12 tips for living with chronic pain
Chronic pain lasts for several months or years. It interferes with daily life and can cause anxiety and depression. The first step in treating chronic pain involves finding and treating the cause. If that is not possible, the most effective approach is a combination of therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is pain that stays for over four months. The pain can be present all the time, or it can come and go. It can happen anywhere in the body. Chronic pain can interfere with your day-to-day activities, such as having a social life, working, and taking care of yourself or others. It may lead to anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping, further worsening your pain. This response creates a cycle that is difficult to break. Chronic pain is not the same as acute pain, which occurs when you get hurt, like experiencing a broken bone or a simple cut to your skin. It does not last long, and it disappears after your body heals from the cause of the pain.
In contrast, chronic pain lasts long after recovering from an illness or injury. Sometimes it also happens for no apparent reason. Chronic pain can come in various forms and appear across your body. Common types of chronic pain are arthritis, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, headaches, including migraines, lasting pain in scar tissue, testicular pain (orchialgia), neurogenic pain, from damage to the nerves or other parts of your nervous system, and muscle pain all over (such as with fibromyalgia).
Chronic pain affects a minimum of 10 per cent of the worldâ€™s population, i.e., approximately 60 million people â€“ with estimates of the prevalence of chronic pain closer to 20 to 25 per cent in some regions and countries. An additional one in ten individuals develops chronic pain each year worldwide.
Sometimes chronic pain has an apparent cause. You can have a long-lasting illness like arthritis that may cause ongoing pain. Diseases and injuries can also cause changes to the body that leave you more sensitive to pain. These changes may stay in place even after healing from the original disease or injury. Something like a broken bone, a sprain, or a brief infection can leave you with chronic pain. Some people also have chronic pain not tied to physical illness or an injury. Healthcare providers call this psychosomatic pain or response psychogenic pain.
Tips for living with chronic pain
People having chronic pain describe their pain in various ways, such as burning, aching, squeezing, throbbing, shooting, stiffness, and stinging. Chronic pain usually leads to other symptoms and conditions, such as fatigue or feeling overly tired most of the time, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, trouble falling asleep, and depression.
Please try the tips mentioned further in the blog to get rid of your chronic pain.
1. Finding exercise that you enjoy
Participating in low-intensity activities, like light swimming or walking, for 30 minutes every day can help reduce your pain.
2. Making healthy eating easy
Eating a healthy diet does not have to be fancy or complicated. When you live with chronic pain, things are challenging enough. You do not need to give yourself more work than you need to. Try adapting techniques that make healthy eating and cooking easy and fun. It is necessary to eat a healthy diet to boost overall health. Your doctor can suggest trying an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating foods that can cause inflammation, such as refined carbohydrates and red meat.
3. Practice yoga daily.
Yoga is a mind-body therapy. Through rhythmic breathing, physical poses, and meditation, yoga can help relieve chronic back pain and improve sleep. It would be best to learn yoga from a licensed instructor, who will tailor the poses depending on your tolerance level and the underlying reason behind your back pain. Once you have learned the specific yogic postures, you should practice them at home according to your convenience. If you experience pain while doing a pose, inform your yoga instructor.
4. Take a short evening walk.
If you work for long hours at your office, get minimal exercise, have chronic lower back pain, and find it hard to fall asleep at night, an evening walk can help relieve your pain. When you walk or exercise, your core body temperature rises. This temperature then starts to drop due to the heat dissipation mechanisms of your body (like increased blood flow to the skin). The resulting lower body temperature then triggers your sleep cycle, which helps relieve your pain to some extent. Walking can also reduce anxiety, promoting better sleep. Including an evening walk in your daily schedule will also be beneficial in easing chronic lower back pain because it strengthens your back and abdominal muscles and increases flexibility in your lower back.
5. Finding ways to sleep well
Getting adequate quality sleep is necessary for your overall health. A lack of sleep usually causes you to gain weight, making your chronic pain worse. Discuss these four lifestyle pillars with your doctor to determine how each applies to your type of chronic pain. You must understand how you can incorporate changes into your daily life to relieve your chronic pain.
6. Finding ways to reduce stress
Stress plays a significant role in chronic pain, so it is essential to reduce your stress as much as possible. Every individual has different techniques to manage their stress, but some methods include mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing. You must try different options until you know what works best for you.
7. Understanding it is not your fault.
It is vital to understand that this is not your fault. You may hear that there areâ€™ pain inducingâ€™ behaviours and that you must change things to manage and reduce your pain. This doesnâ€™t mean that you have caused this pain or that it is your fault you are in this situation.
8. Learning about your condition
Finding out about your chronic pain diagnosis and chronic pain, in general, permits you to understand what is happening within your body. Do plenty of research online: read blogs, articles, studies and watch videos. If you have queries, make a list to take to the doctor or specialist next time you have an appointment. Understanding how chronic pain works will give you a sense of confidence.
9. Learning your limits and triggers
You will not always be able to do everything that you want to; that is challenging to learn and accept. It is necessary to stay active and not let your chronic pain rule your life. However, it is also essential not to be constantly overdoing things to the point of a flare in your pain symptoms.
10. Finding joy, motivation, and ways to be assertive
Chronic pain will often sap all the joy out of your life. However, it does not need to stay that way. Finding joy can be anything that makes you happy. To live a happy life with your chronic pain, you need to be assertive. That is easier said than done and certainly takes time. But, as you learn how to live well with your chronic pain, manage your pain, and increase your functioning capability, grief will be replaced with a sense of determination, empowerment, and confidence.
11. Appreciating the little things
Another technique to draw joy into your life is to appreciate the â€˜smallâ€™ things in life. Praise yourself for small achievements. Do not dismiss those things as something you â€˜shouldâ€™ be able to do. You must instead praise yourself every step along the way and celebrate those little achievements because they are challenging and deserve to be celebrated.
Something that would be immensely helpful when your pain is flaring is a distraction. Changing your environment can be helpful, even if this is just moving into a different room. Talking to someone, listening to music, engaging in crafts, i.e., anything that keeps you busy and gives you something other than your pain to focus on, will make it easier to deal with.
Chronic pain lasts for an extended period spanning many months or years and can interfere with your ability to work, study, enjoy activities, and the overall quality of your life. Please consult your healthcare provider or pain specialist if you have chronic pain. There are techniques to manage your chronic pain to help you lead a more comfortable life.