SleepIf you suffer from chronic pain, you must inform your physician about what your sleep cycle was before and after any illness or pain. If the length of time it takes to fall asleep goes much beyond 20 minutes, we speak of it as being a sleep latency problem. Sometimes, medication may be needed to help the sleep cycle. Such medication do not have to be addicting. In addition, there are behavioral techniques using relaxation exercises that can help individuals without medications to improve their sleep cycles.
Another important dimension of sleep hygiene is to avoid the use of television or movies in the hour before you wish to fall asleep. Sleep medications should be the last line of defense. They fall into the categories of herbal, and prescription medicines. When required, they too are among the adjuvant pain management medications.
Exercise & Pain
Regular exercise at a level that the individual can tolerate is helpful. Such exercise includes walking. There are exercises that can be done even by individuals who are confined to sitting up in bed or in wheelchairs, providing some level of aerobic conditioning.
All such conditioning exercises take time. Our culture is an impatient one, and people want quick results. Toning of the body and facilitating healthy energy flow cannot be accomplished instantly.
Often chronic pain patients should see a physical therapist in consultation. Most important in terms of body balance is the physical therapist’s identifying areas of guarding postures, modified postures that a person assumes to help him or her feel immediately more comfortable with the pain. This is best done by exercising in a swimming pool of mild temperature.
Massage & Pain
The general techniques of massage are also helpful to energy flow and balance. Massage may include use of local hot or cold compresses, vibration, tapping, or pressure. The healing touch in massage has been used in many cultures throughout recorded history to aid in general well–being.
Nutrition, Caffeine & Alcohol
CoffeeNutrition is critical to body health and balance. Nutritional supplements should include not only vitamins and the sub–categories of vitamins called antioxidants but also mineral supplements such as selenium, magnesium, and calcium. Caffeine may be very helpful in the management of pain, but excessive amounts of it may produce irritability and overreaction to unpleasant stimuli. Finally, many physicians and their patients forget to look at the issue of alcohol and its use by chronic pain patients.
AlcoholWe all know it as perhaps the original pain–relieving substance. However, alcohol in large amounts can injure peripheral nerves as well as the brain. On a short–term basis it can serve to distract an individual with pain and numb responses to pain. Alcohol is not an effective pain medication for chronic use. Alcohol–dependent individuals absorb and metabolize medications very differently. It is most important in helping yourself with pain that you be honest with yourself as well as with your physicians about your use of alcohol. Especially when pain derives from damaged nerves, alcohol may intensify it.
Electrical, Invasive Techniques In Pain Management
A very popular form of pain management over the last 20 years has been transcutaneous neurostimulation, or tens. Tiny electrical currents of low voltage and low amperage are delivered by a device in a cyclical, pulsating fashion. Tens has been found to help some individuals with pain. One explanation about how they may help is called the “Pain Gate” theory. It hypothesizes that the electrical stimulation through the peripheral nerves to the spinal cord blocks pain signals as they are sent from the spinal cord to the brain.