The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, April 29, 2016

LBD and Non-Drug Pain Relief

Last October's four blogs reviewed variety of pain-relieving drugs and found most of them to be lacking where LBD is concerned, and actually for the elderly in general. So what's the answer? Live with it? Hardly. Pain makes LBD symptoms worse and we surly don't want that. But there are some options. None of them are as easy as taking a pill, and it will probably take you a while to discover which one works best for you and your loved one.

Heat...and cold. Apply a heating pad to the painful area for about 20 minutes at a time. Even better, alternate heat and cold treatments, with a few hours between each application. Cold compresses should be icy cold, with a cloth buffer between the compress and the skin. Leave it on for no more than 15 minutes. Allow at least an hour between each application.

Physical remedies:

Stretching exercises. This is my favorite and I find it especially good for arthritic pain. I stretch my legs, arms and back (individually) as far as I can, relax and stretch again for at least ten times. It usually hurts at first, but whatever I'm stretching tends to feel better the more I stretch. If it hurts more instead of less, stop. I find that by the time I'm done, I can move much more easily and I have less pain. This works best when you do it yourself, but you can also help another person, such as your loved one, stretch.

Exercise. The more a person exercises, the better their body can handle pain. Be sure to choose a type of exercise that is supportive of your body. For instance, running isn't the best for a big-busted woman...or someone with artificial knees, but water exercises work well for just about anyone.

Physical therapy. This teaches exercises that help to improve movement and strength. It is especially helpful with reduced activity levels or a decreased exercise tolerance. A physical therapist will know just which muscles to move to provide the best pain relief for a specific situation.

Occupational therapy. This helps people to find less painful ways to perform activities of daily living.

Acupuncture and acupressure. These can provide temporary pain relief from conditions such as arthritis. Acupuncture requires a trained professional but caregivers can learn basic acupressure techniques.

Massage. This may help relax tight muscles and decrease pain. Use a few drops of soothing essential oils with this to increase its effects. This can also be a wonderful together time of touching and gentle talking. You could even add some guided relaxation as you massage. (See below for essential oils and guided relaxation.)

Other ideas:

Music. This helps to increase energy levels and improve mood. It may trigger the release of endorphins, natural pain reducing chemicals.

Laughter. Laughing and even smiling helps you let go of stress, anger, fear, depression, and hopelessness, all of which increase pain.

Guided relaxation. Gently talk to your loved one, telling them to think of something you know would be especially calming for them. You can find scripts for this at Inner Health Studio.

Essential oils. The five most mentioned oils for pain relief are wintergreen, spruce, lavender, marjoram and sandalwood. Go to for more about each one of these and how they can be used. This site lacks an index but you can enter the oil in the search box to find it more easily. Add a few drops to a diffuser for aromatherapy, or to coconut oil for massage. Be aware that some oils, lavender in particular, may have an opposite effect if you make it too strong.

Aromatherapy. This is the use of essential oils diffused into the air. It is one of the easiest ways to use these oils.

For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a physician's advice.

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