Sometimes known as persistent pain, chronic pain describes pain that lasts beyond the expected healing time for an injury. However, the label tends to be applied when someone has been experiencing pain for longer than three to six months. It is one of the most common medical issues in the United States. Left untreated, it can lead to anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, disability, crippling healthcare costs, and overall poor quality of life.
This chronic pain leads to people wanting to rest and avoid any activity, and until recently, this was the treatment that most doctors advised. However, a growing body of research shows that exercise can actually help with minimizing both the impact and severity of chronic pain. But the wrong exercise can aggravate it, so in this article, we’ll be laying out the most important things you need to know.
Types of Exercise for Chronic Pain
Exercise can help relieve the symptoms of chronic pain by decreasing inflammation, increasing mobility, and lowering your overall pain levels. And because exercise causes the release of natural endorphins, which are the chemicals that improve your mood, it can also ease the depression that dealing with pain on a long-term basis can lead to.
But too much of the wrong exercise can make it worse. This is why anyone suffering from chronic pain should stick to low-impact exercises such as:
- Swimming and/or water aerobics
- Stretching and relaxation exercises like yoga
- Strength training
- Daily living activities
Which of these is most suitable for your particular circumstances will vary depending on several factors. So, it is always best to consult with your doctor or a pain management specialist before undertaking an exercise regime.
Benefits of Exercise for Chronic Pain
The general health benefits of exercise are well known. It can help with weight management, lead to stronger bones and muscles, reduce the risk of a variety of diseases and ease the symptoms of others, improve mental health, and more. But individuals suffering from chronic pain can enjoy these specific benefits:
- Reduced inflammation – Exercise can lead to muscles releasing chemicals that reduce pain signals as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines that promote tissue healing.
- Higher pain tolerance – Some research has found that exercise can change how the brain responds to pain and promote the production of natural analgesics such as serotonin and built-in pain relievers.
- Reduced fatigue – Physical activity can improve sleep quality and cause the release of endorphins, both of which help reduce feelings of fatigue caused by chronic pain.
Factors such as the origin of your chronic pain, your current mental health, level of flexibility, and degree of pain can all affect which type of low-impact exercise is best for you. A qualified pain specialist like the experts at Carolinas Pain Center has experience with chronic pain and developing personalized exercise programs that will benefit your overall health without aggravating your chronic pain.
Exercise can increase the pain associated with some conditions such as fibromyalgia. But this doesn’t mean that exercise is not a viable treatment option — it only means that you will need to start slow and monitor your symptoms over time.
How Often to Exercise with Chronic Pain
There is no consensus on how much exercise is just right for the treatment of chronic pain. This is because chronic pain is as unique as the people who suffer from it. However, the general recommendation is that doctors prescribe exercise the way they would other medication and that any movement is beneficial — even if that is just getting up and walking to the end of the hall, the garden, or the street every day.
Start Managing Your Pain with Carolinas Pain Center Today
Even though people know how many benefits come with regular exercise, the thought of undertaking any physical activity can be overwhelming when you suffer from chronic pain. But being physically active doesn’t mean that you have to get a gym membership, join formal exercise classes, or start training for the average Olympics.
At Carolinas Pain Center, you’ll have access to specialists with highly specialized training, the latest pain management technologies, and an unrivaled range of pain relief options. Our experts are dedicated to providing comprehensive, caring pain relief and can help you develop a pain management program that is personalized to your needs and abilities.
Book an appointment today to find out how we can help you develop a better quality of life and overcome your chronic pain.