Those who suffer from chronic pain live in a constant battle with the grief and misery of never-ending inability to be comfortable. Lack of sleep, and the ups and downs of breakthrough pain, experimenting with pills and shots, doctor’s appointments, and CT scans. Lost work, medical bills, and loss of quality of life are all very real challenges that chronic pain can lay in the path of once healthy, happy people. One bright side to this is that there are always new developments in medicine and in technology to bring about improvements in treatment.
An old standard for the relief of deeply seeded muscle pain is the application of heat. A musculoskeletal injury that is over 48 hours old benefits from heating pads or warmth of any variety. Warm surroundings stimulate blood flow and the dissipation of built-up edema. Swelling around injured tissues that are chronic in nature is one of a series of common reasons behind chronic pain.
Heating pads are a great remedy for muscle and joint pain, but only if the person using the heating pad is not confused in any way (Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia) is contraindicated for safety reasons. Similarly, if there is a history of neuropathy or decreased sensation to the area being treated (a common effect of poorly maintained Type II Diabetes, as well as post-chemotherapy) forego the electric heating pad, and opt for warm packs made with a hot water bottle or over the counter warm packs that react with the air.
Another good option, if there is no broken skin or sutures to worry about, is a very warm bath. Some swear by Epsom Salts for improved pain relief.
Utilize Deep Tissue Massage
A vigorous massage is always recommended for problems with pain that is secondary to muscle injury. If there is no chance of bone fracture or severe sprain of a joint underlying the painful area in question, deep tissue massage is a helpful treatment for even moderate to severe pain. The use of a massage gun to work out knots and promote blood and lymph flow is one of the best ways to get effective pain relief in the modern era.
Use NSAIDS for Muscle & Joint Pain
Unless you have a medical issue that makes the use of NSAIDS problematic, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, any history of bleeding in the eyes, clotting disorders, or use of medicines that prevent the use of Advil, aspirin, Aleve, or any other medication in the family of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), then NSAID drugs are nearly unparalleled in their usefulness in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and edema.
All NSAIDS can cause blood thinning, but aspirin is especially effective at thinning the blood and must be taken as directed. It is important to monitor yourself for any signs of abnormal bleeding, especially from the colon, and any new abdominal pain. All NSAIDS must be taken on a full stomach (ideally), or at the least with a glass of milk or some crackers, to help prevent gastric ulcers.
Never take these medicines just before laying down, because they are a common cause of GERD. If used improperly, ulcerations in the esophagus caused by lying supine after using NSAIDS commonly lead to a form of esophageal cancer that is aggressive. For all of these reasons, although the drug family NSAIDS are especially good at treating pain that is rooted in the muscle, bone, or connective tissue, these drugs need to be taken with care to prevent serious side effects.
Rest Between Workouts
To cut down on injury, get adequate rest between workouts. Even if the desire to work out is strong, giving the body an adequate amount of recovery time is essential in the prevention of causing damage. Many exercise-related muscle injuries can be prevented entirely just by taking a 24 hour break day between each gym day. If an average workout involves cardio, as well as weight training with incremental increases in reps and/or weight, it is important for injury prevention to take a break between workout days. If you must return to the gym on a daily basis, try limiting your workout to cardio alone every other day, reserving the more injury-prone practice of weight training for every other day.
If an injury is endured due to overexertion or any other common exercise-related issue, it is important to rest the injured area until it is adequately healed before returning to a normal workout. If you are unsure of what constitutes “adequate healing”, it is prudent to have a medical practitioner address the injury to better guide you to a healthy future.