If you google “natural pain relief”, you will be inundated with a countless number of commercial products, supplements, herbs, etc. You could have your own small pharmacopeia of over-the-counter remedies.
The question is do any of these products actually work?
Besides natural pain relief options, you have the option of prescription medications. With the rise in opioid use and abuse, many physicians are a bit more stingy with prescribing pain medication and many patients are shying away from wanting to even start them. Unfortunately, there are still too many people dependent on both prescription and over-the counter medications to mask their pain - whether it be physical, psychological, or emotional pain that grips them.
What happens when the prescription medications no longer work or the physician stops prescribing them?
Many people turn to alcohol and/or illegal substances to self-medicate. What starts out as one drink turns into another and another and another. Or, when the pain medication prescription bottle is empty and the physician refuses to prescribe more or the prescription medication costs too much, the person now turns to cheap street drugs.
What do all these options have in common?
They all have the potential to do nothing or serious harm, even death.
Many people do not realize that some “natural” products can interact with medication or when taken in excess, can be harmful.
Over-the-counter medications are still drugs. You are still putting manufactured chemicals in your body when you pop a pill or drink a syrup regardless of whether it is prescribed or not.
Prescription medications can have serious side effects. All you have to do is listen to any pharmaceutical company’s commercial of their medication to hear their list of adverse side effects.
I recognize that when pain strikes, we want it gone and we want it gone as quick as possible.
Pain has a purpose.
It lets you know something is wrong.
I’ve seen a lot of people with pain in my 20+ career caring for patients and athletes. I’ve seen patients struggle with weaning from pain medication. I’ve seen patients suffer with recovering from addiction from self-medicating.
I’ve also seen patients who could have benefitted from a few days of pain medication but refuse to take anything for their pain. Yes, pain medication has its place and its benefits for short-term relief. Pain medication following surgery is a perfect example of when pain medication might be used to help someone get through the first few days of healing and prevent pain from spiraling out of control.
Long-term use of pain medication is rarely recommended except in the possible case of a terminal condition.
If “natural” products, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, alcohol, and illegal drugs aren’t the answer, then what options do you have?
YOU HAVE A LOT OF OPTIONS!
No, I’m not yelling at you here - I AM EXCITED FOR YOU!
There is hope because you can already have these options available to you!
What? Are you kidding me?
No, I am not.
I admit that eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining your ideal body weight won’t stop pain if you are injured. However, eating the right foods and drinking enough water can speed up the healing process after injury. Healthy eating supports your immune system and your body’s recovery from illness and injury.
Exercise, specifically physical therapy exercise where the right type of exercise is prescribed for you following injury, helps to release the body’s natural pain killers in the brain so not only does pain decrease but your body also learns to move in a way to promote healing and decrease risk of re-injury.
Physical therapy also gives you access to tools like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, medical massage techniques - all of which are non-invasive and help decrease pain.
In studies of people with low back pain, those who tried physical therapy without surgery had less pain one year later as compared to those who had back surgery.
Exercise also helps decrease symptoms of depression and promotes overall well-being. People who suffer from depression and anxiety are often prescribed walking, yoga, and breathing exercises to lessen their symptoms.
Sleep is underrated! Your body needs sleep to rest and recover every night. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived drivers can behave as poorly or worse than an intoxicated driver. Sleep allows your body to heal properly and function at its best. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter to finish a school assignment or work project, you know that the next day you are not at your best.
I recognize that food, exercise, and sleep are not going to be the answer for everything. However, they are a good place to start and great options to consider before reaching for a quick-fix.
Food is medicine.
Exercise is medicine.
Sleep is medicine.
Choose these FIRST before, during, and after you hurt so you can feel better faster and feel at your best sooner than later.
Click this link https://www.dewittptwellness.com/PhysicalTherapy to learn more about the Feel Better Faster Formula at De Witt Physical Therapy & Wellness, LLC.
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