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Natural methods to relieve pain


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#1 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 03:18 AM

Many of us in the forum have turned to natural methods for relieving pain, rather than partial or complete reliance on medications. Easy fixes for short-lived pain (popping a pill) often do not work well long term, since there can be so many side effects or interactions with other medications.

In this thread, please share your favorite techniques for relieving pain naturally. We'd also love to hear from new members (or old members who haven't posted in a long time...or ever).

I use many different methods for dealing with chronic pain. My all-time favorite is distraction! Absorbing myself in anything -- a hobby, book, or project of any sort is, I think, one of the most amazing ways to relieve pain. The only difficulty with it is during those moments when I come up for air and the pain whooshes in again with surprising intensity, awaiting another natural management technique.

I've seen people scoff at the idea that distraction works for pain management. Such as, well, if you had REAL pain, you would need medication! But medication often seems to backfire for me. Recently, I discovered the possible root of my problem with using the medication approach.

When I'm not taking pain medication, I fully expect to feel "interesting sensations" (my word for pain) and I am pleasantly surprised if even a moment goes by when it is less intense than usual. But, when I am taking a pain medication, then I fully expect to feel no pain at all. So, part of my brain begins scanning my body continually, to see how things are going and whether it is time for another dose or monitoring how effective the current medication or dose is. And, anything less than entire pain relief is discouraging...after all, I've taken a med for it...so I feel it should rightfully be entirely gone! Can you see how easily I can thus slip into feeling sorry for myself? I have pain, I've taken a pill, I still have pain, oh woe is me!

The mental process of monitoring my pain threshold to see if it is time for another PAIN pill seems to not only exhaust me, but also, it puts my mental focus on the pain. And notice, my terminology also changes -- I am no longer calling it "interesting sensations" or "amazingly interesting sensations", I am calling it PAIN because nobody has ever prescribed "interesting sensation pills". Also, I have popped a pill, so why bother with other management approaches?

I certainly have moments when I make exceptions to the no-pill approach, generally for something that is on top of the usual level that I am accustomed to managing, such as a severe toothache that is awaiting a root canal. Over the years, my approach has fluctuated as I have developed better natural management skills or found new medications or as my symptoms have changed, sometimes worsening and sometimes, quite blissfully, lessening.

What tips and tools do you use for managing pain naturally? Here is our link to Pain Management and Scleroderma.
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
Founder and President
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
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The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#2 urangel

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 04:35 AM

Hello all! I've just been diagnosed with scleroderma...I think. My doctor says she thinks this is what I have, but after my 4th visit to her, when I asked if I had it or not, she's still saying she's not sure yet. Agggh!
Anyway, I think I've had it for a while now and just didn't know it. But exercising always makes me feel better.

#3 epasen

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:18 AM

I have to deal with pain on shoulder blades almost daily. No-one really knows the reason for it, but I do have some sclero areas on them. It is not usually very intense but I need to take a loads of meds to get rid of it and that's not good for my stomach and such.

I've found a way to make it feel better though: letting my boyfriend or mom or someone to pet them carefully helps in two different ways! It does make me feel emotionally better when someone is taking care of you, and gentle touch somehow makes the physical pain go away at least for a while.

I hope everyone could just get out of their pains with this!
Emmi

#4 Buttons

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:51 AM

Welcome to the forum urangel.

Shelley I have tried lots of different things including Reki, Acupunture, Homeopathic remedies, simply heating aids like wheaty bags etc. Firstly I enjoyed the Reki but the effects didn't last long enough for me, acupuncture didn't help & when she put one of those fine needles into my thumbs that only seemed to make it worse! I do use homeopathic remedies for some things but have still to find one which helps my pain. Warmth always seems to help & warm relaxing baths are lovely. I also do Tai Chi which is gentle & I think it does help to keep my joints moving & along with the exercise we also do a kind of meditation which helps with relaxing. For me it's a matter of trying a mixture of things dependent on the type of pain I have.

Jensue

#5 CraigR

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:53 AM

Distraction works great during the day - but not much help when trying to get to sleep. Pets can be a good means of distraction. Taking care of my little doxie girl keeps my mind off pain.

I also find exercise helpful, as long as it is very light (otherwise it will cause myalgia), and not jarring. Light swimming is the best. Unfortunately most pools are too cold for someone with sclero.

Some pain (peripheral neuropathy of the feet, in particular) tends to be worse after a lot of sugar. I notice this pain is worse when I have a big bowl of ice cream before bed. But that might just be me.

Craig

#6 Kamlesh

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 09:45 AM

I have found Yoga to be an excellent exercise to reduce joint pain. But, unfortunately lately I have been too lazy to do it. May be I need to include it as my new year’s resolution for 2009.
Kind regards,

Kamlesh


#7 ecogirl

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:37 PM

Hi all. Here are my thoughts to pain management and staying healthy with sclero for five years now: maintaining a really healthy diet, regular exercise, minimizing stress and getting enough sleep are really essential. I know exercise is hard when we feel so rotten and fatigued, but even walking on a treadmill for 30 min a few times a week followed by stretching is a great start. The endorphin release I think is very beneficial. Diet-wise I think a lot of fruits and especially veggies (I do a lot of steamed greens and others) and complex carbs is helpful. I try to stay away from too much sugar (very hard for me) and processed foods. Just a really clean diet (inspired a little on macrobiotic principles). Sleep is key - your body can't heal without it. and stress... wow, my symptoms skyrocket in direct relation to stress. Anyway, hope it helps.

#8 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:57 PM

Pain meds all come with a warning label and I think that pain should also come with a warning label that reads "won't kill you but you may kill a passerby just because they passed you by."

I used to use distraction methods when I had a mild to moderate migraine by listening to the radio with earphones on and the volume down very low. After a pain injection for a severe one my husband would read our favourite book to me whilst it tapered off and that would help.

As already acknowledged distraction doesn't work for severe pain or pain in the wee small hours when you want to be viewing the inside of your own eyelids, these are my times for medicated relief. Even if the pain is only lessened that's good enough for me because I need a bit of psychological relief which comes from knowing that I can still treat the pain. Mind you I have had that awful heart stopping moment of realisation that I am well and truly in trouble when the strongest pain relief available to me it isn't working this time.

To me the most natural approach to pain is accepting that pain in varying degrees is something you are going to live with for the rest of your life so that you can then begin to assimilate pain into your life rather that it assimilate you. As part of your life it becomes something to manage and cope with and we employ various strategies in order to do so whether medicinal, herbal, physical, psychological, religious and the like. The only thing that does not work is denial oh yes and trying to keep it to yourself.

I accept that I have varying degrees of pain all day everyday and what helps me is knowing that there are lots of others living the same thing and that I can share with them in this forum. To read about another's struggle with pain and their management of it assures me that I am not the only one doing this day after day.

For me what works is acknowledging the pain, accepting it, sharing about it, partaking in others sharing about theirs and finally taking pain meds when I think I need them, being fully aware of the effects in the long term but nevertheless making my own informed consented decision to use them whenever I feel it appropriate. Having started at the point of acknowledging I will have pain my use of pain meds has lessened as I no longer expect them to take the pain away completely and an happy to just have a degree of relief.

I would be open to herbal/natural alternatives, I've just never heard of any that actually work. I'll continue reading this thread in the hope of picking some up.

Amanda
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#9 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 01:00 PM

Also welcome urangel! :lol:

Still awaiting a definite diagnosis eh? Let us know when you get it!

Amanda
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#10 urangel

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for the welcome Jensue and Ohboyoklahoma.

Yeah, it's almost like she is scared to tell me my diagnosis even though all of my tests results (ANA levels, pulmonary tests, related symptoms, etc.) all are screaming Scleroderma. She wants to take more tests. I don't know, maybe that's a good thing. But I've been going to doctors for the past 4 years trying to find out what's wrong with me.

I just love this site, there's soooo much valuable information here. I've been reading as much as I can for 2 days straight!!

#11 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 05:31 PM

Hi all and welcome Urangel,

I agree that keeping active helps - I do Pilates stretches.

I've had good success using a 'relaxation' CD while I have a TENS unit working on the worst areas. I get a lot of back spasm and I find if I 'wire up', put on the CD and stretch out in a warm place, I'll relax so much I fall asleep! It took me ages to make it to the end of the CD. :lol:

I read for distraction too. My handsome hubby says he can tell how I'm feeling by what I'm reading. ;)

Jeannie (JJ)
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#12 ozzy69

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 07:49 AM

Hi Urangel,

Happy News Years. I agree with the others about exercise. It helps me a lot. I do yoga at least once a week, and I do Zumba at least times a week. When I don't get a chance to do my classes it effects my moods and pain levels. It has really helped me.

Zumba is fun because it is a dance/exercise class. You can do it anyway you want. On days I don't feel really well, I still try to go but put less into it. It is also fun so I look forward to it.

Yoga makes me feel better also, but is more painful doing it.

Hope you find something that helps.

hugs,
Nina Lynn

#13 Snowbird

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:56 AM

Hi Urangel

Just wanted to say welcome to you as well.
Sending good wishes your way!

#14 Sweet

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 01:17 PM

Urangel, welcome to the Sclero Forums. I'm glad you've joined us. I look forward to knowing you better.

Natural methods for me include - Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, stretching, foot massage, some Chinese herbal remedies, meditation, hydrotherapy, and distraction.

I rarely take pain meds. I try to do anything but that. It's a last resort for me.
Warm and gentle hugs,

Pamela
ISN Support Specialist
International Scleroderma Network (ISN)

#15 barefut

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 08:41 PM

1 boy in sports age 11
1 boy in sports age 6
1 litterbox with cat
1 deprived dog
1 full time job
1 house to clean
1 yard to trim

If not for these, I probably would not even ever get out of bed. Responsibility = distraction = pain management.

Other natural methods I use are:

Favorite music
dancing
hot and cold packs
long hot showers
pacing myself
treating myself
the rare massage
biofeedback
becoming one with the pain
making pain my friend
ignoring the pain
crying
aromatherapy
comedy

#16 jefa

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 07:33 AM

Welcome to the Sclero Forums, urangel. Many of us are with you in the S.S. Waiting for a Diagnosis boat. I believe the average time for receiving a diagnosis has been reported on the board as six years for a woman. By those statistics, I should be getting mine in 2009 - I have something to look forward to then. :D

The important thing is to make sure that your symptoms are being treated as they occur, with or without a diagnosis.
Warm wishes,
Jefa

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#17 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 01:20 PM

Barefut

Making one with the pain, hilarious! :lol:

Ignoring the pain makes it very VERY angry! :angry:

In this country they're running a really annoying commercial for the anti plague benefits of a certain chewing gum. It involves an ordinary man, dressed in white, fighting the air as you can't see the plaque he's really fighting while other weirdos play small musical instruments to the tune of fighting the air. We could do this for pain, we could all dress in white jackets, the ones that strap up at the back, and beat the invisible pain, cathartic! Anyone play musical instruments? We could syncronise a multi continental pain bashing ceremony.

Transport home would be provided courtesy of the local asylums.

Amanda
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#18 barefut

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 07:09 PM

Amanda,

Glad to make you laugh. But I'm serious! But 'becoming one with the pain' is really reserved for when something is unbearable and there either are no pain meds or you have exhausted all possibilities of pain meds.

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with endometriosis after suffering for years with debilitating menstrual cramps. I would lie in bed for 3 days and cry. When all my tears were gone, I would get up and pace the house in circles telling myself there wasn't really any pain there. That didn't work. Then I'd go back to bed and meditate on the pain, concentrating on it until I became one with it and weirdly, this worked as a distraction and made it bearable for a short time.

After my endometriosis diagnosis, I was prescribed loestrin and the cramps all but disappeared! I will never forget suffering through that and all that I tried to make it bearable. That level of constant pain is almost indescribable; right up there with migraines, kidney stones and childbirth.

But the 'can't get out of my chair, hurts to walk, hands won't work, take the elevator, everyday pain' which frustrates you to tears and makes you wish pain medication were sold like catnip, requires some strategy to overcome and that's why this is a great thread! Thanks Shelley.

#19 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 07:47 AM

Hi Barefut,

I totally agree with 'becoming one with the pain'. Part of that entails accepting it, instead of fighting it. The acceptance immediately reduces stress, lowering the pain level. It's a relief, just in and of itself, if you ask me. That might be part of the miracle action of some pills, because we sigh with relief, knowing we've finally done something about the pain...and the relief itself is a major factor in calming the hypersensitive nerve endings.

I also taught myself self-hypnosis over 30 years ago, to deal with pain. That's where I learned the power of intense concentration -- which can either increase or decrease pain, depending on which angle we are concentrating on. Hypnosis and self-hypnosis is often considered dangerous in the wrong hands, so people frequently have a frightful response to the idea. However, any time we are totally engrossed in something and unaware of our other surroundings -- for many people, watching TV is a good example, or driving for miles but not remembering any of it (road hypnosis) -- shows what a natural phenomenon it really is. And like everything, it can be used for good (relaxation or pain reduction, for example) or for evil (the stage hypnotist making you cluck like a chicken and lay an egg, to your ever-lovin' embarrassment).

But it was foolish of me to study about it and learn it from library books. If I had it to do over again, I would read medical abstracts about it first (its usefulness and its dangers and limitations) and consult a professional and learn it from them. It was just the rage in the 70's along with all sorts of other, more dangerous and more mind-bending phenomena.

Getting back to the point, though -- really becoming totally engrossed in any activity -- such as drawing, painting, sewing, cooking, crafts, reading, music...for me serves as a mini form of hypnosis and when used along with relabeling, such as acknowledging the pain but greeting it as an "interesting sensation" or "another body part present and accounted for" or "an area that needs some TLC at the moment", helps to defang the vicious pain tiger and turn it into a more malleable pussycat, for me. (As a side note, I've found TV is too passive of an activity for me, probably due to commercial breaks that make me come up for air more often, so it actually seems to increase my pain level.)

Distraction is not a cure-all, of course. It's just another tool in the disease management kit, and best used in combination with many (or even all!) of the outstanding ideas above.

And if it is a new or unusual pain, it is something we should be dealing with by calling the doctor, not by trying to ignore it or overcome it. Of course!
Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
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International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
Hotline and Donations: 1-800-564-7099

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is sclero.org.

#20 WestCoast1

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 08:07 AM

Pain is a hard thing to overcome. I think that regular exercise is a big part of feeling an overall sense of health, but sometimes it can leave me feeling sore and stiff. I try to deal with that by taking a sitz bath and relaxing. I have constant pain between my shoulder blades so usually a heating pad works wonders.

Thanks for the great ideas!
erin
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