pain level conceptual meter indicate maximumIt has been 15 years since I began a journey of living each day with chronic pain.  It hasn’t been easy but I do not take pain pills. I am finally at a point where I am comfortable with the daily struggle.  I have found some helpful things that doctors and therapist will not tell you about.  Coping is hard but to live a full life coping is essential. Peace of mind, contentment and a willingness to change your mindset can do wonders. There are also some useful treatments you can do yourself when the pain is intense.

Number one on my list of tips would have to be pity parties.  You are allowed to have them but set a timer for one hour.  At the end of the hour, fix yourself up.  Put on makeup, perfume, or whatever makes you look your best. If you struggle with this, at least brush your hair, brush your teeth and wash your face.  When you feel clean and refreshed you just feel better.

Number two is meditation.  Meditate with a montra, music, or prayer.  Breathe deeep breaths and realize how good it is to be alive. When your mind is calm your pain will decrease.  Meditation is very difficult when you are in pain but it is surprisingly effective. As pain increases, agitation and worry increases. As agitation and worry increases, pain increases. This creates a cycle of increasing pain.  Calming the mind, calms the pain.

Number three is spiritual awareness. This is the ability to let go of your responsibility to fix it. Sometimes things in our life are not what we planned.  An awareness of our spiritual beliefs and a feeling that we cannot control everything in life can ease our soul.  When pain is chronic it is easy to get bitter and concentrate only on the negative.  Look outside yourself. There is always someone in more pain, guaranteed. I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior and that belief gives me peace.

Number four on the list is smiling.  Try to smile whenever you look in the mirror.  Smile at everyone you meet.  It is extremely hard not to feel good when you are smiling.  A positive, happy outlook will make anything you are going through easier.  Even when my hair was falling out and I had a red rash all over my face, I got in a habit of smiling when I look in the mirror. I must admit I did look funny.

Those are the most important things on my list. They are also the four hardest.  Now I will give you simple things that help.

Heat always helps arthritic pain (swelling needs cold).  A heating pad is my best friend. I have wrapped my hand and my feet with one, sat on one, leaned on one and many other positions of comfort or comedy.  Of course, a hot tub is great if you don’t have high blood pressure. For arthritic hands or feet, a paraffin dip is fantastic.  If you hands get cold, sleep in gloves. My favorite is a warm bath.

Vicks Vapor Rub, or a generic version, is the most versatile of aids.  There are expensive over the counter medications with the same ingredient, menthol.  Rub this wherever you have pain.  It smells horrible but it works great!  If the smell is a problem there are many other products that work but they do cost more. Look for the highest percentage of menthol. If your hands hurt rub them with Vicks and put gloves on; for your feet rub and put on socks.

Stretching and exercise is very important.  My condition flares up after exercise so I quit exercising and my pain increased.  It is very important to keep your muscles and soft tissue strong and flexible.  I do yoga to keep my range of motion, balance and flexibility.  I often combine yoga and meditation. I go to physical therapy once a week to keep my muscles from atrophying. I have a treadmill and I try to walk everyday.

The best thing you can buy for pain is an e-stim, electrical stimulation, machine.  This is a battery operated version of the machines in use by physical therapist and chiropractors.  Most drug stores have these and they are available on Amazon for under $30.  If you decide to purchase one, buy one with leads and sticky pads.  This allows you to better target your painful areas.  Versions are available for various areas that are butterfly shaped with the pads and control in one device.  I have tried them and found they are great for small areas but require someone else to start them if they are for your back. And they are more expensive.

I truly hope my tips help you. Once you have your mind calm and your body exercised, take a warm hot bath with bath salts. Dry off well. Spray your bed with lavender scent. Hook the e-stim up, cover it with the hot pad and relax with deep breaths. You are alive! You are truly wonderfully made.