After an accident you have a lot to deal with. Between the claims process and your home life, you have to fit in time for your body t o heal. Much of this healing will take place at your chiropractor, physical therapist, and doctor's offices. But, for a while, you may still exp erience some pain or discomfort between appointments.
Below, we've compiled 15 easy solutions to help you control your pain while you heal.
1. Apply Heat
Heat expands blood vessels, increasing blood flow. Therefore, when you apply heat, you relax aching muscles, tendons, and ligamen ts. In addition to alleviating pain, heat therapy improves range of motion and flexibility while reducing involuntary muscle spasms.
ts. In addition to alleviating pain, heat therapy improves range of motion and flexibility while reducing involuntary muscle spasms.
Use heat for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. If the area is swollen, use cold therapy first and then apply heat.
2. Apply Ice
Cold constricts blood vessels. This reduces pain, swelling, and inflammation. As with heat therapy, you should only apply cold packs or ice for 20 minutes at a time. For persistent pain, use cold therapy followed by heat therapy.
3. Change Your Diet
Experts link certain chemicals in common foods to decreased pain. These foods include:
- Cherries-the anthocyanins that give cherries their red color also inhibit pain enzymes and decrease inflammation.
- Red grapes-studies show that resveratrol, found in red grapes and blueberries, blocks the enzyme responsible for tissu e degeneration.
4. Distract Your Mind
Myriad studies link mental relaxation with lessened pain. To calm your mind, try these proven techniques:
- Count-one study conducted by Yokohama University Medical Center in Kanagawa, Japan shows that patients who cou nt backward from 100 felt less detectable pain during exposure to pain stimulus.
- Use Guided imagery-practitioners can administer guided imagery therapy or you can conduct it yourself via audiotape. A study of 28 women with chronic pain showed guided imagery eased pain by 18% and increased mobility by 13%.
5. Eat Sweet Foods
Sweets aren't great for your weight, but in small doses, sweets decrease the sensation of pain. Even baking cookies or a cake can all eviate pain-sweet-smelling, pleasant smells inhibit pain perception.
6. Get a Massage
Massage improves blood flow and releases pleasure chemicals. Even a short massage can assuage chronic pain.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep gives your body the opportunity to heal. Intense or chronic pain may affect your sleep habits. If you have trouble sleeping, yo ur pain will take longer to subside. Try using relaxation techniques before bed, sleeping with a therapeutic pillow, or taking a mild sleep a id.
8. Get Some Sun
In a study of 221 men and women performed by Boston University, people who get the recommended dose of vitamin D experienc e less pain. To get the benefits of sunlight, spend 10 to 15 minutes outside or in the sun each day.
There are many different types of meditation. Adopting a comfortable meditation routine has the same effect as simple distraction-it allows you to focus on things other than your physical pain, which can reduce pain's effects.
10. Stay Positive
Believe it or not, smiling and laughter provide physical benefits. Laughter decreases stress, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, an d releases pleasure chemicals in the body. Even when you don't feel like laughing, going out of your way to smile and think positively ca n decrease your perception of pain.
n decrease your perception of pain.
Muscle tension exacerbates existing pain. When you suffer from a serious injury or chronic pain, your muscles contract to protect inj ured bones, tendons, and ligaments. This decreases range of motion and can prevent or slow the healing process. Mild stretching loosen s the soft tissues.
Consult with your chiropractor or physical therapist for a series of stretches within your current capabilities.
12. Trigger Endorphins
Endorphins are natural chemicals which intercept pain signals before they reach the brain, just like an over-the-counter pain medicat ion does. In addition to decreasing pain, endorphins decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, giving you the tools to continue healing. T rigger endorphins through exercise, massage, or laughter.
13. Use Herb Supplements
Vitamins and minerals found in herbs can change the perception and occurrence of pain. Some common supplements include:
- Capsaicin-found in hot chile peppers, capsaicin desensitizes the nerve receptors which cause pain responses.
- Fish oil-healthy oils reduce inflammation and can decrease the severity of pain.
- Wintergreen-wintergreen essential oils naturally contains methyl salicylate, the pain reliever used in aspirin.
Keep in mind, not all herbs have the same effect for all people. And the studied link between many herb supplements and pain relief is inconclusive.
14. Use Topical Creams
Over-the-counter creams go beyond Icy Hot. Medicated creams can provide short-term relieve for sore muscles. Common ointments include arnica, InflaThera, and voltaren gel. Consult with your medical care providers when choosing a topical treatment.
15. Visit with Friends
Spending time with people you care about is a good way to distract yourself from your pain and stay positive. Also, consider joining a support group for people with injuries like yours. Studies show individuals in regular contact with other sufferers perceive their pain as more manageable.
Before you try a new medication or dietary supplement, consult your doctor and chiropractor. This ensures you won't begin a routin e that counteracts your treatment.
So, when you experience aches and pains between adjustments, try these simple solutions.