Specialists in pain management realize that many chronic pain conditions have no cure, so they focus on ways to manage pain. Furthermore, since chronic pain has many causes and possible treatments, no one therapy works best for everyone. Pain symptoms may change over time, therefore the care for pain may change as well.
Below are some common rules of thumb to help relieve certain pain symptoms at home.
Ice can reduce inflammation be constricting the surrounding blood vessels, reducing blood flow and swelling. Never apply ice for more than five minute increments, however, as the cold can freeze the skin and soft tissue. After two days, some heat can be applied to the area to increase blood flow.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Nuprin or Ibuprofen have an advantage over other pain killers as they also reduce swelling. Those with allergies to Ibuprofen should try Aleve, Tylenol or Aspirin to reduce pain.
If you have an attack of musculoskeletal pain (back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee pain) start taking NSAIDs for the next few days as instructed on the bottle. It is much more effective to have a constant level of the drug in your body than to take some medicine, let it wear off and then take another dose the next day.
Many tension headache sufferers do not seek medical attention or advice, instead they use self treatment techniques such as nonprescription analgesics and over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil, Nuprin or Ibuprofen.
The aforementioned key to keeping orthopaedic problems at bay is to stay relatively active and eat right. Current research shows that 66% of Americans are overweight, and 32% are classified as obese. This is bad news for our hips, knees and backs.
Let's talk BMI, or body mass index. BMI is the number you come up with when you divide how much you weigh in kilograms by how tall you are in centimeters squared. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered normal. A BMI above 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more is classified as obesity. To find your BMI, there are several calculators on the Internet including the BMI recommendations from the Surgeon General.
Losing weight can provide some instant relief for the body. Although we are constantly inundated with new diet fads, remember that logically, the way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than we burn, and the way to maintain weight is to take in approximately the same number of calories that we burn. This method can be harder to follow than it is to understand, and once we build healthy habits, this lifestyle will become easier and easier to maintain. Some diets help you to do this. Others are shams. Be cautious. Anything that seems too good to be true probably is.
If you have arthritis, there are pain aggravators that should be avoided. For instance, paprika, pepper, tobacco, cayenne, eggplant and large amounts of potatoes and tomatoes can antagonize your arthritis since these foods have alkaloids that prevent the repair of collagen and cartilage. Aspartame (found in diet sodas and artificial sweeteners) can also worsen arthritis, since it can cause inflammation in the joints when regularly consumed.
There are health benefits from eating a diet rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates found in vegetables, whole wheat and fruits.
It is also important to incorporate exercise into your routine if you have hip or knee pain. Although it may seem like a catch-22 (you can't exercise because your knee or hips hurt, but your knee or hips hurt more because you can't exercise), strengthening the leg muscles can be crucial in alleviating pain. The more support the muscles can offer, the less stress and pain you will encounter. Also, if you are hurting and you want to start up an exercise routine, why not try a stationary bike or swimming? While running or stair climbing can be taxing to the body, the stationary bike and swimming are both excellent cardiovascular activities that only place minimal pressure on the body.
The jury is definitely in on this verdict. Not only can it take years off your life and may cause cancer, but it also creates many more wrinkles than non-smokers.
While recent studies show a glass of wine or one drink a day (two for men) can help protect against heart disease, more than that can cause liver and kidney disease and cancer.
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