About two months ago, I woke up with a “kink in my back” that has never gone away. I’ve tried several different chiropractors, massage therapy, and I even got an MRI to rule out any major issues with my spine. Fortunately, nothing unusual showed up on the scan, but that hasn’t made the pain any easier to deal with.
Granted, things have improved since my more acute stage at the beginning, but I’m still dealing with whatever this crazy problem is on a daily basis. Earlier this week, I met with a physical therapist. While she isn’t quite sure what’s going on either, she gave me a set of very simple exercises to do over the course of the next week. I’ve been doing them for about two days now, and I do think I’m slightly better than I was earlier this week, so I’m hoping and praying for big strides in progress here in the next few weeks!
I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing for pain management during these last 8 weeks. Notice that I say “pain management” and not “pain relief,” because I’ve yet to find anything that completely relieves my pain other than lying flat on my back.
I’ve taken Aleve a few times during this whole thing to help get me through difficult days, but in general these 5 methods are what I’ve been using to help manage my pain.
A homeopathic remedy, arnica montana comes from a European plant that has been used in herbal medicine for ages. It is considered an anti-inflammatory and is particularly helpful for swelling and bruising. During the more acute stages of my back problem, I took arnica for a few weeks. To be honest, I didn’t notice a huge improvement from it, but I do think it is helpful for more minor aches and pains.
A few years ago when I had my wisdom teeth out, I took high doses of arnica for a week prior to the surgery. I did swell a bit, but it went down quickly and I had no bruising or discoloration. I also made it through the entire recovery process without the need for prescription pain meds. (And this was with two dry sockets.) So I think arnica can be useful in certain circumstances and it’s definitely worth a try.
I’ve taken magnesium for years simply because it is one of the most used minerals in the body and also one that we are most often deficient in. Magnesium supports heart health, optimal cell function, and also serves as a muscle relaxer. I take 200-400 mg of magnesium glycinate daily. Bear in mind that sometimes magnesium can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. If this happens to you, just back off your dosage a bit. (It’s never happened to me, even when I accidentally took a double dose one day.)
Magnesium glycinate is not an immediate pain reliever, but over time it will help keep muscles relaxed and healthy—which will prevent injury in the long run.
I began taking turmeric extract right a week or two after my back started bothering me. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Dr. Mark Hyman calls it “nature’s ibuoprofen.” The blend I take includes ginger as well, which is also a natural anti-inflammatory and wonderful superfood for joint support. I think my back issues were a bit too advanced for the turmeric to work its magic right away, but I’m continuing to include it on a regular basis in hopes of preventing future problems.
One important note: Taking turmeric extract in capsule form is convenient, but it is not well absorbed this way. It helps to open up the capsules and mix it right into your food. A little bit of heat helps to activate the compounds in the turmeric, so often I’ll open the capsules and dump the contents into eggs before I scramble them, or mix the contents into a bowl of soup just before I eat it. Make sure you’re including fat in the meal you’re eating as well (such as coconut oil used to scramble the eggs or saute the soup veggies). Fat is very beneficial in helping us absorb antioxidants.
This is where pain management can get really fun. My sister got me into essential oils a while ago when she became a distributor for doTERRA. Having back pain every day has really urged me to make more of a habit of applying them, though. While they don’t take away the pain completely, they can be very helpful in “taking the edge off.”
For my back, I’ve been using basil, lavender, peppermint, wintergreen, and white fir. Let’s just say I walk around smelling like a Christmas tree! I love the way the oils feel cooling on my skin. The fragrance helps to relax me both physically and mentally.
My go-to treatment for headaches is to rub peppermint on the back of my neck and temples and then drink a big glass of water. Usually that gets rid of it within an hour or so. (I wish it was as simple for my back…) It’s important to purchase therapeutic grade oils for the best results.
Of course, like everything else related to our health, hydration is super important! Our bodies are comprised of 70% water. Pain can often feel worse than it is when we are in a state of dehydration. So drink up! It doesn’t have to be just plain old water, either. I hydrate all day with tea, green juice, water with lemon, and the occasional coconut water, too.
I wish there was a magic remedy that would restore me to my active, pain-free self once again, but for now these remedies are a great option to help manage things overall. What are your favorite ways for managing pain the natural way?