Saturday, February 15, 2014

My favorite products to reduce PAIN and feel better, today!

Hello fellow spoonies and CP'ers! I have been living, and parenting, with chronic pain due to autoimmune disease for over 8 years.  I have tried pretty much everything.  Here is a list of my favorite, tried & true methods for pain reduction and relief.  Some temporary, some for long-term relief.  I hope some of them work for you as well!  Wishing many pain-free days (or at least minutes) to you all! ~PFM

1) Spoonk 

While traveling in San Francisco, an interesting spa product caught my eye.  It promised reduction in pain, insomnia, and other things.  It is designed to be an acupressure mat,  and claims to stimulate multiple acupressure points at once.   For me, it has become an ideal "emergency" pain reliever.  Why it works: It increases blood flow to the areas being stimulated, and the multiple pressure points block all other nerve signals-- like PAIN!

The Spoonk hurts, but only at first!  After about 5-10 minutes, you drift into a dream-like state of blissful comfort.  When I am having a BAD pain day, and can't sleep, I lay on my spoonk for about 20-30 minutes.  I lay with my knees under a pillow, with direct skin contact on the spoonk.  Usually, I fall asleep  within 15 minutes. Technically, you're not supposed to sleep on it, but remove it before drifting off.  But when I do fall asleep, I wake up after about an hour, the effect wears off and the pressure points become painful again.  If that happens, I just remove it and drift back to sleep.  I. LOVE. THIS.

2) Comfort-U pillow

I bought this when I was pregnant and still use it every night; my son is almost four.   What else can I say? This thing is amazing.  You can adjust it in any way you want to support whichever parts of your body you need.  Sometimes I prop up my knees and neck, sometimes I sleep on my side.  When I'm sick, I pull up the two legs against the backboard, and have a comfortable "nest" to read, check email, or maybe write a blog post ; )

3) Voltaren gel

This is a prescription gel which is basically topical ibuprofen (advil).  It is amazing in so many ways... you just have to put it where it hurts, it does not upset your stomach, and it works fast!  I rub this on my lower back, shoulders, joints, ect., and it cuts the pain in half.  Obviously, ask your doctor about this one!

4) Epsom salt bath with Eucalyptus essential oil

Instantaneous pain relief and relaxation.  You can get bags or cartons of epsom salt at any grocery or pharmacy, it is very cheap!  I usually run a hot bath, pour in 2 cups of epsom salt, and 1/2 tsp of eucalyptus oil.

Why it works:  Epsom salts increase your potassium and other natural salts, which are critical to proper muscle function.  Eucalyptus oil causes a cooling sensation and helps block pain signals, and the warm water relaxes your muscles.

*Be sure to use LOTS of moisturizer after the bath (My favorite is baby oil gel)

5) Omega 3

3 is the magic number! Lets start with Omega: 
We have all heard that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for us; but people with chronic pain, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions can benefit more than others.  I take Omega 3 every day, and if I miss more than 2 days, there is a noticeable increase in my joint pain.   My favorite is "Garden of Life"

Why it works: Omega 3s interact with your cellular proteins, stimulating a range of antioxidant and, more importantly, anti-inflammatory effects. (source: Science Daily

6) Raw D3

Why it works:  Vitamin D does 2 important things for people with autoimmune disease; It gives your immune system a huge boost, reducing infections, colds, and viruses that can leave us bed-ridden.  Additionally, recent, highly-publicized research has shown that Vitamin D can reduce pain and fatigue in Fibromyalgia, Lupus, and other autoimmune diseases. (Source: Science Daily)

"Vitamin Code" Garden of Life raw D3 is amazing.  It is made from dozens of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and other plants to create the perfect blend of food-based, easily absorbable D3.  I don't go a day without my D3.  I used to get a cold or other virus about once a month, which lasted 2 weeks, thus I was sick 50% of the time, on top of my FM and MCTD, ugh.  After starting D3, my infection rate has been cut in 1/2.

7) Heating pad/Stick on heat

Why it works:  Heat relaxes your muscles, while blocking pain signals at the same time. (Your brain is busy processing the feeling of heat, and the pain signals are less likely to get through).

When I have a long car trip, bad day at work, or have to fly,  I use those stick-on heating pads available at pharmacies, like "Thermacare".

For back pain: 
Lay the heating pad on a firm pillow, length-wise to cover your neck, shoulders, and back (Big dudes may need 2 ; ).  Prop yourself up so you're sitting up and leaning against the heating pad (You should not lay on a heating pad).  Put another pillow under your knees.

8) Proper shoe inserts

If you have back pain, proper shoe inserts are crucial!  I have "high arches" as well as as chronic back, hip, and knee pain.  I recently bought arched supports (and a pair of cute ankle books :)) at Comfort One, a shoe store that caries Healthy shoes for back/foot/hip/knee pain.   Ask your doctor for a recommendation. 
No, these are not "Healthy" shoes ; ) 
why it works:  Proper inserts help align your spine, and provide proper back, foot, knee and hip support to reduce joint pain. 

9) Start an anti-inflammatory and/or gluten-free diet! 

Gluten, as well as sugar and saturated fat can do the opposite of what we want; they INCREASE inflammation.  Skipping or reducing these foods can greatly improve pain, and reduce fatigue.     

I live by this anti-inflammatory food pyramid by Dr. Weil.   You can also view other blog posts I've written on my own (wonderful) experiences with an anti-inflammatory diet. 

Thanks for reading! I hope that some of these tips and ideas will help you in your own quest to reduce pain, fatigue, and inflammation. 

I hope everyone feels like her now ; ) Good luck! 
Follow me!  You can enter your email in the upper left-hand corner of the blog, where it says "follow by email", Or, follow me on Facebook
wishing joyful and pain-free days to all! 
~The PFM

**Check out my new blog especially for parents with chronic illness:, and my childrens book on chronic pain, Fibromyalgia and Autoimmune Disease: "Why Does Mommy Hurt?" 

Tags: Fibromyalgia, Spoonie, Lupus, inflammation, arthritis, chronic pain, health, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, diet, lower back, pain. Multiple Sclerosis, Crohns, Ulcerative colitis. Mixed connective tissue disease. 


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  3. Really helpful facts to reduce pain. Thanks for sharing valuable stuff here. All of these are simplest, least expensive and most effective methods of pain relief are heat and cold treatments.

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