6 Off-the-shelf Remedies To Manage Chronic Pain

6 Off-the-shelf Remedies To Manage Chronic Pain

07 Jul 2021

Chronic pain is a persistent issue that typically lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can still be felt even after an injury or illness has healed. The daily lives of people suffering from chronic pain can be affected if no proper care or treatment (such as rehabilitation) are done to manage the pain. People with such conditions may experience symptoms such as tiredness, limited ability to move, and tense muscles.

Some common areas of chronic discomfort are: 
Back - often occurs in the lower back where pain may be caused by an injury, health condition (e.g. arthritis, osteoporosis) or by normal wear and tear. 
Joint - typically caused by injury, infection, or age. 
Head - a throbbing sensation affects the head and causes moderate to severe pain which may last for a few days.
Nerve - commonly happens when the nerves are either compressed, damaged, or exposed to drugs that strip their protective exterior coating.

Off-the-shelf Remedies
Most people usually recover completely following an injury or surgery. However, some may experience lingering post-surgery pain where its severity can vary among different patients. While it is recommended that you visit a doctor to address your chronic pain issue, here are some off-the-shelf solutions that may help ease the discomfort!

1. Disposable Heat Packs
These packs boost your blood circulation with heat therapy, so more nutrients and oxygen in the blood can reach joints and muscles. This helps buffer pain from damaged muscles, relieve inflammation, and reduce back stiffness. 

Some of the benefits of disposable heat packs include:

  • Fast heating and long lasting, making them convenient for a quick remedy
  • Targeted relief of pain and improving aches/ joint movement

What to take note of when using: Pregnant women should avoid prolonged exposure as they are at risk of overheating. Heat packs should never be applied onto damaged skin as burning under the skin can occur. Heat therapy may not be suitable for every type of back pain, so be sure to check in with your doctor before using them.

2. Pain Relief Gels & Plasters
Gels and plasters are topical painkillers that are applied onto the affected area to relieve pain in joints and muscles. Designed to be used externally, these gels and plasters can either have cooling or heating effects.

Some of the benefits of pain relief gels and plasters include::

  • Relief of pain associated with sprains, arthritis, strains and backache
  • Gels and plasters with menthol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help numb the pain, and reduce swelling
  • Choose between cooling or warming effects 

What to take note of when using: Make sure to follow the recommended daily usage amount. People with skin conditions such as acne, eczema or an open wound should avoid using these products as they may cause irritation or an infection. Products that contain NSAID ingredients may be unsuitable for those on prescription medication as it may cause adverse side effects. It is important to always consult your doctor before using them.

3. Kinesiology Tape
Kinesiology tape is an elastic therapeutic tape that is used with the intent of treating aches or pain around the muscles and joints. It is applied strategically to the affected area of the body to provide support, lessen pain and reduce swelling by assisting muscle function.

Some of the benefits of kinesiology tape include:

  • Helps improve circulation which reduces swelling and lessens pain
  • Able to mitigate pain as it adds support to injured muscles/ joints
  • May increase the space in between joints when applied properly, helping to reduce the chance of joint irritation
  • People using such tape can move normally, without discomfort 

What to take note of when using:  Do not use kinesiology tape if you have an open wound or surgical incision that is not fully healed. Consult your doctor to find out if there are any potential risks when using kinesiology tape.

4. Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a healing treatment that takes advantage of the natural extracts from plants, or essential oils, to stimulate health and well-being. It can aid people with inflammation, headaches, sleep disorders and respiratory problems.

Some of the benefits of aromatherapy include:

  • Relief from acute or temporary pain
  • Oil blends can be customised to suit the user's need/ preference
  • Lavender and ginger oil can help soothe the user, and is effective in lessening the severity of migraine symptoms, feelings of tiredness, and dizziness 
  • Eucalyptus and lemongrass oil contain antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in relieving stress and eliminating mental fatigue

What to take note of when using: Some people can be allergic to essential oils. Stop using it if you experience any irritation or discomfort. Use in moderation and always seek medical consultation before self-medicating.

5. Joint Guard & Braces
Joint guard and braces are a form of non-surgical treatment to relieve discomfort and provide support to the injured joint/ limb to reduce pressure and lessen pain.

Some of the benefits of joint guard and braces include:

  • Stability or compression to the aching muscle
  • Gives the joint time to heal while being used as a post-surgery recovery tool or a form of treatment
  • Various types of braces available to suit the user’s needs based on the level of support required, area of support needed, along with the user’s size and comfort

What to take note of when using: Some braces may feel bulky and hot at first which may result in skin swelling and irritation, especially if the brace doesn’t fit properly. Long-term use is discouraged as it may cause the person to be over-reliant on the additional support and hamper their recovery.

6. Massage Balls & Foam Rollers
Massage balls and foam rollers act as a form of self-massage which can help alleviate chronic pain. They are used to loosen tight muscles in the body, which improves flexibility and joint movement. 

Some of the benefits of massage balls & foam rollers include:

  • Aid in relief of muscle soreness, reduce inflammation and increase your joints’ range of motion
  • Tension relief as they unwind muscle ‘knots’, mimicking a deep tissue massage

What to take note of when using:  Make sure not to roll over small joints like elbows, knees and ankles as it can cause injury to these joints. Always consult a professional about whether these products are suitable for you, and how to use them effectively.

Disclaimer: Before using any of the products, do read up more about the pros and cons of using them, to make sure they are suitable for you (or your loved one’s) condition. If you are unsure, always check back with your doctor for advice!