PAIN MANAGEMENT TIPS : Tips for pain management begin with medications. Medications are often the first component of a pain management strategy. However, many persons do not understand how to use pain medications effectively. During an immediate post-operative period, for example, pain medications should be taken on a regular schedule to avoid peaks and lows in pain. In other words, take your medicine around the clock. If it has been ordered every four hours, take it every four hours. Pain causes biochemical changes in the body that can interfere with healing. After the first week, you can begin to increase the length of time between doses, or substitute milder medications for some of the doses.

If you have chronic pain, or nerve-related pain, a triad of medications can be very helpful. Using a pain medication along with an antidepressant and an anticonvulsant enhances the action of the pain medication, allowing you to use less of it, but still can effective results. This approach works well with long-term back pain, neuropathy, and fibromyalgia pain.

Whenever you are taking opioid (formerly called narcotic) pain medications, you need to have a bowel plan as these medications slow down the muscle action of the bowels and produce constipation. An effective recipe is: 1 cup of applesauce, mixed with 1 cup of bran ceral, such as Grape Nuts or All-bran, and cup of prune juice. Store the mixture in the refrigerator and eat one tablespoon every time you take a pain pill. Your doctor may have given you stool softeners or laxatives. Do not use them along with the mixture, unless you are severely constipated.

In addition to pain medications, there are comfort measures that play a role in pain management tips. Ice and heat are both excellent therapies. Apply heat for muscles and ice for nerve or bone pain. Or use both, heat first followed by ice. Limit the application of ice to twenty minutes for one location, but you can always move the ice bag to a new spot near the original to continue the application. When you are icing an extremity, you can also apply ice anywhere lower than the site of the injury and have relief of pain at the site of injury. Having knee pain? Wrap ice around your ankle, after the twenty minutes on the knee.

Your diet can also impact your pain. Try to eat four to six small meals per day at regular times to keep your blood sugar level. Avoid sugar and sweets, and caffeine, which increase perception of pain. A 30-30-60 diet with 30% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 60% fruits and vegetables provides the nutrients needed for healing and good health. Certain foods, such as cherries, also provide some anti-inflammatory effects, although the effect is not as pronounced or quick as taking medications.

Pain management tips also include exercise. Moderate exercise preceded by stretching to warm up the muscles has now become the primary strategy to manage back pain. Drinking water after exercising is also important because it flushes out the lactic acid exercising has released from the muscles.

Distraction frees the mind from focusing on pain, and can bring short-term, but often highly effective relief from pain. When the distraction, such as laughing while watching a funny movie or exercising, releases endorphins, additional pain relief can be achieved.

Relying on pain medications alone as a pain management strategy neglects several other valuable and effective tips to manage your pain. Consider adding heat or ice, improved diet, gentle exercise, and distraction to your pain management strategies.

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 Submited By: Joyce Good Henderson