Managing Chronic Pain
Accepting the fact that you have chronic pain and thus it will be with you for a long time— maybe for the rest of your life – offers a realistic approach that enables you to move forward and make changes that will allow you to live a rewarding existence with your pain. When we resist the pain, fighting against it, resenting it, even hating it, this negative attitude can actually aggravate the pain, resulting in tighter muscles, decreased circulation, and greater suffering.
Emotions and thoughts drive the experience of chronic pain and make us miserable.
Finding small ways to take control of your life, without letting the pain consume you, can make a positive impact on your life, during a time that can be very discouraging. Here are a few steps that help some people dealing with chronic pain:
1. Stay active
Exercising may be the last thing you want to do when your body hurts. But physical activity has been shown to ease chronic pain. Staying active also helps you maintain your ability to do everyday tasks, which is essential to good health and independence. The goal of many chronic pain programs, in fact, is to help people maintain function despite pain. Research suggests that low to moderate exercise—walking or pedaling a stationary bike—can reduce pain and improve your fitness level. Talk to your doctor about activities appropriate for you. Try to do at least half an hour of physical activity most days of the week.
2. Try something new
If conventional activities don’t inspire you, try something new—water aerobics, for instance, or yoga. Tai chi, a Chinese practice that combines meditation and movement, is also popular. Qigong, another Chinese discipline, focuses on posture, concentration, balance, and confidence. Try a new fitness class or join a gym. The Smith Clinic offers great membership and class prices. More details HERE. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.
3. Eat well
You’ve no doubt read that certain foods, such as tomatoes, broccoli, fish, and green tea, may have an anti-inflammatory effect. But rather than focus on single foods, most experts agree it’s smart to focus on an overall healthy diet. The best advice: help yourself to plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes. Avoid processed foods, especially those loaded with salt or sugar. Keep an eye on portion sizes to help avoid weight gain.
4. Distract yourself
When you suffer from chronic pain, it’s easy to withdraw into yourself, which can make your discomfort even worse. Instead, find ways to distract yourself by doing something you enjoy, especially something that engages your mind. Call a friend, go to the movies, do a crossword puzzle, pursue a hobby that you enjoy. Post encouraging Bible verses around so that you can turn to them when moments of despair hit you. Finding something that can turn your thoughts away from the understandable discouragement you are feeling can help. These things will not stop the pain, but they can help give you hope during moments of potential despair.
5. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for some people dealing with chronic pain. The treatments may include:
Education to improve your knowledge and understanding of chronic pain -- how it occurs, and what you can do about it. Your therapist will teach you how to manage your pain and help you work toward performing your normal daily activities again.
Strengthening and flexibility exercises to help you move more easily with less discomfort. Your therapist will design a program of graded exercises for you -- movements that are gradually increased according to your abilities. Graded exercises help you improve your coordination and movement, reducing the stress and strain on your body, and decreasing your pain. Carefully introducing a graded exercise program will help train your brain to sense the problem area in your body without increasing its danger messages.
Manual therapy, which consists of specific, gentle, hands-on techniques that may be used to manipulate or mobilize tight joint structures and soft tissues. Manual therapy is used to increase movement (range of motion), improve the quality of the tissues, and reduce pain.
Posture awareness and body mechanics instruction to help improve your posture and movement. This training helps you use your body more efficiently while performing activities and even when you are resting. Your therapist will help you adjust your movement at work, or when performing chores or recreational activities, to reduce your pain and increase your ability to function.
Please call our office at 901-756-1650 if you have any questions!