Dealing with Chronic Pain

I never thought I would be someone with chronic pain - I used to feel so bad for people that had to deal with it, but now I'm one of them. And let me tell you from firsthand experience, feeling bad for yourself won't take your pain away! So how did I end up with chronic pain at age 27? After being in a car accident in late 2015), I developed pain in my neck, shoulders, back, and feet.

Each type of pain is different - for example, the pain in my mid back is localized to the right side, and can only be described as "burning" pain. It comes and goes, but especially loves to act up when I'm doing dishes and cooking, or when I'm stressed. The pain in my feet, on the other hand, is there every morning, and feels like a strong ache - the kind you would feel after spending all day on your feet, except sometimes it happens to me after I've only been standing for 20 minutes. I won't go into all of it, but it's not fun, and it impacts every aspect of my life on a daily basis.

Even though this is really tough to deal with most of the time, I know that it could be a lot worse, so I try to look at the positives - for me, this includes focusing on remedies that help me alleviate my chronic pain. When I first started dealing with this pain, I tried lots of popular remedies, such as Ibuprofen (minimally effective at best), and Flexeril (a super strong muscle relaxant that takes my pain away by physically knocking me unconscious for 12 hours and leaving me groggy for 2 days). I personally found natural remedies to be more effective and gentle on my body. Here's a quick list:

1. Heat and ice

Aka my two best friends. I try to be on my heating pad first thing in the morning, and right before bed - it helps loosen up my muscles and soothe sore spots. After any sort of exercise, I'll always ice my neck, back, and sometimes my feet, to try to decrease inflammation and prevent excessive soreness. 

2. Stretching

I probably have 15-20 different stretches in my arsenal from my doctor, chiropractor and registered massage therapist. One that I love to do in the morning and before bed is child's pose, which helps open up my lower back and alleviate stiffness. I also really like the cat/camel stretch - it's one that I often do mid and post workout, or when my back is feeling tweaky.

3. Castor oil

This has actually been helpful for my feet - my mom told me to start putting it on them every night (she's dabomb.com and full of sooo much wisdom that I wish I had paid more attention to when I was younger). I rub about a teaspoon on the bottom of each foot before bed, and then put some socks on. My feet are still pretty sore in the morning, but less so than before.

4. Epsom salts

Great in either a bath or a foot soak. The magnesium sulphate in them helps relieve pain and ease muscle strain (among other things). I will often do a foot soak after a workout or a day where my feet are extra sore. I do a full bath with epsom salts whenever my back feels tense or sore, and it can help with some of the discomfort.

5. Turmeric

I've heard so many people say "2017 is the year of turmeric". I've actually been using this lovely yellow spice since before I can remember - my grandparents and parents would always make me drink it with hot water and honey when I was sick, and my grandma would put it on cuts and scrapes to promote healing. It has wonderful anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties (to name a few), and can be utilized when preparing a wide variety of food and drinks. I try to incorporate turmeric into my diet on a regular basis, and I take a daily turmeric supplement.

6. Maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet

It will probably become pretty obvious very quickly that I am all about preventing and decreasing inflammation. That's because inflammation is the root of so many diseases and medical conditions, including pain. I strongly believe that each person is different in terms of what affects their body - personally, the things that affect me most are gluten, dairy and refined sugar. These substances are all known to cause inflammation - when I maintain a diet that's free of them, and full of whole, nutritious foods, I feel better emotionally, physically, and cognitively. 

--

If you are struggling with chronic pain, I hope this post provides you with some hope and relief. It's not an easy road, but I'm all about the power of positivity, and utilizing natural remedies (where applicable) to alleviate this frustrating burden.

Thanks for reading! xo

Zakiya