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Don’t you wish you had a dime for every time a “chronic pain” specialist told you to just deal with it? Or that there was nothing more they could do for you? Before you subscribe to invasive surgery or a life of prescription opioids, try these essential pain management tips.
Always consult your doctor before trying any new pain management treatment, including natural supplements, OTC analgesics, and alternative therapies.
This article does not constitute medical advice, but rather suggestions that have helped many sufferers of chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), pernicious anemia, or migraine.
#1- Take your vitamins and minerals!
Your number one plan of action for reducing chronic headaches, stiff joints, or aching muscles should be to make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients that your body needs in order to manage pain. Sometimes, painful tingling and numbness, stomach cramps, or reduced mobility could be a symptom of vitamin deficiency, such as low vitamin B12 or magnesium. Ask your doctor or natural health practitioner about dosage information.
Protein foods contain lots of amino acids that promote your body’s own natural pain relievers; endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, some of are also available as supplements. These help you sleep better while also promoting a sense of wellbeing.
In addition, animal-based protein foods are the only rich source of vitamin B12, which helps your body maintain healthy red blood cells while also sustaining normal neurological functioning.
#4- Rub out the pain!
Topical pain relief creams and ointments are a healthy addition to your chronic pain management plan. Try capsaicin, which is derived from cayenne peppers, and provides a soothing heat treatment for sore muscles.
Penetrex, Pain Relief Therapy- Available on Amazon
#5- Alternate hot and cold!
As a rule of thumb, cold packs are for quick, instant relief, while heat is for a more long-lasting healing effect. Heat relaxes muscles, and is especially helpful in conjunction with topical pain creams, for providing deep tissue relief. Cold provides on-the-spot treatment, and decreases inflammation. Both are instrumental for reducing sore muscles, headaches, and back pain.
#6- Stretch your limbs!
This is difficult advice to take, especially if you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Still, it’s worth mentioning that chronic pain is a vicious cycle, and an important factor in treating it is maintaining mobility.
For this, the term “use it or lose it” really does apply. A sedentary lifestyle only increases pain, causing your muscles to waste away and tense up.
To do keep your tissues limber and prevent pain buildup, it’s important to take at least enough over-the-counter analgesics to allow you to get up from bed, stretch your legs, and walk down the street- even on the worst days. Do whatever it takes to maintain your mobility and proper alignment.
What natural preventive treatments do you use for chronic pain? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
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For many, chronic pain is an unwelcome visitor that shows up every day and refuses to leave. To manage chronic pain, you need the right doctor for your specific ailments. Below are some helpful tips and links for finding the right chronic pain specialist.
What’s chronic pain?
For healthy individuals, pain is temporary. If you have ever fallen and broken your leg, or if you have injured your neck in a car accident, then you know that the pain will disappear in time with treatment.
Chronic pain, however, lasts day in, day out- and may last for years, or for a lifetime. Chronic pain may occur as a result of an untreatable illness, such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), or migraines.
Or, chronic pain may result from an underlying health condition yet to be detected, such as pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency), autoimmune disorders, or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Fibromyalgia sufferers, listen up: It’s no secret that forgetfulness is one of the many symptoms of chronic pain syndromes. “Brain fog” makes it hard to remember important schedules, to-do lists, and…what was I going to say? You have enough on your plate without having to worry about whether or not you took all your fibromyalgia pain medications, what time the pharmacy opens, or what website you used to order your vitamin refills.
If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, then use it to your advantage! Here are some great tricks that let you get the most chronic pain management out of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod without spending a cent.
Trick #1: Pimp your home screen!
Dilemma: “My favorite website doesn’t have an app!” Let’s say that you like a website, and you use it often to order vitamins, prescription refills, or other necessities that you can’t live without. You want to be able to access this site immediately from your iPhone home screen…but there isn’t an app for that. You can make your own custom icon and stick it on your home screen! Here’s how it’s done:
Go to your favorite page.
Click on the arrow at the bottom of the screen.
Now, choose “Add to Home Screen.”
The official title of the home page is Vita Sciences but you can change it; just remember to keep it short and easy to identify.
That’s it! Now you have a shiny new custom-designed icon on your home page that you can’t get at the iTunes store. This is a great trick that you can use for any and all websites. Use it for pages that you use often, or just for something that you want quick access to in case of emergency. Pretty nifty, huh?
Trick #2: Set up vitamin and medication alerts!
The iTunes app store offers lots of daily reminders that are inexpensive. You can track everything from your menstrual period, to your food diet points, to your bill schedule. Sure, you could buy a pill reminder for 99-cents, but why bother? Your iPhone already came with an excellent calendar, and it’s just humming to remind you to take your pain medications, vitamin supplements. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to program it, either. Here’s how:
Go to your calendar. Click the “+” sign at the top right corner to add an event. (Question: When did remembering to take your pain medicine become an event? Answer: Since brain fog became one of the symptoms.)
Okay. Type in all the important details, like name of event, location (Behind the ear), repeat sequence (weekly), and most importantly, alert time. Steve Jobs must have foreseen that fibromyalgia patients would need to use it, because he cleverly programmed two alerts to remind you to take your vitamins; one initial reminder, and then another one, in case you already forgot the first warning. This is an essential tool for people who are forgetful, which is anybody who suffers from:
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Chronic fatigue syndrome
And here’s your gentle reminder to take your vitamin B12!
Trick #3: Get these great apps!
Here are some free iTunes apps that are worth a second look:
This is the Chronic Pain Tracker Lite: This free app lets you document your pain history in a way that is simple and functional. You can keep track of pain triggers, pain severity, location of pain, medications, and even add your own personal notes. This free version allows you to list up to 20 entries. If you really like it, then you can get the paid version for $14.99, which is still cheaper than getting a health coach.
Also free, the Medscape app is a great tool for accessing up-to-the minute information on pain treatments, breakthrough scientific research, and common pain symptoms. It’s like having a medical encyclopedia in your pocket, only much lighter. ;-)
Trick #4: Use Google Maps to find your nearest pharmacy- quick!
Google Maps is another excellent iPhone tool for people who have trouble remembering where their closest pharmacy is, even if you’ve been using them for prescription refills for the past 15 years.
Bingo! I knew Walgreens was somewhere around that neighborhood, give or take a few miles.
Trick #5: Follow the leaders on Twitter!
Finally, you don’t like to be in the dark. 24-7, people are talking about things that importantly impact your life; things like
You want to join in on the conversation, and be “in the know,” right? The best way to do that is to follow them on Twitter. This way, if the Fibromyalgia Society decides to coordinate an impromptu Occupy Fibromyalgia sit-in, you’ll be one of the first to respond.
We won’t be leading any protests any time soon, but we do keep you informed on the many topics related to vitamin B12 deficiency, like pernicious anemia symptoms, gastrointestinal disorders, gastric bypasses, diabetes, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, and of course, fibromyalgia.
According to a recent study, listening to music can ease pain, which is great news for fibromyalgia (chronic pain) patients. Many pain clinics already utilize the beneficial effects of music, finding that soothing melodies reduce anxiety and enhance pain relief treatments.
Music therapy for chronic pain?
It’s not the first time researchers have investigated the painkilling powers of music, but this recent study on music engagement confirms what many practitioners of chronic pain management already know-
-that listening to music puts you in a state of relaxation that enables you to cope with…and minimize pain symptoms. For sufferers of fibromyalgia, this could be a useful strategy for incorporating natural pain treatments with prescribed analgesic medications.
In this University of Utah study on pain management, 153 volunteers elected to receive painful electric shocks in varying levels of intensity while listening to background music.
In addition to listening to music, participants performed cognitive tasks that actively engaged them, such as following musical notes and focusing on the melody.
Scientists noted that volunteers who became engrossed with the music-listening tasks exhibited the fewest pain responses.
Researchers noted a correlation between personality and pain relief through music engagement. The most significant results occurred with people who experience anxiety. People who suffer panic, nervousness, or stress often find relief in occupying themselves with some sort of activity; in this case, music provided certain anxiety-prone individuals an opportunity to escape from pain symptoms.
On a much grander scale, fibromyalgia patients may implement these findings in their own lives; if listening to music helps relieve small shocks of pain, what strategies may be employed to relieve more severe pain symptoms, like aching joints, sore muscles, or gastrointestinal ailments?
Boost pain medicine! During fibromyalgia flare-ups, listening to music on your iPod may improve your mood and ease anxiety, increasing the effectiveness of your pain medicine.
Meditate! If you’re stuck in bed rest, or at the hospital, try turning off the television and turning on a radio. Close your eyes and picture the music in your mind (Think Fantasia). By actively engaging your brain with the music, you are also incrementally distracting yourself from the pain.
Sleep better! If pain symptoms keep you awake at night, listen to the sounds of relaxing mood music on your MP3 device. Many iTunes and Android apps provide the Relaxing Sounds of Nature, to help you go to Sleep!
Here are some more helpful tips to help you manage pain symptoms without the need for painkillers:
Take your B12!Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked with a host of severe pain symptoms, including painful tingling in your hands and feet, painful numbness, burning mouth or tongue, stomach pains, joint achiness, and sore muscles. Also, B12 deficiency increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and severe nerve damage.
Incorporate exercise! Here’s a great tip- listen to music while doing some gentle exercise routines, like light yoga, Tai Chi, or low-impact aerobics.
Go under the needle! No, not B12 shots- acupuncture is proven effective at relieving numerous ailments, including fibromyalgia, chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, and chronic fatigue.
Learn more about fibromyalgia and vitamin B12 deficiency: