Got an ache or pain? Most people do at some point during the day. Whether it's an ache in your back from walking on concrete or a pain in your neck from sitting at the computer, aches and pains are a part of almost everyone's day. In addition to fleeting pains, millions of Americans endure chronic pain that greatly diminishes their quality of life.
"One out of every three American adults has some form of chronic pain," says nationally recognized pain expert Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Pain Free 1-2-3! Common forms of chronic pain include back pain, headaches, neuropathic pain (from damage to nerves) and pain from arthritis.
It is also important to recognize that opioids do have a legitimate purpose for those in acute pain, but the evidence is beyond overwhelming that they are being prescribed indiscriminately in many cases as a result of greedy drug companies and doctors that are paid to prescribe opioids, resulting in tens of thousands dying from addiction.
Whether fleeting or chronic, many sufferers pop a pill, such as over-the-counter painkillers like Advil or Tylenol. Some, especially those with chronic pain, resort to opioids. All have their share of side effects ranging from mild to severe, so many patients are searching for alternatives. Fortunately, there are quick tricks you can try yourself to relieve pain in five minutes or less. They include:
• Chin tuck stretch. For headache pain, bend your head forward and gently rest your chin on your chest, feeling the muscles gently stretch. Maintain the position for 30 seconds, and repeat several times.
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• Comfrey cream. The herb comfrey has been used for pain relief for thousands of years, and comfrey creams are as close as your local health store. Rub it on painful areas wherever you have pain. "It works immediately — within seconds," says Dr. Teitelbaum.
• Peppermint tea. Many headaches can be eased by a cup of peppermint tea. The tea's aroma relaxes constricted blood vessels in the brain, which are often the cause of headaches. Peppermint tea also reduces headaches accompanied by an upset stomach by aiding digestion and reducing spasms in the stomach. Even just sniffing peppermint — aromatherapy — can help.
• Ice water or ice pack. Tired feet and feet with heel pain can get help by soaking them in ice water or putting crushed ice in a plastic bag and massaging the painful area. Nerve endings will be temporarily numbed by the ice and swelling will also be reduced. Don't soak or use an ice pack for more than 10 minutes at a time.
• Sesame oil. Rubbing aching knees with warm sesame oil improves circulation and loosens tight, painful muscles.
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• Heating pad. If you have a sore neck, perhaps from sleeping in an awkward position, just placing a heating pad over the sore area will increase blood flow and almost instantly reduce pain and stiffness. Hot water bottles and gel-filled pads heated in the microwave also provide spot-on warmth.
• Clove oil. Massaging aching feet with clove oil will relax muscles and stimulate blood flow. Clove oil massaged into the forehead also opens constricted blood vessels relieving pain.
• Neck rolls for head and neck pain. Gently moving your neck in a slow circular motion can loosen stiff muscles and help sore, strained necks as well as headaches that radiate from the back of your head.
• Warm bath. A deficiency of magnesium can cause muscles to contract causing pain, says Dr. Teitelbaum. "American diets have 65 percent less magnesium than they did years ago." Fortunately, magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, so adding two cups of Epsom salts to a bath and soaking for a few minutes can reduce muscle pain.
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• Water. Most Americans don't drink enough water, and dehydration can cause a gamut of physical problems, including headaches. Just drinking enough water can squelch a headache if you're dehydrated.
• Acupressure. Applying pressure to specific points can quickly ease pain. One spot is in the web between your thumb and forefinger. Simply take your other thumb or the eraser end of a pencil and press firmly to relieve both headaches and back pain. Acupressure spots below your eyebrows just above the bridge of your nose and on both sides of your nostrils are great for sinus headaches.