One in three people are missing a trick when it comes to managing pain. There is strong evidence that mood affects our ability to deal with discomfort, but a new survey by Mentholatum, makers of Deep Relief Pain Relief Gel, reveals that more than a third (37%) of adults discounts the impact of their emotions.
However, those who are in touch with their inner analgesia are having the last laugh as watching a TV comedy emerged as the most effective mood-altering method of coping with pain. One in six (17%) found grinning helped them bear it, 16% said seeing a partner eased aches and the same number said time with children and grandchildren did the trick.
This phenomenon was supported by studies at the University of California, when researchers asked women in steady relationships to submit to painful stimuli under a range of conditions. Pain scores were consistently lower when they looked at photographs of their loved ones.
Other psychological strategies revealed by the Deep Relief survey, include chatting to a loved one over the phone (9%), eating a favourite meal (8%) and daydreaming about holiday plans (7%).
Pain expert and media medic Anna Mandeville says: “I’m not surprised that so many people have tuned into the power of the mind when it comes to pain management. There is a lot of evidence confirming the link between mood and our perception of pain.
“Aches and pains are a common symptom behind feeling sad and studies have shown that the deeper the depression, the more intense the pain. There are probably a number of factors at play, but one theory is that low mood increase the output of proteins called cytokines which trigger inflammation.”
The Deep Relief survey found that one in five (20%) people experience back, joint or muscular aches and pains every day, and a similar number (18%) suffer several times a week. Problems peak at the start of the day, with more than a quarter (29%) saying it’s worst first thing in the morning, but more than one in ten (12%) experience aches most or all of the day.
The most common remedy is to reach for pain-relief pills, with half (50%) confirming they use oral analgesia when back or muscular pain strikes. Over a quarter (28%) try to rest, one in five (20%) use a soothing rub to keep mobile and one in six (15) opts for an analgesic gel.
One in ten (11%) of those questioned said they used oral painkillers most or every day to deal with back, joint or muscular pain and worryingly, one in seven admitted they often, or always, exceeded the recommended dose.
Anna Mandeville says: “This dependence on oral painkillers is a real worry. Higher doses of paracetamol have been linked to cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and renal problems.
“Aspirin is also an issue as we have known for a long time that it can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. There has also been evidence that Aspirin can also lead to microbleeds, or tiny haemorrhages, in the brain.”
Anna says: “A lot of these issues can be avoided by using a topical product, and there is a lot to be said for taking a more integrated approach which combines analgesia with mental strategies, exercises to keep mobile and even dietary interventions.”
One in three (31%) of those surveyed believed that oily fish could help relieve pain.
Indeed, dietary factors can feed into pain. Oily fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and a study funded by the charity Arthritis Research UK indicated that they may help inflammatory forms of the disease such as rheumatoid, reactive and psoriatic arthritis.
But omega 6, which is found in many cooking oils, may have opposite effect and tend to promote inflammation. It is all about balance. In the past, we ate almost equal amounts of omega 3 and 6, but intakes of omega 6 has soared while omega 3 has slumped and the ratio is now around 15 to one, which some experts believe is a factor in many inflammatory conditions.
Anna Mandeville says: “Amid all this research into pain and the way different factors feed into the way we feel, there is one clear message — a proactive, integrated approach is the best way to beat pain.
“Diet, exercise, meditation, massage and the targeted analgesia that you get with a topical gel are all weapons in the war on pain.”
Two Top Reasons to Reach for Deep Relief
Ibuprofen works by relieving pain and damping down inflammation and swelling, while levomenthol provides a counter-irritant effect that delivers soothing pain relief.
An in-vitro study demonstrated that the synergy of these two key ingredients enhances the penetration of ibuprofen. It demonstrated Deep Relief delivered more ibuprofen, and faster, over a 10 hour period than products containing ibuprofen alone.
So if you suffer from mild to moderate muscular pain niggles you could opt for a topical pain relieving gel like Deep Relief gel. However, if the pain becomes severe or worsens, always seek GP advice immediately.