Pain-Reducing Methods You Can Do from Home 

Pain is something we all try to avoid. Whether it’s the throbbing of a swollen, sprained ankle, a sudden migraine headache or a nagging muscle ache in your lower back, there are all types of pain that can impact your life. Some of these painful episodes will require a trip to your closest emergency room or a call to your health care provider. Others can be managed at home. We’ll look at how to tell the difference between an urgent situation and manageable pain scenarios, and some pain-reducing methods you can do from home. 

The first thing to know is when to head to the ER versus when to call your health care provider. This will depend on how you are feeling and what prompted the pain. It’s also an important question because according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), being treated in an ER can cost up to three times more than getting that same care from your regular provider. Here is what the NIH’s Medline service says to take into consideration when making that decision. If you are not sure where to go, call your provider’s office. If it’s after hours, you can explain your situation to the health care professional on call.  

Call 911 or go to the ER if you have: 

  • Severe chest pain. 
  • Any injury that causes pain to your neck or spine. 
  • Pain radiating up your arm or into your jaw. 
  • A painful headache that started suddenly. 
  • A deep wound, serious burn or any broken bone protruding through the skin. 

Go to an Urgent Care Center or call your doctor’s office if you have: 

  •  Minor broken bones or sprains. 
  • A less-serious burn. 
  • Lower-level pain that is not going away.  
  • A less-serious wound or accidental injury that needs medical attention. 

What to know about taking over-the-counter medicine for pain. Most of us have at least a few different bottles of pain reliever on hand in our homes. It helps to know which ones to use for different types of painful situations, according to Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan. 

  • Acetaminophen (like Tylenol): This is good for headaches and general aches and pains. If you have a painful injury with swelling, acetaminophen will not reduce the swelling as it has no anti-inflammatory effects. 
  • Aspirin and Ibuprofen (like Motrin): These are both good for headaches, general aches and pains, and pain associated with inflammation and swelling injuries like broken bones, sprains and pulled muscles. 

Managing chronic pain. More than 50 million U.S. adults live with some type of chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These varying and long-term levels of pain can be sparked by chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, past injuries and autoimmune disorders. Managing it can be difficult but there are some at-home strategies you can use to reduce pain. Harvard Medical School suggests these mind-body therapies to lessen pain by changing the way it is perceived.  

  • Deep breathing: Inhale deeply, hold it a few seconds, then exhale slowly. 
  • Yoga or tai chi: Breath control, meditation and slow stretching can all improve your mindset. 
  • Mindfulness: Immerse yourself in any activity you love and let your mind focus solely in the moment on what you are doing.  
  • Positive thinking: When a person has been dealing with an injury or long-term illness, sometimes they are too used to focusing on negative things. Instead, make an effort to focus on positive things. Start small and each day you will find more things to add to the list. 

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