How I overcame chronic pain… And hope you can do the same 17



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I have been living with osteoarthritis for years, and pain has almost become my constant companion. I’ve had to battle with doctors, family and myself – to achieve a happier life with less discomfort.

After being diagnosed with osteopenia during my 40s, I made a big effort to care for my health. Osteopenia is a form of low bone density, that is normally considered the first step towards osteoarthritis.

As a younger woman, I exercised three times each week and kept my calcium levels up. Low-fat yoghurt, milk and cheese were all parts of my regular diet.

Even so, genetics worked against me. By the time I was 64, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and was in constant pain. The joints in my hips were so brittle that even bending down was an achievement!

I tried regular physiotherapy and daily stretching. My GP prescribed me a hefty dose of corticosteroid, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory drug.

I used heat packs, cold packs and stayed positive. Despite this, by the age of 68, I needed a total hip replacement. If I thought I knew pain before, it was nothing compared to my rehabilitation!

After a hip replacement, there’s lots of exercises you need to complete. Everything from ankle rotations, to knee bends (ouch!), leg raises and stair climbing.

I was beginning to grow weary from the constant pain though. It seemed like no matter how many drugs, exercises or surgeries I did – nothing could help relieve my discomfort.

Living with pain can be an exhausting and isolating experience too. After a while, your friends and even your family will grow tired of hearing you complain about “the hips”.

Doctors will get sick of you asking for follow-up appointments, and you might find yourself researching different health conditions online, for hours on end.

One day, I saw an article about “alternative health therapies” for arthritis sufferers. Cupping and reiki were two ideas I’d never heard of.

“Cupping” involves placing heated cups on areas of pain. It’s the opposite of massage, which presses into the body. Instead, cupping aims to pull “knots” and muscular tension to the surface of your body.

Reiki involves an even more open mind. It’s based on the idea that people can channel healing energies into each other, to encourage natural healing processes. Reiki is also supposed to be meditative, in a way.

Desperate and in pain, I decided to give these unusual ideas a try. I visited a young mother in her 30’s, who had studied cupping at an Australian health college.

She read the five reiki principles to me: “Just for today, I will not anger. Just for today, I will not worry. Just for today, I will be grateful. Just for today, I will work honestly. Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing”.

For so long, I had been angry about my osteoarthritis. I had been frustrated with doctors who promised “things would get better”, only for my pain levels to increase each year. I had been disappointed by my family, who hadn’t always been supportive enough.

Hearing the five reiki principles helped me let go of some of these worries, stresses and resentments I had been holding onto. What other choice did I have? Living with physical pain and emotional stress is just too much, for one person anyway.

I won’t say that cupping or reiki “healed” my hips, but using these alternative therapies in conjunction with regular medication and exercise has helped changed my attitude towards pain.

Personally, I believe that overcoming pain involves a level of acceptance. You need to be kind to yourself, give your body time to change and grow, and don’t get frustrated if your health doesn’t improve immediately.

Alternative therapies have helped me “overcome” my pain by simply understanding it. I can’t say this will work for everyone, but take some extra time for yourself, and you might just find that relaxing a little could help… Good luck.

Do you live with chronic pain? How do you manage everyday life? What advice do you have for others living with pain?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and raw honey twice a day and my spinal osteoarthritis pain has reduced considerably, to a manageable level. I also keep active and exercise daily. It will not beat me !

    2 REPLY
    • Thanks, I will try this as I get bad pelvic & lower back pain. I take cranberry pills & that has helped a lot. Tested for UTIs etc. tests show nothing.

    • I take apple cider vinegar 3 times a day, ( I need a new hip) the pain is also considerably reduced, so much so I rarely need to take any painkillers at all 🙂

  2. Did someone successfully fight with panic attack, anxiety and high BP?

    1 REPLY
    • Yes, Iryna, I did. My panic attacks turned into agoraphobia and, when it first happened in the early 80’s no-one had any knowledge of these afflictions. I tried absolutely everything known to mankind and, although it took me 3 years to overcome this miserable state of affairs, I managed to find a way that cost nothing, had no medication involvement at all and was so simple that I still find it hard to believe how difficult I found it during those 3 years. I wish you every success in your attempt to rid yourself of this and if I can be of any help at all, please do not hesitate to contact me.

  3. Have had both knees replaced in my late 50 had been in pain for years but Drs said l was too young to have them done .lm now 71 and having trouble with my hip ,my back also gives me grief but you just have to get on with life ,l go to gym 5 mornings a week do Aqua and swim as well. l know l carry too much weight that’s another of life’s challenges .l have a great group of friends and after gym each day we go for coffee and laughs and jokes overlooking the beach keeps us all sane talk over all our troubles .l try not to take any heavy medication love my hot pack .

  4. You try everything to get relief for pain ,no one can feel your pain ,they don’t understand .i have been using ,apple cider vinegar once a day ,use cinnamon and turmeric everyday and I find it helps with the inflammation .so you have to try everything for some relief .

  5. Do I live with chronic pain? Yes.

    How do I manage everyday life? Do my stretches and get on with it.

    What advice do I have for others living with pain? Do exactly as I have already written on this “Page” on the 11th Sep 15, 24th Nov 15, 3rd Dec 15 and 21st Jan 16. Go and get the “The Muscle Fitness Book” by Francine St George and FOLLOW THE PROGRAM. B|

  6. Try turmeric with black pepper for it to stay in your body longer. There are recipes on the Internet. Definately worth trying it.

  7. I have arthritic pain in my knees, shoulders and hands through a combination of sport and genetics. I have learnt to live with pain and try to refuse to let pain stop me doing things. Fortunately, I have a very strong willpower and determination which allows me to push pain aside on most occasions. I find meditation excellent. It puts me at peace with myself and the world in which I live. I will always choose to be happy and optimistic.

  8. A great article. After suffering intense pain for many years I have come to the same outcome – changed my attitude and just got on with it using acupuncture and remedial massage and change of diet. Despite the cynics, I have found huge relief after trying so many things before – there is still some pain but it doesn’t rule my life.

  9. I take or do many things on a regular basis to counter arthritis & inflammation. The markers c-reactive protein, IL-6 and TNFa are inflammatory markers that can be measured with blood tests. Research shows that regular fasting, boron, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin D, omega 3 oils, turmeric and ginger lower the inflammatory markers. They also benefit many other markers (cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc) and areas of your life (eg immunity). Boron, with calcium, also strengthens your bones.

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