Tips For Managing Your Chronic Pain by Jackie Waters, Guest Blogger
Chronic pain is an ailment that affects nearly 100 million people worldwide. Defined as pain that that lasts longer than 6 months, many people battling this condition find themselves depressed because of their quality of life. While living with chronic pain will need some adjustments on your end, you can still manage to live a happy and active lifestyle. Here are some changes to consider to help manage your chronic pain!
Eat a healthy diet
The saying “you are what you eat” rings true for those battling with chronic pain. In most cases, chronic pain is a result of chronic inflammation, and there are certain foods that trigger flare-ups. While acute inflammation is the body’s natural defense system that is needed to assist with healing process, chronic inflammation occurs when the initial injury fails to heal properly, resulting in long term bouts of pain. To minimize your chronic pain, try to avoid processed foods (think most boxed foods in the middle of the grocery store) and do the majority of your grocery shopping on the perimeter of the store. This is where the whole foods like fruits, roots and vegetables reside. Processed foods are packed with additives and preservatives that are guaranteed to cause you more pain and flare-ups. You will also need to lessen (or eliminate altogether) your sugar intake, including artificial sweeteners. When you consume too much sugar (baked goods, soda, candy) your body can’t process the excess glucose fast enough, which increases levels of pro-inflammatory messengers. Your diet needs to be rich in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards. You may eat fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and cherries.
Develop an exercise routine
When you are in pain, it may seem as if moving your body will make it worse. Actually, it is just the opposite and one of the most recommended ways to minimize chronic pain is to exercise frequently! When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins that improve your mood and block pain signals. As your body grows accustomed to being in motion, your tolerance for pain will actually increase!
Another pain-reducing effect of exercise is that it strengthens your muscles, which helps prevent re-injury and more pain. Exercise also keeps your joints moving well --a great benefit for those living with any form of arthritis --and it keeps your weight at a healthy size, which is great because extra weight will only add to your pain.
As stated earlier, many people who have chronic pain tend to suffer with depression because they feel like they can no longer live the same productive, fun life they are used to. Being active is beneficial for your mental health because it boosts your self esteem and allows you to do something positive for your overall wellbeing. To know what type of exercise is best for you, consult with your doctor or physical therapist, but chances are, you can get a gym membership or put together a little home gym of your own, and significantly help your situation.
Avoid long-term use of prescription medications
To combat chronic pain, prescription drugs such as opioids and antidepressants are prescribed. While those who have had substance abuse issues in the past are more likely to develop an addiction to painkillers, those who have never had this problem before are at risk as well. In a desperate effort to ward off pain, it is easy to ingest more pills than the prescribed amount, which can lead to a long-term dependency on the drug. To avoid abusing your prescription, be sure to only take the correct dosage as needed and participate in other pain-reducing activities such as meditation, exercising or hot yoga.
At times you may feel resentment toward your body because of the pain you are experiencing. While this is normal, the best way to get back to living life on your terms is to maintain a positive attitude, reduce stress, and treat your body well. Chronic pain does not have to stand between you and the life you want to live!
Jackie Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com.