Natural Alternatives to Decrease Pain

In my previous 2 articles: Pain and Inflammation: Your Body’s Message and Pain: Responding to Your Body’s Call For Help, the focus was on understanding why you experience pain, then responding appropriately based on pain severity and urgency. Natural Alternatives to Decrease Pain focuses on specific therapies for non-urgent types of pain.

Natural Alternatives: Hands On Therapies

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

There are a variety of very effective natural alternative therapies for pain that don’t involve either OTC or prescription drugs. Among these are “hands on” therapies such as:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Chiropractic Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage

Physical Therapy (PT), Chiropractic and massage therapy can be corrective and restorative if the problem is related to such causes as improper body alignment, muscle strain.   Certain types of headaches can even be resolved with hands on therapies!

Physical Therapy

My experience (as both nurse and patient) has been that doctors don’t always think about ordering PT for muscle/joint/back pain issues unless there has been a known injury or surgery.   In these situations, be your own advocate. Ask your healthcare provider whether PT might help your muscle/joint/back pain problems.



Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors make specific adjustments to realign joints and the spine.

Routine tasks can cause muscle stiffness or abnormal curvatures resulting in pain:

  • Sitting for hours in front of a computer
  • Lying on the sofa
  • Prolonged driving
  • A slip or near fall
  • Repetitive motion
  • Yard work (or “weekend warrior” projects)
  • Carrying heavy objects (even an overloaded purse)
  • Intense gym workouts

Bones out of normal alignment can also cause inflammation, pain and headaches.

Unfortunately, doctors don’t typically refer to chiropractors because this is an area of practice not typically covered in medical school. Nevertheless, Chiropractic care is a valuable treatment option covered by insurance and Medicare. (Check your specific policy for coverage details)




Acupuncture focuses on the flow of chi energy, (similar to electricity) that carries the life force of the individual. These energy channels or pathways were mapped thousands of years ago, before Western medicine.

For health, this energy flow much be consistent, balanced and uninterrupted.

Acupuncture therapy has been practiced in China some 4,000 years. Research has shown that acupuncture may be helpful for relief of chronic pain.

Acupuncturists (whether physician or non-physician providers) are licensed professionals and typically have extensive training.

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

The most common types of massage therapy in the United States are:



Hot Stone

Deep Tissue


*Aromatherapy massage utilizes essential oils and helps especially with:

  • Headache
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Back pain
  • Stress and stress-related conditions (e.g. insomnia)

Each essential oil has specific properties.   The massage therapist may choose a specific essential oil based on your specific problem areas.

To learn more about decreasing pain and inflammation naturally, read:


Pam Baker, RN

Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition by with no comments yet.

Lending a Hand

Sometimes making a difference in somebody’s life doesn’t have to cost you anything or expend your resources. Sometimes making a difference is as simple as lending a hand and a little bit of time. More often, the giver receives greater joy.

 Variations of Lending a Hand

We’ve all applauded a splendid stage performance or the accomplishment of an individual. Some people say that recognition is what children cry for and grown men will die for. Every individual (no matter how shy) needs to be encouraged for a job well done and for the dedication and hard work it took to achieve a goal or level of competency.

Health care professionals have an entire ministry based on lending a hand in the form of providing treatments, performing procedures or helping repair the body to bring about healing.

Reassuring HandsThe intangible gift of lending a hand was taught to me by my high school friend Patty. She sat silently by my side and held my hand at my mother’s funeral. There were no words she could have said to make it less painful for a 19-year-old expectant mother with a broken heart. Many people ministered to our family in many different ways during that time of grief and loss. Of all the flowers and cards I received, what I remember most nearly 44 years later is Patty simply sitting there beside me and silently holding my hand. Sometimes the best form of lending a hand is just to show up and say absolutely nothing (and listen).

In early November, I spent some time with my adult son, daughter-in-law and the most precious granddaughter in the entire Universe (in my humble, and somewhat biased opinion). Visiting them is always a joy and leaving them is always the hardest thing I do. Pulling out of their driveway, I leave a bit of my heart behind every time I go. Our time together is always too short and there are always things we wish we had more time to do together. This visit was no exception.

The first snow of the winter fell while I was there in the mountains. There wasn’t a lot of ground cover, yet the temperature dipped drastically, reminding us that it is “game on” for winter weather. My son has been very industrious for the past several months gathering firewood from fallen trees in his effort to provide an adequate store of firewood for his buck stove to keep his family warm during the winter. In addition to being a husband and father, holding a busy full time job, playing an active role in his church, and backpacking the Appalachian Trail, he has taken on many other small jobs that require a huge amount of his time. He works very hard and sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things that need to be done.

After we returned home from church and ate lunch, I began packing my car for the return trip home. “You don’t have to rush off.” He said. He always says this and it always makes me glad he wants me to stay longer. “I was hoping you’d come out and watch me split logs and talk.” The words I heard him speak were like music to a mother’s ears. Mother-son bonding time occurred amidst the roar of the motor of a log splitter. Hearing protection meant neither of us could really carry on much of a conversation.   It didn’t matter. We were together, sharing the moment and I was literally lending a hand. The joy was mine.

Mother-son bonding splitting the winter firewood.

Mother-son bonding splitting the winter firewood.

Many times I have personally been on the receiving end of someone lending a hand.   Once when I was a struggling single mother who needed help paying my electric bill, a neighbor helped me keep the lights on. I have never forgotten that kindness.   Many times I have needed a ride to work because my vehicle was in the shop for repairs. I have a wonderful friend who always comes to my aid.

A Biblical example of lending a hand can be found in Ecclesiastes 4:10 “For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. “ The simple act of lending a hand costs nothing and means so much to the recipient. Have you ever been the recipient (or the giver) of a lent hand? I’d love to hear your comments.

Pam Baker, RN

Posted in Mindset, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Home Burglary

Could someone be watching you as you leave your residence for the purpose of home burglary? Could you be an easy target?

A few days ago I had an experience nobody wants to think about. In a short three-hour time span, I was the victim of home burglary. It was Friday evening and I was looking forward to being home for the evening after a long, stressful week. My plans were for some relaxation and maybe a little television. I was preparing a large pot of homemade taco soup in anticipation of sharing with my daughter on a cold, snowy weekend.

My jaw dropped as I gazed at the spot once occupied by my flat screened TV.

My jaw dropped as I gazed at the spot once occupied by my flat screened TV.

I had just dumped the ingredients in the slow cooker and walked into my living room to turn on my television.   It wasn’t there!  Immediately my eyes fell on a glaring vacancy where my 32” flat screen TV had once been. Detached cords were hanging off the mantle and dangling down to my (yet unused) fireplace. My jaw dropped open in shock with the realization that I had been a victim of home burglary. I quickly phoned my daughter with the words “I’ve been robbed! My TV is gone and I have no idea what else has been taken.” ‘Call the police!’ she exclaimed.

Angry and shaken, I found the number and dialed the police non-emergency number. “Someone will be right out.” The police dispatcher reassured me.

Soon a uniformed officer arrived at my door. He was escorted into my living room where I gestured to a bare wall where my TV had once been.

“Did you have your doors locked?” asked the officer.

“Yes of course. I always keep my doors locked.” I replied.

“How did they get in?” he inquired.

“I have no idea. I haven’t had a chance to look.” I answered.

The officer’s eyes then fell upon my back door. He walked over, took hold of the doorknob, gave it a turn, and the door came right open. He then looked on the outside of the door below the dead bolt.

When the police officer saw this, he called in the forensics team.

When the police officer saw this, he called in the forensics team.

“Here it is.” He remarked. “They pried it open with a flathead screwdriver or a crowbar. I’m calling in the forensics team.”

“Have you discovered anything else missing?” he inquired.

“I have already checked my most valuable items and I don’t see anything else missing other than the TV.” I said, still shaken.

“Did you have the serial number written down?” He asked.

“No, of course not.” I sheepishly replied. “I have the paperwork here somewhere. I always save the owner’s manuals.” I then began rummaging through the drawer with folders containing owner’s manuals of every variety of purchases I had made. I eventually found the one for my TV, but there was no serial number in the paperwork, only a Model #.

Hindsight:  Always take the time to write down the Serial numbers of your purchases!

Hindsight: Always take the time to write down the Serial numbers of your purchases!

“They probably didn’t get $100 for it if they pawned it.” The officer remarked.

Somehow, this was not encouraging. My TV was less valuable to the thief than it was to me! It would cost me far more to replace it than $100. “It’s Super Bowl weekend” I offered sarcastically, “maybe they just needed a TV…or drug money.”

“Do you have any idea when the burglary happened?” The officer continued, report in hand.

And then some previously dismissed details occurred to me. On Thursday evening, I had left my house at 6:30 p.m. to go to my daughter’s house. I returned around 9:30 p.m., was tired, and so I quickly turned out the downstairs lights and went upstairs to bed. Once at the top of the landing, I noticed both my guest bedroom door and my bedroom doors (usually always kept closed to keep my cat out of the bedrooms) were slightly ajar. I remember thinking to myself “Hmmm…looks like my cat managed to push both doors open. That’s odd.” Then I quickly dismissed further thoughts and went on to bed.

By the time I discovered the burglary, I had gone an entire night and next day with my back door pried open and unsecured. If I had known, there is no way I would have slept. Nothing had been ransacked or appeared the least bit odd except for the two bedroom doors being ajar. It was that smallest little out-of-place detail that I dismissed when I shouldn’t have. What if they had been hidden inside my house even after I arrived home? What if? It is at that point of discovery I should have had heightened awareness of my surroundings.   I did not.  Fortunately there was no jewelry or other electronics missing.

“I think you must have scared them off when you pulled in the driveway.” The officer remarked.

“Do you have someone who can either stay with you or you can stay with them tonight?” He continued.

“No, I’m not going anywhere.” I angrily insisted. “This is my place and no thief is going to cause me to live in fear. If I leave I might as well just invite them in again! Besides, if they return, I’ve got a ‘surprise’ for them and they’re not going to like it. They might have to try and “break out” if they try to rob me again. It might even make the 6 o’clock news!”

At this comment, the forensics officer chuckled as he walked toward the back door. The uniformed officer said “You’re certainly not going to hear us telling you NOT to defend yourself!”

There was no evidence collected to my knowledge, no fingerprints lifted. At that moment I had little hope I would ever recover the stolen TV. The positive thing that I did was immediately go up and down my street notifying my neighbors of what had happened and put them all on alert. I needed to alert my neighbors so they would not be victims of the same crime.

Before going to bed, I slid a huge oak bench in front the back door and locked it (as best I could).   I went to bed, but I’d be lying if I told you I really slept. I have never felt more violated and insecure in my own home.

The next day was Saturday and a close friend who saw my frantic Facebook post about the burglary the evening before met me for brunch. Afterward, she accompanied me to the local hardware store to buy various home security devices and warning alarms. Then we went to the nail spa for “therapy.”

In the days after the burglary, I did more personal inventory of preparedness and security than I did of property inventory. I didn’t rush right out to replace the TV. I didn’t visit area pawn shops in a frantic search for my stolen TV. Even if I found an identical TV, I couldn’t prove ownership because I had never taken the time to write down the serial number! I needed to get my own “house in order” first in terms of making myself a harder target for further crime.

Here are some of the positive things I learned from this very negative experience:

  • Leave some lights on if you are going to be returning after dark. A motion sensor light would be even better. Put some lamps on timers, preferably to come on at different times.
  • The majority of door-lock strike-plate’s are installed and screwed into the door jam with SHORT SCREWS. A door can be easily kicked in if it has strike-plate screws which are only about 1-inch long (often typical). It is an easy task to replace the existing strike-plate screws with longer screws, say, 2 or 3 inches long. All you need are the screws and a proper sized drill-bit to pre-drill deeper holes.
  • Use an inexpensive door jam device that fits under your doorknob and prevents your door from being kicked in.
  • Leave your blinds closed when you are gone. No need to allow would-be thieves to “window shop.”
  • Pay special attention to basement or ground level doors and windows or secluded entrance or side doors that would allow a thief to enter undetected. Shrubbery should not allow places for thieves to hide or enter your home undetected. Keep it cut below the height of your windows and cut back away from the side of your house so intruders can’t hide.
  • There should be bars placed in the door and window tracks to prevent them from being slid open.
  • Vibration sensors are available to alarm when glass is vibrated or broken.
  • Door and window sensors: These alarm when doors or windows are opened. (I even have a door stop alarm on my bedroom door that emits a 120 decibel alarm if someone tries to enter my locked bedroom door.) This gives me ample time to grab, point and shoot!

    Be prepared to defend yourself.  Even if you call 911, it could take 20 minutes or longer for police to arrive.

    Be prepared to defend yourself. Even if you call 911, it could take 20 minutes or longer for police to arrive.

  • My cat is worthless in the event of a break in. In fact his name is Button (He might be “cute as a Button” but he is also “not worth a Button” except for being a great little companion and lap kitty.)  Think guard dog.  A yapping toy or miniature breed will do little to intimidate an intruder.
  • If you just can’t own a dog, there are actually barking dog security alarms available with excellent ratings. Increase the authenticity of the barking dog deterrent by adding a “Cujoe”-sized dog bowl on your porch!
  • Add security signage to your yard and windows.
  • Lock your doors (and windows) even during the daytime when you are home or as soon as you enter the door.
  • Take the time to write down the serial numbers of your purchases and store them in a safe place (such as a lock box).
  • Do a video inventory of your major valuables and store for safe keeping. You will need it for insurance purposes in the event you are robbed.
  • Have your jewelry and valuables appraised (along with photos) so in the event of a burglary, you can show this to your insurance company.
  • Buy permanent UV markers with invisible ink. Mark your valuables with your Driver’s License number (& State). This form of identification will be undetectable to a burglar, but will be visible under a black light to show proof of ownership.
  • Get to know your neighbors. You may find you can establish an informal neighborhood watch. For example: I have since learned that one of my neighbors is in the military and owns firearms. I am betting he could come to my aide much faster than calling 911 or the police (although I will definitely call both if I need to).  We have exchanged phone numbers for just such emergencies.
  • Have a trusted neighbor pick up any packages that may be delivered for you when you are not at home. Unsecured packages would make it obvious to a daytime intruder that you are away.
  • Use the peephole on your front door and don’t answer the door to strangers. Unexpected persons arriving in an official capacity should be able to show proper identification. If you didn’t order pizza or you didn’t call a repairman, don’t open the door! If you feel unsafe, listen to your gut and call 911 for help.
  • If you are leaving your home and you notice you are being watched as you leave, better notify the police.  If you see a vehicle parked near your home with people sitting inside with engine idling in the wee hours of the morning, take photos, get tag numbers if possible and notify the police.  If something seems amiss, listen to your gut!
  • Subscribe to your local police department’s alerts regarding crimes in your specific area. In Lexington-Fayette County (Kentucky), it is Be sure to subscribe to this free service for alerts specific to your neighborhood.

In closing, all these tips have been added to help make you and your home a harder target for criminals and home burglary. For more safety tips, check with your local police department.

Have you ever been the victim of crime?  Feel free to post your comments below.  If you have additional safety tips, please add those as well.

Pam Baker, RN


120 decibel alarm sounds when window is opened

120 decibel alarm sounds when window is opened

Prevents door from being kicked in.  Approximate cost: $20

Prevents door from being kicked in. Approximate cost: $20

If someone tries to open your bedroom door, a 120 decibel alarm sounds.  Just enough time to grab, point and shoot.

If someone tries to open your bedroom door, a 120 decibel alarm sounds. Just enough time to grab, point and shoot.

Window alarm sounds when glass is vibrated or broken

Window alarm sounds when glass is vibrated or broken

No would-be burglar or home intruder wants to face Cujoe!

No would-be burglar or home intruder wants to face Cujoe!


Set timer so lights come on at different times after dark.

Set timer so lights come on at different times after dark.

Posted in Safety and Security by with 4 comments.