Sam Bauman: More ideas for pain relief
I ran out of space last week while exploring several non-surgical ways of dealing with pain. I was editing a lengthy article in the June 2016 Consumer Reports. But before I get back to some of Consumer Reports’ suggested pain relief ideas, I’d like to respond to a couple of calls from readers who wanted to know more about the tiny, computer-controlled electronic shock pain device which I had mentioned.
It’s called “Igood,” spelled thusly. It was given to me by a friend who picked a couple up in Hong Kong. It consists of an egg-sized battery and computer container which snaps in place to a tourmaline pad about the size of my palm. The container has a window and a plus and minus control.
The pad is adhesive and is pressed against the area of the body closest to the acupuncture point path as outlined, then I fiddle with the intensity controls until I feel a tingling. If I increase the power of the signal, the shock grows in strength. I stop before it hurts.
The whole device is small and I can wear it under a shirt. It eases pain — not greatly. It also seems to relax muscles. I don’t give it 100 percent credit for pain relief, but even if it’s psychological, it seems to help.
A couple of years ago I tried a similar system called Empi, which worked the same way but was bulky and didn’t fit well with ski clothes. A local woman ran it and still does.
I’m not trying to sell either of these devices and do not recommend them. If interested, check them out on the Internet. Since pain is a subjective thing, one man’s experience can be different from another’s.
I’ve suffered from back pain for years and most of the time I just soldier on. I won’t take pain pills; they’re too dangerous for me. I did when my knee was replaced but quickly dropped them.
I covered Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and acupuncture last week, so let’s look at some other reliefs as covered in the Consumer Reports article. In the past I have found Consumer Reports a very creditable source with a medical staff. You might be well off to consult with your doctor before trying these palliative procedures.
Cognitive behavioral therapy — A couple of studies have suggested that CBT can help prevent migraine and neck pains and help with chronic back pain. This is a form of psychological counseling and behavioral changes that eases pain by shorting negative thinking. Such thinking can deepen pain. Anxiety, depression and fear boosts brain chemicals that so reducing them eases pain sensations.
Glucosamine and chondroitin — These are popular with many skiers and are said to help protect cartilage and ease joint pain. I tried them while teaching skiing, but they didn’t seem to help much. Plenty of side effects. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons doesn’t recommend these two.
Massage — I’ve used this with some success, largely depending on who’s pounding and pulling. It helped me with muscle or joint pain. Check with your doc to make sure it won’t be harmful to your body. Make sure the practitioner is licensed by the state.
Muscle pain creams and patches — Popular OTC items such as Bengay and Icy Hot contain chemicals called counterirritants that create a feeling of heat, and menthol which offers a cooling feeling. In both types the active parts inflame areas near the pain and stimulate the nerves and distract attention from the pain. Not much evidence that they actually address the pain, according to the Consumer Reports article.
Muscle relaxants — Prescription meds such as Fexmid and Skelaxin are used to treat muscle spasms and back or neck pain. Save these for spasms as they don’t do much for pain. Those 65 and older should stay clear of these.
Oxycodone and hydrocodone — I’ve used them after my knee replacement but dropped them before I was hooked. If you must take these after surgery stop as soon as you can. Highly addictive.
Physical therapy — Many studies have shown this can be effective for chronic back and neck pain. It has helped me, even when my therapist from Carson Tahoe Health gave up on my back and recommended I halt my daily workout.
Consumer Reports compiled this pain info but as usual with any medical procedures, run it before your family doc.
Pain is of course a strictly personal thing. I hope this report helps you.
My apartment looks out on the Boys and Girls open playground. We’re separated by a wooden fence on my side. A metal storm fence is about 18 inches away from the wood fence. On that 18 inches of no-man’s-land a towering strand of trees has grown. Nobody owns those 28 inches, so long may nature rule!
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.