5 Great Ways to Manage Chronic Pain
You don’t need to just accept chronic pain as a fact of life. Being proactive about your pain—addressing your unique type of pain and finding out what works for you—is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this new year. Consider these five effective ways to beat the chronic pain blues in 2017.
1. Get to Know Your Pain
The key to managing pain is determining what works well, so start by getting to know more about your problem. Any successful strategy will start with a trip to the doctor, especially if the pain is new and undiagnosed. Only a medical professional can accurately diagnose your condition, and this diagnosis can mean the difference between healing and complaining. You may, for example, think you’re dealing with an osteoarthritic issue, but maybe it is actually a connective tissue injury instead, one that can heal with proper medical intervention.
Your doctor can offer a medical solution for your pain, too. For example, some people take anti-seizure medication to manage pain associated with nerve damage or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory for pain due to inflammation.
Consider keeping a pain journal. By documenting the location, severity, and other descriptors of your pain, as well as the various techniques you tried to relieve it, you will start to see a valuable pattern that can tell you what works. For example, jot down that you took green-lipped mussel supplements to reduce the chronic inflammation that comes with rheumatoid arthritis, and comment on how effective you found that treatment for that kind of pain. Next time, you’ll know if that treatment is worth trying again.
2. Take a Breath — Literally
Deep breathing and meditation exercises promote full body relaxation. When you release that tension, your body can better focus on healing, which will reduce your pain. Spend time each day managing your breathing while shutting everything else out, including your pain. Learn to fill your lungs with air and then let it all out slowly, like a balloon with a leak. Do this several times a day in a relaxing position.
3. De-stress Your Life
Nothing aggravates pain quite like stress. Sit down and write a list of the things in your life causing stress, and look for actionable solutions. Unfortunately, not every stressful life problem is resolvable. In these cases, rely on tools that help relieve anxiety, such as guided imagery. When you are feeling tense, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a soothing location, such as a favorite beach or a quiet room filled with lovely flowers.
Another effective technique is progressive relaxation. Sit still and mentally relax your body one muscle at a time. Start at the top of your head and move downward until you reach your feet.
4. Get Active
Most people think pain is a reason to avoid exercise, but physical activity is the human body’s natural pain reliever. When you work out, your body produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins block pain signals, relieving your discomfort naturally.
If you are in pain, you may need to start slowly. Even the smallest effort, like a 10-minute walk around the block, will help. As you grow stronger, you can increase the activity and even start to challenge yourself. If you are new to exercise, talk to your doctor before beginning. Your primary care physician can provide information on any limitations you might have and how to start safely with an exercise program.
5. Get Some Sleep
Chronic pain and sleep do not make good bedfellows, unfortunately. The more pain you have, the harder it is to sleep. The flipside of that is sleep deprivation tends to aggravate pain. Consider taking a dietary supplement, such as melatonin, that can improve sleep.
No two people experience pain the same way, so managing your pain will require a customized solution. Some people benefit from supplements to improve joint flexibility, for example, while others require prescription medications or physical therapy. With the right strategy, you can look forward to a new year without that haunting pain.
WebMD, 11 Tips for Living with Chronic Pain
Healthline, 7 Simple Tips to Manage Your Chronic Pain
Very Well, Ways to Manage Your Arthritis Pain
MedicineNet, Chronic Pain: Get the Facts
Writer Bio: Darla F is a full-time freelance writer and healthcare professional who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.
- Darla Ferrara