The most painful conditions affecting women and how to deal with them.
When it comes to pain, women get the short straw. Childbirth is one of the most intensely painful experiences ever and it’ only in the past few decades that modern pain relief methods have brought some reprieve. Then there are period pains. Not all the women suffer but those who do testify to how to how draining and debilitating they can be. If this level of pain had any other cause, it would be considered an excellent reason for a couple of days off work.
Here are some of the most common painful conditions affecting women and how to deal with them – plus what to do when pain won’t go…
Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen. They block the effect of prostaglandins, chemicals thought to pain and reduce bleeding. A stronger one, Naproxen, is available over the counter but you need to take it two days before your period starts. If you can’t take them, a paracetamol will do but avoid aspirin as this prolongs bleeding.
>> Treat with heat: Granny’s hot water bottle remedy works by blocking pain messages to the brain but heat patches do just as well.
>> Move around: Exercise improves blood flow to the area, combating the effects of painful spasms that occur when the womb sheds its lining.
If it’s a one-off, an over-the counter painkiller should start to work within 20 minutes. But beware of rebound headaches – taking painkillers daily for a long time can trigger headaches, which kick in when the medication wears off.
>>Check your postures at work: Tension around the neck and the shoulders can trigger headaches.
>>Try a DIY scalp massage: Using the pads of your finger, press gently on either side of your head, above your ears, moving the scalp in small circular motions all over, including the back of your neck.
>>Lost the wobble: Excess weight puts extra strain on the weight bearing joints like hips, knees and spine.
>>Tone Up: Working out with free weights and weight machines strengthens muscles, improving shock absorption around the joints. But check with your GP first.
>>Swap: High-impact exercise like aerobics and running for low impact like cycling or swimming.
>>Stick to heels under 1.5 inches: Any higher and you increase pressure on the joints.
>>Heat it up: Heat patches, sprays and creams stimulate blood flow to the area, easing pain.
>>Go for the gels: Pain relieving gels containing the anti-inflammatory drug Ibuprofen – the go straight to the affected area without irritating the stomach.
If you’ve suffered from pain that’s lasted for more than six months, ask your GP to refer you to a pain clinic. Besides pain relief, you my be offered advice on self-help, physiotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy to help you deal psychologically with the pain, and possibly access the to complementary therapies like acupuncture.
But, as someone who’s suffered from severe headaches in the past, I believe the most important (and sometimes most difficult) thing is to keep a positive attitude – that way you feel more in control.
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