Suffering from pain (both chronic and acute) can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s quality of life. It’s noted on the Versus Arthritis website that 34% of the population in the UK suffers from chronic pain with approximately 5.5 million people saying it has a high impact on their daily activities. With so many people suffering, it is easy to see why many people turn to medication to help with pain relief, but, depending on the medication, this can cause an overreliance on the medication and in some instances can lead to addiction. For all conditions, understanding how to manage pain is crucial and there are several techniques and treatments that can be done that don’t involve pain killers. At Neo G we are keen to keep people as active as possible at any stage of their treatment without relying on pain killers. Below are our top recommendations for external pain relief.
A common mistake people make is thinking that doing exercise will make the pain worse. Whilst in the short term there may be some discomfort, this will likely be in the muscles as you are getting stronger and is nothing to be concerned with. One of the main benefits of exercise is that it helps to inhibit pain signals from reaching the brain, as well as reducing stress and elevating your mood. With any new exercises that you are doing we would always advise speaking to a medical professional directly just in case there are some things you should be avoiding, but on the whole gentle exercise such as walking, swimming or general outdoor tasks such as gardening can be extremely beneficial for chronic pain sufferers.
Swimming is a great exercise, especially if you are in a lot of pain when walking, as the pool water will be more buoyant than being on land therefore putting less stress on the joints. Couple this with water providing a heavier resistance as you do activity than doing the same task on land and your muscles need to work harder. For a starting activity you could just walk lengths of the pool rather than swimming before progressing on to other exercises in the pool or aquafit classes.
Supports and Braces
At Neo G, we don’t believe people should be wholly reliant on a support but rather it should be used in conjunction with a rehabilitation or treatment program to offer the relief and support when needed. When looking for a support to help with the issues of pain, things to consider are: do you need to limit any movements and what level of support is required? For example, for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome one of the main actions that can cause pain is flexing at the wrist joint, so when symptoms are worse then a support that includes a splint that covers the palm and wrist will have the desired effect of limiting the movement.
Neo G supports can broadly be split into our VCS range of wrap around supports and our knitted pull on supports. Our VCS range is made from heat therapeutic neoprene which is designed to use the natural body heat of the user to gently warm the area in contact for the support. This is particularly beneficial for sufferers of arthritis, as the gentle heat can help with the discomfort in the muscles and joints. The knitted range of supports are more slimline than the VCS range and with these being sized will generally offer a better fit to the area they are in contact with, which can help with proprioception benefits that users could suffer with if pain has been prolonged. Both types of support offer compression to help to reduce any swelling issues that can exacerbate pain.
Heat can help with pain in two ways, firstly by opening the blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the area in contact with the heating device. This then helps to assist with healing of the joints as well as helping to inhibit the pain receptors. Secondly people with chronic pain can have pain due to stiff and aching joints so the heat can help to relax these muscles and joints to a point that allows the user to move more freely with less pain. With any heating treatment it is important to monitor the area it is in contact with and also to only heat for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time to avoid damage to the skin.
As mentioned, the Neo G VCS supports will gently heat the area in contact but these are also compatible with our 3D hot and cold therapy disc and packs which have been specifically designed to be mould to different areas of the body and be used as both a heating device as well as a cooling device depending on the application process.
With pain being such a burden on individuals it can be extremely difficult to relax and the increased tension in both the muscles and joints can then further increase pain. A simple breathing technique that can be done to help to relax any tension is getting into a comfortable position closing your eyes and doing the following:
- Breath in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold the breath for 4 seconds
- Breath out through your mouth for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds
This can be repeated for a couple of minutes to start with and then built up over time if linger is required. The breathing technique helps to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and enter the body into a state of relaxation.
Our finial piece of advice would be to talk to someone. Pain can often not be visibly seen especially for chronic issues whereas acute pain is usually as a result of some trauma so you may have a cast or sling. As chronic pain can be less visible, then people around you may not be aware of the impact it is having on your daily life and by communicating this then there can be a better understanding. Likewise, if you are exercises then there are a number of classes available for people suffering with long term pain and being around individuals with similar issues can be extremely beneficially as they are likely to be going through or have gone through the same issues as you are.
We hope you have found this helpful and we would love to hear of other techniques or treatments that you have found beneficial. As with all advice this may not be suitable for each individual so if there is any doubt we would always recommend speaking to a medical professional in charge of your care first.