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Four tools for pain management

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    Some insurance carriers will even cover acupuncture.

As people of a certain demographic often say, growing old isn’t for sissies. Along with wisdom come aches and pains that were never present when we were younger.

By pain, I mean the kind of pain we might feel every day, whether it be muscular, connective tissue or the discomfort you feel from job stress, schedules, or even relationships.

Pain can also come from inflammation, which is considered a key driver of the body’s aging process. The older we get the more inflammation can be a factor.

Whether it’s pain in the neck, the back or perhaps sciatica, it’s part of life for too many people.

So, what can we do?

For that I consulted my colleague Rob Kinslow, a massage therapist and wellness coach on Oahu for 20 years.

He offered four excellent approaches that I’d like to share with you:

Moist heating pad

Moist heating pad is Kinslow’s most used method of chronic pain relief. It’s an easy, comfortable and low-tech way to manage pain.

Almost any type of chronic stress- related pain that does not include swelling will respond well to heat.

If you become uncomfortable, stop using the heat and try another method.

Rather than a cheap heating pad from discount stores, Kinslow suggests investing in a comfortable healing pad such as Thermophore, which is available on Amazon.

It will last a lifetime if used properly.

Therapeutic massage

Massage therapy is an effective way to manage bodily pain. There are several benefits to the body including increased circulation, toning of the nervous system, release of spasm and the increased connection between our minds and our bodies.

Make sure you get on the table of an experienced therapist. (We can discuss how to choose one in a future article).

External pressure

Pressure is a wonderful, inexpensive, effective way to alleviate pain.

That chronic pain in your shoulder, back or hip responds well to pressure.

Kinslow uses a tennis ball — a new one will be harder than an older ball, so have both available. He carries a tennis ball in his car, so he can sit on it or rub it over his shoulders at stop lights.

Place the ball between your body and the seat on the pain spot and relax. Soon you will feel the pain lessening and you may forget the ball is even there. If you feel tingling or numbing, just move the ball to another spot.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture works for many who are not afraid to experience it. Whether you feel anything or not, studies show it works.

The U.S. military began to use acupuncture in its readiness training in recent years.

Some insurance carriers will even cover it. For pain management, experience is the most important quality you want to search for in an acupuncturist. Most of the HMOs have referral programs with acupuncturists.

These four tips can help reduce and manage pain, though nothing in this article should be substituted for an opinion from your doctor or healthcare professional.

Consult a health professional to make sure the pain you are feeling is not due to an injury requiring attention.


Dr. Bradley J. Willcox is Principal Investigator of the National Institute on Aging- funded Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study and Kuakini Hawaii Healthspan Study. He is Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii and a practicing clinician at The Queen’s Medical Center.


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