Without pain, says the Dalai Lama, you wouldn't know something was wrong with your body. But for more than 100 million North Americans who deal with lower-back problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions, message received - loud and clear!
Fortunately, there are powerful self-care techniques that may reduce your discomfort by 20 percent to 60 percent and allow two-thirds of you to slash your use of addictive pain meds.
That'll ease your blues and let you sleep better too!
1. Drink caffeine - up to four 8-ounce cups a day. It blocks the action of a neurotransmitter that's involved in the onset of muscle pain.
2. Look at your aching body part. Really. The body senses you're in control of your pain when you look at where it's located (even if you have to use a mirror). And then apply a topical pain reliever made from capsaicin (the sizzle in hot peppers).
3. Laugh. A really good belly laugh increases pain tolerance. So treat yourself to a funny movie!
4. Use hot and cold packs, plus step up physical activity, if possible. For soft-tissue problems, walking at least 30 minutes a day (headed for 10,000 steps daily), stretching and (eventually) strength-building exercises help. Combine with use of hot and cold packs on tender areas twice daily.
5. Meditate for 10 minutes morning and night using deep breathing (count to four as you breathe in, eight as you breathe out) and progressive muscle relaxation. You'll harness the power of your brain's alpha waves and tune out distractions like pain.
© 2013 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate