Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts over 6 months. Over 100 million people worldwide are suffering from chronic pain and if you are one of them, finding relief is your greatest concern. Many people jump to alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain through the use of prescription drugs. However, the repeated use of these pills can lead to an even bigger problem. Here are a few lifestyle changes and tips to help you minimize your chronic pain and restore your quality of life.
When you are in pain, the last thing you want to do is move your body, but developing a habit of exercising can help minimize or prevent pain before it even starts. Exercise has a pain reducing effect on your body that strengthens muscles and helps prevent re-injury and further pain. As you exercise, endorphins are released which not only improve your mood, they also block your pain signals. This means your body’s interpretation of pain will differ and your tolerance threshold for pain will increase. The specific benefits of exercise for chronic pain sufferers are plentiful. It keeps your joints moving well and your muscles strong. Exercising is also good for your mental health, as it is not uncommon for those suffering with chronic pain to be depressed. A routine of exercising can help boost your self esteem and give you a sense of control as you are doing something positive to fight the pain and the effect that it has on your lifestyle. Staying fit also helps you avoid obesity and weight gain, which causes more pain. To find out which forms of exercise will benefit you the most, consult with your doctor and a physical therapist.
Reduce stress in your life
Many studies show that depression, anxiety, and stress can cause pain, and being in pain can cause stress. The relation between stress and pain creates a vicious cycle that promotes both chronic pain and chronic stress. Learning how to cope with stress, or avoiding it altogether, is the best way to minimize pain. Exercising is a great way to reduce stress, as is getting more restful sleep. Sleep impacts healing and a good night’s rest will better help you face the turmoil of the day. Find balance in your day by creating the time to get out of the hustle and bustle, and enjoy a leisure activity. You may also want to pick up a mind-body activity such as yoga or meditation, which are both known to decrease stress levels and increase physical well-being. Chronic pain can definitely take a toll on your life, but as you learn how to manage stress, the impact of pain will lessen.
Avoid long term use of prescription drugs
There are several categories of medicines used to treat chronic pain: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and Acetaminophen, antidepressants, anticonvulsants (anti-seizure), muscle relaxants, and opioids. When medicines are prescribed and used properly, the chances of addiction are low, but it can still happen. Although people with a history of substance abuse are more vulnerable to forming an addiction, those who have never had problems with substance abuse are still at risk. The problem occurs because it is easy to exceed the prescribed amount of medication when you are looking for relief. The best way to avoid overuse of your prescribed medication is to find alternate ways to deal with your pain, such as the activities listed earlier. There are also several non-addictive pain relievers on the market. In order to find what would work best for you, consult with your doctor.
In the beginning, living with chronic pain can be very frustrating. You may feel resentment toward your body because you cannot participate in what used to come easy to you. While chronic pain presents change, it does not take away from your quality of life. As long as you make the commitment of staying active and avoiding stress, you can still lead a healthy and progressive life!
Accepting my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis wasn't easy. At age 25, the last thing I wanted to hear was how the pain I'd been experiencing was incurable and would be with me for the rest of my life. But with help and support from my parents and close friends, I was able to accept my diagnosis and get on the path to dealing with my arthritis. The result was a life overhaul. I began exercising more regularly, eliminating harmful, chemical-laden products from my life, finding time to relax, and more. My goal was to live a healthy, happy life as free of prescription pain management as possible. The methods covered in my article have worked wonders for me, and I hope they can help many others as well!