Dealing with chronic pain is incredibly difficult and with there only being so many painkillers that you can take, having other ways to manage pain is pretty crucial for most people. Over time I’ve been trying to find different ways to help me make my pain more manageable to deal with. It’s a difficult thing to come to terms with, but chronic pain is never going to go away, but I’m learning how to try and manage my pain to keep it at the baseline where it’s at a level that I am used to and to handle flare-ups. What I’ve found so useful is the chronically ill community sharing what works for them, especially when medical professionals don’t tend to share much, so I thought I would share what works best for me.
Heat and ice are two things that can help with chronic pain. I find both works, depending on the kind of pain. Ice tends to help me with swelling. I recently bought these cute Dalmatian ice packs from Miniso which are great for specific pain areas. Something I find a little bit helpful in dealing with the mental strain of chronic illness is having products that look less medical, so given the fact they’re Dalmatian (which as we all know I adore Dalmatians!) helps a little more. They’re a little on the small side though, for larger areas, so these Kool Paks from Amazon are also great. Both are also really useful during hot weather, I’m heat intolerant so they’re really helpful for that, too! Also, these could also work really well for lunch boxes during hot weather.
Microwavable Wheat Bag
As well as ice, heat also really helps with long-term pain. For things like sore muscles, I use microwavable wheat bags. The lavender ones are great for when you’re also trying to sleep (since painsomnia is something that keeps a lot of people up) but the scent does wear off after a number of uses. They’re better for smaller areas so shoulders, knees, elbows, etc., and only take a couple of minutes to heat up in the microwave. You can get these from a number of places but some tend to be quite expensive. These ones from Amazon are pretty good.
Body Hot Water Bottle
For more widespread pain, the body hot water bottle really helps. This is super useful for things like back pain, pain across both shoulders, or abdominal pain. It’s also really great for period cramps. I was desperate for one of these and my mother actually got me one for my birthday! She got it from TK Maxx which I can’t find the link for as it was a few months ago, but you can get one from Argos which is pretty similar.
According to Pathways, binaural beats are a specially designed type of sound designed to naturally shift the way your brain processes information, including information about pain. There’s research that suggests that these beats induce the same kind of relaxation as meditation and create the same brainwaves which are experienced during a meditative state. They include benefits such as relaxation and stress relief, helping with sleep, and reducing anxiety. Research also suggests that binaural beats can be helpful for chronic pain patients such as breaking the stress and pain cycle, helping with concentration and cognitive processing, and even changing the perception of pain. When I was struggling with a migraine once, I was desperately trying to find any kind of help and stumbled across the above video. I was willing to try anything, so I did and played the video as I lay in bed. I eventually drifted off and woke up without a migraine. I will say this doesn’t always work, but there are times when it does. But even when it doesn’t work, I find that it can sometimes help me relax and handle the pain better than when I’m just lying down in silence.
I find that using a massage gun on my shoulders and back tends to really help me since they tighten a lot. I think this is more useful for things like tight muscles rather than more sensitive areas and unfortunately I found this out the hard way. Using it on my rib which tends to swell a lot did more harm than good, but tightened muscles I found it to relax them more and made it easier for me to lie down to sleep. I also find it tends to help after long days where I’ve been moving about a lot to ease the tension.
A body pillow is great for elevating different parts of the body and helps make things more comfortable to sleep. I often need to sleep with my knees apart to help with hip pain and my pillow really helps me with this. it’s also helpful for when you need to be propped up when lying down. It was important for me to be propped up when I had my tooth infection and this was super helpful.
I mentioned the Sunflower Lanyard in my post about concert essentials, and honestly, I find it essential to wear it anytime I go out and about. The Sunflower Lanyard is from a scheme for Hidden Disabilities. It’s now quite well-known in the UK and is starting to gain more attention internationally. Due to the pandemic, there’s a misunderstanding about these lanyards, with many thinking they are purely for mask exemption, but actually, they’ve been around for a lot longer. They were initially created by Gatwick Airport back in 2016 as a way to let people know that those with hidden disabilities may need additional support, help, or just a little bit more time. It’s now a lot more recognised within the UK and is starting to become a thing in other countries.
These are available for free at airports and select supermarkets, or you can purchase them on the website. I find that the cards which state your details are super helpful, because you can put your specific disability (or state you have multiple disabilities like mine), and include your details including an emergency contact. It also has the option to add your photo which means if you were to ever lose it (touch wood that doesn’t happen!) people can’t use it for themselves (because unfortunately, that’s something that happens.) Not everywhere recognises these lanyards yet, but with more people becoming aware of them, I think it’s worth wearing and you can also add badges on like I have my ‘I Have An Invisible Disability’ pin from The Purple Rose for those who aren’t aware of the sunflower lanyard to help others quickly identify I may need additional support or time. I intend to get more too.
As I’ve said, heat really helps me so when I’m on the go, I find heat patches to be pretty great. You can stick them to your clothes and they can last up to around 16 hours at a time. I tend to get the Deep Heat ones since they’re the ones typically most available when I pick them up in-store. If I’m traveling or going out for the day and have a fair bit of pain, I tend to wear one before I go out or have one in my bag to put on in case my pain flares up later in the day if I know I’ll be out for a while.
Sometimes when my pain is a lot I don’t always have the ability to just rest, so having a desk that works in bed really helps. It means I can write, game, or watch YouTube and even have meals on there if needed. I have this one from Amazon which also has a cup holder and a little draw which is great for keeping wires in or even painkillers.
And those are pretty much my main essentials for helping with my chronic pain. I also use some apps but I want to talk about those in more detail in another post.
Do you deal with chronic pain? What do you find helps you?
Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.