FAQ Series—How Can I Manage My Pain When I’ve Only Just Started Care?
Chiropractic is a process, not a silver bullet! And I'll let you in on a little secret, silver bullets don't exist when it comes to changing your health. Health is cultivated, much like a garden or a harvest. But if you're reading this then you're on the right path and you might just need a bridge to get from where you are to where you're headed.
That said, if you have an area/body part that has been chronically painful for many years then it will take time to change that. And if you’ve just been in an accident, it will take time for that to heal. Here are several things you can do at home to help with pain management in the early weeks of care.
BASIC DETOX & DEFLAM:
- WATER: Drink lots of water to help your body with the detox process. When joints get adjusted they release toxins that have been stagnant in the previously stuck joint. The way that joints get their nutrition in and their metabolic waste products out is through imbibition. Imbibition occurs when the joint is moving, so when a subluxated joint gets adjusted it dumps the junk!
***Take your weight, divided by two—and drink that many ounces per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 75 ounces of water each day.
- FOOD: Increase the nutritive value of your food to maximize the available nutrients to speed the healing process. And to aid in the detox, be sure to eat healthy fats and fiber together 3-4 times a day. This will bind toxins in the intestinal tract and eliminate them. This topic is endlessly extensive, but for now keep it simple—healthy fats and fiber.
- OMEGA-3: I could also write extensively about this supplement but for the purpose of pain relief, its major action is that it’s anti-inflammatory and should be a part of everyone’s diet.
- SUGAR: Ditch it. You can do it! Your body will thank you! Sugar intake causes an insulin surge which is inflammatory by nature. You don’t have to give up all carbohydrates, but ditch the refined white foods.
TOPICAL: These are my favorite, easy to find topical pain relievers:
-Therapeutic grade essential oil: specifically peppermint, wintergreen, and pain relieving blends such as Deep Relief from Young Living or Deep Blue from DoTerra. Apply to the area as needed.
-Arnica: you can find topical arnica in most health food stores with a vitamin section. When in doubt, try the internet. (You can also find oral arnica—usually in the homeopathic section and this works well too)
-Ice and Heat: If you are three days into your care plan (or less) then ice only. You always want to wrap a bag of ice in a towel because you can actually give yourself frostbite if it’s applied directly to the skin. I’m also a big fan of frozen peas because they don’t get quite as cold as ice and they conform nicely to the shape of whatever body part you apply it to. You want to ice every two hours for no more than 10 minutes. After the first three days of icing, you can now alternate ice and heat to get the nerves firing more and pump the circulation. Hot water bottles are great, electric heating pads are ok, and “feed corn” bags that can be microwaved also work well and provide moist heat. Alternate using ice OR heat, every two hours, no more than 10 minutes.
-Tiger Balm: An old favorite! If you don’t have essential oils, this also works great and you can find it in most stores that have an attached pharmacy (CVS, RiteAid, etc.). There’s three kinds—the red kind you just rub it on and leave it alone. The white kind requires you to rub it on and then put a heat on it (like a hot rag). And the third kind is a patch, and is the least messy but only covers a small area.
-Biofreeze: This is a modern menthol based product that has a much lighter scent than the old school Ben Gay or Icy Hot. It also has a soothing cold feel. Again, it’s easy to find on the internet or Amazon. However, Ben Gay and Icy Hot are even easier to find at local pharmacies if you can’t wait for it to arrive and you don’t mind the scent.
REST: If rest is possible, get some! Give yourself permission to take a break. Your body is having a crisis and resting allows your body to heal faster. If you’ve got kids to take care of, ask for help from your spouse, partner, friends, neighbors, parents, etc.. We have two kids and we know how it goes! You’ve got to take care of yourself too. I also don’t recommend exercising when your body is under this kind of stress. Many folks are anxious to return to their favorite sport, but take it easy. If you can find something that’s low impact like walking, or swimming (not like Michael Phelps swimming—but maybe a tamer version) and those things feel good, then that works. It’s great for circulation and an emotional boost.
TENS UNIT: A tens unit is a small electrical device that produces a current that provides pain relief. You put the electrode pads on the area of pain and turn it on. It only works while it’s on, but it is small, easy to take with you, and highly effective if the above palliative measures aren’t working well enough for you to get on with your necessary activities of daily living. This is easy to find online, and fairly inexpensive. Amazon.com is a great place to search through what’s available. It comes with full instructions and won't be confusing.
CBD OIL: Now this is a hot topic and still controversial. However, the controversy is not associated necessarily with whether or not it works, but rather the legality, since marijuana is still a controlled substance. Many people have heard of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant, but the lesser known ingredient--CDB (cannabidiol) which does not carry the same psychoactive effects, has been shown to provide excellent pain relief. If you are a person who prefers to avoid pharmaceutical drugs, this is a great alternative. Do some more research, including what the laws in your state say regarding its sale, and make sure you find a legitimate producer of the oil so that the quality and potency are excellent.
NSAIDS: I am not a fan of NSAIDS because they are hard on your body, especially your intestinal tract, liver, and kidneys. However, I am also not a fan of people suffering so much that they cannot function. There are times when taking a painkiller is a merciful choice for yourself. NSAIDS should be viewed as a temporary break from pain, but not an opportunity to overdo it because your pain has been numbed. So use with caution and compassion.
All of these solutions provide temporary pain relief while your body begins the process of healing itself from the inside out through chiropractic care to correct and restore normal nervous system function. Be patient. Take it one day at a time. If you are reading this and you are not under chiropractic care, but you would like to be, click on/copy the link below to schedule your free consultation: