Non-Toxic Tuesday: Pain Management
Fibromyalgia HURTS. By definition, actually.
The first 18 years or so that I complained to doctors about chronic pain, the chronic answer was NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). For at least 13 years of that time, advised by doctors who I didn’t think I had any reason to mistrust, I took 800 mg. of ibuprofen daily (1, 2). Until I stopped taking the advice of every doctor I met blindly and started doing my own research, I had no idea why my stomach was always upset and my blood pressure was steadily climbing. NSAIDs didn’t even help me that much. The most pain relief I ever got from an NSAID was from a year on VIOXX, right before it was pulled off the market by its manufacturer for possible links to heart failure.
I was one of the lucky ones. I never actually developed an ulcer or other serious long-term stomach or heart problems. At least, as far as I know, so far! I have avoided NSAIDs for about five years now, and my stomach symptoms and blood pressure have gone back to my pre-pain reliever “normal.”
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) worked better for me for pain relief. But it is not safe for long term use (3).
Long-term, I am optimistic that removing as many toxins as feasible from my daily exposure and eating truly nourishing foods will allow my body to heal itself as God intended. In the meantime, my new pain management strategy:
- Reduce the total amount of time I spend in high heels. This one is really hard for me. I am an unashamed shoeholic and I work in a business-dress office. But I’m killing my lower back and knees by wearing them every day. Today I brought my 4″ wedges with me, and put them on when I went down to the classroom, but I wore flats most of the day. As soon as I get home I will be barefoot all evening!
- Increase my exercise. Also really difficult for me, but 100% essential. Exercise is absolutely non-negotiable in managing ADHD, fibro, and insomnia. I know this. I still don’t do it as much as I should, because frankly it sucks to try to work out, even to go for a walk, when I’m in pain. I’m not a big fan of delayed gratification. “It hurts now, but you will feel much better later” really doesn’t count for that much with me. But I’m taking babysteps, gradually adding more movement into my life.
- Posture posture posture. I know this! I do know this one – I mean, years of ballet, yoga, martial arts … my back should be in perfect balance. But it isn’t. Because when I sit at a desk, I get lazy. Last week I brought in a physio ball to sit on. It is helping, but I still have a lot of work to do.
- Taking my shoes off. I’m reading Barefoot Running Step by Step, by Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton and Roy Wallack. I’m not actually running yet, just working through some of the drills, but one of Barefoot Ken Bob’s main points is that the soles of your feet are a source of information for your whole body. The less I wear shoes, the more I am aware of how I am standing/walking/twisting/climbing whatever, and exactly what effect different movements have on my pain.
- Ditching my sunscreen. Did I just hear a collective gasp of shock? I really mean this, my friends. Lori at Laurel of Leaves explains the impact of sunscreen from a natural health perspective better than I could, and Robin at Thank Your Body just wrote this entry (very well documented and footnoted!) on the current state of skin cancer research and the links to sunscreens. Besides the cancer link, sunlight is simply the best and most easily assimilated form of Vitamin D, strongly implicated in fibro management (4). If I’m out for a long time and think I might burn, I use Badger sunscreen (no PABA, no oxybenzone, no other things I can’t pronounce) or wear a lightweight longsleeved shirt and broad-brim straw hat.
What works to reduce or alleviate your pain?
- National Library of Medicine listing for ibuprofen.
- Cardiovascular side effects of NSAID painkillers. Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, Oct 2006
- Long-term use of acetaminophen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and risk of hematologic malignancies. National Center for Biotechnology Information, May 2011
- The relationship between vitamin D deficiency and fibromyalgia syndrome in women. National Center for Biotechnology Information, Sep 2011