Chronic pain occurs when the nervous system mistakenly sends pain signals to the brain after an injury has healed or an illness has occurred. The Academy of Pain Medicine reports that over 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain. In America, there are approximately 100 million Americans experiencing chronic pain. The four most common types of chronic pain include back pain, headaches, neck pain and facial pain.
When you experience long-term chronic pain, it can cause a number of physical and emotional health problems. In addition to pain, which can be described as stiffness, soreness, shooting, throbbing, aching or burning pain, sufferers can experience the following:
• Low energy levels
• Mood Swings
• Sleeping Difficulties
Tips for dealing with chronic pain
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to decrease your pain levels and improve your overall mental and physical health. Let’s look at the top 12 things you can do to help you enjoy life when you are suffering fromchronic pain.
1. Stress relief techniques – When you are experiencing chronic pain, your muscles can become tense and tight. Meditation, deep breathing, journaling, yoga and prayer can help to decrease stress and provide relief to tight, tense muscles.
2. Exercise – When you are suffering from chronic pain, the last thing that you probably want to do is to exercise; however, studies have shown that exercise is a great way to ease pain and relieve stress. For best results, do some low impact aerobic activities like swimming or walking along with strength training and flexibility exercises.
3. Embrace the arts – Believe it or not, creating art, including painting, drawing, crafting or playing a musical instrument can help to ease your pain. Not artistically gifted? No problem, viewing art or listening to music has been shown to soothe the soul and ease pain.
4. Develop a support system – When you are suffering from chronic pain, you can feel isolated. Rather than going out with friends, your pain can cause you to want to hide at home. Unfortunately, this can lead to depression. Having a support system that includes understanding friends and family can help you decrease the risk of the emotional effects of chronic pain.
5. Functional medicine physicians – Functional medicine is different than conventional medicine. Functional medicine physicians look at the body and your environment and use proven techniques that help to improve your health, increase vitality, reduce pain and improve healing of the body.
6. Massage – When you are suffering from chronic pain, you may experience sensation problems. Massage can help to relieve tense muscles, reduce stress, eliminate toxins and restore your body.
7. Chiropractic manipulation – Chiropractic manipulation helps to relieve muscle tension, realign the spine and reduce pain. Chiropractic medicine is based on the ideation of subluxations of the spine adversely affect the nervous system, causing it to misfire. When subluxations are corrected through chiropractic manipulations, the nervous system stops sending pain signals to the brain.
8. Dietary changes – Certain foods can cause inflammation in the body. Luckily, there are numerous anti-inflammatory foods that can help to decrease inflammation and pain. Including these in your diet can help relieve your chronic pain. Anti-inflammatory foods include colorful fresh vegetables and fruits such as bell peppers and berries, healthy fats like olive oil, salmon, nuts, and herbs and spices such as turmeric, cayenne and ginger.
9. Be honest and ask for help – Chronic pain can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks like housework and cooking. When your pain becomes unbearable, it is time to reach out for help. Let your friends and family members know that you are having difficulty handling day to day activities.
10. Set realistic goals – There will be days when you feel good. On these days, you may be tempted to do everything that you have put off doing. Doing this can actually set you back and worsen your pain. Instead, set realistic goals that can be attained without overdoing it.
11. Avoid alcohol and tobacco products – Chronic pain sufferers often use alcohol and tobacco products to help them deal with their pain. Although these may provide temporary relief, they will actually worsen your chronic pain and leave you feeling even worse.
12. Sleep – Your body heals itself, detoxifies and produces hormones while you are sleeping. Chronic pain can make it difficult to sleep; however, getting enough sleep is essential when you are suffering from chronic pain. Setting a regular bedtime, limiting naps and making your bedroom conducive to sleep can help ensure you get the rest your body needs.
Chronic pain is pain that continues long after an injury or illness has healed. It occurs when the nervous system becomes confused and sends pain signals to the brain even when there is no injury or illness. It can cause a number of emotional and physical symptoms. Luckily there are many things that you can do to enjoy a full life even when you are experiencing chronic pain, such as making dietary changes, visiting a functional medicine physician, undergoing chiropractic manipulation and getting regular massages.