Natural Pain Relief

Ice is an excellent Natural Pain Reliever.  One of the most effective treatments for pain when there is inflammation is the application of a cold or ice pack .  I was resistant for years because I have a huge aversion to cold. You can usually find me dressed in three layers of clothing, a blanket and a hot pack most of the time, unless it is over 70 degrees.  However, I always go to bed with an blue gel ice pack on my neck.   I have found ice to be an absolute life saver for dealing with my chronic neck pain caused by herniated disks.

Ice is typically recommended by physicians for acute (severe and recent) and chronic injuries that result in inflammation. This is because cold constricts the blood vessels, which in turns reduces fluid accumulation in the soft tissue.  Our body’s response to injury is protective in nature and is intended to aid the injured tissue.  However, the swelling can stimulate the nerves and cause pain.  Cold is also effective for blocking the body’s nerve pathways, allowing us to experience the sensation of cold instead of pain.

Children benefit from the application of a cold pack as a natural pain reliever as well.  Many of childhoods bumps and bruises can be soothed with a child sized cold pack pulled from the freezer.

There are certain guidelines that must be adhered to in order to prevent damage to the skin or underlying tissue:

1.  Always wrap the cold pack, ice, or a package of frozen vegetables (frozen peas are great) in a cloth or paper towel to prevent injury to the skin.

2.  It is recommended to leave the pack in place for 10 minutes at a time. Allow the treated area to return to body temperature in between applications.

3.  Never leave a cold or ice pack in place for longer than 30 minutes. To do so can result in tissue and nerve damage.

Of course, it is important to consult with your physician before beginning ice therapy. There are certain conditions and circumstances in which ice/cold therapy may be contraindicated or may not be the most effective approach.

When searching for a natural pain reliever, consider the simple but effective application of an ice pack.

Massage Therapy is Effective for Neck Pain says National Institutes of Health Study

Prominent health organizations are conducting on-going studies regarding the effects of massage therapy and main-stream media are reporting about its far-reaching benefits.

The National Institutes of Health, a division of the US Department of Health & Human Services, is one organization that is studying the tangible health benefits of massage therapy. In a recent controlled study, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health-a division of NIH, massage therapy treatments were tested on study participants suffering from chronic neck pain. It was found that a significant and measurable improvement was seen in participants who received 60 minute massage treatments, 2–3 times per week. The study was published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

A protocol of 2-3 times per week can be cost and time prohibitive for many people. If this is the case, it is recommended that a patient receive treatments 2-3 times per week for four weeks, after which they are given self-care information and follow up with a maintenance schedule that fits their financial and time constraints.

In Washington State, an “all medical providers” mandate requires insurance companies to offer massage therapy benefits for most of their members. This has helped many more people obtain therapeutic massage, than previously possible. In other states, insurance companies provide massage therapy benefits as a policy add-on or as a discount program.

Massage therapy has been shown to be effective for neck pain and many other physical and mental ailments.  It is important to consult with your physician prior to receiving massage therapy to discuss whether massage therapy is appropriate for your specific condition. In most cases, massage therapy can provide a safe alternative or complementary solution for many health issues when administered by a qualified massage therapist.

Link to Study

Reference

Sherman KJ, Cook AJ, Wellman RD, et al. Five-week outcomes from a dosing trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain. Annals of Family Medicine. 2014;12(2):112–120.