Living with chronic pain can severely impact your life, and at times it might feel like no one understands. Know that you’re not alone. There are roughly 50 million American adults who suffer from chronic pain, which is about 20.4 percent of the population.
There is also about 19.6 million of eight percent of the population who suffers from high impact chronic pain. But there is hope.
If you have chronic pain, there are some tips and techniques that can make living with this pain just a little easier. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Pain is your body’s normal response to illness or injury. It’s a way of letting your body know that something is wrong, and when you heal, the pain goes away.
But many people experience pain to continue way after the cause of the pain is gone. In these cases, the pain can last for three to six months or even longer. If you are hurting day after day, this could have a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health.
Chronic pain syndrome or CPS is when you have symptoms that are beyond the pain alone. Symptoms like depression and anxiety, which can be crippling to daily life.
It is hard, but not impossible to remedy or treat chronic pain. Usually, a blend of treatments like physical therapy, meditation, counseling, and relaxing can help alleviate this pain and the symptoms that come with it.
Here are some tips that can make living with chronic pain more manageable.
1. Learn to Relax When Living with Chronic Pain
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, relaxation can seem impossible, but it is necessary. All you need to do is take deep breaths and meditate. This relaxing state can help your body ease the pain.
You might want to consider getting a message to relieve the tension and tightness in your muscles. There are many ways to meditate, and even apps that can help you. Often simply the power of repetition can help. Simply focus on your breath, ignore distracting thoughts, and repeat a word, phrase or mantra.
Taking deep breaths is another good relaxation method. Find a comfortable position, quiet spot and block out any distracting thoughts.
2. Limit the Stress in Your Life
Stress will only make your chronic pain worse. Depression, negative feelings, anger, and anxiety can increase your body’s sensitivity to pain. If you can learn to control your stress, you might find relief from chronic pain.
There are several techniques you can follow to lower your stress levels and encourage relaxation. Techniques like listening to calming, soothing, mood-lifting music. You can even find relaxation CDs, tapes and playlists that help reduce stress.
You might also want to try mental imagery relaxation or guided imagery. This type of mental escape helps you feel peaceful and involves making peaceful, calming images in your mind. You might also want to look into progressive muscle relaxation which can also encourage relaxation.
3. Boost Your Natural Endorphins with Exercise
Endorphins are chemicals in your brain that can lift your mood and block pain signals. When you exercise, this increases your endorphins and helps reduce pain. Also, exercise strengthens your muscles which can prevent injury or more pain.
Exercise can also reduce your risk for heart disease, keep your weight down and your blood sugar levels in control, which is crucial if you are at risk for diabetes. You might want to ask your doctor for an exercise routine that is safe for your condition or work with a personal trainer.
If you have a health condition like diabetic neuropathy, you want to be extra careful about what activities you are engaging in. Which is why it’s vital to consult with your doctor before switching up your exercise routine.
4. Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol might seem like a quick way to reduce pain, but in the long run, it can only worsen your chronic pain. Alcohol is a depressant, so while you might feel good now as you have that second drink, you might find yourself in more pain or deeper depression the next day.
Alcohol can also make it difficult to sleep. Chronic pain already makes sleep difficult, so why make it harder on yourself?
If you are living with chronic pain, decreasing your consumption of alcohol or avoiding it entirely, can help you and improve the quality of your life.
5. Join a Support Group
Meeting others living with chronic pain in a support group can help you out. They understand what you are dealing with, and can help you feel less alone. You may even be learning coping techniques from their experience and wisdom of living with chronic pain.
You might also want to look into behavioral pain management. A behavioral health evaluation helps the doctor identify a patient’s assets or liabilities in order to lessen concerns which may become a barrier to prescribing these types of medications. Find out more about our Chronic Pain Social Support Group. The goals of this group include providing support, validation, and education in basic pain management and life skills (i.e. medication, treatment types, etc.)
Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s an act of strength.
6. Don’t Smoke
Similar to alcohol, smoking can also make your chronic pain worse. Smoking can make painful circulation problems worse, which can increase your risk of cancer or heart disease.
Try your best to make healthy decisions when battling chronic pain. Your body will thank you.
7. Track Your Daily Pain Level
Keeping a diary of your daily pain levels and activities can help you, and your doctor understands your chronic pain more. You might uncover what’s triggering your pain or if any of these techniques are helping.
If you want to treat your chronic pain effectively, your doctor needs to know how you are doing between visits. Log your daily pain score, rating your pain on a scale of one to ten where ten is the worst. Keep track of what activities you’re doing each day, and show your doctor this log at each visit.
Get Better Today
Start trying these tips and techniques, and you might see your chronic pain will start to get better. It will take time to get better, but it can happen. For more tips on living with chronic pain, check out our blog.