Wellness Wednesday: Physical Methods

Not uncommonly I have patients with pain issues, mood issues or both. Now, I suppose I write as many prescriptions for these conditions as the average doctor, but such a thing is hard to know. And yet, I am an advocate of what I like to call "physical methods" to control these problems.  

Since I practice evidence based medicine, I am committed to sticking to methods that have evidence supporting them. Believe it or not, the following methods are all evidence based. 

Let’s tackle pain first.

It’s pretty simple. If you have pain when stationery, you need to move. If you have pain when moving, you need to reduce movement or get help to find a better way to move. Physical therapy can provide this. 

Use heat and cold. Heat is to increase circulation which helps tight muscles or cramps. Cold is best for anything inflammatory or injury related in the first 24 hours. 

Massage is helpful in many cases of muscle pain. 

Abdominal binders, support hose, and wrist braces can be helpful in certain circumstances like pregnancy related pain. 

For the open-minded, I advise yoga for all sorts of pain: migraines, rheumatologic conditions like lupus, and for back pain pending approval of the back doctor.

Meditation takes a little more commitment, but it too, is evidence based and has been shown to favorably impact pain. 

Of course actual exercise is well known to improve resilience and to make people more resistant to pain. 

I consider music a physical method. Post operative patients have lower pain medication requirements when exposed to music they consider pleasant. The applications go way beyond that. 

Physical Methods for Mood 

All of the above also improve and stabilize mood. But did you know that the smell of natural citrus elevates the mood ? That’s why we have atomizers for natural essential citrus oils in our office. 

Simple adequate sleep is a proven method to improve the mood and increase the pain threshold. 

And if you haven’t heard this term before, you need to: Hangry. It is the combination of angry and hungry, which pretty much makes the connection between mood and blood sugar. Yes, something as simple as three meals and three snacks rich in protein can improve the mood immensely. 

All of these interventions and their effects are quite measurable and act via the nervous system and the circulatory system. Take the time to incorporate them into your life. They work. They’re cheap, and they’re fun. Because we all need to feel better sometime. 



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