“According to the medically recognized pain scale, which shows comparative pain scale from 1 to 10, moderate pain ‘interferes with many activities and requires a lifestyle change with the person being unable to adapt to pain,’” says Dr. Ken Kronhaus, M.D., Ph.D. and host of Good Day Health with Dr. Ken.
Minor pain does not interfere with most activities and the person is able to adapt to pain psychologically and with medication or devices such as cushions, he adds. Moderate pain is classified as “distressing,” “very distressing” and “intense,” so over-the-counter remedies that “can alleviate moderate pain and empower a person to engage in normal activities is quite significant,” he says.
Kronhaus and others offer these suggestions to alleviate pain or head it off entirely:
Keep active even if pain presents. “While pain may leave a person wanting to curl up in bed with a heating pad and a bottle of medication to ease their aches, exercise is one of the best pain management options for mild, moderate and even chronic pain,” says Dave Endres, physical therapist, co-founder of SPEAR Physical Therapy in New York City. “A primary goal of physical therapy is to help chronic pain patients become stronger, because they’re usually grown weaker from not moving.”
Don’t forget to stretch. “Stretching and exercise are always the first things that come to mind when I think about the rest of the world, especially in Asia,” says Endres. “Practices like yoga improve flexibility, help build lean muscle and improve circulation.”
Pass on pills and turn to topical pain relief. “Asian countries use topical pain relievers as often as they use pills,” says Kronhaus. “Transdermal pain patches, both patches available by prescription for chronic pain and [OTC] patches [like] SalonPas for mild to moderate pain are highly effective for pain relief and are safer than taking pills.”
Massage pain away. “Massage therapy is an effective part of pain relief and management because it can help reduce inflammation and swelling and soothe stiff sore muscle which ultimately relieves pain,” says Stephanie Smith, spa director and licensed massage therapist at the Viana Hotel & Spa.
“Massage therapy relaxes muscles and soft tissues, increases blood and oxygen being delivered to the massaged area which warms the affected area, and relieves pain,” she adds. “Massage therapy is used to alleviate many different kinds of pain including lower back pain, headaches, arthritic pain, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune disorders. The stress responses in the body associated with pain, including raised cortisol, are reduced through massage.”
Exercise moderately. “Exercising for just 30 minutes a day on at least three or four days a week will help with chronic pain management by increasing endurance, muscle strength, joint stability and flexibility in the muscles and joints,” says Endres “A consistent exercise routine helps control pain.”