Anyone who’s sustained themselves through a long-term illness or faced chronic pain will tell you that pain management is a serious journey. Last year my wife was in a traffic accident. She broke several small bones in her foot. We went to doctors appointments, surgical consultations and physical therapists. All the specialists we spoke to used their skills to help my wife start her recovery.
We received a lot of information and reassurance on the injury but not many practical steps for pain management. My wife and I did a lot of internet searching, experimenting and testing in those rocky three months. Much of my wife’s discomfort went deeper than the original injury and came from inflammation in the body:
Five Side-Effects of Inflammation in the Body
- Increase in stress
- Loss of focus or mental fog
- Trouble balancing hormones
- Disrupted sleep
- Relationship strain
Rather than see this as a chore or something that got in the way of recovery we chose to see pain management as part of a holistic overview of bodily health. I ended up massively benefiting from my wife’s investment into pain management and I wasn’t even injured!
The Pain Breakdown: The Three Types of Pain
Acute pain most often comes from an injury and is intense and short-term. For example, when my wife slammed on the break in her car and broke several toes in her foot the immediate effect was acute pain.
Post-acute pain is the more medium term feelings of soreness and discomfort; after you see a doctor and start your recovery plan. My wife’s foot bruising and contusion weren’t as overwhelmingly painful as the initial acute pain of the broken toes but they still hurt! Post-acute is normally a good stage to start looking at some of the lifestyle and holistic changes you can make to be more comfortable.
Finally, chronic pain is the long-term discomfort that’s hardest to define, diagnose and manage. Inflammation in the body and disruption in the natural oxidation system contribute to discomfort. Some of the aches and pains of recovery can blend with those other discomforts and make it hard to tell what you are really suffering from.
One of the best ways to get clarity on managing pain is to take all the proactive steps you can to get your body to it’s most healthy state before and during recovery.
Five Key Factors in the Pain to Recovery Cycle
- REST - Seems straightforward but it can be hard to find the time and get the space in your life to relax. It’s the perfect way to start.
- REHAB - You don’t want to seize up! Getting plenty of rest and medical advice can be supplemented by exercises specifically for the injured area or to strengthen related muscles and tendons. For example, my wife did Pilates and Alexander technique that worked around her injury and prevented her leg muscles from atrophying. An added bonus for a customized rehabilitation strategy with plenty of movement is that the increased circulation that comes from exercise boosts recovery!
- POSITIVITY - It’s so easy to be discouraged when you feel uncomfortable. My wife had to learn to trust putting weight on her foot again in the middle of the recovery process. She found it tough to distinguish between the discomfort of healing and the ‘warning’ pain of overloading her injured foot. The surgeon we consulted advised her to stay positive and referred us to a physical therapist who showed her some exercises to build trust in putting weight on her foot.
- NUTRITION - Everything that you put into your body builds it up or knocks it down. Foods with anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties are particularly useful in promoting healing. Supplements are an excellent way to guarantee you get some exposure to the right type of nutrients.
- PATIENCE - Recovery isn’t a straight shot from injury or illness to health. My wife and I came to think about it as a downhill hike with ‘plateaus’ of little to no progress and various rises. As long as you’re proactive, follow medical advice and get plenty of rest you’ll be moving in the right direction. Be kind to yourself as everyone heals at different rates and aging slows down the healing process in all of us.
Now you have some good baseline knowledge of the stages of pain and healing as well as the basic factors key to recovery. In the next section we’ll dive deeper into some of the specific solutions for pain management as you move through the recovery process with some handy hints from my wife’s experience.
Managing Chronic Pain
As we drill down into what exactly makes chronic pain different, tricky to diagnose and deal with it’s worth taking a moment to see how it stacks up against acute pain:
Acute vs Chronic Pain - three approaches to pain management
- Acute pain management - This type is generally easier to pin down because the cause will be clear. Acute pain will be quick to set in and reduce as the cause of the pain heals. Typically it happens to the soft tissue - think of a paper cut or in my wife’s case, broken toes. The pain management journey here should be reasonably linear - injury, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. The demands of pain management will initially be heavy and taper off as the person in recovery returns to full strength.
- Chronic pain management - Medical professionals define chronic pain as any that lasts beyond twelve weeks. When the cause of pain is not well defined or if acute pain outlast the original cause it’s considered chronic pain. Pain management will need to be more staggered and piecemeal; building up and ramping down according to flare ups in the pain.
- Hybrid pain management - Whilst chronic pain is not fully understood and acute pain often is often trivialized. I came to realize that taking a hybrid approach to pain management can be the basis of rebuilding your body after injury or illness.
Dealing with a traumatic injury like the one my wife suffered requires a hybrid approach to pain management. Discomfort associated with the original injury often lingers in the body and needs to be addressed. My wife suffered shooting leg pain some eight weeks after breaking her toes. Most of her swelling had gone down and only very marginal bruising remained.
Even so, without any pressure on her foot my wife had pain. I can’t stress enough how important it is to contact a doctor if the pain becomes too intense. There simply is no replacement for qualified medical opinion and intervention.
If the pain is low-level and you are following a medically led recovery plan then we have some help! Here are some of the practical steps we took to address her chronic pain as it continued over the recovery process:
Seven Hacks for Low-Level Chronic Pain
- Deep Breathing and/or Meditation - This is a great first step that can help you slow down and listen to your body. Bring your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose for a beat of three, hold your breath for one beat and then breathe out for a beat of three to start.
- Mood Boosters - Feeling anxious, angry or depressed can make chronic pain feel worse. Make yourself a calm-promoting playlist, step away from any harsh light and make yourself some chamomile tea.
- Lose the Booze - The odd glass of alcohol isn’t the end of the world (as long as it’s compatible with any medicines you take) but reducing alcohol intake while you’re in recovery will help you sleep better. Good rest is invaluable to recovery.
- Keep Score - Keeping track of your activities and pain levels can lead to better and more satisfying conversations with your doctor and physical therapists. You can figure out the movements that cause you the most discomfort, the time of day pain is worse and anything else you might need to avoid. This is also a great way to track the positive effects of any lifestyle changes you’ve made to boost recovery.
- Massage - Honestly, do I really need to give reasons for this one? A qualified massage therapist can work wonders on your mood and circulation. If you live in a territory where CBD oil is legal (CBD derived from hemp is legal in all 50 US states) it can be a relaxing addition.
- Eating For Health - To be specific consider things like tart cherry juice, turmeric golden curries, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and a lot less sodium (salt) than normal. If you eat meat, stick to lean meats (turkey and tuna are great) and low-fat dairy (although consider great light replacements like oat milk if possible). When in doubt making yourself a smoothie with as many nutrient-rich ingredients as you can.
- Synthetic Drugs - I wanted to include this last as the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ option. Obviously, we’ve all had to use non-prescription painkillers (NSAID) at one time or another. I think it’s worth trying to avoid overloading your system or creating a dependency on those. Always ask your doctor how NSAID’s fit into your recovery plan.
There are hundreds of other home remedies you might try that could be super effective in your particular case. Hot water bottles aren’t particularly high tech or sophisticated but they really helped my wife when she had to elevate her foot for hours. Sometimes, even the act of distracting yourself from the chronic pain by taking action can be useful!
In the next section we’re going to look at what happens when things become more serious with chronic pain and it becomes impossible to distract yourself. How do you stop managing chronic pain and try to get some pain relief?
Relief for Chronic Pain
Doctors and scientists have been puzzling over the question of chronic pain relief for a while. Most of the solutions we currently have focus on long-term and underlying changes. The truth is that most of the time underlying solutions and more immediate relief are best when they go hand in hand. Here are some time-honored suggestions to experiment with as you try and curb the discomfort in the short-term:
Five Short-term Chronic Pain Relievers
- Physical Therapy - Consulting a Physical Therapist will give you specific exercises to work through when times get tough. They might also direct you to valuable pain reducers such as whirlpools and deep tissue massage depending on the relief you need.
- Acupuncture - the ancient Chinese practice of inserting tiny needles to disrupt pain receptors in the nerves.
- Electrical Signals - A small device sends low voltage electrical signals through small pads attached to the skin.
- Injections/Nerve Blockers - When chronic pain is extremely localized nerve blocking injections can be a valuable short-term measure.
- Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) - A relatively new treatment where a doctor uses a heated-tip needle placed close to the nerve.
Injections, RFA and surgery are extremely invasive options that need a doctor's input to do safely. In the next section we’ll look more broadly at the lifestyle changes that can help balance against the discomfort of chronic pain.
My wife found that her low-intensity pain was best addressed by systematic lifestyle changes. We’ll talk about her secret weapon - Upgraid supplements - in the next section.
Upgraid Supplements for a Healing Lifestyle
So much about our health is unconscious and formed by habits such as a health-promoting supplement regime like Upgraid. When my wife was in her initial rest period after her accident we made a commitment to dedicating an hour a day to consciously improving our health:
Five Benefits of Adding Upgraid to your Long-Term Pain Management Strategy
- Stress reduction
- Increased energy
- Enhanced focus
- Better sleep
- Reduced overall inflammation
To start this hour was all research into long-term health; what superfoods could we integrate into our diet? How much water should we try to drink every day? Slowly this evolved into actually cooking and carrying around water bottles. Despite all of our research there were certain vital ingredients we just couldn’t wedge into our diet as well as we’d like. That’s when we came across Upgraid supplements - suddenly with three minutes of our ‘health hour’ we had added some powerful health-promoting ingredients into our diets!
Three Key Upgraid Supplement Ingredients for a Healing Lifestyle
- Turmeric - a powerful anti-inflammatory that’s a great boost for problem areas like tendons and joints. Upgraid uses only the best Tumipure brand turmeric for optimal absorption and ‘bioavailability’ to your body.
- Ashwagandha - a legendary ayurvedic herb extract used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Upgraid uses Sensoril brand extract from the whole plant to ensure the health-giving benefits are locked in.
- Ginger Root - nature's original digestive aid and another great anti-inflammatory.
Pain management is about more than simply lining up short-term and easily graspable solutions and hoping for the best. The biggest takeaway for my wife and I was that looking at health holistically - as a series of combined factors, habits and outcomes - leads to a better quality of life. While small changes like taking Upgraid supplements can’t magic pain or discomfort away they can contribute to a stronger, more resilient body whilst you undertake your healing journey.
Upgraid must be taken daily for 30 days. Individual results will vary, but some people see results in as little as two weeks.
Have you been on a healing journey that taught you some useful lessons in pain management? Please feel free to share in the comments section below!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.