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29 Proven Methods to Manage Aches & Pains

Self-Care Tips from Chronic Pain Sufferers That Really Work

-- By SparkPeople Staff
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Many people struggle with pain. Whether it's short term from an injury or chronic due to disc issues, neuropathy or Fibromyalgia, we all want to find relief. Pain clinics and medical interventions are great places to begin, but some pain sufferers look for additional ways to find relief that don't always involve drugs, appointments or doctor visits.
We recently asked members of, the largest healthy living and fitness website in America, how they deal with chronic pain. Here are some products, strategies and insights into what our members rely on that could help you, too.
29 Ways We Ease Pain (that Can Help You, Too!)

1. "A positive attitude, although it is extremely hard to have, is a good start. Having a negative attitude certainly doesn't get us anywhere."

2. "I like to give myself an ice massage. I use a small paper cup to make it easy to hold ice and then apply it with a light pressure for 15 minutes on then 15 minutes off."

3. "When I listen to my body more closely, I know when it's time to rest or time to push. This helps me prevent overdoing it, which keeps pain at bay."

4. "Try to take it one day at a time, asking for help when you need it. Each day is different from the next so don't assume today will be bad until it proves to be."

5. "I like to walk laps in a pool as a form of aqua/water therapy and exercise that's easy on the joints."

6. "Listening to relaxation tapes helps me relax and takes my mind off the pain."

7. "Soaking in a hot bath in a whirlpool tub or even a hot tub does wonders. I like to add Epsom, sea salt or ginger to a hot bath as well."

8. "I regularly use my TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit. It's a pocket size, battery-operated device that sends mild electrical impulses to certain parts of the body to block pain signals. Some say it can even raise the level of endorphins (natural pain killers) in the body. It does wonders for me!" Note: TENS units should only be used under the direction of a qualified healthcare provider.

9. "Join a chronic pain group for support and ideas. Being able to vent or talk to people who know what you're going through can really help."

10. "Try acupuncture or acupressure treatments. These alternative forms of therapy are becoming more widely used. I was skeptical at first, but found they helped me relax, removed tension and reduced pain."

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Member Comments

  • I first read this article in early April, and did not truly believe that any of these would work for me. I had been very inactive for a long time due to severa ailments. It had also become clear that the only way to control my blood sugar or choleserol levels was physical activities. I had avoided stronger pain medications for years and was ready to give in, just so I could excercise. I was often afraid to move - I thought it would make it worse. That"s why I decided to just keep moving. When I have to sit with feet elevated (due to lower leg swelling) I do "butt dancing" or keep moving my arms. When I am seated at the computer I strecht as I type. I started wih the 10 minute challenge and had to do it 100 steps at at a time (I figured out that 3 trips down my hallway and back was equal to 100 steps. Yesterday morning when I woke up I realized hat I was pain free. This does not mean that the neuropathy, osteoarthritis, shoulder impingement or RLS has gone away - it just means that I can move and not make it worse. I truly believe that you must "Move or Lose It". - 7/4/2014 8:09:28 AM
  • Very useful ideas. Everybody has a mishap now and then. - 4/6/2014 11:03:38 AM
  • Thanks Sparkers for all of the helpful info! I've had Neuropathy for about 5 years & no doctors, including specialists, know why. Their best guess is that it may have been caused by being pre-diabetic & as I lose weight it will hopefully go away! I am excited to talk to my doctor about some of these things ecspecially the Tens unit! If anyone has any other ideas for Neuropathy please advise!!! THANKS SO MUCH!!! - 1/10/2014 3:51:46 PM
  • Useful ideas! I especially like the whirlpool soak idea. My husband and I always try to book hotels with whirlpools when we travel (not often enough, alas) and a good hot soak is so comforting. Also great after a workout. My gym has one but it is often packed with people with the same idea. - 12/19/2013 10:03:45 AM
  • At the recommendation of my FNP, I started on an anti-inflammatory diet. I had no idea that food could cause inflammation! I did a lot of research and started the plan. The arthritis in my hands is now almost non-existent and the pain from my recovering knee is very minimal. As a bonus, I've lost 18 pounds. Much better than medication! - 12/18/2013 9:45:12 AM
  • Pain from some rashes can be aleviated by various tricks to cause "nerve confusion". For example, with poison ivy rashes, the itching pain can drive one to scratch - but scratching can introduce infection from dirt and bacteria in your fingernails, or even into your lymph nodes, causing a systemic reaction. Try this common trick - sit or stand in the warmest shower and as you get warm , gradually add hotter water to the areas of the rash and gently rub in circular pattern. Keep rubbing and getting the water gradually hotter and hotter (be careful not to actually burn the regular skin with no rash on it.). After 15-20 minutes you should find the itchy areas finally stop itching enough for you to enjoy several hours of itch free relief (get some rest then so the body can work to fight off the underlying causes of the itch and pain.). - 10/27/2013 1:36:38 AM
  • 5. Laps in pool is fantastic for those that are able to get to one. Nothing like it. Especially a heated therapy pool..for those who have arthritis.
    6. Relaxation tapes get on my nerves...they make me so nervous cause my body refuses to relax when I force it too. Go in a darkened room, just sit back, maybe play some of your favorite slow music and let your body do it's own thing.
    7. Hot tubs maybe OK for some people..but my advice is to check with your Dr. before going in one. At the Health Center where I use to go..I saw people going in one, and thought I 'd give it a try. My body had an immediate was then that the life guard asked if I had high blood pressure or heart trouble or some other stuff...after that they put a sign up warning people with such conditions not to go in.
    8.Personal TENS units are good. for moderate pain..but speaking from personal experience..when the pain is really don't even feel the unit and it no longer works. I set mine to full and can't even feel it, like you should...doesn't help anymore. Even the one in the chiropractors office has to be set high to help a little. So it all depends on the pain level.
    12 . Great for those that can move around...but there are those who the more you move, the harder it hurts and the only way to ease off the pain to bearable is to not move. Simple things like trying to make a quick microwaveable meal, or washing dishes, or putting the dogs out, forget vacuuming the floor..can cause excruciating pain to the point of taking your breath away..which leads to having to take more pain meds.. So all depends on how bad you are.
    14. Biofeedback - for those that can afford it, or have insurance that pays for it.
    15 Pain patches can interfer with certain meds, but sure to ask the Dr. first. Also if the pain area is extensive and spread out over the body, you'll look like a walking patch.
    16.Pilates- Un-doable for a lot of people with different conditions.
    17. Restful nights sleep of 8 hours is fantastic....just tell the body to quit hurting long enough t... - 10/11/2013 5:19:29 PM
  • Just wearing comfortable shoes and a well- fitting bra make a huge difference! - 10/8/2013 8:32:45 PM
    Going to a Licensed Massage Therapist can help with pain issues as well - 10/8/2013 7:47:18 PM
    Love this article - I have been telling this to my Spark Buddies since I started Sparking - Thanks for backing me ! - 10/8/2013 9:07:27 AM
  • I have had fibromyalgia for at least 15 years. What I have learned is that just as there isn't only one cause for it, but a plethora of perpetuating factors (how's that for a tongue-twister?) there are many little things I can do to try to get the snowball rolling in my favor instead of the pain spiral.
    A friend who is a certified myofascial trigger point therapist suggested rolling a tennis ball under my feet for a couple minutes each day. If it hurts, go very gentle, but that means you need it. It makes a HUGE difference. - 10/8/2013 9:05:36 AM
  • Great and REAL suggestions from those who know. I have had chronic pain since I was 15 years old (that would be 33 years at this point) and have tried many of these approaches. I've had two recent attempts to help my pain that have helped tremendously. The most recent is the addition of Pilates to my activity. AMAZING!!! Low impact so it doesn't hurt my joints and discs and core strengthening so my hip, back, shoulder, and rib problems are GREATLY diminished. YAY!!!

    Even better than Pilates, I was SHOCKED when I experienced the results of last year's attempt to solve the pain problem.

    After consulting with my doctors and being tested for Celiac Disease, I went gluten-free to see if that was the problem. Sure enough, I found out that I am non-Celiac gluten intolerant.

    I cannot even begin to tell you how going gluten free has changed my life - literally. Basically, all these years, my whole body has been inflamed as it's been trying to fight my intolerance to gluten. I saw improvements within the first day or two and still continue to see improvements over a year later. Everyone around me is also astounded at the change.

    Here's what I tell others:
    1. Do your research (aka internet searches)
    2. Talk to your doctor
    3. Get tested for Celiac
    4. Go ONE HUNDRED PERCENT gluten free for 4-6 weeks.
    5. If it doesn't help, go back to eating gluten. Nothing lost. :-)

    Remember, "gluten" is in wheat, rye and barley and is used in TONS of products you wouldn't think have gluten. Feel free to contact me directly if you want to know more or have questions.

    Keep moving forward!! :-)

    -Mary in Michigan - 10/8/2013 8:19:40 AM
  • I have lower back pain because I have two broken, but now healed, vertebrae, a crushed disc and 2 deteriorating disks. My Doc gave me a number of alternatives, rehabilitation therapy, steroid shots in my back, or surgery. I'm not a coward but I would rather try any other alternatives before going under the knife. One of the exercises taught to me, called the "Nerve Glide", focused on my lower back muscles and dealt specifically with the location of my pain.

    The "Nerve Glide" is a very simple exercise to do. Simply find a place where you can lie down on a carpet or towel, flat on your back. Your feet should be flat on the ground and your knees up as if you were going to do some crunches.

    Reach down with both hands and hold your right knee. Exhale as you bring your knee to your chest as tightly as is comfortable and count five beats. Allow your leg to return to the position where you first had it in your grasp. Repeat 14 more times for a total of 15 repetitions. Allow your leg to rest in the same bent position from where you started.

    Repeat the exercise with your left knee for another 15 repetitions.

    I have never had to do more than one set of this exercise as the relief has been instantaneous. When I first started the rehab, I did this exercise in the morning (along with other core strengthening exercise) and then did just this exercise half an hour before I went to bed.

    My DW had a sore back from lifting too much. I showed her this exercise and she tried it. She was totally amazed at the quick relief. She did this light exercise twice a day for 5 days and she was done.

    As with any exercise, if you have pain at any time, stop and seek a doctor's care.

    If you have any questions, don't hesitate to SparkMail me. - 6/20/2013 1:08:12 AM
  • Arnica helps me with achy muscles; MSM does wonders for joint pain. - 6/19/2013 11:11:42 PM
  • For headaches, I make myself smile as broadly as I can, open my mouth as if yawning, then take a deep, slow breath and let it out. I repeat that a few times, and usually, unclenching my tense facial muscles lifts my mood as well as the pain. - 6/19/2013 6:01:54 PM