The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of daily life, including the management of chronic pain. With many people experiencing disruptions in their usual healthcare routines, managing chronic pain during the pandemic has become more challenging. In this article, we will explore the most popular chronic pain management techniques that can be helpful during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
12 Chronic Pain Management Techniques
1. Mind-Body Therapies
Mind-body techniques, such as meditation, relaxation exercises, tai-chi, and guided imagery, can be helpful for managing chronic pain during the pandemic. These chronic pain management techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate chronic pain symptoms. Many mind-body techniques can be practiced at home, making them a safe and convenient option during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It is thought to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes and reduce pain. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective for various types of chronic pain, including lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Acupuncture appointments may involve additional safety measures after the Covid-19 pandemic, such as increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
3. Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment option that involves adjusting the spine and other joints to improve alignment and reduce pain. It is known as one of the go-to chronic pain management techniques that is typically effective for various types of chronic pain, including back pain, neck pain, and headaches.
4. Massage Therapy & Self-Massaging
Massage therapy involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body to reduce tension and promote relaxation. It can be effective for various types of chronic pain, including muscle pain, back pain, and fibromyalgia. If getting a massage in-person is not an option for you because of Covid-19, there are many resources available for self-massage techniques, including foam rollers, massage balls, and other massage tools
5. Exercise and Physical Therapy
Exercise and physical therapy is one of the most popular chronic pain management techniques. It works by strengthening the muscles and improving flexibility. It can also help with weight management, improve mood, and promote overall well-being. Physical therapy may involve a combination of exercises, stretches, and manual therapy techniques. During the pandemic, it may be challenging to access gyms or other fitness facilities. However, there are many ways to exercise at home, including yoga, Pilates, and bodyweight exercises.
6. Whole-Body Cryotherapy
Whole-body cryotherapy is a natural and alternative treatment option that involves exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures for a short period. It is thought to reduce inflammation and promote healing, and it has been shown to be effective for various types of chronic pain, including arthritis and fibromyalgia. During the pandemic, WBC may be offered with additional safety measures, such as increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
7. Herbal Remedies & Essential Oils
Herbal remedies such as turmeric, ginger, devil’s claw, and white willow bark have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce pain. However, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider before using any herbal remedies, as they may interact with other medications or have side effects. Essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and frankincense have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce pain. They can be used topically or inhaled using a diffuser. Conveniently, all these can typically be purchased online if shopping in-person is not an option for you due to Covid-19.
8. OTC and Prescription Drugs
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen is one of the best known conventional chronic pain management techniques. Prescription pain medications such as opioids, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants may also be used, but they come with potential risks and side effects. It’s important to work closely with a healthcare provider when using these types of medications.
During the pandemic, it may be challenging to access prescription medications or to attend in-person appointments with healthcare providers. However, many healthcare providers are offering telehealth appointments for medication management.
9. Diet And Nutrition
Diet and nutrition can play a significant role in chronic pain management techniques. Certain foods, such as those high in sugar and processed foods, can exacerbate inflammation and pain. On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health. During the pandemic or if you are at home recovering from Covid-19, it may be challenging to access certain foods or to make healthy meals at home. However, there are many resources available for healthy meal planning and preparation.
10. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals change their thoughts and behaviors to better manage chronic pain. It can help individuals cope with pain-related stress and improve their overall quality of life.
Telehealth, or virtual healthcare appointments, have become more common during the pandemic. Telehealth appointments can offer convenient and safe chronic pain management techniques, particularly for those who are immunocompromised or at a higher risk of COVID-19 complications. Telehealth appointments may involve video or phone consultations with healthcare providers, who can provide recommendations for chronic pain management.
Telehealth in Canada first became available in 2006 via Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), yet many Canadians didn’t become aware of its existence until Covid-19. The OTN is a government-funded not-for-profit organization that is among the world’s largest telemedicine networks. Along with specialist advice, OTN provides a range of services, including retinal screening for diabetes and a palliative care program, as well as self-managed virtual care like mental health coaching and gambling addiction support.
12. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a form of therapy that involves applying low-voltage electrical currents to the skin to alleviate pain. TENS can be offer chronic pain management techniques, particularly for individuals with nerve-related pain. During the pandemic, TENS devices can be purchased for home use, making them a safe and convenient option for chronic pain management.
In conclusion, managing chronic pain during and after the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging, but there are many techniques that can be helpful. Telehealth, mind-body techniques, exercise, acupuncture, massage therapy, diet and nutrition, essential oils, cognitive behavioral therapy, OTC and prescription medications, whole body cryotherapy, and TENS are all options that can be considered for chronic pain management techniques. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or therapy, and to prioritize safety and hygiene during the pandemic.