Monday, June 22, 2009

Fight the Pain Pt 2

Here is the second entry in a trio that addresses the questions: How well am I fighting the pain, and what strategy is really best for me?

In this article, Eight Effective Pain-Relieving Methods by Rebecca Ruiz at, 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 yoga, physical therapy, acupuncture and counseling.

I haven't been nearly as active as I should be. I am too easily tired and affected by the weather, or noises, or the glare of the sun. I mean to get a treadmill, so I can stroll indoors, earplugs in, as slowly and for as long as I want. Until then, I lay dormant. I've tried yoga, and loved it for a long time, but for the past few months any change in head elevation brings great pain. That knocks out about 95% of the poses I am familiar with. Not to say I couldn't bust out with a little warrior or corpse, I just miss my down dog. I do manage some stretching in the shower, maybe it's the hot water on my skin that keeps the blood rushing to my head or maybe the steam is soothing somehow, but that's the only place I can bend over without immediately regretting it when I stand up again. I love hot, hot, hot showers. I almost always feel better afterward, at least temporarily.

Massage and physical therapy are the first appointments I am going to make once I get insurance. I know they work. Relaxing tense muscles, cranial massage, trigger point therapy, and meditation are powerful tools in pain management. I get my boyfriend to rub me down, use my theracane or a tennis ball on my knots, and use self-hypnosis techniques to try to relax into the pain. It helps, but the results are, unfortunately, very temporary.

I haven't tried acupuncture yet. It's on my list. I'm ambivalent about it, honestly. I've read studies in which the placebo group had just as much success as the group who received "legitimate" acupuncture, so I am skeptical. That doesn't mean I won't try it out, though. Even if it's the placebo effect, if it gives a reprieve from the pain, I'll take it.

Counseling is also on my short list. I feel like I am dealing with the chronic pain and disability pretty well, given my personality type. But I can't deny that a little outside intervention and perspective would be extremely useful. I get depressed, and sometimes feel self destructive and a little suicidal. Not to worry, I have plenty to live for, despite the pain, but sometimes I just wish I could be put into a coma until the headache goes away. Those are the times when I wish I had narcotics in the house. Muscle relaxers and weed can only do so much. But, I have the Logic fairy on my right shoulder to remind me that I will live through it. (Impulse, in the meantime, is considering gobbling mouthfuls of pills from the "useless rx box" we haven't gotten around to cleaning out.) Yeah, I could use a little therapy. Heh.

To be concluded...


Betsy said...

I found your blog through Headways and will bookmark it - I've been where you are and can relate to it so well....I spent well over a year with daily migraine. Reading your blog is so much like reading my own thoughts and feelings last year.

In reading this, I saw that you hadn't yet tried acupuncture - that was what finally worked for me to break the cycle. I can't swear it'll work for you, obviously...but I'd reached the end of my rope and would've tried anything. I found a place that did community acupuncture - multi-patient rooms and ridiculously inexpensive sliding scales for payment (i.e. $15-$35, depending on what *you* feel you can pay - google it and you may find a community acupuncture clinic near you - they're becoming a more popular treatment model from what I understand). I went twice a week for 5 weeks and then had a month pain-free. I won't say that I subscribe to the philosophy as to *why* it worked...I only know that it did for me. I figure that I don't really care why it works as long as it does. Like you - placebo effect or real, as long as it works, who cares? ;-)

I'll bookmark your blog - 'cause unfortunately, I never know when my daily migraine might come back - and whether or not acupuncture might work a second time. And sometimes it's good to know you're not alone in this. Thank you for having the courage to write this.