One of the things a lot of people don’t realize about chronic pain is that we don’t just take medication for it. If you’re new to chronic pain and are looking for tools to help you depending on your issue or if you’re looking for ways to help someone you love who has chronic pain, I hope these can help you.
(Please note, though, that a lot of people with chronic pain don’t want suggestions from other people on how they should be managing their pain. If you’re a caregiver of someone, that’s one thing. Otherwise, if they haven’t asked for help managing their pain, do not offer suggestions.)
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Tools for Pain Management That Aren’t Medication
Heating Pads – These are so helpful if you have muscle pain. They work wonders for my fibromyalgia and endometriosis pain! Honestly, I feel “high” more from my heating pad working on my muscles than I do from my medication. It feels so good. This Sunbeam heating pad has 6 heat settings ($40) and a 4 star rating and this SoftHeat pad has 4 heat settings ($17) and a 3.5 star rating.
Ice Packs – If you have joint pain, ice packs are the way to go. They’re great for inflammation, which is usually the issue with joint pain. When you ice something, you should keep it on the joint for 20ish minutes and then remove it for another 20ish, according to my doctors. I really love the TheraPearl ice packs, especially since they can be used for heat or cold, although I generally use them for ice. You can get them in a variety of sizes depending on what area you need the most help with, and they range from $12-$16.
KT Tape – This is another tool if you have joint pain. KT tape has allowed me to use my right hand, supported my shoulder, and helped my knees move in the proper way without my knee caps floating. I suggest using KT Tape Pro, and the KT tape website has different instruction videos and PDFs to help you use it correctly. This is the sort of thing where you need to do it preemptively. It might help a little if a certain joint is already hurting, but it helps best by reducing the pain before it gets bad.
T.E.N.S. Unit – This is a unit that uses electric current to stimulate the nerves and help pain. I was prescribed one in high school, and it did help. That was before my arthritis was pretty much everywhere, and since then I’ve used it and it has helped some joints but hasn’t helped others. Getting a portable unit does require going through a doctor in order for your insurance to pay for it, but Icy Hot has come out with a line that uses TENS! If you have back, shoulder, knee, or hip pain, check that out.
Yoga – I love yoga. It helps me manage my fibromyalgia a lot, and also helps strengthen my muscles so they are good to support my joints. If you want to get into yoga but aren’t sure how and don’t want to spent the money on a beginner class, a lot of yoga studios will have small drop-in fees for classes. Alternatively, you can try DoYouYoga’s 30 Days of Yoga YouTube videos, which I love. If you are ready to spend the money on some yoga gear, I’d start with a yoga mat from Target (and yoga clothes from Target, which is a bit cheaper than elsewhere). This mat is $15, as are these pants.
Massage – Depending on what your chronic pain problem is, massage can really help you. When you go, you should be very clear with the masseuse what is going on so they know ahead of time. You don’t want to end up in more pain because the masseuse didn’t know not to dig too deep in a certain area. There are also masseuses who provide massages for chronic pain, so you should also look into that.
Warm Bath – These are helpful in a couple of different ways. One, the warm water will help your muscles. Two, if you add things to the bath, you can also help your other sources of pain. Epsom salts help inflammation and pain, and if you use this Dr Teal’s epsom salt with lavender, you can also get relaxed and be ready for sleep (which chronic pain and illness folks need more than most). I also loved Village Naturals’s bath soak, which is especially to help with pain.
What non-medication tools do you use to manage your chronic pain?
Like this post? Check out:
Why the Traditional Pain Scale Needs To Go, Preparing for Chronic Pain Medical Appointments + Free Printables To Help, Chronic Medical Conditions and Family Discussions over the Holidays, all posts about chronic pain