Saturday, October 27, 2012

Managing Pain

muscle painMost of us living with Kennedy’s Disease experience pain. Whether it is a deep muscle ache or a severe cramp, one thing for sure, it can be uncomfortable and sometimes “really painful.”

One thing that I found that helps is my daily exercise program. Since I started exercising daily four years ago, I experience a lot less painful moments. This experience made me want to read the article on “Find your path through pain” by Amy M. Avery in the current Humana Active Outlook magazine. Ms. Avery did a nice job of explaining pain as well as providing examples of ways to better manage pain.

“Researchers have found that chronic pain shrinks the brain by as much as 11 percent – equal to the amount of brain lost in 10-20 years of again. People with chronic pain have constant activity in their brain neurons, the message cells that send information to different areas of the brain. That can wear out neurons and damage connections, which can affect mood and decision making, and lead to depression.

The good news is your brain can also help you with pain. Exercise and meeting with friends cause the brain to release hormones that make you feel good. That trains the brain to remind you to do those same activities again. Meditation, tai chi, therapeutic massage, and similar activities can also help calm tensions and ease pain.”

“Movement is the treatment of choice and should a part of almost everyone’s pain management plan,” says Paul Abott, Humana Director of musculoskeletal strategies. “Activities that help stretch and strengthen muscles allow you to mover more easily. They get the joints flowing smoothly – and that leads to more pain-free motion.”

Overpowering Pain

“ … try a mix of exercise and other ideas. Experts say exercise is one of the most important pain-fighting steps you can take. Below are some tips that help take control of pain.
  • Ask for help. A personal trainer can help you choose the right activities.
  • Choose activities you enjoy.
  • Find a distraction. Example listening to music while exercising.
  • Record your progress and how you feel before and afterwards.
Other ideas to consider:
  • Lose weight. It can help with joint pain.
  • Stop smoking. Cigarettes can raise your chances of developing chronic muscle and joint pain.
  • Have a good laugh. It releases endorphins that are natural painkillers.
  • Try relaxation, like deep breathing and meditation.
  • Spend time with a pet. Animals can help lower our heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Listen to music you love. It will help take your mind off of your pain.
Eat to beat pain: (Story by Maggie Green, RD, LD)
Instead of popping a pill, try these foods that may help lower pain and inflammation.
  • Fresh or canned salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Other sources include herring, sardines, anchovies and walnuts.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil can also help remove inflammation.
  • Sweet potatoes have beta-carotene that may lower pain. Other sources include cantaloupe, winter squash, carrots, pumpkin, papaya, apricots, and oranges.
  • Broccoli is rich in vitamin C that helps build healthy joints. Also try bell peppers, grapefruit, oranges, cauliflower, and pineapple.
  • Turmeric might lower pain. Try ginger, also.
  • Green Tea might stop the body from producing certain inflammatory chemicals.
What works for you in managing your joint and muscle pain?


  1. Hello, I am 53 diagnosed with Kennedy's 10 years ago, have accepted the condition as I have no choice. I find swimming twice a week keeps my body working and relatively pain free. I can no longer sprint the mile in under 18 minutes :), however I can manage afew laps at a time, changing strokes using different muscle groups with an increasing number of rests between laps to allow the muscles to recover, then go again. Rather than focus on speed and distance, I set a time of 30 or 45 minutes and do what I can. My personal philosophy is simple - "If I stop I die" - thinking about it, it is more of a metaphor, it focuses my mind to keep going. I am not ready to stop. Works for me thought I'd share, cheers John.
    PS Magnesium works for me if I have severe cramping

  2. John, thanks for sharing your story. I also find that exercising every day helps minimize the pain and any discomfort associated with muscle degeneration. I take magnesium and when things are tough, a little ibuprofen.

    I support your thoughts that time, or reps or weights, or distance do not matter as much as 'just do it'.

    I look forward to hearing from you again.


Please feel free to comment. By taking a moment to share your thoughts you add much to these articles. The articles then become more than just something I said or believe. In addition, by adding a comment, you might just be helping the next reader by sharing your opinion, experience, or a helpful tip. You can comment below or by sending me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.