When dealing with chronic pain, especially when not using medication to manage, you need to have tools in place to help you deal with every day management and flare ups. Here are some of my favorites!
In the month or two after the PRC, I felt like I kept SalonPas in the Black. These little stickers have a menthol type of heating, very similar to Icy Hot. The best part is that because they are small stickers, they don’t get gel all over your hands and clothes, and they can stay on for up to 8 hours.
Trust me, there were times when I had up to 8 on at a time to combat the pain, but they work, and the relief is often immediate. I believe (my opinion) that this works a lot by Gateway Theory. Its the same concept as when you run your ankle when you twist it. The rubbing somehow makes it feel better. This is theorized (in layman’s terms) to be because your brain is now processing the new sensory information of the rubbing, which lessens the intensity of the pain experienced from turning your ankle.
Regardless, these are about $4 for 40 patches at Walmart, and sooooo worth it.
This is my personal chiropractor. When I get tight, I can use my foam roller to loosen up my back, hips, or legs. There are a ton of YouTube videos on how to roll out different muscles. Personally, this is my absolute favorite tool for loosening up my back between chiropractor appointments, although it does help me with my neck.
There are foam tools that can be used under your neck to help with headaches and such, but I would recommend speaking to a medical professional to find something that may work for you. Chiropractors often have a lot of tools in their arsenal to offer you!
This tool has no joke been my personal savior. I had different doctors recommend this for me for my neck and back, but I couldn’t stand it after just a hour or two. It wasn’t until a friend (also a chiropractor) showed me how to tape my hands that I realized the true potential of this tool! I personally use Rock Tape, and buy the bulk roll since I use it every day on my arms to type.
The science behind it is using the tape to facilitate the tension in your skin. Since I started using it for my hand, I have also started taping my knees for patellar tendinitis, which has made a great difference in my ability to work out comfortably. I have also used it to help reduce swelling and later to support my right ankle after my high ankle sprain earlier this year.
A good number of chiropractors and physical therapists are familiar with taping techniques, and you can ask during an appointment for them to show you how to do it properly for your pain. There are also a lot of videos out there, but I do caution you to make sure that you check out more than one, to ensure that the information is consistent. Best advice… find videos from the manufacturer of your tape, such as videos produced by Rock Tape themselves.
This might sound super basic, but they are a huge help. At the PRC, they did discourage using items that are “crutches” and they were not happy that I used a heating pad when sitting down for most of the day. Since then, I do agree that that particular use was indeed a crutch. That all said, this is my go to when my shoulders and neck are locking up. A heading pad behind my shoulders and neck, or even two spanning the length of my spine, can make a huge difference in how quickly the pain ramps up and also how quickly it will dissipate.
There are a lot of different ways to incorporate massage tools to help with muscle pain! There are professional massages, but its just not always an option, either from a schedule or budgetary perspective.
For me, I often use a massage pillow that has two rotating nobs just neck width apart. I can pair this with my heating pad below my shoulders and work knots out of my neck quickly. There have been days where a migraine starts mid morning, and I was able to go home, use ibuprofen, a heating pad, and this pillow and effectively eliminate the headache all within my hour lunch, granted, I live close to work.
For other ailments, there are tools you can use, such as hand held rollers you can use on various muscles, electric massagers, or different tools you can use to dig into the muscles. I have had A Stem (a physical therapy procedure using handheld tools) done on my arms for many years now, and with the support of my Physical Therapist, I have started using the same tools on my own at home to work knots and tension out of my arms. Just make sure that this is ok with your doctor before trying it on your own.
You don’t even need to get fancy, I have used a tennis ball against a wall to work out knots, or even just a corner of a protruding wall and let it dig into my back. Looks weird, feels awesome! Tennis balls can be used in a lot of other ways as well, such as rolling out tight and sore feet, and a towel can be rolled up and placed under your back to help put pressure on a sore spot.
What do you use to help get a handle on your pain flares?