Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that can seriously diminish a person’s quality of life. Living with chronic pain will often lead to other health issues that can exacerbate the pain, resulting in a negative cycle of worsening conditions. Managing chronic pain means breaking out of this cycle and gradually improving your health.
If you’re living with chronic pain, it can easily feel like there’s no way of making it better. However, this article is here to help you break out of that cycle. We’ll talk about how chronic pain can affect your body and mind and give you tips on how to improve your quality of life. Instead of your pain controlling you, you can learn how to control pain.
Effects of Chronic Pain
Physically, chronic pain creates a lot of challenges. Day-to-day activities can gradually become more and more difficult to do on your own, and you may find that you no longer partake in hobbies you once loved. Pain can also easily affect your ability to exercise. All of these together can have a serious effect on your physical health as you won’t be moving as much as you used to.
Chronic pain can also be hard on you because of how your body responds to it. Pain triggers the stress response in the body, preparing your body to run away from the situation. Unfortunately, you can’t run from your pain, and your body’s stress response is active far longer than what’s healthy. This prolonged stress response leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues.
On top of the physical issues, chronic pain often leads to poor sleep and mental health issues. It’s common for those suffering from chronic pain to experience a change in their mood, increased anxiety, and a heightened risk of depression. Because of this, pain management and treatment may involve psychological care.
Living With Chronic Pain
Suffering from chronic pain doesn’t have to mean that you aren’t living your normal life anymore. While there may be a temporary halt on some of the activities you once did, proper chronic pain management can help you return to your regular routine.
Managing Chronic Pain
Chronic pain management isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding. Here are some of the ways that you can manage your own pain:
When we’re in pain, exercise becomes more difficult, and it’s much more tempting to just avoid it altogether. However, not using our muscles weakens them, and we lose our stamina. After some time, this can make physical activity even harder and more painful to do, creating a downward spiral. So, make sure to continue exercising. Regular exercise can also ease your pain by keeping your muscles strong and your joints flexible. If you find what you would normally do for exercise too difficult, you can speak with your doctor or a physical therapist to look into workouts that will be less strenuous and easier for you to do.
Stretching is another effective way to keep your body healthy and minimize your pain. Stretching helps to improve posture, blood flow through the muscles, flexibility, and range of motion. All of these can help reduce muscle and joint pain and overall stiffness. Here are some simple stretches you can try out. If you find it difficult to get started, try taking a hot shower or soak in the tub first.
3. Balanced Diet
Ensuring you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet isn’t likely to directly impact your pain, but it does come with benefits that will improve your health and indirectly reduce your pain. It’s easy to fall into bad habits and start eating poorly. However, a poor diet can lead to more health issues that will make chronic pain management even more difficult. A poor diet combined with difficulty exercising can also lead to weight gain, which can directly worsen chronic pain. The extra weight on your joints will create more pressure, which can increase pain. A balanced diet will make sure that you stay healthy and can help you lose weight if you need that.
Some of the health issues caused by chronic pain are a result of the body’s stress response. An effective way to counteract that response is to actively relax. Our bodies cannot be stressed when we’re relaxed, so relaxing will stop the stress response. On top of that, relaxing will also release muscle tension, which can contribute to your pain. There are plenty of ways you can relax, but we would suggest one of the following relaxation techniques: progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, or meditation. These are all techniques that will take a bit of learning to do well, but the benefits are worth the bit of effort to learn one or more of these techniques.
Going through something difficult like chronic pain on your own is hard and can contribute to mental health issues. We would encourage you to seek support from friends and loved ones who are able to help you. It would also help to seek out others dealing with the same condition. You’ll be able to share your struggles with someone who truly understands you. If you don’t personally know anyone else suffering from chronic pain, you can check out some support groups.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
There’s only so much that you can do on your own. If it feels like chronic pain is killing you, consider getting treatment on top of doing things on your own to manage your pain. Chronic pain treatment will often consist of medical interventions that will be able to diminish your pain more than you’d be able to on your own. This will make learning to manage your pain and take care of your health much easier.
Finding Care for Chronic Pain
When chronic pain becomes too much, it’s time for you to seek treatment at a pain clinic. There, you’ll meet with pain specialists who will be able to devise treatment plans to minimize your pain and return your life to normal.
To get chronic pain treatment at a pain clinic, you can start by speaking with your primary care physician. If they believe a pain clinic will be helpful for you, they’ll refer you to one. However, you can just start by contacting a pain clinic directly. That would speed up the process if you’re looking for care as soon as possible.
The Carolinas Pain Center Can Help
If you need help managing your chronic pain, reach out to us at the Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists will create a treatment plan specifically for you so that you can go back to a fulfilling life without constant disruption. Visit our resources page to learn more about chronic pain, what it means for you, and what you can do to manage it.