What You Need To Know About Pain Relief Options Before Asking Your Doctor For A Prescription
PAIN: It’s a massive problem that affects 125 million Americans who are spending close to $300 billion on pills, pot, procedures and natural remedies to find relief. These numbers are fueling a national conversation about pain relief and how it should be addressed. Are doctors responsible for the painkiller epidemic or is it the patient’s fault?
Redcross says that pain medication can be an ineffective treatment and frequent use of over-the-counter painkillers can be a slippery slope to addiction. She says pain is your body’s way of alerting you to an underlying problem that needs to be resolved, not masked. Redcross also says there are diet and lifestyle changes as well as natural remedies that can help pain sufferers get relief from some of the three most common pain complaints, and reduce reliance on heavy sedative medication that have potential side effects:
1) Muscle Pain: Tension, stress, overuse and minor injuries are the most common causes of muscle pain. Muscle pain is usually localized, affecting just a few muscles or a small part of your body with some of the most common complaint areas being the neck, back and shoulders. Causes of muscle pain include injuries, poor posture, sitting or standing for too long without movement and repetitive movements or overuse of certain muscles. In addition to pain, many sufferers feel fatigue and have trouble sleeping. A JAMA study reported the diseases with the largest number of years lived with disability in 2010 were low back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders including neck pain. Changes that help relieve muscle pain:
- Diet Fixes: Eat more foods that can help ease muscle pain like Indian foods that have superpower spice turmeric. If magnesium is low in the body, it can cause muscle aches and pains so be sure to eat plenty of pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, black beans, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, cocoa powder, Swiss chard and spinach.
- Relief Remedies: A homeopathic medicine derived from Arnica montana (aka mountain daisy) can be taken orally or used topically as a gel or cream for relief of muscle pain and stiffness. The ingredient found in Arnicare can also relieve swelling and discoloration from bruising. Unlike menthol rubs, the cream and gel is odorless.
- Lifestyle Changes: Warm baths or showers can help relax muscles. Add Epsom salts to a hot bath for an added benefit.
2) Joint Pain: Damage to the joints from disease or injury can cause pain in the form of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, strains, sprains and other injuries. Joint pain can affect any part of your body but knee pain is the most common complaint. In one national study, one-third of all adults reported having joint pain within the past 30 days. Age and injuries increase your risk. Changes that help relieve joint pain:
- Diet Fixes: Limit foods that trigger joint pain to reduce inflammation including processed, fried and frozen foods; dairy products; sodas, sugars and refined carbohydrates; and salty foods.
- Relief Remedies: Since natural glucosamine levels drop as you age, supplementing with it helps keep the cartilage in joints healthy. Check your vitamin D levels to see if you need to supplement with more D. Research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D may have more joint pain.
- Lifestyle Changes: Weight loss is highly effective because every pound you lose equals 4 pounds less pressure on your knees. Some sufferers even see their symptoms disappear if they lose 10-20 pounds. Low-impact exercise also helps reduce pain and can contribute to weight loss.
3) Head Pain: Pain to the head can come in the form of migraines, tension-type and cluster headaches. Frequent headaches can affect relationships, employment and put you at risk of depression. Causes of headaches can be a result of fatigue, sleep deprivation, stress, side effects of medications, viral infections, common colds, head injury and dental or sinus issues. About half of all adults have a headache in a given year. Changes that help relieve head pain:
- Diet Fixes: Avoid foods that increase frequency and severity of headaches including dairy; chocolate; peanut butter; certain fruits, such as avocado, banana, and citrus; onions; meats with nitrates, such as bacon and hot dogs; and foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Relief Remedies: Feverfew, an herb derived from a bushy aromatic Eurasian plant of the daisy family, with feathery leaves and daisy-like flowers, is frequently used in herbal medicine to treat headaches. Lavender, peppermint and basil oils can work for migraine and tension headache pain.
- Lifestyle Changes: Massage in general can help, but especially reflexology (massaging reflex points on the hands and feet). Also research shows that a do-it-yourself scalp massage can effectively alleviate migraine pain.
ABOUT THE DOCTOR
Dr. Ken Redcross, MD, is founder of Redcross Concierge, a personalized medical practice designed to enhance the patient-doctor relationship while providing convenient access to a full spectrum of healthcare services and holistic and wellness counseling. As one of the first full-service concierge, personalized medical practices in the United States, Redcross’ patient portfolio includes executives, athletes and entertainers, as well as individuals from all walks and stages of life. His focus on developing the patient-doctor bond is a unique characteristic of his concierge services that allows for a more strategic and customized approach to each patient’s healthcare plan. Redcross earned his medical degree from Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, specializing in internal medicine. He has extensive on-camera experience with major national television shows including “The Doctors,” HLN’s “Nancy Grace,” “The Insider” and E! Entertainment Television.
DR. RICHARD FORD, JOINS US TO TALK ABOUT THE THREAT OF RABIES & HOW TO HELP PROTECT YOUR PETS
There’s a common misconception that rabid wildlife exists solely in rural parts of the country, far from the hustle and bustle of urban and suburban life. Unfortunately, the existence of rabid animals is likely closer to home than you may think. Joining us today is Dr. Richard Ford, Emeritus Professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, to talk about the threat of rabies and how to help protect your pets.
ABOUT Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS:
Dr. Ford is a past President of the North American Veterinary Conference and continues his role as a member of the Scientific Program Committee for that Conference. He is a co-author for both the AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines and the AAFP Feline Vaccine Guidelines.
Outside of veterinary medicine, Dr. Ford spent 28 years with the US Air Force as a Biomedical Scientist. Dr. Ford retired from the USAF Reserve as a Brigadier General, where his last assignment was in the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General at the Pentagon.