When looking for a fulfilling and happy life, many of us don't consider being pain-free as something that needs to be explicitly said, unless, of course, you're someone already in pain. Pain doesn't have to be a natural part of aging, as many sources of chronic pain can be prevented if you take the time to invest in your health early on.
Like many other medical conditions we can talk about, health is composed of four pillars: sleep; diet; exercise; and stress management.
We spend at least a third of our lives asleep, at least for those that get their recommended eight hours per night. With so much time dedicated to sleep, it must be pretty important, right? Getting too little sleep places a large stress on the body and is linked to many adverse health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and chronic pain. Make sure you're getting enough sleep each night!
People are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a good diet. Unfortunately, many of the foods found in the Standard American Diet, appropriately abbreviated as the SAD diet, are full of simple carbohydrates and processed foods. We know that diets high in simple carbohydrates and processed foods are linked to many chronic diseases and inflammation. Inflammation is a major contributor to chronic pain, so you'll want to make sure that you're eating a diet full of complex carbohydrates, green leafy vegetables, and free of processed foods.
In today's world, it's easy to go an entire day with minimal movement. Humans just weren't made to not move, and like bad sleep and diet, not getting enough exercise is strongly associated with chronic disease states and chronic pain. Ensure you're exercising multiple times per week and move your body throughout the day. Sometimes getting in a little more exercise each day is as simple as parking a little farther away from the doors in the store parking lot. Remember that small changes over time add up to big results!
Stress management may not seem as straightforward as the previous three pillars for ensuring you remain healthy and pain-free, but it's essential. Excessive stress is also highly associated with chronic health conditions. Excessive stress over long periods is also associated with increased inflammation, which, as we mentioned earlier, is one cause of pain. Make sure that you're making time throughout your week, even your day, to relax and let your troubles fade into the background.
The fact is there are various types and ways to classify pain. For example, pain can be acute or chronic, which is distinguished by the length of time an individual has been dealing with the pain. Acute pain is classified as pain lasting less than six weeks, while chronic pain is generally classified as pain lasting longer than six weeks.
Nociceptive Pain vs. Neuropathic Pain
There are two broad classifications of pain, with nociceptive pain being pain caused by stimulation of the specific receptors located through the body. Neuropathic pain is pain that originates in the nerves generally due to damage of nerves, think neuropathy.
Nociceptive pain can be further divided into somatic nociceptive pain and visceral nociceptive pain. Somatic nociceptive pain occurs when specific receptors are stimulated that are located in the body other than internal organs. Visceral nociceptive pain occurs when specific receptors located in internal organs such as the gallbladder or appendix are stimulated. A good example of somatic nociceptive pain is the pain experienced when you get a paper cut. An example of visceral nociceptive pain is the pain felt when someone has appendicitis.
Keep in mind that pain is a complex subject, and we just briefly explained broad categories to give you guys a little deeper understanding of the complexity of pain. Additionally, pain is a subjective experience, meaning the primary way that we measure and monitor pain is using self-reported pain rating scales. Individuals also can have a different experience of pain, with some individuals rating the same pinch as a 2/10 (10=worse) and another a 7/10 (10=worse).
As we mentioned before, pain is a complicated subject and is often difficult to treat. Sometimes pain can be reduced by decreasing inflammation, while other times, the answer lies in decreasing the firing of nerves.
If inflammation is the root source of your pain, then you'll want to reach for a product that contains ingredients that decrease inflammation. One of the ingredients that work well for decreasing inflammation, especially when used in a topical cream, is Methyl salicylate. In addition, Aloe Barbadensis is a botanical that is also soothing to the skin and has been shown to decrease inflammation.
Topically applied pain creams are great products to use as they can be applied directly to the painful area. They also act locally without causing a lot of adverse side effects. Of course, it's always best to get your pain concern evaluated by a healthcare professional to ensure you're using the product best suited to your pain concerns.
Dr. Kasey Nichols,
Co-Chief Medical Officer of Naguna
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