The word “pain” covers a wide range of sensations, from the sudden, piercing feeling of serious injury to the next-day soreness you feel after training, with a lot of territory in between. Knowing which remedies suit your symptoms can be the first step in managing this unfortunate side effect of living an active life.
“Pain is the enemy. It is like the dashboard for our inflammation,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of Pain Free, 1, 2, 3! (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Avery, 2013). One way to differentiate pain is to break it into acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain starts suddenly and is associated with tissue damage or injury. If you experience it during a workout, resist the impulse to push through the pain. Some rest might be in order to prevent a more serious problem.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, lingers and is often resistant to medical interventions. It’s frequently caused by nerve damage and associated with negative psychological consequences.
Here are some entry points for talking with your doctor:
• Muscle pain — targeted more than an inch away from the joint
• Nerve pain — feels like electric burning and shooting sensations
“Pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong,” says Holly Lucille, ND, RN, a Los Angeles–based naturopathic doctor. “Any time your skin is in the game, such as when it is hot and red, you should seek out medical help for the pain.”
A Different Kind of Scale
When you seek help for your pain with a health-care provider, you will be asked to explain the feeling according to a scale: 1 being very mild and 10 being unimaginable. Deciding on the best number to describe what you’re feeling can be difficult, but don’t worry about it. “Know your story,” Lucille says. “That number is subjective to you, and it helps the doctor understand how the pain feels to you.” Don’t try to exaggerate your pain to get your doctor to take it seriously; you should talk about it honestly so your doctor can recommend the best treatment for you.
Depending on your preference, you can go with standard painkillers for relief or try an alternative. “You can supplement your lifestyle to create an environment that doesn’t promote inflammation and pain,” Lucille says. She suggests taking 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C, 100 milligrams of ubiquinol or coenzyme Q10, and a curcumin supplement before workouts.