Pain is a very personal process with everyone’s experience of it being different. It is, however, the elderly that often endure the most physical pain and its related conditions. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people older than 65 is living with chronic pain in Australia. Individuals older than 45 were twice as likely to experience severe pain compared to those younger than 45 with the highest rate of excruciating pain being reported by those older than 75. Apart from being harrowing, these statistics underline the importance of effective pain management options seniors.
Despite a market that is flooded with synthetic medications, creams, gels, and lotions that alleviates pain, an increasing number of elderly consumers, both those living at home or in care facilities, are opting to employ a more holistic approach towards pain management. Even medical practitioners are turning to more natural pain-relief alternatives for seniors that include herbal remedies boasting proven pain relief formulas like menthol and St John’s wort, acupuncture, and massage therapy. In order to understand each of these holistic therapies better we need to take a closer look at each of them:
Cramp bark and ginger
Cramp bark is often used in Western medicine for ovarian and uterine pain as well as muscular cramps. The active ingredients in the bark have antispasmodic effects, meaning that when taken orally is can help relieve numerous common aches and pain amongst the elderly which includes cramps and spasms, pain in the upper thighs and back and severe leg cramps. Ginger is commonly known for its abilities to reduce headaches, nausea, and vomiting and also has potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties as well. Ginger, whether consumed fresh, in food or in capsule form, helps to relieve the stiffness and pain associated with osteoarthritis and also aids in increasing joint mobility.
Turmeric is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that protects the cells of the body from the normal yet damaging oxidation process by attacking the free radicals that are one of the primary causes of aging. Turmeric can be used to treat muscle aches, sprains and strains, arthritis pain and even open wounds. You can reap the countless benefits of this superfood by seasoning your food with it, adding it to soups and smoothies or even making a turmeric tea. Taken orally like this, turmeric can go a long way in fighting arthritis pain throughout the entire body. For a therapeutic measure, supplements containing a more concentrated form of curcumin can be taken.
Massage is particularly beneficial for osteoarthritis, neck pain, surgery-related pain and general back pain. Massage therapy has been proven to increase the production of endorphins and serotonin which are the body’s natural mood enhancers and pain suppressors. Massage therapy can, furthermore, work at a molecule level and aid in triggering and quelling the production of the genes associated with inflammation. Apart from the long-term benefits massage therapy can hold for a senior experiencing pain, it also provides instant gratification by simply feeling nice.
While acupuncture may not be for everyone, it is a proven way to help relieve migraines, sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic back – all of which are commonly associated with the natural aging process. The careful place micro-needles that are used in acupuncture affects the action of an amino acid, known as adenosine, that becomes active in the skin after an injury in an attempt to ease the pain. An acupuncture session does not only relieve pain but also aids the functioning of the body’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems which are often responsible for the pain.
Despite all the above-mentioned pain remedies being a lot more natural than most pharmaceuticals prescribed for pain it is still recommended to seek professional medical advice before attempting any of them. As we grow older we, unfortunately, tend to be at an increasingly higher risk of underlying medical conditions which need to be identified before undertaking any new form of treatment.
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