Monday, June 15, 2009

Fight the Pain Pt 1

I ran across this great article, Eight Effective Pain-Relieving Methods by Rebecca Ruiz at (the article is here) and it got me thinking. How well am I fighting the pain, and what strategy is really best for me?

I've split this entry into three, for length. This is part one.

In the article, the author says that the most effective treatments for chronic pain involve these eight elements (to varying degrees); physical aids, physical therapy, yoga, medication, the Alexander Technique, acupuncture, invasive procedures and counseling, which I agree, pretty much sum up the options.

Here are my takes on the Alexander Technique and physical aids.

First of all, I had never heard of the Alexander Technique. In the article, it is explained as a lesson in posture and movement, to correct bad habits. I had great posture as a kid. I went to a private school for elementary and they constantly corrected posture. I have vivid memories of wearing plaid and having my back tapped by a yardstick. When I switched to public school, everyone slouched. I noticed, and I forever ruined my back by trying to fit in, in a weird way. Also, I hit puberty suddenly at about the same time, shot up a few more inches to tower over my classmates and then I sprouted boobs. I was very self-conscious of these rapid changes, so I started slouching and hunching to cover the changes. (It didn't work.) AND, I apparently have a mild case of scoliosis. I try to be mindful of my body position and its effect on my head (hint: HUGE trigger) but in general, my posture is bad. Besides being generally slouchy, I hunch when my head hurts, which is the worst thing I could do. If my back starts to hurt, it just travels up. My shoulders, neck and head are all subject to the whims of my back. So, I could probably use a lesson or two in movement and posture.

Physical aids like ergonomic chairs and and screen filters for your monitor can reduce triggers, thus reducing headache frequency and/or severity. Also, in the physical aid category for migraine and headache disorders are dark sunglasses, earplugs, and non-flickering light bulbs. My innocent looking laptop is a trigger, but it helps that I have my color settings on "High Contrast Black", meaning the background is black, letters white, and links and titles are blue. Webpages that override a browser's default settings can trigger immediate nausea and stabbing eye and head pain for me. The shock of a bright white page to my eyes is just too much nowadays. I am subject to internet rage when trying to navigate a website with a bright background or with a lot of moving graphics.

When sitting or laying down, I make sure to change positions often enough so nothing gets sore or stiff or falls asleep. Strategically placed pillows and mindfulness are key because, again, a sore back is going to travel upwards.

I do my best to avoid lightbulbs. Even the benign ones, non-flickering I guess, still bother me because it is a light source, period. I have a pretty floral print sarong over the standing lamp in my bedroom, which diffuses the light enough so it's tolerable. I sometimes wear a hat with a visor to combat overhead lighting. I should really get some tinted glasses to wear at all time. Something specifically for migraineurs. I read here that there is a machine that can help pick the right tint for each person by showing them text with different colored overlays. The one that feels the best or is the least irritating is chosen and we all live happily ever after. Yeah, no. But they had a few testimonials that were positive.

To be continued....