Chronic Pain Management to Make It Go Away!
You probably know someone who suffers from it, or you suffer from it yourself, but chronic pain is no joke for those afflicted. With over 50 million Americans living with chronic pain every day, it is more common than you may realize and there is often no concrete cure. Even without that cure, there are many chronic pain management things that you can do to help make it easier.
- Dealing with chronic pain can be all consuming
- Adopting healthier lifestyle practices can ease the physical pain and mental stress
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts anywhere from 3-6 months but can also last for years and years. It may cause issues with your sleep schedule or prohibit you from doing things you enjoy during your everyday life.
Chronic pain can be caused both genetically or from a certain incident like a sport injury, a car accident, an infection, or surgeries. Genetically, chronic pain would most likely formulate from a chronic condition. Some chronic conditions that cause chronic pain include:
- Diabetes - Causes pain in the hands, legs, and feet due to low blood sugar
- Fibromyalgia - Causes pain throughout the bones, ligaments, nerves, muscles, and tendons
- Multiple sclerosis - A disease in the brain and spinal cord that causes headaches, back pain, and burning/aching pain in the arms and legs
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Causes extreme fatigue, headaches, and muscle/joint pain
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Causes pain in the digestive tract
- Rheumatoid arthritis - Causes the body to attack its own cells which causes pain in the joints
- Osteoarthritis - Causes the body to break down cartilage which causes joint pain
Speaking to your doctor is a great way to figure out what is causing your chronic pain and can also help you to find other chronic pain management techniques other than these we are about to give you! (1)
Chronic Pain Management Techniques
There are many chronic pain management techniques ranging from diet to exercise that you can employ to help manage your aches and pains. To start, here are some diet and food related techniques:
Inflammation is a common symptom for most people with chronic pain, so it is the most generic to try and overcome. By starting on an anti-inflammatory diet, you can help to avoid any foods that may aggravate your body or your body’s symptoms. Avoiding gluten and dairy is a great place to start if you want to take it slow as they are both inflammatory but easier to cut out of your diet. Aside from those, you can also try and avoid any other pro-inflammatory foods like alcohol, saturated fats, added sugars, and processed meats to try and keep inflammation down.
The best way to go on an anti-inflammatory diet is to try and start going vegetarian. This will help you to cut down on the processed meats as well as a lot of those saturated fats and other pro-inflammation foods. Whichever route you decide to take, you still need to get all your necessary nutrients. Foods like kale, chickpeas, collard greens, almonds, and soy milk are high in calcium to help balance the calcium loss that comes from cutting out dairy. Making sure you get your protein (that would have been in meats) in nuts and beans is also important! (1)
Keep a Pain Diary and Track Your Food
Keeping a pain diary is a great chronic pain management trick because it allows you to see what food specifically you are eating before or during a time when you have a lot of pain. You can either track your food on an app on your phone and track separately when you have pain, or you can get a physical planner or diary to track it all together in the same place. We recommend writing down each food or supplement you eat take, what other chronic pain management techniques you’ve done lately, and what pain you have when so that you can compare like situations! (1)
Supplements can be a great substitute for over-the-counter drugs or just used as an addition to your daily routine to help your chronic pain management. Supplements can often be a good substitute for the ibuprofen when looking at chronic pain management, as ibuprofen is hard on the stomach and has been linked to GI tract issues which may make your other symptoms worse. Like with many of these techniques, but this one most importantly, make sure to check with your doctor before taking supplements because certain ones may interact with other medications. (1)
- Quercetin: An antioxidant that comes from a plant pigment
- Curcumin: Found in turmeric. Has many anti-inflammatory effects
- Fish Oils: Another anti-inflammatory
- Ginger: An antioxidant that can be consumed in many ways
Aside from these diet-based chronic pain management techniques, there are also medications and pharmaceutical drugs that you can take to help your pain.
Low Dosages of Naltrexone
Naltrexone has historically been used to treat both alcohol and opioid addictions, and in low doses can even help with chronic pain management. A dosage between 0.1 and 4.5 mg may help reduce the pain and reduce inflammation in your central nervous system. Naltrexone has also been seen to produce more endorphins, a pain-relieving chemical in the body. (1)
There are a few prescription medications that aren’t general to any specific chronic condition that you can speak to your doctor about to help with your chronic pain management. They include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Or stronger painkillers (2)
There are also many lifestyle tips and tricks that you can use.
Meditation and Stress Relief
Meditation is helpful for so many things other than just chronic pain management. Specifically for chronic pain though, it can help to both remove and relieve excess stress from your life. Stress causes your muscles to tense up which doesn’t help any chronic pain to feel better, and meditation is a great way to help relieve it. Tense muscles from stress can also trigger both tension headaches or migraines which can, in turn, make other chronic pain worse.
Yoga or Pilates
Both yoga and Pilates are great, relaxing chronic pain management techniques to help you destress and still get the movement you need. Yoga is good to reduce any pain intensity, as well as increase your strength, flexibility, and mobility. Pilates also helps in many of the same ways like yoga and is very low impact. (1)
Even though it may not seem like it, exercise is great in the long term for chronic pain management as it improves your muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. Exercise in general also releases endorphins, which are both pain and stress-relieving to help with your pain. You may also. Be deterred from exercise as chronic pain management because of its commonly high impact, but there are many low-impact ways to exercise (like cycling) to keep you healthy and keep your joints strong. (2)
Whatever you decide to do to conquer your chronic pain, make sure to inform your doctor and ensure that is all safe, but otherwise, happy chronic pain management!
Written by Alyssa Thompson