Living with chronic pain can be devastating and draining. It is something that affects millions of people worldwide, and can make life almost intolerable.
Underscoring this fact is a recent report released by the Institute of Medicine, citing long-lasting physical pain—arthritis, backaches, strains and the like—as a huge problem affecting more than 116 million U.S. adults alone. The cost to the nation? Upwards of $558 billion annually in medical bills, sick leave and lost productivity.
While it used to be that pain management was synonymous with popping a pill, doing so, experts say, can be a delicate proposition.
“For some patients, taking an over-the-counter pain pill isn’t possible due to the risks associated with stomach irritation and interactions with other medications they’re on,” says Dr. Sylvia Hesse, an orthopedic medicine specialist at New York’s Manhattan Spine & Sports Medicine Center.
For those interested in alternative pain remedies other than store-bought or prescription, look no further than the tips below:
• Slow down. Deep breathing and meditation can help your body relax, which, in turn, eases pain. Tension and tightness drain from the muscles as they receive a quiet message to let go. Yoga, says sports therapist Dave Endres, is also a less intense way to improve flexibility, build lean muscle and improve circulation.
• Consider physical therapy. If you’re a chronic pain sufferer, it would seem reasonable to avoid exercise or anything that exacerbates a condition, however, experts agree, that exercise helps. To this point, physical therapy might be for you. Lasting six to 12 weeks, the focus is on a personalized treatment plan to improve muscle strength and range of motion in the joint, so that future injuries are lessened.
• Look at alternative therapies. Rather than use acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, certain cultures are looking elsewhere to relieve their pain. Europeans already get roughly one-quarter of their pain relief from topical treatments, such as patches, creams and gels; the Chinese relieve about half their pain that way, an industry analysis finds. This is because medication contained in products like Salonpas (www.salonpas.us) delivers medicine right to the site where it’s needed—unlike pills that have to pass through the liver and stomach before they become effective.
According to Dr. Hesse, Salonpas is a safe and convenient solution for persistent pain, but as always, consult your doctor if your symptoms are severe or continue after basic treatment.
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