Does pain interfere with your daily life? Did you know that 50 million Americans have chronic pain?
In addition to treatment from your physician, developing a stretching routine can help relieve some of your symptoms. Keep reading this article to learn about exercise to help with chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Our body experiences pain normally to signal an injury or illness. In this way, pain is good. However, several conditions result in pain that doesn’t go away.
When pain lasts for more than 3 to 6 months, it is then called chronic pain. This relentless pain harms your physical, mental, and emotional health. Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) describes this collection of symptoms.
Examples of CPS include:
Complex regional pain syndrome involving severe pain of the hands, feet, legs, or arms. They may experience burning pain or joint stiffness.
Fibromyalgia which describes widespread muscle and bone pain. Patients also experience extreme fatigue.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) describes extreme exhaustion. Individuals also have muscle and bone pain. This can contribute to sleep problems.
Myofascial pain syndrome causes muscle knots and tightness. This makes movement more difficult.
Individuals with CPS may experience depression, anger, and anxiety because they are unable to do normal daily activities. It may become difficult to work, do household chores, and participate in hobbies. It may result in a loss of independent living.
What Are Common Causes of Chronic Pain?
CPS may result from joint degeneration, autoimmune disorders, injuries, and disease. Examples include:
Acute Injuries or Overuse Injuries
You may notice pain, stiffness, or swelling in a joint. The most common cause of CPS is low back and neck problems. Bursitis describes a swelling in the bursa sac located in joints. This often affects the knee, shoulder, hip, or elbow.
Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in joints. Cartilage serves to cushion the joint.
Ankylosing spondylitis affects the spine most often. Yet, it can also affect the shoulders, hips, ribs, heels, and small joints in the hands and feet. This disease causes swelling in the spinal joints which causes severe, chronic pain.
In more advanced cases, the individual may develop new bone formations in the spine. This causes sections of the spine to grow or fuse together. The result is decreased mobility in the spine.
Gout causes sudden onset of swelling in one joint. It results from tiny crystals of uric acid being deposited in the joint. Most people experience nodules under the skin and joint redness, swelling, warmth, and pain.
Psoriatic Arthritis ranges from mild with occasional flare-ups to chronic, ongoing pain. This usually affects the large joints of the lower extremities. It may also cause swelling and pain in finger and toe joints as well as the back and pelvis.
The immune system is designed to attack foreign substances to protect us from disease and infection. In autoimmune disorders, the body incorrectly recognizes healthy cells as dangerous and begins to attack.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus can result in damage to joints and major organs. These individuals may experience joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes immune cells to attack the fluid that lubricates joints. This causes joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and damage.
Neuropathy increases the sensitivity to pain. Thus, patients feel sharp, electric, stabbing, burning, or cold pains. They may also feel numbness or tingling. This often occurs in the hands and feet.
Nerve damage can result from injury, stress, disease, or medications.
Impact of Chronic Pain on Daily Life
A study published in Pain Medicine looked at the effect of long-term chronic pain. This research found that chronic pain negatively impacts many aspects of a person’s health and overall quality of life. Consequences included problems with sleep, cognitive processes, brain function, mood, mental health, cardiovascular health, and sexual function.
Thus, chronic pain can interfere with all aspects of a person’s life.
Can Exercise Improve Chronic Pain?
Many researchers have examined the impact of exercise in treating chronic pain. Studies show that exercise can decrease pain by reversing the cycle of deconditioning. This allows greater strength and increases ease of movement.
Medical professionals have long recognized the importance of physical movement to protect mobility, lung function, skin health, and general well-being. Immobility contributes to stiffness, pain, and fatigue.
Research has shown that individuals with peripheral neuropathy can benefit from moderate exercise. This can help improve muscle strength and decrease neuropathic pain. Recommended activities include aerobic, flexibility, strength training, and balance exercises.
You may have to scale back or change from previous fitness activities, but don’t stop.
Tips for a Stretching Routine to Relieve Chronic Pain
Finding the right type of exercise and routine is important. Make sure it is an activity that you enjoy. This will increase your chances of sticking to the plan.
If you feel an increase of 2 points in pain on the 0-10 scale, modify the exercise.
Stretching exercises should be done at least one time per day. This increases your flexibility and loosens stiff joints and muscles. You will also find that you will have an increased range of motion and feel more relaxed.
Stretches should always be done slowly. For example, sit on the floor with the bottom of your feet together and your knees apart (butterfly sit). Begin by sitting tall and just relaxing.
When you feel tension, take a deep breath and blow it out slowly, focusing on relaxing the muscles. Once you can sit without discomfort, try “flapping your wings” to loosen the hip joints. The next progression is to lean forward for a few counts and then sit back up.
Does Chronic Pain Interfere with Your Life?
Do you experience pain on a regular basis? Are you unable to do activities because of the pain? Try this stretching routine to help increase mobility and decrease pain.
The Augusta Pain Center opened in 2001. Our interventional pain management physicians have more than 30 years of practice helping people find relief. They use a variety of state-of-the-art techniques to relieve chronic pain.
Contact us today to ask questions and make an appointment.