By Kristen Lavoie, Marketing and Promotions
As a fellow chronic pain patient, I am passionate about helping others in pain and sharing helpful tips whenever possible. Ironically enough, I’ve also worked in the pain medicine field alongside numerous high profile pain management physicians for the last 5 years—so I’m very familiar with not only the standard treatments and therapies for pain, but many tips and tricks that only come with trial and error as well. Whenever I get the chance to blog, I hope to share lots of helpful tidbits that will hopefully be of value to the pain community. So here’s a great one to start with: my top five recommendations for helping you get some zzzzs.
- Invest in the right mattress for you.
People often underestimate this factor—but this is VITAL. A firmer mattress is better for back pain, because it helps support proper alignment of the spine. I once bought a Sealy brand firm mattress that has proven to be the best I’ve ever had, but I must say, Sleep Number mattresses might be worth looking into, since my husband and I recently bought one and we both like to adjust our sides to our own settings.
- Get proper pillows.
It is crucial to make sure your pillow is the right height. Your shoulders and neck need to be supported and aligned so that your spine is straight. Chiropractors and osteopathic doctors will often recommend a cervical contour pillow, like this one, that you can find at Target, Walmart, etc.
- Try using a body pillow.
If you’re a side sleeper, something like this might help your comfort level while sleeping. Tucking the pillow between the knees can reduce back pain by relieving pressure from the lower back and wrapping your arms around it takes pressure off your shoulders. If you’re a back sleeper, try a wedge pillow under your knees, or use a regular pillow to reduce the gap between your lower back and the bed. All of these tips are aimed at aligning your spine while you sleep to alleviate pain while trying to fall asleep and the stiffness you might be feeling in the morning.
- Check with your doctor about pain-relieving creams, patches or devices.
I like Lidocaine ointment, Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream or an anti-inflammatory pain patch. For tight muscles, ThermaCare heat wraps help me quite a bit, and they’re available at pharmacies and grocery stores everywhere. Sometimes I apply one before I go to bed or if I wake up with pain in the night. Also, you might ask your doctor about a portable TENS unit, which is an electrical nerve stimulation device to reduce pain.
- Before bed, take a hot shower, bath or dip in the hot tub.
Not only does this help ease tension and relax muscles, but it can promote sleepiness as well. Infusing a hot bath with aromatherapy oils and/or Epsom salt can decrease inflammation and release the stress of the day. Epsom salt can be purchased inexpensively at your local pharmacy or grocery store.