OK, time for some happier, Cheerio vibes! And what could be more cheery than pain relief?
I’m no stranger to pain. Pain sucks. Acute pain sucks the big one. Chronic pain sucks even worse. Nobody likes situations that suck. Enough sucking already.
So tonight, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite pain relief strategies! 😀
Please note that none of this is intended as medical advice. I am indeed a licensed doctor, but unfortunately, I’m not yours. I have no clue who’s going to see this, and you and I don’t have a doctor-patient relationship. So please take this to be the FYI (which is not the same as DIY!) info that it is – an anecdote of my personal experience, maybe a springboard for a discussion with your healthcare providers, yada yada.
1 – Maeng Da (mitragyna speciosa) (herb)
This herb works like Tramadol, a mild painkilling narcotic commonly prescribed in the US. And when I say it works like Tramadol, it works Just. Like. Tramadol.
Except that it’s non-prescription and legal here in Texas (I haven’t heard anything to the contrary about any other state or country, but then again, I haven’t gone looking, either). It’s sold over-the-counter in my local headshop (which in itself is funny, because I’m not a marijuana user, although I’m not opposed to its use, either).
The knowledgeable souls behind the counter recommended it to my very straight-arrow husband when he told them we needed to kill the pain from my cervical disc herniation Like Right Now. They said Maeng Da would do the trick.
And it did. But be prepared: it comes with all the side effects of Tramadol, too – a potential for nausea, and it will probably stop your bowels for a while. It did make me mildly calm and euphoric, giving me an “All Is Right With The World” feeling. Unlike Tramadol, however, it did not make me sleepy like the headshop folks said it would; apparently, I would have to take a higher dose of it to get that effect.
2 – CBD (cannabinol) oil
I have less experience with this, but apparently it’s also included in the inventory list at the same headshop.
I think I do have some. I did get a sucker (yep, they infuse the CBD oil in the sucker). It was sweet and didn’t taste icky or anything.
In fact, it really didn’t do too much, but then again, there were only 30mg in the entire sucker.
So my husband did get me a little one- or two-ounce bottle of the oil that one can put in a vaporizer, like the type used for vaping.
3 – Tung acupuncture
This is a very specific type of Traditional Chinese acupuncture that follows a completely different set of points. It’s not taught in acupuncture schools, nor are there very many decent books on the subject. It’s sort of underground. Up until very recently, the only way to learn was via oral tradition.
But this shizz is cool. You can indeed insert a thick enough gauge of a very specific type of needle through a specific point in the skin at a very specific angle to hit another very specific point deeper in at a very specific depth.
And if/when you do, it can encourage the body to somehow (don’t ask me how) suck a herniated disc back in to its rightful place.
Yes, this worked well for me (it’s my fault for sleeping like I do and lifting too much, which is what caused this latest exacerbation).
And it’s not just good for disc herniations, either. Different points work for different types and locations of pain.
4 – Myofascial release & trigger point therapy
This one is a given. Unlike Tung acupuncture, this one is available pretty widely. The trick here is to find a good practitioner.
Trigger points are a special type of little knot that can form in various muscles (or other tissues, like even bones!), and wreak havoc.
Here’s the trick/kicker: they don’t usually hurt; rather, they send pain to other areas. You can tell your pain is from trigger points because it’ll hurt in an area, but it won’t be sharp. It’ll be dull, somewhat vague, and enigmatic. And you can push on the painful area and not be able to reproduce the same pain sensation.
You know that headache that snakes up the back of your neck, off center to one side, and create a cane-hook shape, maybe hurting in the bony area behind your ear but then really hurting at your temple? And it’s usually on one side only? Yeah, that’s the one.
That’s actually due to a trigger point in your upper trapezius muscle, near the base of your neck, on the same side. If you grip your upper shoulder muscle there, the same muscle you use to shrug your shoulders, and you dig around and feel closely (which is like listening closely but with your hands and fingers), you’ll feel something that resembles a little grain of uncooked rice.
That’s your trigger point, the one that’s causing that cane-shaped headache. When you grip it, you’ll feel that headache get worse.
Trigger points trick you into thinking the pain is coming from a problem in Region A, when really it’s coming from a problem in Remote Location B.
5 – Decompression
This is my newest secret weapon for my disc issue. I just started treatment last week.
It should only be done by a chiropractic doctor who knows what the hell they’re doing. The ones who do are the best at it of anyone, and they’ll often keep you out of neck and spinal surgery, which is why the medical establishment hates them so.
Don’t try this one at home, either. Those inversion tables – I’m not a fan. I’ve seen too many people mess themselves up on those. The angle and force have to be just right. It’s a treatment series, kind of like a non-invasive surgical procedure done over the course of 15 appointments.
How it works is this: you’re strapped gently but tightly to a special table and it slowly pulls you apart. Think of the Medieval torture devices, except not nearly as drastic. After 10-15 minutes, you’re slowly released. Boom–done. Three times a week for about five weeks, although you should know whether or not it’ll help you after about the third session.
6 – Physical therapy exercises
These are not pleasant at the time. But they’re helpful. They can help strengthen body parts, mobilize joints, increase range of motion, and even start to put vertebral discs back in place.
The exercises suck to do, while you’re doing them. But the relief comes later.
7 – Tramadol (prescription)
Yep, Tramadol was a go-to for me for about a week. I was really glad to be free of it as soon as I could, though.
The pain relief and sedating effects are great. It was one of the few stints of normal sleep schedule I’ve had in years.
But the problems are many. My bowel function pretty much stopped. That didn’t cause any immediate discomfort, but it did concern me. Using the bathroom is like flushing your system’s toilet. What if you never flushed your toilet?? What if, instead of flushing every time you used it, you flushed every 3-4 times? Yeah, that’s what opioid/opiate medications do to the body.
It sucked. It was effective, but it sucked. Ideally, it should be a last resort.
8 – Movement in general
On its face, this seems like the last thing you’d want to do! “I’m in pain!”, I can hear you saying. “And you want me to move? It hurts!”
Yeah, I know. Been there, done that. As with PT exercises, any movement might be uncomfortable and may cause a short-term increase in pain.
But long-term, the pain can get better. This is mainly true for musculoskeletal pain–pain in the muscles, tendons, and joints.
Even an acute injury like a sprained ankle, the experts are rethinking the philosophy of resting and agreeing that a little light movement is good. Movement stimulates circulation, which increases blood flow to the area, which brings in healing nutrients and carries away irritating, inflammatory waste products.
So whatever you can do, do. Push yourself not too much, but just past the comfort zone.
Again, get the blessing and direction (and supervision) of your licensed healthcare peeps. What works for me and what my system responds to or can tolerate may not be the same for you! 🙂