Living with chronic pain is a constant, uphill battle. It affects every facet of your life and can sap the joy out of your life. But while living better with chronic pain may seem like a far-fetched dream, it’s actually possible to live a happy, fulfilled life despite the constant pain.
Here are five tips for living well with chronic pain:
1. Stay Active
Staying active is the best way to maintain your mobility and keep your joints and muscles flexible. This alleviates the effects and symptoms of chronic pain and prevents disuse syndrome, a condition caused by a lack of physical activity in which the muscles stiffen and shrivel. Try to exercise regularly, but talk to your doctor first to ensure you’re only doing the right kinds of exercises for your condition. You can do various activities, including biking, yoga, hiking, or swimming; just find what feels right for you. Remember to pace yourself to build up your fitness without causing your symptoms to flare up.
2. Find Ways to Reduce Stress
Managing chronic pain is inherently stressful, but did you know stress also makes the pain worse? Stress affects your immune system causing increased inflammations which can aggravate chronic pain. It also causes muscle tension which can worsen your pain. Finding ways to reduce stress in your life can help you live a more quality life. Talk to someone you trust about your stressors instead of keeping them to yourself. This can be a therapist or someone in your life that you can open up to. Other ways to relieve stress include:
- Tai chi
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Breathing techniques
- Guided imagery
3. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle keeps your body in balance, allowing you to handle chronic pain better. Eating healthy ensures you have all the nutrients to keep your immune system working to fight chronic illness. Try to prep your meals in advance to ensure you have something healthy and quick at the ready when your pain flares.
Sleep is also a vital aspect of a healthy lifestyle. While it can be challenging to sleep well when in pain, finding ways to improve your sleep can help reduce your pain, increase your energy levels and balance your mood. A study into the correlation between sleep quality and physical activity in chronic pain patients found that patients engaged in more physical activity following a better night of sleep. Try to find what works for you; maybe minimizing daytime naps or being active during the day can help your mind and body to be tired enough to sleep.
4. Try Complementary Treatments
Complementary treatments can help ease chronic pain and reduce the need for medication. Common alternative treatments for chronic pain include:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Massage therapy
- Energy medicine like Reiki healing
- Magnetic therapy
Before trying an alternative approach, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
5. Join a Support Group
According to the CDC, 50 million American adults have chronic pain. So you’re not alone, and many people understand exactly what you’re going through. Joining a support group for people suffering from chronic pain provides you with an opportunity to connect with others in a similar situation, helping you feel less isolated and lonely. Support groups allow you to talk honestly and openly about your feelings and struggles, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Seek Professional Help
Chronic pain can be debilitating. But once you get a handle on it and figure out how to manage your symptoms, you can start to regain your quality of life and find joy again. At Southeast Pain and Spine Care, we are committed to helping our patients with chronic pain manage their pain so that they can live better, quality lives. Contact SEPSC today to learn more about our chronic pain treatment options.