Relieve pain without pain killers! Opioid use has become a public health emergency, as more than one in ten adult Americans experience chronic pain. We spoke with Cynthia Townsend, Clinical Director at Mayo Clinic’s Rehabilitation Center, to learn how you can manage pain without medication. Do you suffer from chronic pain on a daily basis? Read on for three ways to relieve pain without drugs.
1. Keep Moving
The first tip on our list is to keep moving! While this may sound counter-intuitive, it’s imperative to keep your body as active as possible. And we're not talking about workout classes. Whether you’re walking, standing, or sitting, it's all about small movements. You can even structure your activities based on your favorite hobbies – like gardening or shopping. It doesn’t matter where you do it, either. Whether you’re in the office, or in your car, our expert Cynthia says you can find ways to literally move anywhere!
2. Sleep Hygiene
Next on our list is sleep hygiene – but we’re not referring to brushing your teeth or washing off makeup before bed. Sleep hygiene means developing healthy sleep patterns by catching Z’s on a regimented schedule. Cynthia explains the folly of failing to sleep consistently: “People will engage in what we call compensatory behaviors. They don't feel well, so they'll sleep in.” While taking naps can be restorative, you also risk throwing off your sleep cycle – also called your circadian rhythm – which results in poor sleep quality.
The bottom line with sleep hygiene is decide on a schedule, and stick to it! That means getting up and going to bed at the same time every day. And if you wake up during the night, don’t look at the clock! “Any time you look at the clock in the middle of the night, you become an angry mathematician,” Cynthia warns. “[You start thinking], ‘I only have this many hours left, I can only sleep this much!’” So turn that clock away!
3. Manage Your Stress
And finally, managing your pains means managing your stress! Cynthia emphasizes why this is so critical: “How we respond with stress, anxiety, fear, anger, irritability…All of those are on the same central nervous system pathways that pain runs on.” In short, stress can exacerbate pain! The trick here is finding what calms you down, and taking breaks throughout the day – instead of just crashing at the end.
While we should always consult the expert advice of our doctors, there are simple things we can do ourselves to help manage our pain. Take that, pain killers!
What pain relief tips can you share?! Tell us on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.