A Pain In My @**

It is a very rare person who has never experienced pain. In fact, there do exist genetic disorders in which people cannot feel pain. Research shows that individuals afflicted with these pain-free conditions actually have a predictably shorter lifespan since they are much more prone to injury and less able to determine that they are succumbing to illnesses or disease processes. For the rest of us, when the word “pain” is mentioned, we usually tap in to memories of painful experiences. Such as hitting our thumb with a hammer, falling, cutting our self, having a nasty sore throat, or even a serious illness or injury.

“In a culture where instant gratification is as highly valued as a gold bar, it is no wonder that over-the-counter pain relievers (OTCs) are in nearly everyone’s medicine cabinet (I abstain from this cultural addiction). These include such common drugs as aspirin and ibuprofen. They do indeed “work,” at least temporarily, to alleviate pain, but research shows that even with short-term use they may cause serious side effects including significant damage to the gastrointestinal system, renal (kidney) impairment, liver damage, and harm to the central nervous system. Prescription pain relievers, especially opiates (like Tylenol III®, or Vicodin®), are highly addictive and carry an increased risk of the side effects mentioned above as well as sedation, drowsiness, reduced respiration, and even respiratory arrest, a fatal event. Tread lightly here, as countless cases of addiction to prescribed painkillers have occurred.”
– Page 290, YOUR BODY CAN TALK, 2nd edition.

In fact, these and even stronger opiates can diminish your body’s own self-help pain relieving endorphin system. Typically, the longer these medications are used, the longer it takes for the body’s natural pain-coping mechanisms to normalize and resume functioning.

Why must we experience pain? Pain is the early warning system that your body uses to let you know that something is out of order in your body. Pain is your body talking -sometimes screaming- to tell you that it needs help and that you need to be looking for a solution. When pain is present, it is a signal of a body malfunction or an injury. The pain’s severity and persistence must be considered and evaluated.

The abrupt onset of severe or debilitating pain may be your cue to call for an ambulance and have diagnostic testing to screen for heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, bone fracture, or tumor. Please seek out immediate diagnostic evaluation in that type of scenario.

Here is a less ominous example: if you are busily slicing celery with a chef’s knife and accidentally cut your wrist which then profusely bleeds, a simple Band-Aid is not the appropriate treatment. Several applications of larger bandages while you are in route to the emergency department to have the wound properly sutured is the efficient and potentially life-saving treatment you should seek.

In the case of nagging aches and pains that do not seem to portend a serious health threat, impulsively lunging for a painkiller to “relieve” pain, typically is the wrong approach. This path is not a true solution and will probably prolong the problem since it is not being properly evaluated or directly treated. In fact, using pain medication for relief before understanding the root cause of the problem may obscure necessary clues. Searching for the actual cause of your discomfort, often with the help of a holistic practitioner or a compassionate and attentive medical doctor can truly help you solve the problem that is causing your body to send the important pain signal to your brain.

Isn’t it interesting that we have designated the drug category analgesics (pain relievers) with the vernacular term “painkillers”? The connotation of this word is vicious and merciless, and that is how these drugs generally treat your body.

What are some drug-free options for “garden-variety” aches or pains that are not of an ominous or terribly worrisome nature? The following categories are presented to give you options for new pain-coping measures to use while you are delving in with your natural healthcare practitioner to the mystery around the core causative factors manifesting as pain. As you make discoveries about the underlying cause of your problem, and the best treatments to undertake, go forward with a reasonable plan. Ask for guidance concerning these 10 categories of help for pain as you proceed with your evaluation and treatment.

1. Abstain from dietary stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, black tea, sugar, food additives, and preservatives.

2. Include calming non-inflammatory foods such as apples, avocados, barley, buckwheat, Chia seeds, cherries, flaxseed, grapes, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, walnuts, and walnut oil in your diet. Choose organic versions of these foods whenever possible.

3. Drink large amounts of pure filtered water to both hydrate your system and flush toxins from it.

4. Seek guidance from your natural healthcare provider for helpful nutrients such as quercetin, omega-3 oils, bromelain, L-Phenyl-alanine, and vitamin C to quench inflammation. Magnesium, calcium, and potassium should be evaluated to see if one or more can help with your muscle spasms.

5. Seek guidance from your natural healthcare practitioner for herbs such as devil’s claw, meadow sweet, turmeric, or willow bark for inflammation. Hops, kava-kava, butterbur, feverfew, and peppermint may help with pain.

6. Seek out and pursue well-tolerated therapeutic activities such as water therapy, swimming, yoga, stretching, tai chi, walking, etc. Be sure not to aggravate your pain or go beyond your current limitations. Adding incremental steps of challenge, within your range of comfortable tolerance, is appropriate.

7. Seek out appropriate natural therapies such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, or physical therapy.

8. Acknowledge, observe, and experience your emotions. Then allow yourself time to process these emotions and seek support or guidance or natural and positive treatment to assist you in processing and releasing pent-up emotions.

9. Incorporate relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, prayer, and/or meditation to your daily regimen. These practices are generally best applied at the very beginning or at the end of your active day. Many helpful resources to teach or guide you about each of these endeavors are available online and within your community.

10. Assure that you get appropriate amounts of rest and deeply refreshing sleep. All of the previous measures may help you achieve that end. It is important to clear your mind, unwind, review your day, organize your concerns or plans for the next day, and then release your burdens to prepare yourself for sleep. You may ask your natural approach health practitioner about the use of the herbs hops, valerian, chamomile, or meadow sweet to assist with sleep. Also check to see if they will recommend magnesium or melatonin for relaxation and sleep.

May you have a healthy and joyous New Year and may the root cause of your aches and pains be identified and successfully treated!

Article written by Susan L. Levy, D. C. Author of “Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition” and “Your Aging Body Can Talk”
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