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Welcome. My name is Sarah and I am a former ballerina, acute injury to chronic pain and long term illness recoveree. Psychology graduate and now professional marketer, trainer and developer. Beginning as a guest contributor, it was my goal to take you on a pain and recovery journey. Given the current climate though, I felt it was important to go straight to what people may need at this given moment. 

With change, isolation and stress, there is often a rise in chronic pain and suffering. Here we will detail a collection of tools that can be applied during times of crisis and exasperation, whether that is during this current uncertain time, a flair up of old symptoms, or coming to terms with your initial onset of severe symptoms. You can begin the process of calming and soothing your system. 


Time to read: 6 minutes

Key Points:

  • Tools that are natural, easy & quick to use to provide pain relief
  • Vitamin D, Temperature & Touch Therapy, Tens Machines
  • Personal experience of chronic pain
  • Fully scientifically supported & referenced

Part 1: Coping with chronic pain can push you to crisis. A toolkit of scientifically supported pain relief strategies is a must for all sufferers



Coping with chronic pain can push you to crisis. I have suffered through many of them, each and every day during the initial onset, regularly during my daily management and with times of change and stress. 

I was told by the leading pain management medical team at the time, that the agonising chronic pain I was living with, would be a permanent feature of my life. They said there had been some success among other patients with some natural and holistic methods for pain reduction and management, so I set about trying to find myself a tool kit. In reality, it out was out of the times of desperation that my true searching for anything to help and my willingness to try came. Today I am grateful for this, as not only did I find tools to help me in a crisis and during my day to day management, but over a long period of time and consistency, I managed to calm my chronic pain. Today, I now live the majority of my life without pain, something that at the time, I never would have thought possible.

I wanted to share a tool kit of therapies that can be used to manage and calm your chronic pain and hyper-aroused nervous systems. The toolkit focuses on natural and holistic methods that can all be utilised at home. I have used them myself and they are grounded in scientific research. As we talk through the tool kit, you will see that many of the strategies are interlinked, offering a network of accumulating support. They may not all be suitable for all pain influenced conditions so I would encourage you to try the ones that would best suit you.

So you can gently give them a go, we will be unveiling the tool kit over 3 subsequent blogs.

Vitamin D

Low levels of Vitamin D are associated to increased levels of chronic pain. Studies show nearly half the UK population are deficient in the vitamin and the UK Government has since recommended supplementation of 10μg a day, during the 6 winter months of the year. Vitamin D is primarily created from direct sunlight on our skin. To absorb the recommended amount of sunlight needed to synthesis vitamin D naturally, it is suggested you need 35% skin surface area to be directly in the suns rays for approximately 13 minutes of UK midday sun. People with darker skin or exposing during the morning or afternoon sun, may need longer.

This is best without sun protection cream as it has been found it can block up to 98% of vitamin D production. Ideally the sunshine would be absorbed outside but alternatively sitting or standing in a open window or doorway will work, getting as much sunshine on your bare skin directly, rather than through the glass, which can also inhibit absorption of the vitamin D inducing UVB rays.

Temperature & Touch Therapy

Pain is felt within the sympathetic pathway of our nervous system. The same pathways are also responsible for feeling temperature and touch and it has been found that our nervous system neuron identifiers, can only register one of these stimuli at once. This means temperature and touch are excellent tools that can be utilised to change the registered sensation in our nerves, away from pain. 

In my experience, cold therapy such as using ice can be an excellent way to stop pain from worsening in a localised region. Inversely, heat can be incredibly soothing, relaxing and is easier to utilise for an all over effect. You can use heat by simply taking a hot bath or shower, as well as localised with items such as hot water bottles and wheat packs. Products such as heating or cooling lotions and patches can be used while going about your day and I have found using them particularly beneficial as part of my nighttime routine to help me get to sleep.

Touch can likewise be utilised and the phrase to ‘rub it better’ is actually scientifically backed. Gentle massage can change the sensation of pain and skin to skin contact, whether that is to yourself or from a partner, increases the hormone Oxytocin, which is proven to improve your feeling of wellbeing and to reduce pain. 

Effects of pain in the nervous system can make you more sensitive to changes in temperature, and touch so I would suggest doing this gently and slowly. I found over time, increasing my exposure to both temperature and touch, led to a reduction in my nerve hypersensitivity and helped my recovery. 

Tens Machines

Tens machines work by sending gentle electrical impulses into your body through pads on your skin. They feel like soft tingles and are not painful or harmful. These electrical impulses disrupt the electrical signals within your body, that are being used to send messages in your nervous system, such as the signal for pain. The same electrical impulses also stimulate the body’s natural production of endorphins, that boost your mood and are found to be naturally pain reliving. 

I found my tens machine indispensable during my chronic pain onset and crisis phase and I ended up wearing it for hours daily to help prevent the development of worsening pain and to reduce my pain.

 

Please stay tuned for the second and third instalments in the pain relief toolkit in the next weeks. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave comments below or get in touch.

 

Part 2: Easy, Quick & Natural Methods for Chronic Pain Relief & Management - Neuropathic, Nerve & Muscle Focus


Expand For References

References

  1. Vitamin D in Pain Management, 2018, Helde-Frankling & Bjorkhem-Bergman.
  2. Public Health England National Diet & Nutrition Survey, 2016.
  3. NHS.co.uk - How to get Vitamin D.
  4. Recommended summer sunlight exposure levels can produce sufficient levels at UK latitudes, 2010, Rhodes, Webb, Fraser, Kift, Durkin, Allan, O’Brien, Vail, Berry.
  5. Ultraviolet Radiations: Skin Defense-Damage Mechanism, 2017, Mohania, Chandel, Kumar, Verma, Digvijay, Tripathi, Choudhury, Mitten, Shah.
  6. Sunlight & Vitamin D, 2013, Wacker, Holick.
  7. Vitamin D: Biology, Actions, and Clinical Implications, 2013, Feldman, Krishnan, Swami.
  8. Vitamin D deficiency, 2007, Holick.
  9. Determinants of vitamin D status of health office workers in Sydney, Australia, 2019, Fayet-Moore, Brock, Wright, Ridges, Small, Seibel, Conigrave, Mason.
  10. Effect of pain on the automatic nervous system indices derived from photoplethysmography in healthy volunteers, 2012, Humane, Kontinen, Hakala, Take, Paloheimo, Kalso.
  11. The effect of Therapeutic Touch on Back Pain in Adults on a Neurological Unit. An Experimental Pilot Study. 
  12. Self-soothing behaviours with particular reference to oxytocin release induced by non-noxious sensory stimulation, 2014, Uvnas-Moberg, Handline, Petersson.
  13. The Analgesic Effect of Oxytocin in Humans: A Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Cross-Over Study Using Laser-Evoked Potentials, 2015, Paloyelis, Krahe, Maltezos, Williams, Howard, Fotopoulou.
  14. Extreme Thermal Sensitivity and Pain-Induced Sensitization in a Fibromyalgia Patient, 2010, Wong, Rodrigues, Schmidt, Vierck, Mauderli.
  15. Central sensitization: a generator of pain hypersensitivity by central neural plasticity, 2009 Latremoliere, Woolf.
  16. Understanding Endorphins and Their Importance in Pain Management, 2010, Sprouse-Blum, Smith, Sugai, Don Parsa.

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