7 Steps to Managing Chronic Pain

7 Steps to Managing Chronic Pain

Everyone experiences pain in their life. Whether it’s a mild headache or the result of major surgery, pain happens. 

Pain is a reaction of the nervous system that alerts your body that you may be injured. If you get hurt, pain signals will travel up your spinal cord from the injured area to your brain to make you aware of the injury. 

As the injury heals, pain will lessen. However, chronic pain is different from normal pain. With chronic pain, your body will continue to send pain signals to your brain, even after the injury heals. It may even occur when there is no injury at all. And the pain can last several weeks to several years. 

Chronic pain is debilitating. It not only hurts, it affects your mobility, reduces your flexibility, and affects your strength and endurance. It affects you emotionally, causing you to be sad or angry with yourself and your loved ones. Chronic pain makes it difficult to get through daily activities and live a normal life. 

If you are experiencing chronic pain, it may be time to take steps to learn to cope and even possibly reduce that constant pain you feel. 

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts a minimum of twelve weeks. It can have the following attributes:

  • It can be sharp or dull
  • It can cause a burning or aching sensation
  • It can be steady or come and go without any pattern
  • It can occur in any part of the body
  • It can occur in different areas of the body at once and have different feelings in each affected area

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, over 1.5 billion people worldwide experience chronic pain. In the U.S., it is the most common cause of long-term disability, affecting 100 million Americans. 

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain often starts due to an injury; however, it is thought that chronic pain develops when the nerves in an injured area become damaged. Since the nerve receptors pick up the pain signals heading to the brain, they may send more intense and long-lasting signals. Even after the injury heals, the damaged nerves continue to send pain signals. 

In some cases, chronic pain develops without any initial injury. There’s not much understanding of the cause of such situations, although sometimes it results from an underlying health condition, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, or sciatica, for instance.  

How Do You Manage Chronic Pain?

Physicians can provide treatment to help with chronic pain, while psychologists offer assistance with the mental and emotional aspects of this condition. Chiropractors offer a holistic approach to addressing the symptoms and causes of chronic pain.

Here are a few options you can try at home to help ease the pain and deal with this debilitating illness.

1. Meditate 

Meditation, and even simple deep breaths, will help your body to relax, which could ease the pain and will most certainly help remove anxiety and stress. 

To remove tension and tightness in your muscles, focus on your breathing while taking slow, even breaths; ignore all thoughts that try to interrupt your time of peace; and try repeating a word or phrase over and over. This simple activity can send a message to your body to relax. 

2. Reduce Stress

Stress intensifies pain. Even negative feelings like depression, anger, and anxiety can wreak havoc on your body and increase your pain levels. 

Listen to soothing music, such as relaxation tracks available on music streaming services and other places you find music. Calming songs can improve your mood and help make chronic pain more bearable.

Guided imagery is another form of mental escape. To do it, you imagine calm and peaceful places or situations in your mind, helping you to relax. 

Progressive muscle relaxation, where you slowly work all your muscles from your head to your toes, can also help with chronic pain. Prayer or spiritual relaxation can also be helpful for those with chronic pain.

3. Talk to Others

Talk to a therapist or a friend about your feelings and your situation. Sometimes just talking about it helps you to feel better. 

Also consider joining a support group, either in person or online in places like Facebook Groups. When you meet with others who are experiencing the same difficulties that you have, you will feel relief that you are not alone. You will also find understanding and helpful tips from people who have been there. 

4. Exercise

You may be experiencing pain and feel that you can’t do daily activities, but if you’re able to get up and get moving, you’ll find positive results. Exercise produces natural endorphins, which improve your mood and block pain signals. 

Exercise has so many benefits that can help anyone.

  • It strengthens muscles to help prevent future injuries
  • It can keep your weight down
  • Exercise can reduce heart disease risk
  • It can control blood sugar levels

Always ask your doctor if you are able to begin an exercise routine and what types of exercises are right for you. 

5. Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy, well-balanced diet can help you in many ways. It can:

  • Aid in digestive processes
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Lower your weight
  • Improve blood sugar

Choose a low-fat, low-sodium diet that includes fresh fruits, a variety of vegetables, whole grain breads, more beans and peas, low-fat milk and cheese, and lean meats.

6. Reduce Alcohol and Tobacco

You may think self-medicating with alcohol is harmless, but it can cause many health problems, not to mention that it can worsen any sleep issues you may be having. You may already have difficulty sleeping through the night due to your pain, but adding alcohol to the mix only makes it worse. 

Cigarettes not only increase your risk of heart disease and cancer, they can escalate chronic pain issues. Smoking worsens circulation problems, which may be causing you pain. 

7. Get a Massage

Simply put, a massage relieves chronic pain. Working the muscles can help loosen them, reducing stress and relieving tension. Try to regularly schedule a professional massage to help ease your pain and help you feel more like yourself again.

Can a Chiropractor Help With Chronic Pain?

When visiting a chiropractor for chronic pain, the first step is a physical exam as well as some tests to diagnose the cause of your pain. Next, your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan to help ease the pain, which may include spinal manipulation, manual therapies, and therapeutic exercises. 

As an alternative to medication, chiropractors manipulate the body’s alignment, which can reduce pain, improve your body’s function, and even help the body to heal itself. If you’re ready to address your chronic pain, schedule an appointment with us online or call 256-721-9696 today. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.