How to Manage Your Chronic Pain Starting Today
Sure, everyone is going to experience pain from time to time. An injury, a sore back, a pulled muscle, we have all been there before. Pain is the body’s way of warning us that something is wrong, we experience the pain, it heals and soon we forget about it. But with chronic pain it’s different. The pain continues weeks, months and sometimes even years after the initial injury or health condition occurs. Chronic pain is extremely common, although the specific conditions associated with chronic pain will differ.
Here are some of the most common chronic pain conditions:
- Arthritis & osteoarthritis
- Neck & back pain
Chronic pain is likely to take a toll on you, when you’re constantly in pain you’re much more likely to become depressed, and understandably so! That’s why we put together these helpful pain management methods. No one should have to constantly be in pain, take action and learn the best methods to keep your chronic pain flare-ups under control!
What Causes Chronic Pain in The First Place?
Chronic pain is extremely common, and there are many different cases ranging from person to person. The cause of chronic pain could be as specific as a certain injury, or it may begin without you having any clue what caused it.
The main causes for chronic pain include:
- Surgery or injury
- Migraines or other headaches
- Arthritis in the back, wrist or knee.
- Poor posture / lifting heavy objects
- Congenital condition(s)
Keep in mind that there may also be no physical cause for your chronic pain, that doesn’t mean that it is not valid or that you shouldn’t worry about finding the best solution for your pain!
What is Pain Management & Can It Help?
Pain can get complex. There are multiple levels of pain, types of pain, and ways to treat pain. Pain management is used to improve your well-being and mental state while you work your way through the healing process. The difficult thing about chronic pain is that the healing process is a continuous cycle. There are a variety of options available, but it all comes down to discovering what the best option is going to be in order for you to find relief.
If you’re feeling like you’ve tried everything but still have yet to find relief for your pain, it’s likely because chronic pain can range so greatly, and in turn so can the pain-relief methods. Due to this, we wanted to put together a list of treatment methods that could help any one, no matter where or when their chronic pain is affecting them.
The Top 6 Chronic Pain Management Methods
Change Up Your Diet
One factor you may not have considered when it comes to your chronic pain is your diet. That’s right, certain foods can have a big impact on not only your overall health, but can affect your pain levels. The foods you eat and don’t eat can play a huge factor in the way your body is able to fight off painful inflammation. Chronic pain can, and often does, result in chronic inflammation which can prove to be a big pain contributor, but a lot of this can be controlled and maintained by making some simple changes to your diet.
Consider trying anti-inflammatory foods such as green leafy vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes, and fatty fish like salmon or tuna. On top of adding anti-inflammatory foods, avoid inflammatory foods such as saturated fats, refined grains and sugary foods or drinks. Controlling your diet can keep your chronic inflammation under control, leading to lessened overall pain.
Practice Mind-Body Techniques
The more we think and focus on our pain, the worse it will begin to seem. Although this can be a difficult task, controlling your thoughts and overall positivity level will become a huge factor in your pain management. Your anxiety could be making your pain much worse. Mind-body techniques work to ease your anxiety and manage the sensation of threat, which in turn will minimize the pain you are feeling. Mediation, guided imagery, yoga, and biofeedback all prove to not only relax your mind, but can actually alleviate discomfort you’re experiencing due to your chronic pain. Keep in mind that the key to mastering mind-body techniques is that to be successful in pain-relief, they should be practiced regularly, so don’t expect this method to make a huge difference for you on the first day.
Physical Therapy & Exercise
Depending on the severity of your chronic pain, the practice of physical therapy, stretching, and exercise can be a huge help when it comes to pain management. The right amount of exercise can diminish pain overtime as you improve your muscle tone, flexibility and strength. The exercises that will be easiest to perform and most beneficial for chronic pain include swimming, biking, walking, yoga, and rowing.
Physical therapy is a great method to relieve pain, as it uses special techniques to improve the functioning and overall movement of your muscles that were damaged or strained due to the injury or condition you experienced. Reach out to a physical therapist to see what strengthening, stretching, and pain-relieving techniques will work best for your situation.
Focus on Relieving Your Stress
It’s easy to be stressed out when you are dealing with chronic pain, but the more stressed we are, the worse our pain is likely to feel. You may notice that when you are stressed, your entire body is much more tense than usual. Stress is causing your muscles to tense and spasm, which is causing your pain and inflammation to worsen over time. Give a few of these stress-relieving activities a try to find what works best for you:
- Practice deep breathing: Focus on the awareness of your breath through the practice of diaphragmatic breathing.
- Daily exercise: Start out with a short walk daily, you’d be surprised how helpful it can be!
- Reduce your caffeine intake: If you notice that caffeine is making you jittery, or anxious consider cutting back a bit.
- Journaling: Writing down the thoughts inside your mind can be an effective way to reduce stress.
Keep in mind that some on this list may work for you, or there is a possibility that none of them will. The thing about stress is that it ranges and affects everyone differently, which means the way we can relieve stress will depend on the person and situation. Don’t give up on finding the best method for you.
Bracing, Splinting and Topical Relief
Arguably the worst part about dealing with chronic pain is the way that it affects our daily lives. You shouldn’t have to completely cut out the activities you love to do, but yet managing your chronic pain while you are active is one of the most difficult things to do. Whether it’s lifting heavy objects while working, bending over to pick something up or while gardening, or trying to keep up with an active lifestyle, pain can easily play a role in the way we live our lives.
Topical relief products such as lotions, sprays or creams may do the trick when you are looking to relieve pain and inflammation from sore muscles and arthritis. You can also try out a brace during activities for extra support and compression. For example, if you are bending a lot during the day you could wear a back support or knee brace to help take the constant pressure off of your sore muscles.
Chronic Pain Support Groups
Living with chronic pain is hard and can become extremely frustrating. Most people who haven’t dealt with this pain don’t fully understand the extent of it. You may be surprised by the instant relief you feel just by knowing other people understand where you’re coming from and receiving validation that your pain, and what you’re feeling because of it, is real. Support groups provide a safe, supportive environment to share stories, emotions, treatment and management practices. The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) is a great support group to join as they not only focus on your mental and emotional well-being, but also offer a great deal of informational resources to help you along your chronic pain journey. No matter the support group, having a safe place to express your feelings and educate yourself on your condition will always be a helpful thing to take part in.
Living With Chronic Pain
When you are dealing with constant, persistent pain, every day is a constant battle. The more we focus on pain, the worse it can seem to get and it seems to affect every aspect of life. When it comes to chronic pain, rather than letting it affect us mentally, physically and emotionally, the best thing we can do is lean on our support system and focus on managing and treating the pain. Keep yourself informed and educated on your condition and do what you can to help yourself and others dealing with chronic pain. The best thing you can do for your pain and life in general is to find the best treatment method for you in order to find the best relief possible.