Dealing with chronic pain is an ongoing matter. Whether resulting from an injury, infection or something else, pain can persist for years and affects much more than just your physical wellbeing.
There’s also a large emotional component to dealing with pain that should not be overlooked.
Talking to your doctor and maintaining an ongoing dialogue about your chronic pain may be your best line of defense. A doctor can prescribe medication to consume daily and write an additional prescription for painful flare-ups. Your doctor might also suggest over-the-counter medications that can help put a damper on inflammation and soreness. If you’re on a limited income, lower cost generics might be an option.
Being open and honest about your chronic pain is also beneficial. The American Psychological Association discusses the benefits of psychotherapy (talk therapy) for pain management, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback and guided imagery. Therapy offers stress-management techniques and teaches real-life coping skills with the notion that patients spearhead their own life improvement via getting better sleep and proper stress navigation.
Simple lifestyle changes can make a major impact on chronic pain. Not smoking, limiting alcohol use and eating a balanced diet can produce immediate positive results. Adopting an easy-to-digest diet free from foods known to aggravate inflammation can also be beneficial. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains and beans, and stay away from processed, high fat or fried foods and any with refined starches and sugars.
A mindfulness practice can help shift the focus on things that seem out of your control. By paying more attention to the here and now, you’ll be less likely to be swept up in worrying about the future or fret over past regrets. You’ll also be more likely to form deeper connections with others and see a variety of health benefits, including better sleep, lower blood pressure and less gastrointestinal difficulties.
Yoga bolsters strength and flexibility while decreasing stress and quieting the mind. Mayo Clinic reports yoga practice can reduce stress, which, in turn, helps those suffering from chronic pain. The combination of Asana, the physical postures of yoga, with meditation and breathing work in tandem for a better quality of life.
When pain and stress afflict the muscles, they constrict and tense up. A masseuse works to release this pressure and alleviate some of the pain that often accompanies it. Many will apply a holistic approach and treat the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue, instead of only the targeted pain area.
Mindfulness works to break down our conditioned responses and put a little space between our internal and external reactions. Linked to changes in the brain and in the body’s production of hormones, including other chemicals that impact health, the science behind mindfulness is still pouring in.
Make time. You don’t need special equipment or pillows, but you do need to allow for a set amount of time in a quiet space.
Observe. What is happening in this present moment? Mindfulness is not about emptying the mind; rather it’s about paying attention to the present moment, without judgment.
Let it roll. Your judgments that is. When you feel them arise, just make note and let them roll on by. Then bring your thinking back to the present moment.
Know this is normal. Our minds wander. Don’t beat yourself up for having a mind that has a mind of its own! When yours wanders, simply bring it back to the present moment.