Anyone who suffers from chronic pain knows that it can be more than just inconvenient. It can take over your life, affect how you interact with the world around you, and make even the most basic day-to-day activities difficult. Chronic pain can seem like an impossible puzzle to solve, but it doesn't have to be! There are plenty of natural solutions for treating chronic pain or at the very least help to manage it.
In this article, we'll examine 5 pain management strategies that chronic pain sufferers can use. However, it is essential that you seek treatment for your chronic pain to ensure long-term relief.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Now before we go into specific chronic pain management methods, we need to understand what chronic pain is and how a person can know that they are suffering from it.
Usually, chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for over 3 months. It can either be constant, or it may be intermittent. Also, the pain can be anywhere in the body. In most cases, chronic pain will interfere with your daily activities like having a social life, working, or taking care of others. Many people also report feeling depressed and having lots of trouble sleeping, making the pain worse. If anything, this creates a vicious cycle that can seem impossible to break.
However, chronic pain is often mistaken for acute pain and vice versa. Acute pain occurs when you have been hurt like maybe you got injured by a cut or your arm was fractured. The pain does not last very long and will go away when the body apparently heals itself. Chronic pain, on the other hand, will continue long after you've recovered from the illness. Sometimes people may experience it for no apparent reason.
Weight Management Is Very Important
When you have excess body weight, it will put more pressure on your weight-bearing joints, and that will exacerbate the pain you experience. The other thing you need to be aware of is that fat, also medically referred to as adipose tissue, sends signals to the body, which results in increased inflammation.
We often tell clients that being overweight can never be a good thing regardless of their age. It also increases your chances of suffering from heart disease, some types of cancers, and diabetes. Weight reduction may be a challenge for many people, but it is possible with a balanced diet of whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruit, beans, fish, and moderate exercise. You will want to generally stay away from sugary drinks, processed foods, and red meat.
People who can manage their weight or maintain less weight tend to experience less pain. That's why weight management is of significant importance as a pain management strategy.
It is important for anyone who is suffering from chronic pain to try and lead an active lifestyle. Now we acknowledge that this is easier said than done, but there are many long-term benefits of being active. Engaging in activities like walking, water aerobics, and some weight training at your local gym can help to reduce pain drastically. Exercise also helps to improve flexibility, strength, and balance, all of which contribute to less pain.
In addition, cardiovascular exercise like riding a stationary bike or using an elliptical trainer can help to keep your heart rate up and your body in shape by burning fat. However, if you haven't exercised before, speak with a doctor or physical therapist to find what will work best for you. Exercising will also help get rid of excess weight, which, as mentioned above, is essential for effective pain management.
Have A Positive Attitude
When you are suffering from chronic pain, it can be hard to have a positive attitude. However, having a positive attitude has been shown to help people deal with chronic arthritis pain. It would help if you tried and did not give in to the negativity that comes with the pain. One way to do this is to take your mind off things. Do something you enjoy, and spend time with family and friends. Keeping your spirits high will ensure that you don't have to deal with as much pain because you will forget about it.
You can also speak to a doctor about other techniques like meditation, hypnosis, and breathing exercises to decrease pain intensity. While none of these techniques will deliver instant results, they will ensure that you have to deal with relatively less or no pain in the long term.
The use of acupuncture by applying thin needles to the skin at specific points on the body has been shown to offer pain relief. Not only does it work for people who have chronic pain but also those with acute pain. While acupuncture may look painful, a skilled practitioner can work quickly and offer pain relief.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Trusted Source has evidence to suggest that the technique can help people manage a few different types of chronic pain conditions. These include short-term relief from pain in the knee, lower back, osteoarthritis, etc. That said, there is very little evidence for the time being to suggest that it delivers long-term chronic pain relief.
Acupuncture works great for pain relief, relaxation, reducing inflammation, and to control instances of muscle spasms. However, you should always visit a trained practitioner who uses sterile needles.
If you are unsure about getting acupuncture, check with your doctor. Most doctors may not see the harm with getting it, especially if it offers pain relief.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Additional support with psychological treatment may be helpful for chronic pain as well. The most popular of these happens to be cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, as it is referred to.
Psychological treatments reduce the negative impact of chronic pain by addressing underlying mental health issues and management of stress that perpetuate and exacerbate the pain sensations. Mental health is a big part of chronic pain management which is often overlooked. However, CBT has been shown to manage it comparatively well.
A review in 2013 on the effectiveness of psychological pain management techniques concluded that CBT could provide instant relief, which is better than not using any strategy to manage pain. In other words, it works.
The CBT techniques were highly effective at reducing anxiety and improving a person's quality of life. If anything, these are essential parts of managing pain that shouldn't be overlooked.
It should be said that dealing with chronic pain is not easy, which can be stressful for many individuals. The feeling of not being in control regarding the level of discomfort is why many people may get depressed.
One of the most effective pain management strategies is to use relaxation techniques to ease muscle spasms, tension, pains, and aches. In addition, these techniques can also help your body release endorphins which are the body's native painkillers. Stress can be reduced with relaxation, which will ease some of the burden associated with chronic pain and promote good sleep.
In addition to the above, there are many other ways to effectively manage chronic pain. Some of these are accessible and easy to use, while others may not be practical for everyone. The majority of techniques you might have already assessed work on shoring up a person's ability to cope with the pain.
Some of the strategies, like yoga and acupuncture, are best performed when you have a professional by your side. Ensure that the person you have opted to help you is a certified professional with experience.
If you decide to take supplements or start a new medication, make sure that you consult with a doctor. Doing this is important because you always want to ensure that what you take does not have crippling adverse effects that affect other aspects of your life.