Are There Things I Can Do Besides Taking Medication That Can Help My Pain?
Pain management is most successful when it combines medication and other non-drug strategies such as:
Massage – Visit a massage therapist or find a friend who is willing to give you a massage. If the area where you have pain is too tender to be massaged (or if the skin is broken), a hand or foot massage can be just as relaxing. Plan a time each day to have a massage; perhaps at a time before your pain usually gets worse or when you feel worried. Massage oil or lotion helps keep the area you are massaging slippery. Use long firm strokes and rub each finger or toe separately. Be sure to tell the person massaging what feels good to you and stop if it makes the pain worse.
Heat – Heat is generally best for achy, cramping pain because it helps to relax tense muscles. Try a grain-filled heat bag that can be warmed up in the microwave. Follow the directions of the heat bag manufacturer to prevent burns.
Cold – Cold therapy is generally best for pain that comes from an injury, such as a sprained ankle, because it reduces swelling and inflammation. Use a commercially available ice pack or make your own out of a plastic bag. It is important to note that frozen vegetables are not cold enough to use as a cold pack. Try using a cold pack for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day. Here is an example of a cold pack recipe: 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol, 2/3 cup water. Place in a sealable plastic bag; put in freezer until it looks like slush. Cover in a moist, thin cloth. You can use an elastic bandage to wrap your cold pack around the body area in need of pain relief. (Do not use cold therapy on areas of broken skin or poor circulation.)
Topical creams – Topical analgesic creams can be helpful for some types of pain, such as arthritis or backache. Some creams have methyl salicylate (similar to Aspirin®), some contain menthol, and some contain capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes chili peppers hot.