Persistent pain can be extremely debilitating, whether it’s triggered by a long-term condition like arthritis or a strained muscle, tendon or ligament. As a supplement or substitute to over-the-counter medication, think about taking the strain away with some natural pain busters.
Placing an ice pack around an inflamed joint or sprain will quickly reduce swelling and soothe raging pain. Ice is also a great anaesthetic, dulling the nerve impulses that actually transmit pain signals. Never apply ice directly to the skin though. You can create an effective homemade ice pack by wrapping a bag of frozen peas or ice cubes in a tea towel.
Turn up the heat
Heat is a great healer when it comes to pain caused by stiff joints or muscular spasms. Not only does it increase the flow of curative oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissue and problem areas, it also helps supress pain signals too. For localised pain, apply a heat pad or wrapped hot water bottle to the affected region. For more radiating pain, take a long soak in a warm bath or wrap yourself in an electric blanket.
Exercise stimulates your body’s production of endorphins, feel-good hormones that also reduce your perception of pain. So while the last thing you want to think about when experiencing pain is exercise, engaging in the right activity will actually help. Water-based exercise that supports the weight of your body is particularly appropriate for pain sufferers, as is gentle stretching and motion-enhancing exercise like yoga or tai chi.
Herb and spice up your life
Holy basil (Asian in origin, and different to the more familiar variety used in Italian cuisine), ginger, turmeric all boast amazing anti-inflammatory properties, making them particularly beneficial for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and back injuries. In addition to enjoying these tasty pain-relieving ingredients at meal times, you can also discuss the options to digest them in supplement form with your local health food store or doctor.
Boost your ‘good fats’ intake
Omega-3 fatty acids, so-called ‘good fats’, are great for lowering inflammation. So if joint pain, back pain or muscular cramps are causing you discomfort, pack more oily fish like salmon and vegetables like spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts into your diet. If you like eggs, opt for ones fortified with extra omega-3 too.