How to Manage Chronic Pain

Pain is your body’s way of alerting you when something is wrong. Usually, pain can be remedied by a trip to the doctor and a prescription for medication. If you are among the many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, you may only wish it were that easy. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than 6 months. This type of pain can be caused by many factors, but regardless of how it was inflicted, your main concern is relief. Here are a few tips to help minimize your chronic pain.

Reduce stress

The first thing you will need to do is eliminate everything that is causing you stress. Feelings such as anxiety, depression, and anger can increase your body’s sensitivity to pain. Stress can make muscles spasm, which only makes you feel worse. Fortunately, there are several habits you can develop to help minimize your levels of stress.

Practicing yoga or meditation are great ways to calm the mind and decrease stress. Posture plays a significant role in reducing chronic pain. The physical poses in yoga, known as asanas, will benefit your posture tremendously as you increase your flexibility through breath and movement.

Meditation is a mind-body practice that uses contemplative thought and relaxation techniques to relieve anxiety, pain, and stress. Meditation, like yoga, allows you to breathe deeply while silencing your mind. Although bursts of chronic pain will most likely always remain present in your life, meditation will allow you to change your perception of pain. The ability to deal with the thoughts around pain is imperative in reducing and managing it.

Watch what you eat

Inflammation is a major source of pain. Chronic inflammation is an unhealthy inflammatory over-response that can linger for months, even years. Certain foods cause chronic inflammation to flare, so it is important that you monitor what you are putting into your body. Foods to eliminate: dairy, chocolate, eggs, high-fat red meat, wheat products and processed foods. Also try to limit coffee, tea, and red wine consumption. Foods that alleviate pain-inducing inflammation are leafy greens, asparagus, low-sugar fruits and soy products. Not only will a healthy diet combat inflammation, it will aid your digestive process, keep your weight under control and improve your blood sugar levels.

Exercise frequently

People who maintain good aerobic habits can improve most pain conditions. When you work out, your body creates its own painkillers through the release of endorphins. These hormones increase your pain threshold by interacting with your brain receptors, which will change how you perceive pain. If it exerts too much energy for you to exercise, start slowly, then over time, build your way up.

Ask for help

Don’t be a hero. You don’t have to do it all. In fact, trying to do it all will probably make your symptoms even worse. When you’re suffering from chronic pain, rest is your friend so do what you can to get more of it. One way to increase your rest time is to ask others to help you with everyday tasks. For example, maybe a family member or friend can help you with your house cleaning or maybe you can hire a housekeeper to come on those weeks when you just don’t have the energy to do the work yourself. Another big help would be having someone do your grocery shopping for you. If no family or friends are available to help, see if your local grocery store delivers or look into using Instacart, an online grocery delivery service. When you reduce the number of daily tasks you’re responsible for, you can help your body get more of the rest it needs.

Join a support group

Being around those who understand your plight is a great way to help you cope with your chronic pain. Not only will you enjoy their company, you will also receive some tips on ways you can manage your pain more effectively. Suffering from chronic pain may cause you to have many negative thoughts. Being in a group setting can help you dispel those thoughts in a positive environment. If the negative thoughts persist, consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional. A bad outlook can make symptoms of chronic pain worse so it’s necessary that you foster a positive attitude immediately.

Living with chronic pain is no easy feat. Pain can have a serious impact on your lifestyle and make you not want to participate in anything that requires you to leave the house. Thankfully, with patience and effort you can manage your pain in order to regain the confidence you need to get out and enjoy your life!

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