Not a post I ever thought I’d have to write but having suffered with chronic pain for the last two years I thought some of the little tips I have picked up may be of use to someone.
Long COVID (link will lead you to my latest update ) is very real and for many sufferers chronic pain has become the norm. For me my pain is mostly in my legs, it does spread to other parts such as my back and arms some days but every day I have significant pain in my legs and feet. I am on a very long waiting list to be seen by the pain management clinic and also the neurology department as most of my symptoms point towards nerve damage. I am unfortunately unable to take anti inflammatory medication and a lot of the common pain relieving tablets and nerve pain tablets. This is in itself incredibly frustrating as the only actual medication I currently take is paracetamol which as you can imagine barely touches the pain I am in. Because of this I have had to find other ways to help manage my pain, none of the things I do take the pain away but it helps to stop it becoming unbearable some days.
Here is a little list of my pain tools:
1. Heat. Heat helps my pain levels and is probably my most used form of pain relief. I have a heated electric underblanket on my bed. Heated throws on my sofa, a heat and massage pad, long water bottles and when out and about I sometimes use the sticky heat pads ( these aren’t always useful as my pain is over such a large area). Obviously these aren’t cheap and also the majority of them use an electric power source which as we know is expensive these days.
2. Water. The only time I get real relief for a period of time is when I am fully submerged in the bath. Being able to soak in the hot tub is also beneficial but a rarity these days as they cost so much to power and heat.
3. Magnesium sprays. The best way to absorb magnesium is through your skin so I buy a spray from Amazon and spray on my legs when the pain is severe. It does give an uncomfortable tingling sensation and unfortunately this can interrupt my sleep at times and definitely do not recommend using straight after shaving your legs!
4. Capsaicin cream. I get this on prescription from my GP. Recently it has been hard to source in the strength I need it due to national shortages. The cream is made from chillier and is quite burny to say the least. Also don’t forget to wash it off before a soak in the bath as it can be incredibly painful when added to hot water.
5. Clothing. Weirdly clothing has a big impact on my pain, I get extreme skin sensitivity and often tight gym style leggings are the best option as anything loose rubbing on my skin feels like it’s touching sunburn. Other days then I cannot tolerate the tightness on my legs so I wear bamboo pyjamas as it is the best fabric against my skin. Jeans are mostly a no go.
6. Massage or vibration. I have a heat and massage pad and also a vibro plate. Some days this helps enormously other days the pain is too much to tolerate the vibration.
7. A decent mattress. I have had to invest in a bamboo mattress topper, a new mattress was a bit outside my stretch financially but this mattress topper means I feel less pressure on my joints and is helping with my sleep too as lots of pain means you get very very tired.
8. Rest. Long COVID is one of the only illnesses where you are not advised to push yourself a little more each today to get fitter and healthier. In fact it will 9 times out of 10 make you feel worse. You have to rest but when in pain rest is difficult so this one is a bit of a battle.
9. Support. You need support from family and friends when you are in constant high levels of pain. My family are amazing and help with school runs and food shopping and I wouldn’t cope without them.
10. Taking care of mental health. Chronic pain can cause huge issues with mental health, feeling like you have no way out or no signs of improvement can make you feel incredibly low so you need to find your coping mechanisms and speak to your doctor to manage this.
Do you have any tips for dealing with chronic pain? I’d love to hear any that you have and if any one needs advice or a chat about long COVID feel free to comment or drop me an email.