prefer to use

· Topical applications (Deep heat, Pain Away, Tigerbalm, Voltaren gel, Traumeel, doTerra’s Ice Blue)


As always, if you have any questions or concerns about ways to manage you pain or injury, give us a call or book an appointment and we can get you on the right path to relief.


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