Quick pain relief

Here is a checklist of some of your options for quick and effective pain relief.

Drugs: The whole point of drug therapy is to provide quick pain relief. Over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin can be effective, although do remember that pain-killers will not help the underlying problem.

Hydrotherapy: Water undoubtedly has a soothing effect on aching joints, although the effect can be very temporary. Baths, spas, tanks, hot springs and tubs can all give that instant relief, especially if the water is warm. Interestingly, cold water works better on inflamed joints, such as with rheumatoid arthritis—provided you can stand it.

Magnetic therapy and thermomagnetic bandages: Magnetic therapy as a means of alleviating pain is well established in countries such as India, Japan, China, Austria and Germany, where many people sleep on magnetic beds and wear small magnets.

Advocates say that, for a magnetic to be effective, the north, or negative, pole should face the skin. Some also say that the effect is cumulative, and that small magnets worn for a short time are unlikely to be effective.

Thermotherapy and cryotherapy: Thermotherapy involves any heat treatment, including compresses, heat packs, and lamps. The heat helps tensed muscles to relax, so reducing the pain. Even if you don’t have a special lamp, the good old hot water bottle can help. One professional application is ultrasound, which will be given for two minutes on average, and never longer than 10 minutes. Unlike the other heat therapies, ultrasound can go much deeper, and can raise the temperature of the tissues of underneath the surface muscles. You are most likely to encounter ultrasound if you visit a physical therapist or a chiropractor.

Acupuncture/TENS: Acupuncture is a popular pain reliever, although reports vary as to its effectiveness. One meta-analysis of 12 studies found it to be 2.3 times as effective as other pain-relieving treatments. However, as a placebo was 1.3 times as effective as some other treatments, it may be that the mind/body link is a powerful constituent when it comes to pain relief. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) harnesses the therapeutic power of electricity to reduce pain. Electrode-tipped wires are placed on your skin at specific points, and around where the pain is. The effect is almost immediate, and some report that it can last for days. However, others report skin irritations, and it’s important the settings are right.

Herbal medicine: Herbal medicine offers many pain-relieving remedies. One of the most successful is willow (Salix) bark.

Homeopathy: As with herbal medicine, homeopathy offers a range of treatments for pain relief. Researchers tested the homeopathic gel Spiroflor SRL against a standard painkiller on 161 patients suffering from acute pain. The homeopathic remedy was as effective, and came without the adverse reactions reported with the painkiller.

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