As you might know, Amazon has free shipping for orders over $25. If you have Amazon Prime, you get the product in two days. Pretty awesome. Plus you get Prime for free if you are a student. Now…how can you utilize this for pain-related conditions?

 

1. Acute injuries

If you sprained your ankle, tweaked your back, or had some other acute injury, free and fast shipping is awesome. In the acute stage of an injury, many people use ice. Ice has its pros and cons, which will be discussed in a future article. Briefly, it can help reduce swelling and pain, but may actually slow down healing in certain cases. That being said, if you like ice, buy the good stuff. The first category of products you should consider is those that wrap specifically around a certain body part. For example, I’ve had a few shoulder surgeries, and have used a few different methods of icing other than the big ol’ ice machine they give you. The advantage of a gel pack wrap is ease of use, the advantage of an ice bag wrap is that it’s colder. Look for product reviews by people who have used many different products and write detailed descriptions.

Outside of ice, I would not buy a ton of other things on Amazon for acute injuries. Don’t go buy an inversion table for your aching back without trying other things first. If you can handle the pain, consider skipping the Advil/Motrin/Tylenol. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can sometimes interfere with healing (Advil and Motrin) and overuse of Tylenol lands many people in the ER every year.

 

2. Chronic injuries

This is where Amazon really shines. Let me propose to you one way of approaching longstanding any mysterious chronic injuries: try a bunch of stuff for a month, and then if it isn’t working, try a bunch of other stuff for the next month. Sounds pretty simple, huh? Well the devil is in the details.

Your first batch of stuff should include vitamin D if you are not already taking it and don’t get enough sun. Vitamin D is probably implicated in the majority of pain conditions. That’s not to say it will cure you, but often you can’t get better without getting sufficient D. This first batch of stuff should also include a book about pain. One of the best books about pain is by Esther Gokale, and instructs you how to sit, stand, and walk in ways that will avoid and potentially treat chronic injury. You spend 95% of your day sitting, standing, and walking. About 5% is spent exercising and doing physical therapy. 95% is larger than 5%.  Outside of these two things, explore your pain condition on the internet and buy something specifically targeted at it, if applicable. In your second batch, consider trying crazier things, like more supplements (e.g. collagen powder, MSM, etc) and exercise implements (e.g. “The Stick“).

 

In conclusion, you can use Amazon to easily shore up your knowledge about your pain condition and buy nutrition and exercise products. Buying stuff is a necessary evil in your fight against pain, so make a structured effort to buy things that have helped other people and have a good chance of helping you. Buy it in batches to get free shipping. But don’t buy too much at once…when you see a $200 total in your cart, it will make you very sad and make the pain feel worse.

3 Comments

  1. I was under the impression that “supplements” were able to advertise with little or no constraints because of some unique status with the FDA.  Isn’t Amazon a likely environment where supplements are overrrepresented?

    Reply
    • You better believe it Nick! Supplements are regulated by a very loose law (DSHEA), and make all kinds of wacky claims on Amazon. Buyer beware. There are a few supplements that have passed the evidence-based medicine review process, and others that don’t have much evidence but have plausible biological mechanisms. I’ll be writing about a couple of them in the next few weeks.

      Reply
      • Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet!  Thanks!

        Reply

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