Managing Minor Pain Without Pills

7 January 2017

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I hate taking painkillers, I don't like taking any type of pill and fiercely refuse to until the very bitter end. I'm very very stubborn about pain, I get a lot of people who get frustrated and say 'why do you make yourself suffer by not taking anything?' My reply is always 'I'll take something if I can't cope anymore, until then I'm not touching any tablets'. In extreme cases I have and do take pain medication, but I honestly can't tell you the last time I had even half of one.

Now let me just say this, I am in no way against modern medicine. I think it is vital and I've relied on it many times. I believe in having vaccinations and in people managing chronic pain, diseases, conditions and everything else through medication. I understand that everyone is different and deals with things differently. I just personally do not like taking pain medication if I can help it. I don't often have to deal with chronic pain so if the pain I'm dealing with is a headache or something minor then I'm always looking for an alternative.

Which brings me to the two products in this post! 
I've taken arnica homeopathy tablets in the past to help with bruising etc but didn't know it could be used topically until I developed the most energy draining pain in my shoulder blade and shoulder joint. I still have no idea what it was, a trapped nerve or a ripped muscle or what, but I do know that it was like what I imagine having a knife slicing into your shoulder from the inside would feel like. After about a week I decided enough was enough and headed to the pain section of Holland & Barrett and ended up buying this massage balm. 
Like with anything there are always other factors that could account for a result, but I had been massaging my shoulder since the pain started and it would only ease the pain while I massaged or had someone work the area for me. After that the pain was the same. With this oil I do genuinely believe after a few days of working it in with the massage I'd been doing before, it reduced my pain substantially. Note, it did not remove my pain completely - to expect results like that would be pretty ambitious. The ingredients such as Arnica, Rosemary and Birch combined with the massage help to relax and ease muscles, reducing stiffness and swelling/inflammation which can often by the root of pain. In my case it seemed to do the trick. 
The downside is that this is A) expensive and B) it has a short shelf life after opening. Also you can't use this if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also goes without saying that you should avoid it if you have any allergy to any of the ingredients.
Cost: £7.95 (50ml) 
Buy: Weleda or other health store like Holland & Barrett

Another little name I like to call this is the 'Absolute F*cking Lifesaver'.
Again a purchase made under extreme pain circumstances. My period cramps one month were so extreme I was pale, shaky, sweating and finding it hard to catch my breath, let alone speak or think coherently. I have a high pain threshold and as we've established I'm very stubborn and perhaps a bit too proud about my pain coping abilities. But this month was like no other. In the end I decided that  a walk would help ease my cramps, a good idea except for the fact that I could barely stand up and had to limp doubled over. (I know, I know this is very dramatic but I also know for a fact there will be a large number of girls who know exactly what I'm talking about. Aside from childbirth  - which is pain in a whole different realm - there is literally no other pain quite like chronic period cramps.) Anyway, on this occasion I decided that I'd walk to the chemist so if the walking didn't help then at least I would have other options at my finger tips. My aim was to get some heat pads (which I also bought but have yet to try -anyone got any feedback on these?) and I was at the point of giving in and grabbing a pack of pain killers when I saw this Paingone pen.

The Paingone pen works almost like a Tens Machine. It contains a quartz crystal which when you 'click' the pen it creates a small electrical impulse that sends a signal to your brain to produce endorphins and send them to the area of pain. Endorphins are the body's natural pain remover and when pain isn't present produce a sort of 'high' and boost your mood such as you experience after exercise. Your body is treating itself without you adding any extra chemicals or anything into your system. The effect of stimulating endorphins with the pen is no different than from doing exercise to get the endorphin rush. All you have to do it stick the nib of the pen on the point of pain or on a relating acupuncture point (a guide is included, see below) and click it 30-40 times. It doesn't hurt but you do feel a 'zing' depending on where you put it and occasionally you'll find a nerve  point where it's very noticeable - but not painful. 

I hold my hands up and say I thought this would be a gimmick, an expensive but useless piece of equipment even as I was buying it. But I was desperate and decided that if I believed it would work then maybe I would at least get a psychosomatic or placebo effect from it. But I don't call it the 'Absolute F*cking Lifesaver' because of the placebo effect- I was as shocked as anyone that this worked. Worked like a little lifesaving miracle worker. I shakily zapped my lower abdomen then curled up in ball of self-pity for about 15 minutes. Then the most amazing sensation happened. It was like someone was pulling the pain away, like a blanket slowly being pulled off a table. You know that lovely sensation as you ease into a warm bath slowly and the water inches up blissfully- it was like that. I actually burst out laughing and shouted 'It works! It f*cking works, oh my god, oh my god!' to my colleagues! After a few hours I felt a bit twingey again so I zapped it away again. You can use this pen as often as you like and it lasts for over 100,000 clicks or approx 2 years.

Downside: it was an eye watering £30 - but 100% worth it! Plus it doesn't degrade or go off like creams or medication. Also like with many things there are restrictions like you can't use it on your head or over your heart, if you have a pacemaker or if you are pregnant etc. So please ALWAYS read up on this before using it. Oh and it can singe the hair on your body, just a tiny bit!

Cost: £30 (depending on retailer)
Buy: Boots/ Superdrug & other select pharmacy/chemists

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