Preventing injury while you’re young can keep you out of the pain management doctor’s office as you get older. Many forms of chronic conditions are the direct result of injuries that occurred many, many years before the chronic pain sets in. Last week we discussed how to prevent injury, as well as how to release endorphins to alleviate pain. Today we came across an article on CNN focusing on the power of touch to help ease pain. So, as we enjoy taking a glimpse into alternative forms of medicine and healing, how important is affection for pain management?
From lowering blood pressure and heart rate to increasing immune function and relieving pain, getting touched or doing some touching makes you healthier — not to mention happier and less anxious, according to CNN.com.
The simple act of a big hug can change your entire day. It’s true! Hugging actually creates a chemical reaction within the body, releasing oxytocin, a “bonding hormone that makes people feel secure, lowers cortisol levels, and reduces stress.” A hug from someone you love can make you feel loved in return, which releases endorphins that can help to block pain signals to the brain. A hug can help people with depression, sleep problems, even emotional distress.
A study conducted by Dr. Bresler, former director of UCLA’s Pain Control Clinic, indicated that ‘when a person’s need for hugging is satisfied, he or she becomes physically and emotionally stronger and better able to handle problems or traumas.”
According to Dolores Krieger, R.N., Ph.D., professor of nursing at New York University and expert in the field of touch therapy, when one person hugs or touches another, it actually invigorates the body by stimulating the level of hemoglobin which carries oxygen to tissues. When these tissues receive oxygen, they have a new energy that continues to rejuvenate the body. – Hug Therapy
Along with physical therapy, massage therapy is a valuable resource that many pain management doctors use. A massage can relax muscles, slow the heart, alleviate high blood pressure, and reduces stress hormones like cortisol.
“Cortisol suppresses the immune response,” explains Roberta Lee, MD, vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “Anything that increases the relaxation response triggers the restoration of your immune response.”
Studies have also shown that massages can “substantially” increase the body’s white blood cells which help the body to fight viruses and inflammation. This study also concluded that massages can help to reduce overall inflammatory cytokines associated with autoimmune diseases.
Everyone knows that having a pet around the house is a huge responsibility. A properly trained therapy dog, however, can sometimes be the best medicine for chronic pain. According to CNN, research shows that people’s blood pressure drops when they pet dogs, particularly if it’s a dog they know and love. Dog petting has also been shown to improve immune function and ease pain.
If conventional pain relief ideas are having a limited affect, consider speaking to your pain management doctor about unconventional methods such as touch, hugs and pets.