UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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Chronic pain has been defined as any pain that lasts longer than six months. It can be mild, intense, occasional or constant. And it can take a toll on you both physically and emotionally. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. Pain medications, which poorly affect your health and can become addicting, are the second most prescribed drugs in ER and doctor visits. Luckily there are some pill-free ways to manage chronic pain.
Physical therapy gives patients skills to manage pain on their own. Physical therapists examine each person and develop a treatment plan using techniques to promote movement, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability. They then work with said individual to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing programs for more active lifestyles. Your physical therapist will teach you certain techniques that you can do on your own to manage the day to day pain.
Stress can hugely intensify your perception of pain. When people are distressed, their muscles tend to become tense and may cause further pain to already sensitive areas. Not only that but when you are stressed, everything seems amplified. Your pain may seem like one more thing added to the list of causes of stress. And by stressing out, you may be increasing your pain which then causes further stress which in turn causes further pain. It can be a vicious cycle. Try distracting yourself with relaxing activities such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, and massage.
Many people in pain often avoid exercise because they assume movement will hurt too much or certain things will cause too much strain on the body. But inactivity could be making the pain worse. The human body was designed to be in motion. Inactivity can lead to muscle degeneration which causes problems such as diminishing bone density, depression and a weakened heart. Regular exercise can help keep joints flexible, strong and better able to deal with pain. As a bonus, physical activity promotes the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in the body which helps to reduce pain.
Being overweight or underweight can further increase pain. If you’re overweight and out of shape your joints have to work extra hard to carry the extra pounds. Being underweight could mean poor diet, malnourishment, and inactivity which can all aggravate pain. Eating right keeps your hormones in balance which is important to help the body’s healing process. Limiting intake of animal protein and saturated fat and increasing foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals should help keep your hormones on track.
Chronic pain can be debilitating. Chronic pain can often lead to other health issues such as depression. If you are suffering from chronic pain, please seek the medical attention you need and deserve. The above advice is just a few of your many options for pain management. There are solutions. Don’t let pain keep you from leading the life you’d like to live.