You may think it’s normal to be in constant pain or discomfort when you’re old. Think again. Chronic pain does not have to be a normal part of aging. While it is a common age-related ailments, you have several options for effective pain relief.
Elderly people should not have to suffer unnecessarily from intense pain. However, many seniors won’t say anything, because they assume it’s unavoidable. Don’t suffer in silence—and don’t let your loved one suffer either. Here are three ways to help relieve your chronic pain:
1. Treat Underlying Causes of Pain
While this may seem like a no-brainer, don’t overlook this important step. Why are you in pain? Could you be wearing support stockings that are too tight? Could you be eating something that doesn’t agree with you, causing indigestion pain? Are you using the same mattress for years, and it’s finally catching up to you in the form of back pain?
If the cause of the pain is something you can change, try changing it and see if the pain subsides.
2. Use Pain Relief Medication
Many times you’re in pain because of something you can’t change, such as a fall injury, recent surgery, cancer, or other condition. In that case, you may need to turn to medications for relief. There are two options when it comes to using medication: over-the-counter pain relievers and opioid pain relievers.
OTC drugs can include acetaminophen and ibruprofen (commonly Tylenol and Advil). They’re safe to take long-term, and usually don’t interact poorly with other drugs you may already be taking. People with high blood pressure can react badly to ibuprofen, so if you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about other options. If you find yourself constantly popping OTC pain relief pills, talk to your doctor. She may have a better course of treatment for you.
Opioid pain relievers are strong prescription drugs, such as Percocet. They’re meant for treating severe pain, such as post-surgical or cancer pain. Opioids can be very addictive, so you should always follow your doctor’s advice when taking them.
3. Use Alternative Methods for Pain Relief
Studies show you can get the best results in pain management when you combine medication and other methods. Here are some non-medical techniques for relieving chronic pain:
- Acupuncture: This is a system of ancient Chinese medicine that involves pricking the skin at certain points with needles. Practitioners claim it heals many physical, mental, and emotional conditions. While there is no clear proof acupuncture can heal these illnesses. However, it does have a proven track record of relieving pain.
- Acupressure: A gentler form of acupuncture, this treatment may be effective for lower back pain, chronic headaches, and other pain ailments.
- Massage: A deep tissue massage from a certified massage therapist can relieve pain and release muscle tension. Make sure the masseuse you hire is trained to deal with seniors, since our skin becomes more fragile as we age.
- Hypnosis: Hypnosis uses focused attention to help manage chronic pain. It’s a very effective method of pain relief and stress reduction.
Always run new methods by your doctor before trying them. You may need to try different combinations of drugs and pain relief techniques to get to that perfect pain-free zone.