Category: Pain Relief-Muscle Relaxers



Probably the worst thing to have to cope with at school is the sudden onset of the cramps. Most girls try to stay at home on really off days, providing they can predict when those will be. The trouble is, periods aren’t always predictable, especially when they first start. So there may be times when you are at school and the pain catches you out. If you have been practising relaxation and breathing, you’ll need somewhere quiet to lie down and cope. That’s easier said than done because so many school buildings, even new ones, aren’t equipped with rest rooms, beds and hot water bottles. I know one brand new school where girls who faint are laid out in the general office, with the office staff stepping over their bodies until they come round.

So what to do about it? I should start by finding yourself an ally on the staff — a housemistress perhaps, or a year head, or your form tutor or a subject teacher — somebody you like and know you can trust, who is sympathetic and knows how tricky period pain can be. Explain what you have been doing and see if she (or he) can help you. Don’t forget, lots of the women who teach suffer from period pain themselves. So most of them will be sympathetic and if they can help you, they will.

If you start your period with a fainting fit, it’s good sense to check whether you’re eating enough. If you haven’t had any breakfast, you are far more likely to faint during assembly or the first lesson. A lot of girls go without breakfast; in some schools it’s almost a crime to admit to swallowing anything more substantial than a cup of black coffee. The secret is to listen to your body. If you really need food, it will tell you. If you faint because you’re hungry, just the smell of that bacon sizzling will make your mouth water. You should go ahead and enjoy it. On the other hand, if you are one of those unlucky girls who start their periods by feeling sick and then fainting, you have a different problem. You certainly wouldn’t want to eat anything and it would be very silly to force yourself. You are probably better staying at home until the sickness and the feeling of faintness have passed and you can return to normal and go back to school again.


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The therapies above, although part of ‘alternative medicine’, are nevertheless so well-established that they are often seen as an adjunct to conventional treatment rather than an alternative to it. There are, however, also several other therapies which while less generally accepted have helped at least some people suffering from chronic conditions, although there is very little or no creditable scientific evidence available either to prove their effectiveness or exactly how they work. Here are brief details of some of these methods – do, however, please remember that the mention of a therapy here is not meant to be interpreted as an endorsement of it.


This form of treatment is based on the use of essential oils – these derived from wild or cultivated plants, herbs, fruits, and tress – to restore the body’s natural functions and rhythms. The essences are prepared in many different ways: as compresses, bath additives, inhalants, and massaging lubricants.

Aromatherapists say they can help people with back problems in two main ways: either by using the essences to treat the problem directly by using them in massage sessions, or to control and reduce tension, anxiety and stress.

As with herbalism, a word of caution is in order: some of the aromatic oils are in fact poisonous in other than the very smallest quantities, and it is therefore absolutely essential that this therapy be administered by a qualified practitioner.


This consists of a series of exercises aimed at generating a state of both mental and physical relaxation. It also includes some aspects of self-hypnosis in which the subjects use their own mind power to send themselves positive, healing messages about their condition. It is a ‘mind-over-matter’ approach that straddles that ill-defined border between hypnosis and meditation, both of which are altered mind states.

Many people with chronic pain and/or back problems have said that autogenic training had helped, both in dealing with immediate symptoms as well as reducing the stress that often had contributed to bringing these about. For more information contact your doctor or local health centre.


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Getting sufficient exercise is a problem for a stay-at-home mother. Going for a walk with a toddler will exercise him, but it won’t do a lot for you except give you a breath of fresh air. It can be a real nuisance to be so tied, especially if you are one of those people who need regular exercise to help cure or prevent period pain. You can do the pelvic rock, of course, almost any time around the house. But that’s not the same thing as going to a disco, for example, or playing tennis or going ice skating, because you miss the company. Some of the new leisure and sports centres provide creches for mothers who want to use the sporting facilities, but they are costly. And so is using a babysitter, unless you belong to a baby-sitting group and help one another for free.

Lack of money-The bad thing about being your own boss is that you’re working without pay. And if you have been used to two salaries, and you suddenly have to learn to cope on one, you probably won’t be able to afford baby-sitters or creches very often, or even some of the food you would perhaps like. There’s really no reasonable answer to that. I could advise you to buy food instead of clothes, but I can hear the, hollow laughter of mothers who gave up buying clothes for themselves when their first babies were born and have been feeling the pinch ever since, despite all their sacrifices. The poverty of the young family in a society where so many women work and earn is a social problem we have hardly begun to consider, let alone solve.

The depression of the miseries is particularly hard to contend with when you are tied to the home day in and day out and you can’t afford outings or treats. Belonging to a group of parents can be a help—you’ll baby-sit for one another free for a start. Some groups run meetings in the evenings as well as during the day, and just to take an evening off now and then will help a great deal. An evening out with your husband is even better, while a week-end away is nicer still. No wonder British Rail’s ‘Golden Rail Breathers’ are overbooked. But I do know how difficult it is to arrange. Once you have children depending on you, you will soon find that nothing is simple any more, not even a short trip to the shops.


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These are two forms of treatment that are used quite commonly by both medical doctors as well as by alternative practitioners. Although these therapies would seem at first to have but little role to play in managing sciatica and back problems, they can help in a variety of ways, including:

They can help a patient bring about lifestyle changes indicated for improving his condition. For example, hypnosis can help someone stick to a diet.

Affect how the patient looks at and reacts to his difficulties. While hypnosis may perhaps make no difference to the extent of sciatica, it certainly can alter the way someone reacts to it when it happens, either by making him less aware of it or by increasing his level of tolerance to it. ? These therapies are also particularly useful for reducing stress and anxiety, these often being an exacerbating factor in all kinds of back-connected problems.

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy both depend on the power of suggestion, whether the suggestions originate from the practitioner or the patient himself. In fact, it is generally believed that no one is ever hypnotised by anyone else, and that what invariably happens is that the subject hypnotises himself, the hypnotist merely providing a conduit for this self-hypnosis.

Not every patient is a suitable subject for this approach, and there is considerable individual variation in the extent to which people respond to this technique, some falling almost immediately into a deep trance-like state at the first suggestion while others totally fail to respond. There is, however, no need for a subject to attain a deep hypnotic state before hypnosis can work, the very lightest of trances being enough to achieve results.

Hypnosis can be tried out at very little cost and with minimal risk by buying one or more of the self-hypnosis tapes that are commonly advertised in newspapers and magazines. These tapes, of course, are usually aimed at creating generally beneficial effects – such as inducing relaxation or reducing reaction to pain – but often can be adapted by the user so that the suggestions they contain become directly relevant to the problem. Many hypnotists will also provide patients with individualised tapes they can later use at home to reinforce suggestions made during previous treatment sessions.


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The sensible way to begin any programme to reduce your stress level is to identify as fully as possible all the various things that contributed to creating it in the first place.

Stressors – that’s factors that cause stress – are divided into two main groups:

Stressors you can either avoid altogether or eliminate most of the time. For example, if you find that you always become highly irritated and ‘up-tight’ whenever you visit your in-laws, it would be sensible to perhaps see them less frequently; or if your temper rises to boiling point every time you can’t find a place to park your car in town, consider going in by bus or train instead.

Stressors about which you can do little, or at least not in the short term, and which are essentially beyond your control. Typical stressors of this type include work problems, money worries, or deteriorating family and marital relationships.

Identify your own personal stressors by making a list of those events, situations, and other factors that you know make you feel stressed. In this list also include seemingly minor problems that bother you frequently as it’s not uncommon for these – if they come up often – to be a cumulative source of stress whose total effect is considerably more powerful than you might expect.

Divide your list into two parts: the stressors you can avoid or eliminate and those which you’ll have to grin and bear, at least for the immediately foreseeable future. Review your list carefully, considering each item in turn and thinking about what you can do about it to make things better for yourself. As you go through this exercise, you’re likely to be surprised by how much stress you can avoid by making the simplest of adjustments to your lifestyle or environment. Naturally, you’ll be reducing your total stress level every time you find a way to avoid or reduce the impact of a stressor.

Extremely useful though this eliminatory approach can be, it may still not be enough to bring your stress down to an acceptable level as there will probably still remain a number of major stressors which will not disappear or change overnight. What can be done, however, is to change the intensity with which you react to these ‘permanent’ stressors, so reducing their impact upon you and making their effects less harmful to you in the long term.


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Greasy hair is a problem at period time too. I’m not going to advise you to wash your hair every day, although I know many girls do. It’s a good idea to keep it clean, but if you subject it to a daily dose of hot water, you could be forcing it to produce even more grease than it would anyway. So my advice would be to cut down the shampooing to once or twice a week and then to make sure that you wash in warm rather than hot water and that the final rise is a cold one.

Skin-If you suffer from spots, boils or styes, then obviously you must keep your skin as clean as possible. It’s probably better to use cotton wool pads than a flannel, which can spread the infection. Failing cotton wool, you can clean your face very efficiently with pure soap and water and your fingertips.

Fingertip massage while you wash, in fact. Some people prefer to use a gentle cream rather than soap. Be specially careful how you clean your eyes: the gentlest make-up remover and a separate cotton wool pad for each eye. Skin irritation can be provoked by some anti-perspirants or deodorants, or even highly perfumed talcum powder. If you get skin irritation in your armpits it makes good sense not to shave when you’re low and to avoid anti-perspirants and deodorants altogether. Stick to baby powder. In other words, treat your skin with great tenderness when it’s vulnerable.

Sadly, the one skin trouble that won’t respond to a careful diet and scrupulous cleanliness is acne, probably the most distressing of all the infections you’re likely to suffer at period time. Acne is in a class by itself, as sufferers know. The trouble is that when your body first starts producing sex hormones it doesn’t always get the balance right. So some people produce more grease than they need and their pores get clogged with it. Cleanliness will help it not to get any worse but it won’t cure it. Only time will do that, which isn’t much help to you if you’re already suffering from all those spots and blackheads, or if your skin has already been scarred by them. Fortunately the amount of grease you produce will be inhibited by better supplies of oestrogen and many girls who go on the Pill report that one of its pleasant side-effects is that it clears up their acne.


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This is another one of those seemingly simple questions for which there’s no simple answer, especially when you consider that no matter what position you choose as you drift into sleep is not going to be maintained throughout the night as you move about.

However, while you have relatively little control over what positions your body will adopt of its own volition while you’re asleep, there are some things you can do that will help ensure that your back is going to derive the maximum benefit from your night’s rest. Here are some suggestions from the NBPA and other experts:

A good supportive pillow is important. Remember, that the main purpose of a pillow is to provide support for the neck rather than the head, and ideally your pillow should be such that it helps keep the neck vertebrae in a straight line with the vertebrae of the back. While most people do need a pillow, one that is too thick or too many of them can provoke neck pain.

Back pain sufferers may find that lying on their side with a thin pillow or a special pad lodged between their knees can considerably ease back discomfort.

If (as far as you know or from what your bed partner may have told you) you lie mostly on your back while you’re asleep, you may find that you get a better night’s rest by placing a pillow under your knees or supporting your legs from the knees down with cushions.

If you spend any time awake in bed, do change positions now and then.

Getting in and out of bed requires special care as it’s quite easy to set off back pain by doing this too hastily. The NBPA recommends: “When getting into bed, sit on the edge, lower your body onto the elbow and shoulder, draw up your knees until your feet are on the mattress, then roll your body over to face the ceiling. Reverse the procedure when getting out – and bend both knees.” Naturally, always move slowly and deliberately, and particularly so when getting up in the morning. Your back is often at its most vulnerable at that time because joints do tend to stiffen when they are not being used. While rest can help your spine in many ways, being mainly immobile while asleep can also leave it very stiff and perhaps painful when you wake.


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This is one of the newest weapons in the battle against back problems. Essentially, as defined by a pre-eminent scientist, floating is ‘a method of attaining the deepest rest that humankind has ever experienced’, and this is accomplished by spending an hour or so lying quietly in the dark, suspended in a warm solution of Epsom salts, about 10″ deep, and so dense that you float without effort.

According to its proponents, floating can bring many benefits:

In the gravity-free environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested. It is claimed that one hour of floating has the restorative effects of four hours of sleep.

Old injuries and aches – and especially backache – experience relief as floating helps blood circulation.

Additionally, research has shown that floating measurably reduces both blood pressure and the heart rate while at the same time also lowering the levels of stress-related chemicals in the body.

Studies having shown that during a float, people produce slower brain-waves patterns, known as the theta waves and normally experienced only during deep meditation or just before falling asleep. This is usually accompanied by vivid imagery, very clear, creative thoughts, sudden insights and inspirations or feelings of profound peace and joy, induced by the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates.

Just how good a treatment for sciatica or other back problems floating is, still remains to be fully proven. As it’s a comparatively new approach, there just aren’t enough documented case histories to provide meaningful statistics. However, as it is a therapy that is unlikely to do harm and may help a lot, it may well be worth a try.

Floating, however, doesn’t suit everybody as it requires a willingness on your part to let go and see what happens, and you may need to float a few times before you are able to relax completely, both physically and mentally. Incidentally, your skin won’t wrinkle like a prune when you float because the water contains high salt levels and therefore doesn’t rob your skin of salt, which is what causes wrinkling. Instead, floating leaves your skin soft and silky.


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