Pain is the body's way of telling you something is wrong. Pay heed to it, and reap the benefits

It's called the “moaner-groaner” disease. You wake up saying “ouch!”, and a niggling pain stays with you as a companion through the day. Pain is inevitable.

“It's a painful story,” says Sunder, physiatrist (a doctor who treats using physical methods.). “Find the source of the hurt quickly. It could be something to do with the muscle, joint, ligament, eye and chest, or a twisted ankle. It could be high stress. Check the duration. The longer you've had it, the more acute it gets. It's a symptom, don't ignore it.”

Pain could be multi-factorial, so you need to know the precipitant factors. Is it ergonomic or medical? Dull throb or repeated piercing? Is it injury, overuse (excess physical pressure) or abuse (bad posture)? Trauma, medication or electrolyte imbalance? Arthritis, flu and fibromyalgia? Parathyroid problem is also on the list of villains. Some aches go away, others are stubborn 24x7s.

Look at aches and pains as useful, says Dr. Sunder. They are signals for rest time. If the space between your shoulder blades is on fire (computer addiction?), it's likely you will square your back, sit up and stretch your legs. You'll get up to relieve the tedium, and close your eyes willing the ache to vanish. You will change posture, chair, or both. Or, take a holiday.

Tonsillitis, you'll find something easy to swallow. Laryngitis, you'll stay quiet. Gastro-enteritis, you'll stay away from eating. A nagging headache? You'll consider refractory error, get your glasses checked. If it is chest pain, you won't postpone going to the doctor.

Persistent aches

And then, there are aches that have outlived their usefulness, the doctor warns. You can do nothing about advanced osteo-arthritis, for example. It is “degenerative” and the pain flares up forcing you to see a doctor. Depending on age, the kind of complaint and fitness, you'll be told to go on injections, tablets, physiotherapy, or opt for total knee/hip replacement.

There's no totally pain-free life, so minimise it. Follow the prevention protocol. Have the right attitude. Says a sprightly Meenakshi: “I get up feeling pain, go to bed in pain. My left shoulder is sore, my right knee hurts. My back sometimes explodes with pain. My head aches, my right ankle doesn't feel good. I have trouble with my stomach. And, I'm 75,” she laughs.

Traditionally, we have followed grandma's remedies before popping self-prescribed pills. If it's reflux, heartburn or indigestion, you go for a shot of ginger/lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar, if you can get it. You skip breakfast. If the joints crack, you drink lots of water.

For a slight twinge in the back, you may need no more than a good stretch. The headache may vanish if you apply ginger paste/lemon juice. Banged your knee somewhere? Ice-pack it. Toothache? Clove oil might help. But if pain is persistent and bothersome, get medical help. Listen to your ache — it's trying to tell you something.

Have you tried these? Cold compress (take a bag filled with ice or a frozen bag of peas) sprains or strains. Apply hot towels later to reduce swelling and inflammation. Soak in a bath tub of warm water with Epsom salt. Apply finely-ground oatmeal paste on a small area of pain. Stretch before and after exercising. Develop good posture, get a good night's sleep and rest during the day. Treat yourself to a monthly massage. Practise relaxation techniques such as meditation, music or yoga. Play with grandchildren.

A sore, scratchy throat? Gargle with warm salt water. Drink herbal tea. Rub arnica cream for shoulder pain. Fry garlic pods in mustard oil and massage aching joints with the oil. Touched the hot dosa tawa? Rinse with cold water, then apply aloe vera gel to the burn. At least, rub a slice of potato — the juice is cool and soothing.

Stomach ache could be a result of constipation. Drink more water, eat more greens. Is anything wrong with nutrition? Is it too much grain? Living on laxatives may not be the answer. Meanwhile, add a few teaspoons of sesame oil to orange or (diluted) lemon juice. Try Epsom salts. Depression and inactivity could worsen matters. If the problem's chronic — a sign of a more serious problem — seek medical advice. Adjust your lifestyle.

STAY PAIN-FREE

Follow a prevention protocol

Listen to your body. Give it adequate rest

Try grandma's recipes. If the pain persists, consult a doctor

Talk to someone for suggestions on coping with pain, and finding a solution

Keywords: painremedy for painrest