We all experience pain – but some of us deal with it day in and day out. From knee pain and lower back pain to neck pain and more, chronic pain can come from many causes, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine, to name a few, so it’s something that tens of millions of Americans must learn to live with. But how people with chronic pain manage it can have a huge effect on quality of life, so we’re sharing some tips on how you can live well with chronic pain.
Start with the basics.
It may sound obvious, but making sure that you are getting enough sleep can help diminish the intensity of chronic pain During sleep, your body can rest and restore itself, and without it, you’re unlikely to feel up to taking good care of yourself each following day. Yes, it can be difficult to achieve sleep when you’re in pain, but once you’ve been able to develop a good sleep routine, both pain management and sleep will get easier. Avoid screens, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine late in the day, indulge in a relaxing activity, such as a warm bath, and limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes.
Exercise also is an amazing way to relieve chronic pain. It is difficult to feel motivated to exercise in the first place when you’re in pain, but getting up and moving in whatever way you can should release endorphins and lessen your sensation of pain. Over the long term, exercise builds muscle strength, which is especially helpful for pain management of osteoarthritis.
Studies have shown that the practice of “mindfulness” can be an effective way to manage chronic pain. Practicing mindfulness can start with meditation. It’s something you can do almost anywhere. Simply sit in a comfortable position with your arms relaxed. Relax each muscle in what is called a “body scan” to make sure you release tension throughout your body. Then focus only on the now and on your breathing. You can also visualize yourself pain free during this time.
Manage stress and mood.
Pain can get you down, but pain, stress, and depression can also turn into a vicious cycle. Getting yourself out of the cycle takes work, but it’s work that can pay off. Try deep breathing and stretching to manage the physical feelings of stress. Schedule time to relax each day. Build a social network for emotional support and opportunities for activities you enjoy. Even laughter among friends is a great pain management tool. Seeking out professional help from a cognitive behavioral therapist can also help you better cope and live with chronic pain.
Getting started or back into the habit of engaging with a hobby or activity you love can get your mind off of pain and help you to lead a fuller life. Read a good book. Start a journal. Begin a collection. Get your mind engaged and off your chronic pain and onto something you love.
However you choose to live with your chronic pain, be sure to involve a trusted medical professional who can offer advice and support – before your pain sends you to Laredo Emergency Room.