5 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain
Persistent chronic pain is life altering for the person suffering it. A lot of people suffer from it too – in 2008 the number was around 100 million American adults to be specific. Chronic pain can change your life. It can cause you to miss work, have to retire early, miss social gatherings, lose sleep and gain weight (which in itself can lead to a plethora of other pathologies). So it is worth it to find ways to manage chronic pain or get rid of it once and for all.
Below are some non-invasive and natural ways of treating chronic pain.
1. Get An Endorphin Boost
When you’re suffering from chronic pain, the last thing you probably want to do is get out of bed and exercise. Most doctors will probably prescribe bed rest for chronic pain but this actually helps very little. Bed rest will just ease the pain for a little while, but it does absolutely nothing for curing your pain in the long run. While it is counterintuitive, it might be more helpful to get in some light to moderate exercise to help ease chronic pain for good.
Exercise actually increases your pain threshold and releases neurotransmitters called endorphins.
Endorphins can decrease the feeling of pain as well as increase immune responses. Moderate to high intensity exercise, if you have enough endurance for it, can also prevent obesity and the joint pain related to an unhealthy increase in body weight.
2. Learn How To Meditate
Sure, it may sound like complete hokey but studies have continually shown how beneficial meditation can be both for the human body and psyche. Mental processes can alter sensory phenomena, even pain. This is the reason why some battle wounds are only felt after the war or how athletes can continue to play despite minor injuries.
In a study conducted by Fadel Zeidan from the Wake Forest University, researchers followed 15 healthy volunteers and performed MRI scans on the volunteers’ brains while inducing pain. For four days a certified instructor taught the volunteers about mindfulness meditation. On the fifth day of the experiment, researchers scanned the volunteers under the MRI again (still inducing pain), once with meditation and once without.
Researchers found that there was a 40% reduction in pain perception when the volunteers were meditating as compared to when they weren’t.
This just goes to show that meditation has more practical day to day uses than just “staying Zen” and that its continued practice can be part of a regimen that helps deal with chronic pain.
3. Identify The Stress Triggers Of The Pain And Then Avoid Them
Stress has been found to trigger acute or chronic pain, lower back pain especially. It [stress] can lead to physical changes that may contribute to the development of pain. Stress may unnecessarily limit physical and social activity as you try and focus your attention on what is stressing you out.
Limiting physical activity can actually weaken muscles and impede proper blood flow, causing inflammation and pain. Limited social activity could exacerbate the stress a person is feeling and create a vicious cycle where the more stressed you are the less you interact with others, which is return will make you even more stressed.
It might be helpful for the person to track and log stress triggers so that he or she can avoid them or deal with them in a more constructive manner.
4. Stay Hydrated
Experts of holistic healing believe that chronic pain might just be one of the ways our bodies communicate to us that we are chronically dehydrated. They argue that because most of our body is made up of water, being chronically dehydrated could lead to a malfunction in our inner processes. Dehydration can often lead to joint pain, migraines and back pain.
5. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Weight gain and chronic pain often go hand in hand. Just like stress it’s a vicious cycle where the more pain we feel the less likely we are to move around and the more weight we put on. The added weight now puts more pressure on our joints, causing even more pain. Most people with chronic pain will be at least moderately overweight. In fact, statistics show that 63% of people being treated for chronic pain have moderate to severe obesity. Of the 63%, 41% reported having been obese before the pain started.
Another thing that happens when you become overweight is that you develop chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can lead to chronic pain and other diseases such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. So not only does the extra body fat create discomfort through pain, it can actually make you sick too.