About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Drug Free Help for Chronic Pain

Let’s face it; being in chronic pain sucks. It creeps into every aspect of your life. Your sleep may suffer, it’s tough on your loved ones, and you feel like there are so many things that you can’t do. Over time, being in unrelenting pain is frustrating and wears you down.

Is there anything you can do to help you feel better without taking pain medications all day, every day? The answer is maybe. Here are a few things that might help decrease your pain, increase mobility, and bring you a little peace of mind:

-Use some heat. Applying heat to where you hurt increases circulation in the area and loosens tight, cranky muscles. One caveat: if there is redness and swelling in the area, ice may be a better bet.

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain-Get a massage. Not only is a massage incredibly relaxing, it also boosts circulation, loosens tight muscles, and helps increase your range of motion. Make sure you find a massage therapist who understands your condition and what you need in terms of pressure and type of massage.

-Go to physical therapy. If you’ve not already done so, get a few sessions with a physical therapist. They can assess your condition and give you stretching and strengthening exercises specific to your needs. Not only will your physical therapist work with you in the clinic, but they will also give you some exercises to do at home, which is a good thing.

-Get on a bike—indoors or out. Most physical therapists have their patients who are able to warm up on a stationary bike for five or ten minutes. Biking is a great low impact way to warm and loosen up your muscles and joints and get your heart rate up.

-Go for a walk. Sometimes walking feels like the last thing you want to do, but lacing up your shoes and taking a walk actually decreases stiffness and pain, especially if you’re suffering from fibromyalgia or back pain. It’s also good for your lungs and heart, increases the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood, and boosts your energy.

-Stretch. Slow and gentle stretching loosens up tight muscles, and just plain feels good. Give it a try!

-Try a little Yoga. Gentle Yoga combines stretching, strengthening, with breathing through various postures and positions. It helps to loosen up your muscles, decrease pain, and relaxes your mind.

-Lift some weights. If you are able, lifting weights can help by strengthening the muscles to increase support in the area that is affected by pain. This is especially true for pain in your neck and shoulders, back, and core. Work with a knowledgeable trainer, and don’t overdo it, at least to start. You can always add more weight later.

-Get in the water. Low impact water exercises are a great way to loosen up your muscles and increase your range of motion. Also, if you’re really hurting, try Watsu, which is a gentle, movement-based massage done in the pool. Whether you’re doing water aerobics or Watsu, my recommendation is to look for a facility that offers a warm therapy pool. Cold water might cause your already stiff and achy muscles to feel tighter.

-Have some sessions with an acupuncturist. Known for its ability to decrease pain, acupuncture works by altering the neurotransmitters in your central nervous system to turn down the pain “volume” and activate your body’s built-in opioid system. Acupuncture also decreases stress, reduces inflammation, and supports healing. Your practitioner may also incorporate Chinese herbs, heat therapy, body work, electro acupuncture, or cupping into your treatment for the best results. Be sure to look for an acupuncturist who is familiar with your specific condition.

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