Pain Relief


Chronic pain requires a multifactorial approach to management.  The long term implications on the nervous system, general wellbeing and quality of life can be highly debilitating.  The following suggestions may help to alleviate some pain and combining more than one modality is the best way forward

Mind/body approaches ~ Meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, hypnosis (including self hypnosis), mindfulness, and other relaxation or stress reduction techniques provide very effective pain relief and increase wellbeing. Meditation and yoga have been shown in studies to reduce inflammatory marker levels.

Nourish ~ Fill up on fresh whole foods – organic if possible – leafy green vegetables, broccoli, orange and red and yellow vegetables, deep red and blue berries, bright orange mangoes and papaya, nuts, seeds and quality fresh meats and fish… delicious, home cooked soups, stir fries and curries, creative salads..  Make every mouthful healing and health giving, loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that wash away inflammation. 

Omega 3 ~ Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation via prostaglandins. Salmon and other oily fish, flaxseed (fresh ground) and walnuts are excellent sources. 

Vitamin D ~ Optimise your vitamin D level by getting some sunshine regularly (without sunscreen but not in the middle of the day or for too long) and/or taking a vitamin D3 supplement (or eating lots of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel etc). D3 can help reduce pain via a number of different mechanisms. A deficiency can induce or worsen depression which will exacerbate pain. Most people with RA and AS seem to have low D3 levels.

Laser Therapy ~ This treatment aims to reduce pain and inflammation, and enhance tissue healing in bone and soft tissue such as muscles and ligaments.

Move ~ Change position frequently. Don’t spend too long sitting. Get up and stretch gently, often.  Find the exercise that is best for you. Pilates is brilliant with the right teacher or programme. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Foundation training are all excellent for arthritic conditions. The right exercise on a regular basis is crucial to keep pain levels down.

Breathe ~ Consciously practising deep, slow breathing is so important. We don’t realise how much tension, pain, stress make us hyperventilate or take shallow fast breaths. I can see my blood pressure go down significantly if I monitor it while doing breathing exercises. We also need to maintain rib expansion and lung capacity with this condition. 

Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Myotherapy ~ Many studies and countless anecdotal reports have shown that chiropractic and osteopathic treatment can provide very effective pain relief. Be very careful with chiropractic though, especially if you have any fusion. 

Love ~ Nothing beats the power of human touch. A hug or a kind touch can be better than a drug. Endorphins and enkephalins are the science behind the magic. Even sharing a smile or a kind word helps. Giving and receiving love in any way is very healing and soothing. 

Music ~“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” – William Congreve.  Don’t underestimate the power of music to reduce symptoms and generally make you feel better. Particularly LIVE, well played music. Singing helps stimulate the vagus nerve which reduces inflammation. Moving to music has a hypnotic effect and enhances wellbeing enormously. 

Laughter ~ Norman Cousins claimed it cured him of AS in his biography ‘Anatomy of an Illness’.  Laughter does wonderful things for the immune system, the central nervous system and general wellbeing.

Acupuncture ~ Research has shown remarkable results with acupuncture in the treatment of: back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.

Physical therapy (physiotherapy) and massage therapy ~ Both can be very effective for painful conditions. They have numerous tools such as therapeutic ultrasound, infrared, TENS, dry needling, laser etc. 

Bowen Technique (Or Bowen Therapy) ~ A gentle therapy which often provides excellent pain relief. 

Personal TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines ~ Inexpensive and effective for acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) ~ Whether it is the placebo effect or otherwise, many people claim to have benefited from this. The approach is to resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating physical pain.  According to proponents, by stimulating (tapping) well-established acupressure points with fingertips, the energy system can be rebalanced, thereby reducing pain.

Reiki ~ Reiki practitioners “balance the energy pathways”. Many people feel benefit from this treatment. 

Natural Anti inflammatory Supplements ~

  • Resveratrol ~ A powerful antioxidant with anti inflammatory and anti TNF alpha effects, among many others.
  • Astaxanthin ~ Astaxanthin is an antioxidant. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Amounts of 8mg or more per day may be needed to achieve this benefit.
  • Coenzyme Q10 A powerful anti inflammatory which targets TNFa and inflammatory cytokines.
  • Ginger ~ This amazing plant has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and anti-nausea properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice. It can be used in soups, curries and stir fries. It can also be applied topically in the form of a poultice or essential oil.
  • Curcumin ~ In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. Another study also found that curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain. It has been shown to be at least as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain. Do not take with NSAIDs. The combination can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Sour Cherry extract ~ This contains high levels of anthocyanins that possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Great for muscle pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and much more.
  • Boswellia ~ Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this is a potent antiinflammatory.
  • Cat’s Claw, White Willow bark, Devil’s Claw ~ Herbal analgesics
  • Bromelain ~ This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement from
  • Rosehip ~ My favourite supplement! A powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory which has been shown to be as effective as strong NSAIDs but with no side effects. It reduces pain and stiffness almost immediately for me.
  • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) ~ This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory.
  • Capsaicin ~ An extract of chilli, it alleviates pain by reducing substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain. Used in topical treatments such as BioOrganics Glucosamine Rapid gel.

Heat (and cold) ~ Hot packs, hot baths, floating or moving gently in a heated pool are soothing and ease muscle spasm. Cold packs can help reduce swelling and pain on inflamed areas.

Magnesium ~ A warm (not too hot) bath with at least a cup or two of dissolved Epsom salts and some lavender oil. Or even better, magnesium chloride flakes. Taking a quality magnesium supplement (such as mag. glycinate) can reduce pain from muscle spasm. A magnesium gel can be applied also. 

Essential oils ~ Peppermint oil is wonderful for pain caused by muscle spasm and is popular for headaches, including migraines. (Don’t get it near your eyes) Also frankincense, rosemary, wintergreen, clove, lavender, vetiver, sweet marjoram, ginger, lemongrass, juniper and thyme essential oils reduce pain and inflammation. Any of these can be used diluted in a carrier oil and massaged into painful areas.

Avoid all processed food ~ Avoiding processed grains, refined sugars, and artificial additives will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance reducing production of inflammatory prostaglandins.

Avoid foods that promote inflammation ~ Lectins, particularly those in peanuts and other legumes should be limited. Dairy, wheat, barley, rye, oats and possibly other grains, sugar, many “vegetable”oils (use only organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil and quality coconut oil) can cause inflammation. In some people, red meat can increase inflammation, particularly if it has been exposed to hormones, antibiotics and GMO feed. Most protein should come from deep sea fish, seafood, free range chicken, organic free range eggs and nuts.

Avoid (like the plague) ~ GMO foods and any foods affected by glyphosate. 

Lose any excess weight ~ Fat cells release chemicals called adipokines which actually create inflammation in the body and the joints. So excess fat creates pain and inflammation in two ways – via chemicals as well as mechanics (putting extra strain on joints).