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Pain. Treatment

Q
How can I sleep better during pain?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Take these actions: • Be strategic about medications. Talk to your health care professional about medications taking timing. Take a medication that causes drowsiness at night before bed. And if your medications include stimulants, which can keep you awake, take those earlier in the day. • Practice relaxation. Sit quietly, read, write in a journal […] Read More

Take these actions:

• Be strategic about medications. Talk to your health care professional about medications taking timing. Take a medication that causes drowsiness at night before bed. And if your medications include stimulants, which can keep you awake, take those earlier in the day.

• Practice relaxation. Sit quietly, read, write in a journal or listen to soothing music as you prepare for sleep.

• Sleep on a schedule. Routine sleeping hours can help you sleep. Go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day.

• Don't try to force sleep. If you wake up and can't go back to sleep, try reading, writing in a journal, or watching TV until you feel sleepy.

• Watch what you eat and drink. Heavy meals and fluids before bed might keep you up, or make you wake up in the middle of the night. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can also interfere with sleep.

• Set yourself up for success. Practice good sleep hygiene: Close curtains and your bedroom door, use comfortable bedding, keep the room temperature cool and put your clock somewhere you can't see it.

• Plan ahead. Be physically active during the day to help you sleep more soundly at night. Avoid naps or limit them to 30 minutes during the day.

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Q
How much exercise is enough to make a difference?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Research suggests that 30 to 45 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) five or six days a week is your best bet — and even four days of exercise a week will have some effect. Before you start a new exercise program, however, talk to your health care professional if you’re older […] Read More

Research suggests that 30 to 45 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) five or six days a week is your best bet — and even four days of exercise a week will have some effect.

Before you start a new exercise program, however, talk to your health care professional if you're older than age 40, have been sedentary, have risk factors for coronary heart disease, or have chronic health problems. If you have pain from an injury, recent surgery, a physical disability, or a chronic condition such as osteoporosis, it's best to work with a physical therapist or exercise physiologist to be sure you can exercise safely and avoid hurting yourself.

• Get enough sleep

Pain, and some pain-related medications, can interfere with sleep. You might find it difficult to fall asleep, or you may wake up during the night. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some pain medications can cause fatigue and make you want to sleep the day away. Getting a proper amount of sleep is important because sleep helps you cope with your pain by boosting your energy levels and your mood.

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Q
How can I reduce stress?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Pain and stress are interconnected. Pain is a source of stress. And when you feel stress, you may react by tensing your muscles and gritting your teeth, which increases your pain. You can prevent this cycle by better managing your stress. Start by recognizing your stress triggers. Write down the things that cause you to […] Read More

Pain and stress are interconnected. Pain is a source of stress. And when you feel stress, you may react by tensing your muscles and gritting your teeth, which increases your pain. You can prevent this cycle by better managing your stress.

Start by recognizing your stress triggers. Write down the things that cause you to stress, considering each part of your life, including work, relationships, home, poor health habits, and perfectionism or negative thinking. Then look at the list and think about ways you can minimize or even eliminate those triggers. For example, if you feel rushed when you get ready for work in the morning, think about how you might better prepare the evening before to make the morning go more smoothly. Or if you're stressed because you have too many obligations on your schedule, decide which ones you can remove. Learn to say no.

Practicing relaxation skills also helps you better manage stress. Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visual imagery, meditation, and mindfulness are some of the techniques that can help you center yourself and approach your day from a calmer, more balanced, and less stressful place.

Stay physically active

There are many reasons to exercise. But when you're struggling with pain, one of the best reasons is for relief. Aerobic or "cardio" exercises, which use your large muscle groups and raise your heart rate, releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that act as your body's natural painkillers.

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Q
What is my lifestyle strategy for pain management?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Pain affects every aspect of your life. It can challenge or change the activities you choose to do, the thoughts you have, and even the sleep you get. This is because, in addition to your physical discomfort, pain can affect your mental and emotional health, increasing your stress and frustration, sapping your motivation and activity […] Read More

Pain affects every aspect of your life. It can challenge or change the activities you choose to do, the thoughts you have, and even the sleep you get. This is because, in addition to your physical discomfort, pain can affect your mental and emotional health, increasing your stress and frustration, sapping your motivation and activity levels, and contributing to fatigue.

In turn, your day-to-day life plays a key role in managing pain. In fact, there are several positive lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your pain. Two starting points are to eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. The following suggestions are other things you can do every day to be your healthiest, most comfortable self.

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Q
What conditions respond to integrative therapies?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Many integrative therapies can be successfully joined with conventional medicine to help relieve pain. Research has shown that integrative therapies can be effective in relieving the following conditions: • Back and neck pain; • Arthritis and joint pain; • Pain resulting from injury or trauma; • Post-surgery pain; • Headache pain; • Pelvic pain and […] Read More

Many integrative therapies can be successfully joined with conventional medicine to help relieve pain. Research has shown that integrative therapies can be effective in relieving the following conditions:

• Back and neck pain;

• Arthritis and joint pain;

• Pain resulting from injury or trauma;

• Post-surgery pain;

• Headache pain;

• Pelvic pain and menstrual cramps.

Integrative therapies are unique as they address the whole person. Instead of treating the source of the pain, integrative medicine takes a whole-body approach.

Most integrative therapies target both mind and body to help reduce pain. A good example is yoga, which quiets and relaxes the mind while stretching and strengthening the body. Practicing yoga might not directly relieve the source of your pain, but it can relax your body, loosen tense muscles, refresh your mind and mentally prepare you to better manage your discomfort.

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Q
When to choose integrative therapies?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
There are several reasons to add appropriate integrative therapies to your pain treatment plan. Some of them include: • To have more control. When you hurt, you want to take action. If your only source of pain relief is a prescription medication, however, the only action you can take is to wait for the next […] Read More

There are several reasons to add appropriate integrative therapies to your pain treatment plan. Some of them include:

• To have more control. When you hurt, you want to take action. If your only source of pain relief is a prescription medication, however, the only action you can take is to wait for the next dose. Integrative therapies give you more strategies for pain relief, and they can be available when you need them.

• To help manage the side effects of your pain medications. Prescription pain relievers are often accompanied by side effects, such as drowsiness, nausea, or constipation. Integrative therapies can help alleviate side effects.

• To address issues related to your pain. Pain will frequently affect your mood and leave you feeling tense and tired. Integrative therapies can help you reverse those undesirable outcomes.

• Your health care professional recommends them. Many health care professionals are now combining integrative therapies with conventional medical therapies.

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Q
Are integrative pain therapies suitable for me?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
With their increasing popularity, more clinical research has been conducted on integrative therapies. Overall, the results are encouraging, and many conventional health care professionals are now incorporating integrative therapies that are supported by scientific studies into their practice of medicine. Combined with conventional medicine, integrative approaches can help relieve pain and improve quality of life. […] Read More

With their increasing popularity, more clinical research has been conducted on integrative therapies. Overall, the results are encouraging, and many conventional health care professionals are now incorporating integrative therapies that are supported by scientific studies into their practice of medicine.

Combined with conventional medicine, integrative approaches can help relieve pain and improve quality of life. Before you start any new treatment, however, do your own research. Not all integrative therapies have been appropriately tested for safety and effectiveness.

• Gather information. Investigate specific therapies by viewing reputable websites and talking to your health care professional.

• Use reputable therapy providers. Only use providers who have professional credentials, or who were recommended by your health care professional.

• Beware of interactions. Ask whether any nutritional supplements you are considering taking might interfere with your over-the-counter or prescription medications.

• Understand treatment costs. Many integrative therapies aren't covered by health insurance.

• Talk with your health care professional before trying something new. This is especially important if you're pregnant or nursing.

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Q
How I can combine conventional and unconventional care?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
The goal of integrative medicine is to treat the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — not just an underlying disease. This can be accomplished by combining the best of conventional medicine with the best of less conventional practices — therapies that have a reasonable amount of high-quality evidence to support their use. Researchers […] Read More

The goal of integrative medicine is to treat the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — not just an underlying disease. This can be accomplished by combining the best of conventional medicine with the best of less conventional practices — therapies that have a reasonable amount of high-quality evidence to support their use.

Researchers and health care professionals are finding that integrative medicine can provide positive outcomes for a broad range of pain causes. This is because pain is often a whole-body experience. Pain doesn't always come from just one source. There's the physical cause of the pain, of course — the injury, the joint pain, the muscle strain. But this physical pain can often be compounded by stress, frustration, fatigue, medication side effects, and many other factors.

Conventional medicine typically only addresses physical pain. This is where integrative therapies can step in, to help with myriad other factors associated with pain. For example, a person who has knee surgery might be prescribed an analgesic to relieve post-surgery pain, visit a physical therapist to learn exercises to get moving again and take a nutritional supplement to help with inflammation and joint health.

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Q
What are integrative approaches to treat pain?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Integrative medicine includes therapies that are used in addition to those used in conventional medicine, such as practicing yoga in addition to taking a prescription analgesic. Today, the term “integrative medicine” is commonly used to describe health care practices and products that aren’t generally part of conventional medicine but can be reasonably combined with conventional […] Read More

Integrative medicine includes therapies that are used in addition to those used in conventional medicine, such as practicing yoga in addition to taking a prescription analgesic. Today, the term "integrative medicine" is commonly used to describe health care practices and products that aren't generally part of conventional medicine but can be reasonably combined with conventional care.

Most of these integrative therapies aren't new. In fact, some, such as acupuncture and certain herbal remedies, have been around for thousands of years. These therapies are now experiencing a surge in popularity — especially when it comes to managing pain.

That's not surprising. Pain can leave you feeling helpless, with no control, and at the mercy of the medications prescribed to you. And although your prescriptions may be effective, you might struggle with side effects or fear the risks of increasing dosages or long-term use. Integrative therapies, on the other hand, can give you a broad range of philosophies and approaches to boost the care your health care professional gives you, increase your relief from pain and improve your overall quality of life.

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Q
Is my diet helping or hurting?
A
AGE2B consultant
0
Research suggests that there’s a link between diet and inflammation, which is your body’s response to injury or infection. Inflammation causes heat, redness, swelling, and pain in the affected part of the body. While this normal immune system response is critical for healing, sometimes inflammation can become chronic and more widespread throughout the body. Long-term […] Read More

Research suggests that there's a link between diet and inflammation, which is your body's response to injury or infection. Inflammation causes heat, redness, swelling, and pain in the affected part of the body. While this normal immune system response is critical for healing, sometimes inflammation can become chronic and more widespread throughout the body. Long-term inflammation is linked to several diseases and conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.

Although the exact reason is unclear, it's believed that certain foods offer protection against inflammation, while other foods might actually encourage inflammation.

• Pro-inflammatory foods

Pro-inflammatory foods are foods that can contribute to inflammation. Most processed foods are pro-inflammatory, as they tend to be high in unhealthy fats (including saturated and trans fats), added sugars, preservatives, and refined carbohydrates. Deep-fried foods, pastries, processed cereals, white rice, white potatoes, sugar, bread, and red meat are also pro-inflammatory foods.

• Anti-inflammatory foods

The nutrients in some foods have anti-inflammatory or analgesic properties that can help relieve pain. Anti-inflammatory foods may include:

• Fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats play a role in altering the inflammatory process and regulation of pain. Salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and herring are high in these fats. Soy-based foods, walnuts, pecans, and ground flaxseed are also good sources of omega-3 fats.

• Antioxidant-rich foods. Colorful fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, avocados, beets, and berries, are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can prevent, delay or repair some types of cell and tissue damage. Antioxidants include certain vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, carotene, lycopene, and flavonoids. A wide variety of other foods are also rich in antioxidants, such as lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, green tea, and certain spices, such as ginger and turmeric.

• Dietary supplements that have been shown to help provide a healthy balance of inflammatory chemicals in your body include the botanicals cat's claw, devil's claw, ginger root, turmeric, and boswellia (frankincense). Other non-herbal dietary supplements — including omega-3 fish oil and antioxidants — are helpful when you don't get enough of these nutrients in your diet.

Always talk to your doctor before starting any supplement regimen, because some dietary supplements can interact with prescription medications.

• Specific nutrients and botanicals

Even if you're eating plenty of food, that doesn't always translate to good nutrition. Due to poor eating habits and an abundance of foods that lack essential nutrients, many people aren't getting adequate vitamins and minerals for optimal nutrition.

These nutritional deficiencies can adversely impact many areas of your health and overall well-being — including your energy levels and mood, mental functioning, inflammation levels, and immune response. Good nutrition can even affect the recovery process from an injury or surgery. In fact, studies show that people who take certain dietary supplements before and/or after surgery experience several benefits, including fewer complications from infection, better wound healing, and faster recovery.

Below are some dietary supplements that can help with pain management. Talk to your doctor about which ones might benefit you.

• Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which comes from a plant in the ginger family. Popular for centuries in Asia for its health benefits, turmeric recently has been the subject of much research in the West. Preliminary studies suggest that curcumin (which is what gives turmeric its bright orange color) has a number of health-promoting benefits. For example, it helps your body to maintain a normal response to inflammatory events, such as reducing soreness and tenderness after strenuous physical activity or promoting healing after surgery or an injury.

• Bromelain

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant. Used topically, bromelain can bring relief to wounds and burns. As a dietary supplement, bromelain can be effective for reducing bruising or swelling after an injury or muscle soreness after exercise. Preliminary research also proposes that bromelain can improve post-surgery outcomes: one study found that when patients were given bromelain before surgery, they had reduced soreness and swelling after the procedure.

• Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that's naturally produced in the brain by your pineal gland. In supplement form, melatonin is created in a laboratory. Melatonin's primary purpose appears to regulate sleep — and it has been extensively studied for application in people with sleep disorders. Studies have also found that melatonin might have analgesic effects, and it has been studied to determine if it can help relieve pain post-surgery, and in conditions such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and migraine.

• Probiotics

Probiotics are a type of "good" bacteria that provide health benefits when introduced into your body. Just like the existing helpful bacteria in your body already do, probiotics can aid digestion and help provide a balance of healthy bacteria in your intestines, which helps maintain a normal inflammatory response in your GI tract. Probiotics are commonly found in yogurt and are also available in dietary supplements.

Your doctor may recommend a probiotic dietary supplement to help treat occasional diarrhea and non-chronic intestinal conditions. Because probiotics boost the health of your microbiome — the trillions of microorganisms that live in your body — your doctor may recommend a probiotic dietary supplement for surgical care. Research suggests that using probiotics before surgery can help you heal and improve your digestion after surgery.

• Proteins and amino acids

Proteins, and the amino acids that create them, are your body's primary building blocks. They're vital for cell renewal, tissue growth and repair, and other body functions. They play a significant role in rebuilding tissues after injury.

Two amino acids that may be of particular interest are:

• Arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that stimulates immune cells, promotes wound healing, and acts as a precursor of nitric oxide, which aids in circulation. Arginine is produced naturally in your body; however, supplementing your natural levels can be helpful in certain cases. For example, studies indicate that using arginine before surgery can result in a shorter recovery time.

• Glutamine. Like arginine, glutamine is produced in your body and is an important fuel for your body's immune response. Glutamine promotes wound healing, supports immune function, and provides energy for intestinal cells. Research suggests that supplementing with glutamine before surgery can also result in shorter postoperative recovery times.

• Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that provide a number of benefits to your body, including supporting cell maintenance, digestion, and fertility. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and trout), shellfish (crab, mussels, and oysters), some vegetable oils, flaxseed oil, and also in dietary supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids also help the body respond in a normal fashion to conditions that can cause inflammation, and, as a result, may be helpful in managing the swelling and soreness caused by such conditions. They also appear to provide nutritional support to individuals who suffer from headaches. Some research suggests that omega-3 supplements should be taken weeks prior to having surgery. Substantial research on the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids is ongoing.

• Vitamin D

Vitamin D is perhaps best known for its role in bone health because vitamin D is vital for helping your body absorb calcium. But vitamin D plays an important role in other body systems, too, including supporting healthy immune function and helping the body respond normally to inflammatory conditions.

Vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods — primarily fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and fish liver oils. It is added to other foods, such as milk, and is synthesized in your skin when you're exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is also available as a dietary supplement.

• Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral found in your body. It is also present naturally in many foods, including milk, brown rice, black beans, certain nuts, and as an additive in other foods. As a dietary supplement, magnesium comes in several forms, including magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, and magnesium chloride.

Healthy magnesium levels may help relieve muscle cramps and spasms. It may also provide nutritional support to individuals who tend to get migraine headaches. Additionally, research has found that magnesium supplementation may play a positive role after surgery. In studies, individuals who took magnesium before surgery ranked their pain lower in the first 24 hours after surgery.

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