Do you sometimes find yourself at a loss when it comes to pain management?
You’re not alone - along with the many wonders modern medicine has provided within the past century, it’s also brought with it an avalanche of options that can sometimes feel overwhelming and often confusing. If you’re on the lookout for alternative pain management solutions, you’ve come to the right place.
At Live Well Health Essentials we are passionate about providing support, resources and products to help complement your advice you receive from healthcare professionals. Complementary health care therapies are used alongside conventional medical treatments prescribed by your doctor to enhance the process of managing pain. A wide range of treatments exist under the umbrella of ‘complementary healthcare’, which makes it difficult to narrow it down to just a handful - but we have done just that.
From the unusual to relaxing we have compiled some examples of complementary health care approaches you can incorporate into everyday life or use alongside your chosen or prescribed methods of pain management. From nutrition and yoga to aromatherapy and cupping, we’re here to shed some light and hopefully some clarity to help you on your journey of managing pain.
But, what works for you? And why is it worth giving a go?
Sometimes instead of using modern medicine alone to get rid of, say, pesky cramps or even peskier lower back pain, it can be worth giving our bodies a break to get back to what they do best - heal, and if that means getting a massage, who are we to argue…
Remember, it’s important to keep in mind that different methods of alternative therapies will work best for different people, so exploring the options that yield the best results for you is paramount. Listen to your body, and take heart, we’re all learning!
We’ve broken down some different alternative health approaches for pain management to assist you to decide what works for you.
Yes, I know, I was thrilled too! Varying types of massages are in fact shown to have multiple health benefits, and is there a better way to unwind than an hour at the spa being pampered? Whilst a day at the spa will have obvious stress reduction advantages there are in fact multiple forms of massages to aid in alternative pain management or overall wellbeing, one such being deep tissue massage. Specifically designed to aid in the relief of injuries and bodily aches, deep tissue massages provide temporary relief from:
- Sports injuries like tennis elbow or strained muscles
- Strengthening and Conditioning
Lymphatic drainage massage:
This one can be uncomfortable when receiving it but the health benefits outweigh the discomfort, i promise - this type of massage helps with:
- Stress management
- Digestion problems including constipation
- Swelling and bloating causing stomach pain
- Water retention (specifically in the bladder)
Shopping around to find a massage therapist that suits you can be hard, especially if you’re not sure what you're looking for. ‘Health Direct’s’ Australian wide service finder is a free tool to help you choose and locate the best practitioner to suit you.
Nutrition and Diet
I’m sure we’ve all fallen prey to some brand new diet plan that’s all the rage for two months then gets dethroned for another (ah the summer of juice cleanses) and some can be not only frustrating but sometimes unhealthy or harmful without guidance from a certified nutritionist. This is a prime example of being swamped by choice. If you type in ‘diets for a healthy lifestyle’ hundreds of options pop up, all different and all claiming to work miracles.
So what should we do?
Again, different nutrition works for different people. Foundations for a healthy lifestyle primarily revolve around a well balanced diet of vegetables, fresh fruit and plenty of healthy fats and protein. It’s always good to speak to a dietitian if you are looking for specific needs for your body. Benefits from a healthy diet have been shown to improve;
- Sleeping patterns and strength
- Concentration levels
- Energy levels
- Maintaining a steady mood
If you’re uncertain about undertaking any major lifestyle changes through diet, seeing a nutritionist to devise a personalised diet plan can be beneficial in determining what’s best for you and dig into the nitty gritty details like if vegetarianism or veganism is sustainable for you - that also goes for
- Intermittent fasting
- Paleolithic, or paleo dieting
- Protein rich health plans
Healing through food is also practiced through ancient cultures as a mainstream form of remedy - Ayurveda, Indian medicine, is a prime example, hailing back thousands of years.
And of course, staying hydrated throughout the day has innumerable benefits - flushing toxins, improving skin and hair lustre. Water is always a good idea.
Yoga is a very versatile practice, one that can be done in a group setting or even alone in the comfort of your home! All you need is a mat and some space - some of our favourite mats. Not only does yoga provide a great outlet for stress and anxiety, whilst you’re soothing your mind you’re targeting things you might usually overlook, such as general flexibility, releasing pent up muscle tension, and improving your balance and strength.
Practicing meditative forms of movement such as yoga has been shown to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Aid in chronic pain management (including migraines)
- Improve quality of sleep
- Help relieve migraines
Among many other benefits!
So what does a typical yoga session look like? Sessions usually last anytime between 45-90 minutes but can be practised from your home in just 10-20 minute session blocks. If you’re not sure on how to start - contact a professional or there are multiple video tutorials with a variety of yoga practices to help assist pain management naturally can be found online.
For more information about the relationship between Yoga and Pain Management visit the Department of Health and if you’re ever in doubt contact your GP or healthcare professional for further advice.
Ahh acupuncture - now we know that sticking needles in your body can sound daunting, but this mode of Chinese medicine is becoming more and more popular due to the immense health benefits it produces, particularly in alternative pain management and inflammation control. Acupuncture is the process of inserting very thin needles into certain targeted nerve centres around the body, and results include;
- Managing allergies
- Chronic headaches
- Sinus pressure
- Back pain
- Treatment of Hypertension
- Menstrual cramps and PMS
Along with benefits in the management of pain, the increasing studies on the improvements in mental clarity, mood stability and overall anxiety reduction that acupuncture can assist in ensure that this form of complementary health care is definitely one to consider - learn more about the scientific background of acupuncture.
Heat and Cold Therapy
One of the simplest ways to treat areas of discomfort, particularly for injuries or muscle pains, heat packs and cold compresses/packs are a time honoured method of pain management. From the small, like using a block of ice on a burn, to the more serious such as using heat packs to relieve muscle strains, this treatment type is effective and easy to use.
Cold packs: when to use and what they treat
There are different types of cold packs, some gel based that you put in the freezer to use and others you activate by a simple squeeze. What do they treat?
- Pulled muscles
- Repetitive strain injuries, such as tendonitis
- Bruising relief
- Certain forms of arthritis
By easing swelling and acting as a numbing agent, ice packs are most effective when applied to the chosen area over a period of 24 to 72 hours. Check out some of our products specifically designed to assist those in pain management and prevention.
Heat packs: when to use and what they treat
One of the foremost benefits of heat therapy is muscle relaxation, and heat packs are great in this treatment in their simplicity to use - many are electric, or can be heated in the microwave such as wheat and lupin heat packs or placed for a few minutes in hot water. So what do they treat?
- Muscle spasms
- Joint pain
- Back pain - this area particularly has been shown to respond to heat therapy as the increased circulation promotes healing
- Menstrual cramps - hot water bottles are also effective
At Live Well Health Essential we stock a range of hot and cold products which are designed for ease of use, warmth and therapy on the go.
Leaning into the alternative side of complementary healthcare, aromatherapy, also referred to as the practice of essential oils, is the use of natural plant extracts to promote mind and body wellness from a holistic approach. Aromatherapy has been around for generations and is increasingly gaining more recognition in scientific fields.
What can aromatherapy treat?
Aromatherapy claims to aid in:
- Pain management
- Asthma management
- Improved digestion
- Alleviation of headaches
- Boosting immunity
How does it work?
Through skin absorption and sense of smell, oils can be used in numerous forms including:
- Oil Diffusers
- Face masks
- Bathing salts
- Body oils, creams and lotions
Different essential oils treat different things, for example pure eucalyptus or peppermint oil in a steamer, diffuser or simply inhaled directly can provide relief of asthma symptoms. Diffusers are a great and easy way to implement aromatherapy into your daily routine, and also make great gifts for friends and family!
As someone who has done cupping, I can tell you firsthand - it is weird. You won’t soon forget the sight of yourself covered in glass cups suctioning your skin then leaving red circles or sometimes bruises on your body - this can depend on the level of toxins in your body and where you get the treatment done. This practice is often done in conjunction with a lymphatic drainage massage, and cupping as a complementary health approach assists in treating:
- Lower back pain
- Arthritis pain
- Neck Pain
- Sports Recovery
Check out an article on the Role of Cupping Therapy in Pain Management we enjoyed reading that reviews in detail the role of cupping in pain management.
As a wrap, doing what’s best for our bodies is the most important thing. The seven methods we have talked about (has hopefully given you some realistic ways in which you can look at being proactive with your health and possibly even a new perspective on pain management. This is great information to talk to your doctor or health care professional about We are here to assist so if you do have any questions, let us know! Good luck with your pain management.