In 2012 while pursuing his undergraduate degree, Michael Musaasizi experienced persistent severe headaches. He says during that month, he embarked on a daily dosage of pain killers, but after visiting a health centre, the doctor advised him against self-medication until he found out the cause of the headaches.
“When I visited a clinic in Nsambya, one of the doctors told me that I was not supposed to take any pain medication until tests had been done to determine the cause of my headaches and appropriate medicine given to me,” he shares.
After being examined, Musaasizi was told that the headaches were caused by dehydration and lack of sleep. To effectively deal with the pain, he was advised to take enough water and get enough sleep as supplements to the recommended medication.
Dr Micheal Kiyingi, a general practitioner at Kiruddu Hospital, defines pain as an unpleasant feeling or unpleasant succession to actual or frequent tissue damage described in terms of touch or damage.
Besides physical pain, Kiyingi says other forms of pain include psychological, social, spiritual or emotional pain. He says all these forms require different approaches.
According to David Ssali, a naturopathic specialist, there are a number of natural ways one can rely on when dealing with pain.
“One of the biggest mistakes some people make is to rush into taking painkillers without knowing the cause of the pain. Pain is the language our bodies use to communicate a problem. When you block it without treating the cause, you are putting yourself in danger,” he says.
Dr Micheal Kiyingi says this is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into one’s body. This form of dealing with pain, Kiyingi says, relieves pain fast but also comes with risks such as bleeding, soreness, bruising and the risk of unsterilised needles causing infections.
Ssali says this kind of healing approach involves the use of dance and body movement to improve the physical, emotional and one’s mental well-being.
Music therapy, according to Dr Kiyingi, is an interpersonal process in which a therapist uses music to help patients improve, restore or maintain health.
“Music therapy can mostly be helpful when dealing with non-physical forms of pain,” he says.
Massage therapy can ease aches and improve function in back pain sufferers for up to six months, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. If you suffer from chronic pain, you may also consider seeing a physical therapist for a posture assessment to work on underlying postural habits or structural issues that may be contributing.
Studies have found that aerobic exercise helps curb premenstrual pain, menopause discomfort, and even headaches.
A study in the journal Arthritis Care and Research found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who regularly did cardio exercise enjoyed improved mobility, less joint pain and greater quality of life compared to those who did not.
While yoga has been shown to relieve various types of pain, much of the research has looked at back pain.
In one study from West Virginia University, back pain sufferers who did yoga twice a week reduced their discomfort by 56 per cent and relied less on medicine than before beginning yoga.
David Ssali, a naturopathic specialist, says one can treat stomach pain with warm water mixed with lemon. He also says that in some case one can also deal with pains in places such as joints by using crushed ginger and tying it in an area where pain is felt.
Caution: Dr Micheal Kiyingi, a general practitioner at Kiruddu Hospital, says one should always seek medical help first before taking anything even if it is a natural remedy. He adds that some kinds of pain require one to adhere to pain killers such as morphin which should only be prescribed by a doctor.