According to a recent report from the CDC, 1 in 5 adults suffer from chronic pain. That’s approximately 50 million people or 20.4% of the U.S. population. Chronic pain, as opposed to acute pain, occurs on most days and lasts longer than three months, typically well beyond the expected time for an injury to heal. Chronic pain can oftentimes start out as a dull persistent ache that gradually worsens over time. Unfortunately, most people with chronic pain start limiting their activities and doing less due to their pain which can actually make things worse.
It’s a new year and time for you to start taking control of your chronic pain instead of allowing it to control you.
Below are steps you can take to help alleviate your chronic pain.
- Move More: Exercise and moving your body more is probably the most important thing you can do to reduce your daily pain. It may seem impossible when you’re in a lot of pain but stick with it. Persistence, starting slowly, and knowing your body’s limits are key to engaging in an exercise plan that will help your chronic pain. Start with something as simple as going for a walk and increase the number of minutes you walk each time. Some of the benefits you’ll receive with exercise are:
- A natural boost of mood-improving endorphins, which also block pain signals
- Stronger muscles which will reduce your chances of sustaining an injury
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- A healthy weight which will reduce stress and pressure on your joints
- Note: The first step in starting your new exercise routine is to see your doctor so they can advise the best exercise program for your type of pain.
- Reduce Stress: Feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and anger can intensify chronic pain. Practice stress-relieving techniques such as listening to calming music, reading a good book, or spending time with your furry friends.
- Relax: People with chronic pain tend to tense up their bodies as a reaction to or a way to deal with their pain. This tension can actually increase your pain, so learning how to relax will help you manage the pain better. Meditation is a great way to relax, and there are many effective meditation apps you can download onto your phone, particularly ones that focus on guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Chronic pain can make it challenging to get a good night’s rest, but not getting enough sleep can make the pain worse the next day. Keep to regular bedtime habits and maintain a consistent sleep and wake schedule. If you have difficulty getting enough rest, talk to your doctor for possible remedies.
- Distraction: Play a game, go out with friends, do a crossword puzzle, etc. Keeping yourself distracted can take your mind off your pain and is an effective way to manage it.
- Breathe Deeply: When the pain becomes too much, stop what you’re doing, take a moment, and breathe deeply and slowly. After a few minutes of this deep breathing, you may find some of the tension and discomfort have melted away.
- Yoga: The gentle stretching and mind-body techniques of yoga can be useful in easing pain. Yoga has been shown to increase mobility, improve mood, and reduce pain. Be sure to join a class with an experienced yoga instructor who can make sure you maintain proper form.
- OTC Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen work well for temporarily relieving aches and pain. Stick to the recommended daily amount and do not use them for more than ten days in a row unless your doctor has advised so.
- Surgery: If your chronic pain can be alleviated through surgery, then it may be the right option for you. There are a number of surgical procedures available to patients today that can help them reduce or eliminate their pain altogether.
Managing Chronic Pain
There are many different underlying causes of chronic pain as well as differing levels of pain intensity. The above-recommended steps, when used alone or in combination with one another, can help you manage your chronic pain while going about your typical daily activities.
When the Pain Won’t Go Away
If your chronic pain isn’t lessened by any of the above tactics and begins to interfere with your quality of life, then make an appointment with a pain specialist right away. The pain management specialists and orthopedic surgeons at Coastal Orthopedics are dedicated to giving their patients the best care possible and getting them back to enjoying life.
If you or a loved one is living with unbearable chronic pain, contact Coastal Orthopedics today at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online.