After a serious injury, pain management becomes a tricky topic. You can’t simply ignore the pain, because it affects nearly every aspect of your life—walking, working, daily chores, and even sleep. But you also want to avoid both the economic and physical costs of painkilling drugs.
Scientists and medical professionals worry about America’s pain problem, and they are looking for ways to change Americans’ cultural attitudes toward pain. Sometimes the best answer for your long-term health is to find other ways to manage your pain before turning to the pill.
Read below for five science-vetted tips on how to manage pain naturally after an injury.
Pain involves the mind more than the body. After an injury, an athlete can often finish a game before the pain sets in, and a previous injury will sometimes cause debilitating pain well after the injury has healed. Meditation helps you settle your mind, which might help the pain receptors in your brain to calm down as well.
And you don’t need to be a zen master to see results either. Studies have shown that even those new to meditation can reap the benefits of pain management.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Some mental health therapists are trained in a form of talk therapy that addresses the powerful connection between body and mind. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, your therapist will help you understand the thought patterns and other behaviors that make your pain worse.
By talking through your pain issues, the therapist will help you recognize which thoughts and behaviors you need to change in order to experience less pain.
A good massage can lower stress hormone levels in your body, which will reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Sometimes massage can also increase your flexibility and range of motion, which might help you get more active (which also helps reduce pain).
- Lower Stress
New studies show that stress management might lead to pain management. When the body builds up too much cortisol, a stress-related hormone, the body becomes more vulnerable to pain.
So lighten up! Leave the cause of your injury up to a lawyer, and focus on stress-reduction. Avoid jarring or repetitive, annoying noises, which can raise cortisol levels. If you can’t escape the noise, try putting on some headphones and listening to something soothing instead.
- Focus Elsewhere
Distract yourself from your pain by finding activities that take your mind somewhere else. This might seem like trite advice, but research shows that distractions can significantly lower pain symptoms.
It’s better to find distractions that require active participation. For example, studies show that playing video games helps reduce pain more than watching a television show.
Hopefully, some of these tips can help you manage your pain. Sometimes, painkillers are the only viable option, but it’s good to seek out alternatives first. Remember to follow your physician’s advice, but feel free to discuss some of these pain relief options with your doctor.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about health, fitness, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing. If you have pain from an injury due to someone else’s neglect, like a car accident, Anita suggests talking to the experts at the Diederich Law Firm in Orlando.