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September Is Pain Awareness Month!

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive

characters are seared with scars.”

 Kahlil Gibran


Getty Images



What Is Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant feeling in the body and is a sign that something is wrong. It can manifest as throbbing, tingling, burning, stabbing, pinching and can be described in many other ways. The degrees of pain can fluctuate and in some cases may cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness and dizziness.


Pain can also have emotional repercussions such as depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Pain can be acute and come on rapidly or it can be chronic and more long term.


In all cases, pain is your body letting you know that it has been injured in some way. Whether it’s a broken arm or flawed nervous system, when pain arises, listen to your body and if needed, see your doctor.


Chronic Pain:

Almost 100 million Americans experience some type of chronic pain. This number is more than people who suffer from diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

People who suffer from chronic pain can have lifelong challenges. This is not to say that a long, and fulfilling life is unattainable but people with chronic pain require understanding and support from family and friends. 


It’s Not My Imagination:

The confusion is often that the person looks perfectly healthy and it doesn’t appear that anything is wrong, at least from a visual perspective. Family and friends may begin to doubt that your pain is real or that it may be a by-product from something else, like a stressful job or anxiety. The expression “It’s all in your head” comes to mind. Although this may be a plausible thought for non-sufferers, I assure you, your loved one’s pain is real. 


Working Through It:

Chronic pain sufferers often won’t talk about what they are feeling all the time. This does not mean they are rid of their pain, unfortunately. It’s exhausting to be in pain, let alone, constantly be talking about it so other people know how you’re feeling; and remember, just because your friend was feeling good one day and joined you for a hike, doesn't mean the next time they will feel up to it, even if they would really like to go. Pain can be on a different schedule and each day it can present itself in a unique form. 


The best thing you can do is be patient and validate your loved one’s feelings. Chronic pain is frustrating….to everyone involved. Your loved one can feel isolated and even depressed. Perhaps ask them to explain their experiences, not just physical ones but emotional experiences too. This can help you be more supportive and understanding of what they need from you as a friend and the challenges they face everyday. It will also be a helpful foundation to have so next time you are together, you both don’t have to talk about the pain and worry about it becoming the main focus of your relationship. Who would want that? Now, you are able to pursue other topics of interest and not focus on the pain, now that you understand it exists and you can help if needed.


Encourage Treatment:

A lot of people who suffer from chronic pain (and even those who don’t) may associate pain management with drugs. Although some medications may help alleviate symptoms of pain, there are several non-opioid options as a course for treatment. They range from easy steps you can manage at home to more intricate services your doctor can walk you through depending on your level of pain. 


Some Options Are:

Ice Packs: Cold can reduce pain and decrease inflammation.


Heat: Heat can help your muscles to relax.


Exercise: I say this is almost every post so figive me if I sound like a broken record BUT try for 30 minutes of your preferred exercise 5 days a week. Decreasing the amount of weight you carry on your body can help reduce inflammation and joint tension which may help reduce overall pain symptoms. 


Sleep: I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get a good night's sleep. You should definitely read my post from August about this topic exactly since I go into greater detail there. Sleep allows your body and mind to regenerate itself. A restful sleep (although not always easy to accomplish) helps reduce pain and really sets you up for a successful day.


Topical Pain Reliever & OTC Medication: Creams and ointments can be applied to the skin for pain relief in addition to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to relieve pain. 


Acupuncture. This is one of my personal favorite treatments regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture involves inserting extremely fine needles into the skin at specific points/channels on the body. This action may relieve pain by releasing endorphins, and can influence mood by releasing serotonin in the brain. The thought behind acupuncture is that it unblocks points in the body that are related to your life force or “chi”, providing you with hormone balance and renewed energy.


Therapeutic massage. This type of therapy may relieve pain by relaxing painful muscles, tendons, and joints; relieving stress and anxiety; and possibly impeding pain messages to and from the brain.


Chiropractic. These practitioners correct the body's alignment to relieve pain and improve overall body function.


Yoga and tai chi. These mind-body and exercise practices incorporate breath control, meditation, and movements to stretch and strengthen muscles. People suffering from conditions related with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, back pain and arthritis may find relief from incorporating these movements. 


Meditation: This form of practice can provide you with a different relationship to stress and anxiety, which in turn, can lower internal inflammation, heart rate and make you more in tune with the present moment and in your body instead of stuck in your thoughts. 


Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). PT can help rebuild your ability to move and walk. OT can help enhance your ability to perform daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and eating.


Cold laser therapy. This treatment is FDA-approved to treat pain conditions and may reduce inflammation and stimulate tissue repair via a cold laser that emits pure light into the injured area.


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This technique employs a very mild electrical current to block pain signals going from the body to the brain.


Some Resources For You To Explore:


American Chronic Pain Association



National Pain Foundation

http://uspainfoundation.org


American Pain Society

https://painmed.org/aapm-news/american-pain-society


To mirror almost all my sentiments from prior posts, whatever you are dealing with, you do not have to deal with it alone…..and remember….Health starts from the inside out!


To discuss more detailed information regarding the topics within this blog, or to inquire about customized nutrition plans, please reach out to Cathleen Winter at

wellnesswithin.cw@gmail.com


A Little About Me:

My name is Mary DeBlasio, and I live in Silver Spring, MD. I am currently a student studying Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the District of Columbia. I am set to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in May of 2021. I am very interested in mindful eating, and foods that correlate with the seasons. My goal after graduation is to pursue a dietetic internship with a focus on clinical dietetics. I am interested in transplant, renal and gastrointestinal issues. All the information presented within this blog is backed by the credible sources cited below.


Sources:

Butanis, B. (2017, April 03). September is Pain Awareness Month: Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/september_pain_awareness_month.htm


How can I support a family member who suffers from chronic pain? (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.bonejoint.net/blog/how-can-i-support-a-family-member-who-suffers-from-chronic-pain/


Publishing, H. (n.d.). Non-opioid options for managing chronic pain. Retrieved August 30, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/non-opioid-options-for-managing-chronic-pain















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