How to Deal With Pain the Natural Way
This past Tuesday, June 7, 2016, marked the first of several appearances LVRC’s own Medical Director, Dr. Mel Pohl, will be making on PBS television! The segment, entitled The Pain Antidote with Dr. Mel Pohl, premiered first on Detroit Public Television and will later appear on PBS stations across the US. In the special, Dr. Pohl provided insights on how to view chronic pain and shared proven ways chronic pain sufferers can cope without the use of prescription medication and build a life free of suffering. As part of a special sneak peak, we’ve compiled a list of Dr. Pohl’s most helpful tips. You can discover more practical pain recovery advice by watching Dr. Pohl’s special on public television (check local listings for details) or by reading one of his bestselling pain recovery books, available through Central Recovery Press. Watch Dr. Pohl in a video clip below for further details of his upcoming show(s): Here are Dr. Pohl’s top seven tips for how to deal with pain, avoid pain medication addiction, and live a happier, healthier life.
1. Incorporate mindfulness into everyday life
Mindfulness practices involve noticing what’s present in the moment without judgment. Meditation is one of the best mindfulness activities. The benefits of incorporating even just a few minutes of meditation into your daily routine are numerous, and can assist in decreasing and ending chronic pain suffering.
The results of regular meditation include:
- Enhanced immune system
- Increased ability to regulate emotions
- Reduction of stress, depression and even physical pain
A daily meditation routine doesn’t have to involve sitting in lotus position for several hours at a time. A meditative session can be as simple as sitting still for a few minutes or taking a few deep, focused breaths. Mindfulness involves drawing attention and awareness to the physical body and whatever task is at hand; refocusing the energy away from the mental noise and towards the “here and now”.
You can devote a small portion of your day to mindfulness by doing the following:
- Remove all mental distractions—Turn off your TV during dinner, for example, or leave the iPod at home the next time you go for a walk.
- Divert your focus towards any physical sensations you may be experiencing.—The next time you eat, for example, notice how the food tastes as you slowly chew and swallow. Or if you’re out enjoying a walk, pay close attention to the feeling of the ground beneath your feet as you take each step.
Pain is often intensified by negative thoughts and emotions. Thus, the more you can quiet your mind and learn to control your moods, the less intense your pain may feel.
2. Investigate acupressure and acupuncture
Getting a massage or visiting an acupuncturist can help with pain reduction because it increases circulation and energy flow, which can naturally reduce inflammation. You can learn specific acupressure points that are pain-relieving.
3. Avoid foods and other toxins known to cause pain
Many fail to realize the profound effect diet can have on lessening chronic pain. Certain foods have been known to exasperate pain, including the following:
- Sugar—Consuming foods rich in sugar can cause your cells to create substances called AGEs, which are toxic to your body. As your body works to dismantle the AGEs, inflammation occurs. This can result in arthritis, cataracts, wrinkles and heart disease.
- Alcohol—Alcohol irritates your body’s cells, causing inflammation and resulting in bacteria traveling through the intestinal lining via inflamed tissue. This can produce even further irritation and inflammation.
- Milk—Milk can provoke arthritis flare-ups, sinus congestion, headaches and digestive problems.
- Smoking—If you smoke, quit and you will reduce your pain levels by 10-20%.
4. Consume foods that help decrease pain
By no means a complete list, here are several foods that can help decrease the symptoms of chronic pain.
- Water—Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Try for at least 8, 10 oz glasses per day.
- Veggies and fruits—Vegetables like watercress, spinach, parsley, kale, red peppers, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower and carrots all have protective nutrients. Fruits like cranberries, red grapes, blueberries and tart cherries have anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that help relieve pain. They are thought to be able to relieve pain more effectively than aspirin.
- Cold-Water Fish—Two servings of cold water fish like tuna or salmon can go a long way towards reducing pain and inflammation, because they contain omega-3 fatty acids.
- Cocoa—Flavonals, which can be found in cocoa, have been known to decrease inflammation, especially dark chocolate.
5. Connect with others
When you’re experiencing persistent physical or emotional pain, it can be easy to become overly self-focused, which can lead to withdrawing from family and friends and isolating from the community. A major component of pain recovery involves refocusing energy away from the self and towards those around you. You can regain balance and discover new purpose in life by turning outwards instead of inwards and deepening bonds with friends and family, participating in a support group—such as a 12-step recovery, church or pain support group—and, finally, reconnecting with your spirituality.
6. Work with your thoughts and feelings
Techniques like journaling, free-writing and cognitive therapies are most helpful in reducing your pain. This will enable you to change your thought patterns and deal with negative emotions like fear, anxiety, anger and depression. Get some help from a professional coach or counselor if you are able.
7. Embrace exercise
If you’re experiencing pain, often times the last thing you want to do is exercise. But avoiding physical activity might make the pain worse. Instead of limiting activity, try low-intensity exercises such as walking, dance, golf, rowing, yoga or Tai Chi. You will be surprised by how much you can do without harming yourself. Please consult with a physician or physical therapist before starting to exercise if you’ve been inactive for a long time.
About Dr. Mel Pohl
Dr. Mel Pohl, Chief Medical Officer at Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC), is an internationally recognized physician and chronic pain expert. He is certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (DFASAM). He was elected as one of the Best Doctors in America® from 2009 to the present through a peer-selected process. Las Vegas Recovery Center provides chronic pain treatment as well addiction outpatient and inpatient drug rehab services at its main campus in northwest Las Vegas. For questions about our programs or to speak to an Admissions Counselor, please call our 24-hour admissions line at (888) 219-1158.
Want to learn more about LVRC’S Pain Program?
Visit Our Pain Page for details!