In recognition of National Pain Awareness Month this September, at-home massager manufacturer Wahl interviewed board-certified anesthesiologist and pain specialist Dr. Anita Gupta, who provided tips for easing physical pain. Here are Dr. Gupta's five strategies for addressing pain; pass them on to your clients—and use them yourself—for a holistic pain management approach.
1. Incorporate Non-Medication Options
There are several ways to support a pain management program, including:
- Yoga. After 12 weeks of yoga, women with back pain reported less pain. The women who didn't do yoga reported their back pain was worse after 12 weeks.
- Music. A study of 156 women – half of whom listened to music during labor, and half who didn't – found that the music group reported less pain and anxiety during labor and needed less pain relief after giving birth.
- Massage. Massage therapy has been proven to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, both of which help promote feelings of pleasure and well-being. Even handheld massagers for at-home use can be helpful.
- Topicals. Ice packs and other topical remedies can also be used as alternatives to help avoid over-use of medicines like ibuprofen or aspirin.
2. Support Mental Health
Remember that pain impacts mental health, too, causing stress and anxiety, which in turn can increase the body's sensitivity to pain. Help clients work on their well-being with these tips, and better mental wellness may ease their some of their pain symptoms
- Maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude can help a person cope with long-term or chronic pain, and staying optimistic can often be the key to a faster recovery.
- Find support. Support groups will help your clients realize that they are not alone. They're also ideal spaces for finding strength and encouragement, and even other tips for managing pain symptoms from people who've been through it.
- Avoid the cycle of pain. Distraction can be effective for addressing pain, on the basis that the less one focuses on the pain, the better one feels.
3. Prevent Pain at Work
Pain can cause people a loss in productivity and be disruptive for other employees. Dr. Gupta recommends these pain-relieving techniques while at work:
- Work with equipment that fits you properly and is easy to operate.
- Take breaks as needed and pay attention to your body for problems that could cause pain.
- Choose the proper footwear, posture belts, knee pads, back braces, etc. Be sure they fit correctly.
- Get enough sleep and rest every night, and maintain a regular routine.
- Manage stress by listening to music, meditating or deep breathing at work.
- Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Avoid unhealthy sugary snacks at work or high amounts of caffeine.
- Stay socially connected while at work; positively engage and communicate with colleagues.
4. Get Moving
Exercise can have a powerful impact on how much pain someone feels. It activates the body's natural opioids, on two levels: physically engaging and releasing hormones to reduce inflammation and improve mood; and improved cardiovascular function, better sleep and increased bone density. Starting a pattern of exercise can make a big difference; Dr. Gupta advises 30 minutes of daily physical activity to maximize benefits. In addition, a routine that includes exercise, physical therapy and even cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for dealing with pain.