Natural Pain Remedies That Work!

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/17/2012 10:00 AM   :  37 comments   :  12,009 Views

See More: health, tips,
I used to weigh 460 pounds. Because of that, I have degenerative disease, herniated disks, pinched nerve bundles, arthritis, bad knees, and the list goes on. As a result of these things, I used to be the depression queen. My daily mantra was "I can’t”. The truth is, I felt hopeless in my world of pain and weight issues.  I thought nothing could save me.  Now I am at a nearly 200 pound weight loss, thanks to SparkPeople and Sparkers like you!
 
But what about my pain? Is it gone?  No, sadly, but it has become much more manageable with a few wonderful techniques I’ve discovered along my journey.
 
After starting SparkPeople, I fired every doctor I had and got new ones.  I explained my needs and desire to get better, but I refused to put up with any form of ridicule. (Example:  One doctor grabbed my stomach and called it "This thing.")  I needed advice and direction, not judgment.  So I found a new doctor who set me up with in-home physical therapy to address my specific needs.  Your specific needs may be different, so it is always best to start with a knowledgeable, yet understanding doctor. 
 
From there, I started a plan of action.  Many doctors now recommend ways to deal with minor to moderate pain without drugs.  Even my severe pain was helped by physical therapy, which I continue to do.  I also think of my exercise routine as a form of physical therapy because it allows me to keep moving and keep the pain in check to a degree.  
 
Soon after I began physical therapy, my therapist recommended yoga.  I thought she was off her rocker- a 460 pound immobile person doing yoga?  Yet, she guided me on my bed on all 4's into the cat/cow position, where you alternate raising and lowering the back.  Bingo!  She was a genius!  We also practiced the cobra and a few mild twists.  The combination of physical therapy and yoga did wonders. 
 
I also integrated temperature therapy into my pain management routine.  A warming blanket or hot bath in Epsom salts really helped to ease my pain and fibromyalgia.  I used cold for numbing or reducing swelling. I was told by my hand specialist to get a paraffin bath to control the arthritis and degenerative pain in my hands.  Not only does it help the pain, but it is very moisturizing, too!
 
Massage is now being covered by many medical insurances.  I personally got the most pain relief from a Swedish style because it is gentler than other types of massage.  Deeper tissue massages are great for breaking up and moving fluids that could be causing pain, but they can really set off my fibromyalgia. 
 
Another pain control method that is getting plenty of recognition is acupuncture. I've heard fantastic things about acupuncture, although I've never gone under the needle myself.  Some scientific studies show that acupuncture may work on pain from migraine headaches to arthritis.  The technique involves placing hair-thin needles into pressure points.  Stimulation at these points is thought to help the body naturally heal and improve function.
 
Similar to acupuncture, chiropractic treatment helps create proper alignment at various points of the spine and allows the body to enhance its healing properties.  Personally, I have tried this and it has worked for me.  The trick is in finding a reputable chiropractor, so be sure and ask a few medical professionals for references.  
 
Many of the pain management techniques mentioned above are now being considered by insurance companies.  If you have to self-pay, many times the practitioner might negotiate a better price depending on your situation.
 
Take your pain day by day and roll with it. Find what works for you in terms of therapy and don't expect to do what you can do on a "Good pain day" on a "Bad pain day."  Rank your pain and then match your activity to it.  Heal and be gentle.  And remember that any movement at all is physical therapy.
 


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Comments

  • 37
    Wow , first I would like to congratulate on your weight loss  I suffer with lot of knee pain since my accident 4 1/2 years ago , but know after op on 31st march I am now on the mend Ive put on a to of weight in four years due to pain and restriction to movement . I never thought I could do yoga but since reading
    your blog i am going to give it a go and not give up also give
    the tips on pain i am going to give them ago

    Thanks so much

    Nikki - 4/16/2012   7:30:36 AM
  • 36
    Wow , first I would like to congratulate on your weight loss  I suffer with lot of knee pain since my accident 4 1/2 years ago , but know after op on 31st march I am now on the mend Ive put on a to of weight in four years due to pain and restriction to movement . I never thought I could do yoga but since reading your blog i am going to give it a go and not give up also give the tips on pain ago

    Thanks so much

    Nikki - 4/16/2012   7:30:36 AM
  • 35
    Wow , first I would like to congratulate on your weight loss  I suffer with lot of knee pain since my accident 4 1/2 years ago , but know after op on 31st march I am now on the mend Ive put on a to of weight in four years due to pain and restriction to movement . I never thought I could do yoga but since reading your blog i am going to give it a go and not give up also give the tips on pain ago

    Thanks so much

    Nikki - 4/16/2012   7:30:35 AM
  • 34
    Wow , first I would like to congratulate on your weight loss  I suffer with lot of knee pain since my accident 4 1/2 years ago , but know after op on 31st march I am now on the mend Ive put on a to of weight in four years due to pain and restriction to movement . I never thought I could do yoga but since reading your blog i am going to give it a go and not give up also give the tips on pain ago

    Thanks so much

    Nikki - 4/16/2012   7:30:34 AM
  • 33
    Hi, I always enjoy your blogs but now that they have changed up the daily emails they don't identify who the blogger is anymore. so I miss some of yours and some others that I like to follow. How about asking them to put the names on again. - 2/23/2012   10:51:10 AM
  • 32
    Many years of abusing my shoulders, from sports to working and lifting over my head resulted in constant pain (which caused sleep disruptions) and restricted range of motion. Lifting light weights, stretching and various forms of physical therapy worked, however, they provided only short-term relief and did not address the underlying causes - torn and healed rotator cuffs and a build up of scar tissue. Doctors told me the only way to fully repair the damages was through surgery. I was not comfortable as I knew some others who had surgery and were worse off or no better. Thankfully I found a chiro who was experienced in ART - active release technique - it goes by others names as well - not only did the therapy eliminate 90% of the pain, my range of motion returned to pre-injury status. Shoulders are still more susceptible to re-injury, but respond very quickly and well to a few treatments, and I have learned to do some of the therapy myself and can impact mild strains on my own. ART might not work for anyone else, but has been a godsend for me. - 2/21/2012   9:02:16 AM
  • 31
    I do love yoga. I do it twice a week, if I can. my lower back often thanks me. - 2/20/2012   12:58:42 PM
  • SAS202554
    30
    You have made me want to try yoga. Thanks for your blog!!! Congratulations on your weight loss!!! You are an inspiration to all. I want to lose 160 pounds!!! You have shown me that it can be done!!! - 2/20/2012   9:27:00 AM
  • 29
    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring journey. - 2/19/2012   10:46:40 PM
  • 28
    WARNING! Short blog ahead.

    I have a high tolerance for pain, but it has occasionally gotten to the point where I have broken down and needed to go to the doctor. Our family doctor knows I prefer any kind of injection over surgery, and physical therapy way above both the other choices. Over the past 6 years I have had Frozen Shoulder in both shoulders (one after the other by about six months) - which is a condition that diabetics are much more prone to have then non-diabetics. Physical therapy included having the joint manipulated to break up the fibers that had grown, then strength training to get the strength back (my doctor said it was similar to endometriosis, but was confined to the shoulder and after the fibers had been torn - they didn't grow back).

    As a much younger man, I went to my mother's chiropractor (who did wonders for her) when I twisted my back severely in a league softball team. The day after he "adjusted" me, my back woke me up at about 4 AM. By 10 AM I could no longer walk upright and went to an Orthopedic Surgeon/Specialist who started out with dry heat and then went to a wet heat. After about 30 minutes, I could feel the pain going away, then HE did some adjustments. The relief was almost immediate, but the muscles complained and I had to alternate wet and dry heat for the next 3 days. He also taught me a method for adjusting my own back.

    I haven't gone to a chiropractor since.

    Last spring I tore a rotator cuff. Therapy didn't help, injections that lasted were steroidal, but they did me no good. I had surgery to repair the rotator cuff. With the shoulder open, my doc found a bone spur underneath the rotator cuff that he removed and smoothed. The bursa over my right shoulder was filled with calcium deposits, so he removed that, too. He said the bursa will grow back. After post surgery therapy, my right shoulder is better and getting stronger every week.

    This spring I severely wrenched my back when I ran into a grass covered hole. Alternating heat and cold and doing stretches didn't help, so back to my orthopedist. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, two collapsed discs and arthritis in addition to the sprained back. Again, with the three choices I chose physical therapy (by then, I was on a first name basis with everyone in the Physical Therapy Group). A total of 7 weeks of mostly core strengthening and I was mostly pain free.

    It seems to me that many more doctors are going with non-surgical options these days, or my Family doctor knows me well enough to send me to those practitioners.

    Haven't tried acupuncture, yet, but I have researched it and wouldn't be averse to trying it.

    Thanks for the blog, it really was great having a pro confirm my thoughts.

    Oh yes. Since my therapy was complete, I started a massage routine and will general stay with a Swedish type massage. She has occasionally had to "dig" into some muscles to get them to release (painful!), but the next day is so much better there are times I could almost cry with the relief - and I'm a crusty, old, retired Combat Vet. - 2/19/2012   3:56:08 PM
  • 27
    Thank you for a great post. I have also gotten a lot of benefit from yoga and I go to the pool 3 times a week and jog, jump, swim etc, even though I am still heavy. I love it and I find nice people to talk to. - 2/19/2012   1:47:48 PM
  • 26
    Beth, thanks for sharing the wisdom you have gained during your fantastic journey. You remain one of my greatest motivators! - 2/19/2012   12:10:08 PM
  • 25
    I like the "gentle" part. I learned pain management the old fashioned way: Never give into the pain till the chores/job are done. I put my body through torture and now expect it to function with little pain, which it screams in pain instead and doesn't work. Your article helped me to see new ways I can help myself with the chronic pain- in gentle ways. thank you so very much- I don't feel so alone with having chronic pain. - 2/19/2012   9:18:21 AM
  • 24
    I can also HIGHLY recommend studying Alexander Technique for managing pain, improving mobility and general use.

    Since I've recently had my shoulder pain diagnosed, DJD, osteoarthritis, take your pick, pain management that is drug-free, and 'do-able' has become high on my list of priorities (I don't want a shoulder replacement, the only other option, at least not for many years). Thanks, Beth, for a timely blog. - 2/18/2012   7:23:29 PM
  • KATTYKATHY
    23
    I have been using yoga for my arthritis since the 60s when everyone told me I was crazy. Any mobility make things better. Great blog!!!! - 2/18/2012   4:44:43 PM
  • 22
    It is truly amazing what we can do naturally for our health.

    - 2/18/2012   2:47:31 PM
  • 21
    Great blog, great ideas. Cronic pain can be depressing and wear on your spirit. I found a book on line called "Arthritis Interrupted". It has loads of ideas including some herbs and supplements that help with pain control. It has been a blessing to me.
    I started doing water exercise classes and also take a chair exercise class. They help greatly.
    It helps to know others of us are living with and learning strategies to keep moving forward. - 2/18/2012   1:58:42 PM
  • 20
    Thank you for writing a very informative blog. Therapies that don't involve drugs that just can build up and add problems later for when natural therapies just aren't going to do the job are something I need to incorporate into my life. Thanks again! - 2/18/2012   12:05:39 PM
  • LISABOULDER
    19
    As always, a great blog. I'm so glad that you found caring doctors who are helping you heal. I am wondering if any of your health care providers gave you recommendations on foods to eat as well. A friend of mine who has severe osteoarthritis swears by food with hot peppers because of the anti-inflammatory properties of the capsaicin. - 2/18/2012   10:11:15 AM
  • EMJAYHAWK
    18
    I'm very impressed with your determination, Beth! I am so sorry that you had to deal with such an insensitive doctor (my mouth dropped open when I read what they said to you) but I'm glad you have found therapies that work for you. Personally, I would never visit a chiropractor after a friend of mine got her carotid artery ripped open by a so-called adjustment. You are very inspiring - keep up the good work! - 2/18/2012   9:58:24 AM
  • 17
    Excellent blog, Beth. I think people often look at weight issues as being about just food and exercise. But when you have pain, it over-rides all the work you can do to lose weight.

    I go to massage and acupuncture once a month on an alternating basis. Please find yourself a good acupuncturist and give it a try. I've been using it for over 25 years and it really does help! My cancer surgery 4 years ago did major damage to the nerves in one shoulder and arm. With the help of my acupuncturist, who also recommended my wonderful massage therapist, the nerve damage the doctors told me was permanent is nnow just about all gone! - 2/18/2012   8:01:42 AM
  • 16
    Glad you are so positive and have found ways to cope with pain. My personal experiences with chiro& acupuncture include my neck getting worse with chiropractic treatment and thus stopping. I was going to acupuncture when my Mom was alive, it really helped her, and I was seeing improvement with pain.

    You just reminded me I haven't been since she died. I need to get it back into my routine, Thanks! - 2/18/2012   3:27:00 AM
  • BARRISTER2011
    15
    I always enjoy your blogs because they are so inspirational! - 2/18/2012   2:01:19 AM
  • 14
    Thank God for Beth Donovan..................
    ..the best blogs anywhere for inspiration and education of our bodies ! - 2/17/2012   8:44:37 PM
  • JLBRHW
    13
    I applaud your decision to find new doctors!! That decision surely helped you on your journey to better pain management. - 2/17/2012   5:34:46 PM
  • 12
    I really like this article. I have found a little know secret remedy for about 90% of the headaches I have. No pills, no herbals, no needles.

    Water! Most of my headaches are from dehydration. And when I pass this on th others, they are surprised when they try the remedy and it works. - 2/17/2012   4:42:16 PM
  • BSCOTT58
    11
    I can personally attest to acupuncture working. I had numbness and pain in my toes and feet after chemotherapy for cancer and the acupuncture treatments gave me back my feeling and reduced the pain. The treatments may not work for everyone, but I know a LOT of folks that swear by acupuncture. Just make sure that you get a well-trained one (mine was trained in China). - 2/17/2012   4:35:55 PM
  • 10
    You are inspiring. I have the The paraffin wax thing. Haven't used it because I can't get my wedding rings off my finger. I am working on that though, Thank you for sharing. - 2/17/2012   1:14:11 PM
  • 9
    Thank you for sharing. Wonderful information that we can all use. - 2/17/2012   1:10:27 PM
  • 8
    Thank you for the motivational story . I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpol tunnel, fibrocystics disease in my breasts, had both total knee replacements and a breast reduction (5 lbs of each side).You have opened my eyes to the don't say I can't statement. It is now I CAN AND I WILL. I am going to take each day and live it to the fullest and loose this weight. I am going to stop complaining and move on. - 2/17/2012   1:09:06 PM
  • 7
    This is a great article.

    It is hard to feel positive when you are dealing with chronic pain. Compared to yours, mine are relatively mild but it still can be hard to think positive through the pain. I have found that it helps to focus on what I *can* do, even if the list of the things I *can't* do feels legion. And yeah, you have to learn to really pay attention to your body and it's limitations because just because I can do an activity on Monday (even something as simple as walking in the park) doesn't mean I can do it that Friday.

    It's also great advice to remind people that if their doctor isn't helping them that it's okay to get rid of them. It can be hard because they are the experts and I was at least raised to listen to what my doctors says and do what I'm told, but doctors are human, too. It's important to listen and follow their advice, true, but I don't need to put up with a doctor who ridicules me. That's not helpful.

    Thanks for the reminder about the parafin wax! I have one of those and completely forgot about it and my hands are really bothering me lately--that should help. - 2/17/2012   1:08:50 PM
  • 6
    Great information. I especially appreciate the information on the massages. You're an inspiration. - 2/17/2012   12:53:04 PM
  • 5
    Thanks for the wonderful information !! - 2/17/2012   11:49:27 AM
  • SKAGGSS1
    4
    Congratulations on the great progress you have made! Also thanks for all the ideas for controlling pain in various areas of the body. This will be very helpful. - 2/17/2012   11:17:52 AM
  • KHALIA2
    3
    I enjoyed reading your blog and how you persevered. Keep up the good work! You are an inspiration to all! - 2/17/2012   11:11:39 AM
  • 2
    A couple more things for your arsenal, in case you ever need them. I have sacroiliac joints that go "out" because of loose ligaments. I've been taught a couple of techniques for self-manipulation that get them back "in," but the surrounding muscles can remain sore for days. It's a chronic problem that started with pregnancy and childbirth, but it has gotten a lot better over the years I thanks to prolotherapy and PRP which have helped stabilize those joints ( www.treatingpain.com ). I'm currently learning some stretching techniques that help too. I lie lengthwise on a foam roller to stretch out my tight shoulders (where I store all my tension), and to keep my neck moving more freely (I have arthritis in my neck). I wear Skechers Shape Ups with custom orthotics to help control SI joint pain, as well as to control pain in my feet from arthritis and occasional tendinitis, and they work like a charm. I replace them every few months because wear and tear on the sole can provoke my sacroiliac joints. It's all about management. Sometimes I am pain-free for months, and then I have a flare up, but for the most part, these measures keep things under control. I just got a "body back buddy" and a book on trigger points to help with self-massage of difficult to reach areas. If you haven't visited before, you might also enjoy visiting optp.com. It's an online store for doctors, patients, and physical therapists. I sometimes get books and other stuff from there to help with self-care. - 2/17/2012   11:04:57 AM
  • 1
    You have pointed out some great alternative therapies to pain management. I especially find your closing statement concerning expectations of extreme value. - 2/17/2012   10:09:49 AM

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