Chronic pain is an extremely common condition that affects over 3 million Americans a year. Patients with this condition can have a hard time doing their daily tasks and in some cases they are not able to do the same things as before the onset of the condition. Here are some tips to help ease some of that pain and make daily life easier.
Exercise is the most important thing for chronic pain management. Getting physical activity into your day will result in pain relief. Aerobic exercise releases feel good endorphins that act as a natural painkiller. Research has shown that people who exercise frequently have a much higher pain threshold than people that don’t exercise. The recommended amount of aerobic activity is 30 to 45 minutes five to six days a week. Even if you can’t fit this amount into your week even some exercise will help.
If you’re inactive or have never had a fitness routine before it can be a good idea to check with a doctor before getting started on a program. If you’re in a lot of pain and will have a hard time getting started with exercise it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist. A physical therapist can give you an exercise program for your current fitness ability level and give you exercise that target the areas you’re feeling pain. A great low impact exercise to try is walking.
Meditation and Deep Breathing
Meditation and deep breathing are both great techniques to help with pain. These techniques don’t eliminate pain, but change how the person perceives the pain. People that use this technique report that they feel more relaxed and the pain they are experiencing seems less painful and it bothers them less.
Five or six deep breaths a minute for about 5 minutes is a great way to start. If you would like to learn more about meditation try taking a class or go to the library to find books or instructional DVDs.
A healthy diet is very important for people experiencing chronic pain. Chronic inflammation is one of the root causes of chronic pain and inflammation can be heavily influenced by diet. With every meal eaten you choose if you’re going to increase inflammation or decrease inflammation. Eating an unhealthy diet can cause your immune system to not work properly. Some research has even shown that eating an unhealthy diet can cause your immune system to respond as if you have a bacterial infection.
Foods that help promote health include whole fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Processed foods such as white bread, white pasta, soda, and other high sugar foods are what you should avoid having in your diet. When you start eating a healthy diet you will notice that you start to feel better.
Smoking is known to make pain a lot worse and increase sensitivity to pain throughout the entire body. According to the CDC 18% of the American population smokes. Yet 50% of patients seeking treatment for pain are smokers. Smoking impedes the delivery of oxygen rich blood to bones and tissues. The reduced blood flow can cause degeneration in the body, especially in the disks of the spine. Smoking will cause your already painful condition to become worse.
Reduce Intake of Alcoholic Beverages
Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. The recommended drinking guideline for the general population is no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Chronic pain patients should not have more than the recommended drinks per day, but less alcohol to no alcohol is best for people with chronic pain.
Drinking can make your already problematic sleeping problems worse. Turning to alcohol to find pain relief is a really bad idea. The amount needed for any meaningful pain relief is much more than the recommended guidelines for daily drinks and as tolerance to the drinks are built up more alcohol will be needed to get the same pain relief effects as before. Not only that, if you’re on pain medications alcohol doesn’t mix well with most medications.
Manage Stress Levels
Studies show that stress and pain are linked. When you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression your pain will become worse. The same is true if your pain gets worse your stress will also become worse. Because of this stress management is an important part of pain relief. To help reduce stress, try to eliminate as much stress as you can for your daily life. Some stress management techniques include getting good sleep, exercise, massage, and make more time for leisure activities.
When used in conjunction with other treatments massage can be useful in helping to reduce pain. Other benefits of massage include reduced stress, increased range of motion, sleep improvements, and an increase in serotonin, that will help in reducing pain.
Going to see a physical therapist is a great option to help with your pain. The physical therapist will be able to find weaknesses and musculoskeletal issues and develop a treatment plan to overcome those problems. Not only can working with a physical therapist help you find pain relief, but in some cases it can make your pain go away.
An occupational therapist will be able to see what activities are causing you pain and provide you with training on a new way to do things to help avoid flaring up your pain. In fact an occupational therapist can give you all kinds of different training and ideas to help with your pain. They can also provide you with a home exercise program to help you with pain management.