Living with Chronic Pain
Chronic pain — physical discomfort that sticks around for months or years — is common. More than 1 in 5 Americans suffer from this condition.
Of these, 36.4% of sufferers live with what’s called high-impact chronic pain; pain that has been present for more than three months and restricts everyday life in at least one profound way — Inability to work, attend school, or complete household chores, for example.
Living with chronic pain, whether high-impact or other, brings challenges on multiple levels; psychological, physical, social, and to quality of life. Anxiety, depression, fear, poor sleep, and reduced resilience. Diminished engagement in physical activity and subsequent greater disability. Increased stress in relationships, including the one you have with yourself…
As a study published in the Journal of Pain Research said, incessant pain causes a “notable deterioration in the patient’s quality of life”. In short, it makes life harder.
Yet, there are ways to ease discomfort and wrest back control, function, and happiness. Here are seven evidence-based approaches for living well with chronic pain.
1. Cultivate a meditation practice
Have you ever noticed that pain can send your mind into a frenzy? Breaking free from mental chatter and worry is nearly impossible when you’re suffering? Meditation may help in a number of ways.A meditation practice can:
- Act as a painkiller
- Encourage resilience
- Rewire the brain to lessen discomfort
- Reduce the unpleasantness of pain
There are guided meditations available online. YouTube is a wonderful source. If you prefer, there will likely be a regular face-to-face class in your community as well.
2. Enjoy a healthy diet
As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat”. Your happy hormones, healing cells, and the matter of your brain and body are created from the nutrients you consume. Choose well!
A low glycemic whole foods diet that contains fresh fruit and vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, eggs, and sources of healthy protein and fat is ideal.
3. Exercise, regularly
It’s natural to cower from physical activity when feeling sore. Living with chronic back pain, for example, makes the notion of a leisurely walk unpalatable. But your biology is designed to move, and often.
As the authors of a 2019 journal article said, exercise is a “viable therapeutic modality for the treatment of nearly all types of chronic pain conditions.”
Being active calms pain, reduces fatigue, increases physical fitness, and enhances quality of life. Choose a form of exercise you enjoy so you can stick with it.
The following are great exercises for chronic pain:
- Aqua aerobics
- Resistance training
- Speed walking
- Tai Chi
4. Reduce your stress
The purpose of discomfort is to alert us that a problem exists; that something needs our attention. If we touch a hot stovetop our hands will recoil. If we sprain an ankle, a sharp pain will stop us in our tracks. This immediately focuses our attention. Once the problem is dealt with and healing occurs, pain should cease.
However, in chronic pain the alarm system’s “off switch” falters. Part of the reason for this error resides in the brain; the center of sensation perception. The brain, then, is an important focus for finding relief.
Reducing stress appears to decouple, to separate, the sensation of pain from the alarm reaction. This allows the brain — through your conscious actions — to step-in and reduce suffering. Imagine it like a pause between the trigger and the pain; a space to jump in and block discomfort.
Stress reduction is one of the reasons that meditation is effective. But if you’re not fond of this approach, there are many others…
5. Join a support group
We, humans, are social creatures. We crave interaction, understanding, and belonging. Yet, living with chronic pain can be isolating. It’s no surprise, then, that support groups can provide a safe, encouraging space. A place to exchange experiences, share advice, to give and receive emotional support.
Common sense and research draw the same conclusion; attending a support group can encourage better management of chronic pain and aid acceptance. This may result in better adherence to a treatment plan and greater recovery in both a physical and psychological sense.
6. Track your pain
https://www.kamiapp.com/Have you ever tracked your pain? If not, now is the time!
This might sound odd. After all, why would you want to focus on your discomfort?
By tracking your symptoms, you gain greater understanding into your lived experience…
- What triggers your pain flares?
- What pattern does your pain follow?
For example, is it worse when the weather
fluctuates or when your stress rises? Are your early mornings worse than your mid-afternoons?
- Does medication cause any side effects? If so, what?
- Does your diet seem to play a role? If so, how? For example, does consuming ample sugar exacerbate your soreness? Do you feel better after a week eating fresh fruit and vegetables?
You can purchase a beautiful journal, open a folder in Google docs, or print our free journal pages here. If you want to save paper, you can use pdf editing software like Kamiapp.
Living with chronic pain is a tough path. One that no-one should walk through recovery alone.
The right health professional will assess your condition, provide a tailored plan, and encourage, guide and provide treatment. Physical therapists and psychologists are key in finding respite from chronic pain.
There are now cutting-edge tools and tech that mean care can be provided online, in the comfort of your own home. This removes the need to travel and the stress of attending a bricks and mortar clinic.
At XRHealth, we offer drug-free, safe treatment options that support people living with chronic pain.
Our services include:
- qualified licensed therapists
- registered medical applications
- virtual technology tools
- a digital clinic
- and quality management systems
To get started now, complete our easy online quiz now.
Simple Tips for Living Well with Chronic Pain
Living with Chronic Back Pain.
Living with Chronic Neck Pain
When perched faultlessly on the top of your neck, your heads weighs around 10-pounds. However, when you allow your head to sit forward — to rest in what’s called a forward head posture — your neck can become strained. This happens because it takes more effort to hold your head out in front.
To understand this, imagine carrying a book against your body compared to at the end of outstretched arms. The former is comfortable. The latter will quickly lead to fatigue. This is because carrying a weight away from your body (yes, your head included) requires greater exertion. With this in mind, consider how you hold your phone, sit at your laptop or desk and move.
As a guide, your earhole should sit on top of your shoulder when looked at from the side.
Living with Chronic Nerve Pain
Living with Chronic Foot Pain
With 26 joints and dozens of ligaments, muscles, and tendons in each foot, it’s no wonder your feet can become sore! Many people find this simple tip helps to relieve their pain.
Part empty a water bottle (so it doesn’t explode) and place it in the freezer. Once frozen, remove and wrap in a tea towel. Sit comfortably, place the bottle on the floor, and then rest the arch of your foot on top of the bottle. For several minutes, roll your arch slowly backwards and forwards. You may find this ice massage relieves your foot pain albeit temporarily.
The Chronic Pain Takeaway
Living a healthy life with chronic pain is possible by implementing the following lifestyle adjustments into your plan of action:
- a healthy diet
- regular exercise
- reducing your stress
- joining a support group
- tracking your pain
- seeking professional support
- building beneficial habits
We’ve helped many of our patients achieve relief from chronic pain. Just like them, you deserve to be well and thrive!