How do you manage pain at home?
Pain. We all have it in one form or another at some point in our lives. Learning to manage pain can be tough and there are many home remedies out there and finding the right treatment is important to getting your pain under control.
So what do you do to treat your pain at home?
Well in large part that may depend on the kind of pain you’re experiencing.
In the hospital or the doctor’s office a nurse may ask you to rate your pain on a scale of one to ten; one being no pain at all and ten being the worst pain you can imagine. Determining the severity of your pain is important when deciding on what to do about your pain.
If the pain is in your chest or abdomen that may be a sign that something is seriously wrong, especially if fever, chills, weakness, nausea or bleeding accompany the pain.
Pain in the head is most often a tension or migraine headache but if it comes on suddenly, is associated with vision changes, severe nausea, numbness, weakness or difficulty speaking it could be a sign that something more serious is happening.
If your pain is an 8, 9 or 10 on the pain scale, home remedies and over the counter medications may not be enough to relieve your pain, and you should seek medical attention.
Click to learn more from Center for Advancing Health about deciding when is the right time you should seek care for your pain.
Once you have determined that your pain is not a medical emergency, the next question is, what should I do to make it go away?
Keep reading to learn about 7 home remedies for pain relief.
Home remedy #1. Distraction.
The first thing you should do is nothing and don’t fret about your pain.
Minor pains, a 1, 2, or 3, can often be forgotten by doing something you enjoy. Go for a walk, read a book, watch a TV show.
Home remedy #2. Stretching and deep breathing.
Stretching and deep breathing are also great ways to find pain relief. They work by releasing natural painkillers called endorphins from the central nervous system. These little chemicals bind to opioid receptors, the same receptors that morphine works on.
In addition to causing momentary pain relief these chemicals can produce a state of euphoria often described as a “runner’s high.” Regularly stretching and deep breathing through activities such as yoga or Tai chi can also prevent and control pain associated with stiff joints. It may also improve your memory and help with anxiety and depression.
Home remedy #3: Heating pad.
Heat is used to warm up your body’s muscles and joints providing a relaxing effect. This can be beneficial for stiff joints and muscle spasms. Heat causes vasodilation of the arteries and capillaries, which increases blood flow to the area and promotes healing. Heat helps to relieve stiffness after the initial inflammation resolves.
Home remedy #4: Ice pack
Initially after injury apply ice instead of heat. Ice helps to ease the symptoms associated with inflammation, which can include redness, swelling and tenderness.
Ice acts as a numbing agent when you are experiencing chronic inflammatory arthritis flare-ups such as gout. Throbbing pain is often due to increased blood flow, and when ice is applied it constricts the blood vessels decreasing this type of pain.
Home remedy #5: Compression and elevation
With tissue injury there is often swelling and pain involved. Strategies to manage swelling include compressing the tissue by using an ace bandage wrap. It is important to elevate the limb to help bring blood and fluid back to the heart instead of pooling in the limb.
In the case of a swollen ankle to have the full effects of elevation you would need to position the foot above the level of the heart. Sitting on the couch and propping your foot on the coffee table does help a little, but a better position would be to lay on your back and prop your foot up with a cushion or pillows to raise it above the level of your heart to utilize the full effects of gravity.
Home remedy #6: Topical creams and ointments
Some people find relief using topical ointments or creams such as Capsaicin, menthol and other herbal analgesics. These ointments and creams act on the local pain receptors to help reduce the pain response.
When taking over the counter herbs or supplements it is important to discuss them with your physician, because they can potentially interact with other medication they prescribe.
Home remedy #7: Over the counter medication
For moderate pain, a 4,5,6, or 7 on the pain scale, over the counter medications may be needed to help provide some relief.
There are two major classes of over the counter pain medications, NSAIDs and Acetaminophen.
NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These medications work by inhibiting inflammatory agents called prostaglandins. The body, in response to tissue injury, secretes prostaglandins in order to signal the immune system to respond to the site of injury causing pain, fever, swelling and redness to occur.
NSAIDs reduce pain with the very first dose, but as they are taken for several doses or days in succession, they also start to reduce inflammation at the site of injury.
Not all prostaglandins are bad; some also help form a protective layer in the stomach, while others increase blood flow to the kidneys and the heart.
Unfortunately NSAIDs can’t tell the difference and therefore should be avoided in people with a history of stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, stroke, and kidney problems. NSAIDs also can increase your risk of bleeding because they do inhibit platelets.
Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is a pain reliever and fever reducer. How it works is not entirely understood. It may work similarly to NSAIDs but it does not have nearly the same amount of side effects and is safe in people who have heart and gastrointestinal disease. Acetaminophen is eliminated from the body by the liver and large doses can momentarily shock the liver and can lead to liver failure and death.
The maximum daily dose for people without liver problems is 4 grams per day, or about 8 extra strength Tylenol. Many different medications and sleep aids contain acetaminophen and the maximum daily dose can quickly be reached if you’re not careful. With any medication, it is important that you follow the directions and warnings on the label explicitly.
The 7 home remedies for pain relief:
- Stretching and deep breathing
- Heating pad
- Ice pack
- Compression and elevation
- Topical creams and ointments
- Over the counter medication
Pain is complicated. Most mild to moderate pain can be relieved at home with some effort and a little bit of patience. But remember, for any pain that just doesn’t seem right or isn’t getting better, it is important to get it evaluated by a medical professional.