Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Strategies and alternatives for coping with fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and other chronic illnesses

Learning to Live with Pain – Being Proactive (Part 2)

Posted by wendyburnett on May 7, 2010

In my Sunday post, I promised you complementary/alternative methods you can try for pain and stress control/reduction, so here we go. These methods apply in all of the 4Ps, although they apply in different ways in different stages.


  1. In the planning stage is where you would research methods, checking possible interactions or side effects and making decisions about whether or not to try something.
  2. In the preparation stage, you would purchase supplies, learn how to use a technique, or find a practitioner.
  3. The prevention phase is where you make preventative techniques such as meditation, massage and exercise a regular part of your life.
  4. Finally, during the practice stage (during a flare or on a high pain day,) you would put your plan into action, adding in your medication for breakthrough pain, increasing the frequency of acupuncture or massage therapy appointments, etc.

The most important preventative measure is stress reduction. Stress is known to increase pain levels and trigger flares in many chronic diseases (fibromyalgia, arthritis, CFS, MS, Chrohn’s, and IBS immediately come to mind.) Stress reduction techniques should be part of any pain management program, even one based on medications, since reducing stress levels can also reduce the need for medication. In addition, many stress reduction techniques are completely free, and can be learned online or from a book, such as:

Other methods can range from relatively inexpensive (buying a DVD or taking a class to learn yoga or tai chi, then continuing to practice at home) to barely affordable (regular massages from a massage therapist familiar with working with your medical issues.) Many of these techniques reduce pain levels as well, although it isn’t known whether the pain reduction is due to the lower stress levels or some other mechanism.

There are also many pain relief methods that don’t require a medical doctor, and since most of them aren’t covered by insurance anyway, they depend only on your ability to pay for them. There’s a wide range of prices on these methods, from very inexpensive (making teas from herbs you’ve grown yourself) to very expensive (acupuncture or chiropractic treatments,) and many of them can be combined with traditional medical treatment (with advice from your doctor.) Some of the available options include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Capsaicin Creams or other topical creams
  • Herbal treatments
  • Aromatherapy
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractors
  • Myofascial Trigger Point release
  • OTC medications
  • Dietary supplements, and
  • Special diets

I’ve provided just a few links to start you off on your research (I have no connection to any of these sites.) There is much more information available on the web, at your local library (be sure to check publication dates to make sure you’re getting current information,) or from the national foundations/associations for your individual diseases/syndromes. In addition, I’ll be doing more posts on various herbal treatments, aromatherapy blends, and my personal coping methods in the future.

This post is offered for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. Advice from a competent practitioner should be sought before trying ANY new treatment, to ensure that it is safe in your particular situation.

**If you are reading this post anywhere other than it is because it has been stolen. Please click on the link provided to return to the site of origin.


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