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Beyond Pharmaceuticals: Ways to Control Pain that you need to know

Musculoskeletal pain is a common ailment in Australia. Last recorded data in 2011 noted that musculoskeletal conditions were responsible for 12% of the total burden of disease and injury, making these conditions the fourth highest contributor in the country (AIHW, 2011).

There are many types of musculoskeletal conditions; from mild aches and pains to chronic complaints that stem from injury, structural issues or arthritic conditions. Pain is pretty straight forward from a physiological perspective. An injury sends a message to the central nervous system to create pain signals and then we feel painful sensations. How the severity of pain is controlled is a bit more complex.

The body regulates pain with natural opioids, but not always to the extent that makes us comfortable enough to live life as usual. Luckily there are more options to pain relief than just pharmaceuticals. Alternatives for pain management are not new or unusual, but form the basis of very well-known and well-respected pain theory.

If pain is part of your life, the following tips can help you gain control and get your life back.

What increases pain signals

  • Not getting or asking for help – Always seek medical advice for pain. Try to identify a cause. Also, disclosure to your social support is essential. Friends and family will want to help to ameliorate your discomfort.

  • Emotional distress – Worry, Anxiety, Depression and Negativity are known to encourage pain signals. Feeling helpless is commonly associated with increased feelings of pain due to the associated negative emotions. Helplessness means that one is less likely to seek assistance.

  • Stress – Ever noticed things are worse during hard times? Or just more intense at work? Pain is harder to control because stress encourages inflammation therefore pain becomes a secondary burden.

  • Unsuitable activity – Some types of exercise or physical actions are not recommended for certain conditions. Ignoring advice from health professionals can make matters worse.

  • Focusing on the pain – Giving it attention means you know it’s there. It’s then harder to ignore.

  • Boredom – This is a combination of stress and focusing. Not doing fulfilling activities on a daily basis means that there is more time to focus on the pain your experiencing and can be stressful.

What Hinders Pain Signals

  • Knowing you can do something about it – Accept there are options to help you. Being in pain should not be a person’s natural state of being. There may be something more you can do. Research. Talk to people. Find out more.

  • Get help – As mentioned, it’s harder manage pain alone. Identify and utilize your support networks:

Counsellor / Psychologist

Osteo / Chiro / Physio

GP / Naturopath

Pain specialist

Friends and family

  • Exercise / Stretches – Often pain can stop us doing exercise when it’s exactly what is needed. Strengthening muscles around an injury and keeping muscles stretched out provides relief. Your health practitioner will advise what is suitable for your condition.

  • Mental activity: Keeping busy, Distraction, Concentrating on something else. Do things you enjoy often.

  • Massage – As we know, massage helps tight muscles, provides relaxation and is known to inhibit pain pathways.

  • Emotional Ease – Optimism and effectively dealing with emotional issues reduces stress which reduces pain.

  • Deep breathing / meditation – This changes your focus and improves relaxation. Breathing properly helps to trigger to the Parasympathetic Nervous System, your body’s natural stress mediator.

Need more health advice that is individually tailored to you? Email if you would like to know more or to book a consultation.

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