According to a recent CNN article, “Chronic pain conditions now affect more than 116 million Americans, […] a figure that dwarfs the number of people who suffer from diabetes, coronary heart disease/stroke and cancer combined.” If you are one of these millions of chronic pain sufferers, you may feel that your condition is out of your control — an overwhelming thought.
The good news is that certain lifestyle changes can serve as powerful chronic pain management tools that complement the medical care you receive for your pain.
Many experts agree that chronic pain patients should make exercise a priority. In fact, they should incorporate light, regular physical activity into their daily routine. However, many chronic pain sufferers avoid exercise because they “…can’t differentiate chronic pain from the ‘good hurt’ of exercise.” Lack of sufficient physical activity and being out of shape increases the risk of injury and exacerbated pain.
But the fact remains that exercise plays a key role in chronic pain management. If you are unsure of what type of exercise is appropriate for you, consult with your physician; s/he will be able to help create a customized fitness plan that suits your individual condition.
An added benefit of exercise is its proven ability to help depression through the release of endorphins. Depression is one of the most common problems faced by chronic pain sufferers.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Studies suggest that “…as many as 28 percent of people with chronic pain use alcohol as a pain management strategy.” Yet, experts recommend cutting back on alcohol as part of your self-management efforts. Many pain sufferers have problems with sleep and alcohol consumption can further aggravate sleep issues. In particular, drinking alcohol an hour before going to bed can significantly disrupt your sleep cycle.
Research has shown that sleep is very important for those dealing with pain. As a result, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink or cutting it out completely can improve your quality of life if you live with chronic pain.
Schedule a phone consultation with an expert therapist to learn more about treating chronic pain naturally.
You may be surprised to learn that negative feelings such as depression, anxiety, stress and anger can heighten the body’s sensitivity to pain. Though you may feel at times that your pain has control over your mind and emotions, there are ways in which you can take control and reduce your stress level.
To reduce stress and increase relaxation, try practicing deep breathing techniques or listening to soothing music. You may even want to use specially designed relaxation tapes or CDs that include recordings of mental imagery relaxation (also guided imagery). Meant as a form of mental escape, these recordings guide you through creating calming images in your mind to help you feel at peace.
And don’t forget the ultimate relaxation activity that enables you to incorporate exercise in your pain-fighting routine at the same time — yoga!