One in five Australians aged 45 and over are living with chronic pain. It’s a common and complex condition that comes in a variety of forms. Pain can be mild to severe but is typically ongoing and lasts beyond normal healing times (3 to 6 months).
Chronic pain can be difficult to live with. While there are medications available, many sufferers don’t want to use them on a regular, long-term basis due to side effects or concerns about dependency. Fortunately, there are a few natural remedies that may help you better manage the pain and make it easier to carry out your regular activities.
While doing a lot of moving and exercise is unappealing when in pain, there’s a lot of evidence that doing so improves most chronic pain conditions. When we exercise, the body produces endorphins, which relieves pain and increases our pain threshold. If you feel you are in too much pain to exercise, start slow. Do a little burst of walking each day and then build up to regular aerobic exercise.
Omega-3 or fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation plays a large role in pain management. Evidence shows omega-3s lessen the intensity of joint pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis and neck and back pain. In one study, subjects with chronic pain who took 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams of fish oil supplements daily were able to reduce or eliminate their use of NSAIDs in less than three months.
Turmeric is a root commonly used as a spice in Asian and Indian cooking. Studies indicate that curcuma, the active ingredient in turmeric, has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Taking supplements containing curcuma extract or incorporating turmeric into your diet can reduce inflammation. Try adding it to curries, smoothies or juices.
Present in chili, capsaicin is also commonly used for natural pain relief and comes in a variety of topical ointments. Capsaicin causes a mild burning or tingling sensation when applied topically. A skin cream with 0.025%-0.075% capsaicin may soothe local pain. It’s not clear why it relieves pain, but some researchers think it reduces the skin’s sensitivity to pain by disrupting the nociceptor fibers, which are responsible for carrying pain signals to the brain.
Some Essential Oils
Research indicates some of the following essential oils may be helpful in relieving chronic pain:
- Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and pain-relieving effects due to active compounds in peppermint oil including carvacrol, menthol and limonene. Some people use peppermint essential oil as a topical treatment for aches and arthritis.
- Rosemary oil may help treat headaches, muscle and bone pain and seizures as well as reducing inflammation when applied to the affected area.
- Eucalyptus oil may also help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in the body when applied topically.
Always ensure you dilute these essential oils in a carrier oil (e.g. coconut, grapeseed or olive oil) before you apply it topically. Avoid applying essential oils to broken skin.
Hot or Cold Compress
When it comes to natural pain relief, sometimes the basics work best. The temperature change from hot to cold and back again triggers anti-inflammatory heat-shock and cold-shock proteins, while the compression decreases blood flow to injured and painful areas, keeping inflammation and swelling down.
Looking for More Health Advice?
At Releaf Clinics, our doctors can provide tailored health advice to help you manage chronic pain and improve your overall physical and mental health. As a dedicated clinic and dispensary group, we can simplify the consultation process and make it easier for you to access the medicine you need.
Our telehealth consults allow you to access services with Releaf Clinics’ doctors via phone and video chat. Contact us today to chat about how we can help improve your health.