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What can I do on my own to manage chronic pain?

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These approaches to chronic pain relief don’t require a doctor or physical therapist. Studies show they work for several types of pain.

Capsaicin. Capsaicin cream is available at drugstores and may take your pain down a notch. One review of several studies found applying capsaicin to the skin may be safe and effective for OA pain in the hand, knee, hip, and shoulder.

Heat. A hot compress, heating pad, or a warm bath can make you feel better, especially when you use it regularly. Research shows that “thermal therapy” reduces both pain and tender points in fibromyalgia. Ask your doctor if heat could be a smart home remedy for your pain.

Enough sleep. Pain can keep you up at night, and lack of sleep can make you feel worse, especially when you have RA. Try these strategies to get better sleep, which may help your pain feel less intense.

Exercise. Gentle exercise helps ease joint pain while it boosts strength and flexibility. Even if you can't get to the gym, take walks or try a streaming yoga class. (Check with your doctor first if you don’t exercise already). Working out also helps you sleep better.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Don’t nap in the afternoon.
  • Avoid a large evening meal.
  • Don’t use electronics for an hour before bed.

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Using Telehealth to Care for Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Cleveland Clinic: “A Pain Management Physician on Adapting Practices During the Pandemic.”

American Physical Therapy Association: “Telehealth Modalities That PTs and PTAs Can Use During the Public Health Emergency.”

Rheumatologia Clinica : “Topical capsaicin for pain in osteoarthritis.”

Pain Research and Management: Effects of Physical-Agent Pain Relief Modalities for Fibromyalgia Patients,” “Chronic Pain in the Emergency Department.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep.”

Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips.”

Journal of Pain : “The Social Regulation of Pain.”

Clinical Journal of Pain: “Social Support and Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure Among Older Adults.”

Aging & Mental Health: “ Social Support and Cognitive Functioning as Resources for Elderly Persons with Chronic Arthritis Pain.”

National Center for Health Statistics: “Reasons for Emergency Room Use Among U.S. Adults

Aged 18–64: National Health Interview Survey, 2013 and 2014.”

Medscape: "Are Warnings Against NSAIDS in COVID-19 Warranted?"

Mayo Clinic: "Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on April 27, 2020

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Using Telehealth to Care for Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Cleveland Clinic: “A Pain Management Physician on Adapting Practices During the Pandemic.”

American Physical Therapy Association: “Telehealth Modalities That PTs and PTAs Can Use During the Public Health Emergency.”

Rheumatologia Clinica : “Topical capsaicin for pain in osteoarthritis.”

Pain Research and Management: Effects of Physical-Agent Pain Relief Modalities for Fibromyalgia Patients,” “Chronic Pain in the Emergency Department.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep.”

Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips.”

Journal of Pain : “The Social Regulation of Pain.”

Clinical Journal of Pain: “Social Support and Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure Among Older Adults.”

Aging & Mental Health: “ Social Support and Cognitive Functioning as Resources for Elderly Persons with Chronic Arthritis Pain.”

National Center for Health Statistics: “Reasons for Emergency Room Use Among U.S. Adults

Aged 18–64: National Health Interview Survey, 2013 and 2014.”

Medscape: "Are Warnings Against NSAIDS in COVID-19 Warranted?"

Mayo Clinic: "Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on April 27, 2020

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Can support from friends and loved ones help to ease chronic pain?

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