“I want you to know that you are not alone in your being alone.” ― Stephen Fry
It is truly common today for one to feel that they are alone due to them struggling with issues in their lives. These issues can range from domestic abuse, to eating disorders, to physical illness, to even chronic pain. Many of the people and children that Bowtie Kids has the privilege to work with have suffered in some part due to chronic pain affecting their lives. Ms. Greene and her family are no exception. Ms. Greene and her children are a family that has been with Bowtie Kids that have given us an opportunity to use their story to show others they are never truly alone. Ezra Archer of Bowtie Kids interviewed Ms. Greene and her children to get their story.
Archer: Who here has dealt with chronic pain?
Greene: Well, it starts with me, Niah has a lot of injuries we are trying to figure out with her knee, Nico has migraines, Jeanisha has gastro problems, and then I have one that has pain in her toes. Three of us suffer migraines. Sometimes once a month, sometimes once a week, sometimes every day.
To many, Chronic Pain is an intimidating, unyielding mountain that can seem unsurpassable at times. A large part of this burdensome perspective is the enigmatic nature of this illness. There is often no direct cause that is attributed to chronic pain, which makes it one of the hardest ailments to treat. Ask any chronic pain patient and they would tell you that chronic pain is not something that can be negotiated with... Despite the mysteriousness and difficulty in handling this illness, there have been several remedies concocted and pioneered throughout the years. Chronic pain may seem impossible to beat, yet these various tools have all had a level of success at times. Today we’ll go into detail about the different kinds of remedies for chronic pain and how they work.
To begin, we’ll address tools from the more scientific side of things, and then refer to more simple remedies for chronic pain. An extremely common tool used is anti-inflammatory/relaxant drugs, both prescribed and non-prescribed. For non-prescribed, we have general drugs you can get at markets such as Tylenol that work to reduce inflammation in the body. These usually help to an extent because many times, an ache in the body (such as a headache) is caused by inflammation. Therefore, anti-inflammatory drugs can be useful for pain relief. These are usually the first level, yet when these do not work many moves on to prescribed drugs. Doctors will prescribe a variety of meds to help soothe serious pain. Among them is Diazepam (which aids anxiety), Antidepressants (which have pain relieving elements), Codeine, and many other prescribed drugs that have pain relieving effects. These drugs can work to be powerful pain relievers yet take note that larger doses have a correlation with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It can be tempting for many in pain to take beyond what they need, yet moderation is crucial while taking drugs.
According to WebMD, there is an array of available electric therapy/therapy that aids those in pain as well. They describe one of them very well, “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, more commonly referred to as TENS, uses electrical stimulation to diminish pain. During the procedure, low-voltage electrical current is delivered through electrodes that are placed on the skin near the source of pain. The electricity from the electrodes stimulates the nerves in an affected area and sends signals to the brain that "scramble" normal pain signals.” This method doesn’t add pain whatsoever. Bioelectric therapy also helps by blocking pain messages to the brain and has shown to be very effective when combined with pain relievers.
Another type of therapy includes physical therapy and exercise. These are vital to pain relief, as research has shown that resting too much can increase pain and leave the body stiff. Exercise is important because it focuses on muscle strength and flexibility, which can greatly help with pain, especially in the joints. Another benefit of exercise is that it releases the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins.
One last therapy to try is psychotherapy, which is overlooked by many. This therapy is valuable as it can help patients to sort through these negative feelings, learn how to cope with their circumstance, and improve their mood. At first glance, it may not seem like a method that can help with pain relief, yet research shows that dwelling on feelings of pain, depression, anger, and grief can increase the pain one feels. Psychological stress certainly contributes to the physical pain one can feel Therefore, psychotherapy can certainly be nurturing to someone facing chronic pain.
Another type of remedy includes those that have to do with the mind and body. For example, there are treatments that aid the body such as Massages, Chiropractic Therapy, and Acupuncture. These therapies help muscles in the body to relax. This, in turn, can help alleviate pain and reduce stress. Techniques to assist the mind in dealing with pain include Meditation, Hypnosis, and Pain Visualization. These remedies help ease the mind and especially psychological stress, which has been shown to increase the amount of physical pain felt. Mind techniques are one of the least used remedies for chronic pain yet can have very pleasant results!
The last avenue that one can take to relieve their chronic pain is improving one’s diet. Diet is essential to aiding the body in functioning as well as possible and can help relieve chronic pain if done correctly. For example, did you know that lactose and dairy products such as milk, cheese, and cream can contribute to increased pain due to their inflammatory elements when digested? It should also be noted that cocoa, vitamin D, fish oils, fruits and vegetables, tart cherries, and ginger can all help to alleviate pain as they have anti-inflammatory properties. Educating oneself about diet and what different foods can do for the body is key to helping their ailments. This tip does not only apply to chronic pain patients, but also to anyone whose body can be benefited with improved nutrition.
There truly is an assortment of ways that one can help deal with their chronic pain, yet the most valuable one will always be the support of family and close ones. If you know someone who suffers from chronic pain, please feel encouraged to send them this article and our other blogs too! If you support our cause, please consider supporting Bowtie Kids in any way possible, including but not limited to supporting our social media presence, donating, and/or telling friends and loved ones about us. Stopping pains like migraines from happening isn’t a certainty. Yet, being able to support and encourage those who suffer from them surely is. Visit Bowtie Kids to learn about different support opportunities that you can get involved with as you find the best way to support children with chronic pain.
LinkedIn: Bowtie Kids
Written by Ezra Archer
“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience” - Julius Caesar.
I was trying to find a good “hook” quote that sums up the mental impact that pain over time presents, as well as the way it can affect one’s decision making when faced with it. Then, I came across a quote by Julius Caesar implying that it is common for one to prefer death over long-time suffering, which is an apt analogy for chronic pain. Chronic Pain means enduring pain with patience every day. It is possibly one of the hardest things to endure while showing the world your smile every day, and this hardship has even taken lives. This blog will dive into the barrage of negativity that seeps into Chronic Pain Patients’ minds that causes such difficulty in their lives. It is crucial to be aware of the effects of Chronic Pain on one’s mental health- let’s learn about them together:
The month of June is officially recognized as “Migraine and Headache Awareness Month”. This is a month pioneered by CHAMP, the Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients, dedicated to raising awareness of migraines and headaches, as well as encouraging people to support those dealing with them. Bowtie Kids places a large amount of importance on migraines and headaches as well because we know first hand the amount of suffering that chronic migraines can cause an individual. Chronic migraines are a type of chronic pain that close to 5% of people in the US experience (ClevelandClinic.org). This blog will convey the importance of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Together, we can learn how we can support those dealing with this illness.
Imagine there is a newfound virus that has spread throughout the U.S. over the years. It can result in death, affects people to the point where they cannot perform necessary daily tasks, and has affected 50 million people throughout the country. How long do you think it would take for members of society to concern themselves with the state of the virus and those it affects? This hypothetical virus is chronic pain, which has affected over 50 million people, with 20 million having their daily functions limited by it. COVID-19 has had approximately 26.5 million cases thus far. Chronic pain is an illness that has ravaged the lives of millions of families economically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. With other well documented illnesses taking center stage, such as Breast Cancer, Mental Illnesses, and Heart Disease, effects of chronic pain fly under the radar when it comes to illnesses represented by mainstream media. What flies even further under the radar is the children affected that have to come to terms with this life altering pain.
Chronic pain is a condition where one feels continuous pain anywhere on the body that can last for years, usually due to dysfunctional nerves or is an illness that is particularly cruel to the youth because it can take away things from lives that have not experienced most of what life has to offer yet. In the slightest of cases, it can mean that a child will have to live with a physical discomfort most of the time, likely for the rest of their lives. In a severe case, a child will have to live with a debilitating illness that ties them to a bottle of pills and limits their ability to do even the most basic tasks for the rest of their lives. Chronic pain is a tricky illness to overcome with children, due to the reality that if doctors cannot pinpoint a visible cause for pain, they likely have to take the patient’s word for it and operate from there. John Stork, a doctor in pediatric pain management tells CNN in an interview,
“With Chronic Pain, you often can’t find any specific reason for it. Because the original injury has gone away and yet the patient still has pain. And they say they have pain but you can’t point to anything that’s really causing that pain. In fact a lot of it may be psychologically generated, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still real pain.”