Chronic pain is hard on the body and mind and significantly hampers the quality of your life – at least until you get better at managing it. According to the NCBI, it’s a common disorder, affecting 20 percent of people worldwide and making up 15 to 20 percent of all physician visits. Here, Ok Healthy Living offers practical suggestions on living with and overcoming chronic pain, so you can achieve and maintain a fulfilling lifestyle:
Take time to digest your diagnosis
When you’ve been newly diagnosed with chronic pain (or a condition like cancer with chronic pain as a symptom), it’s crucial to give yourself time to take in the diagnosis and all its various implications. Sit with yourself, be present, and take it all in (you can do it slowly over days or weeks, if necessary).
You will likely experience heightened emotions, stress, and anxiety. At the most extreme, you may feel shocked and traumatized. Don’t isolate yourself – ask for and receive support from your loved ones and medical professionals. Focus on maintaining a positive mindset. You can draw inspiration from the stories of people who’ve successfully navigated conditions like yours. The goal is to survive and, eventually, thrive.
Know what to expect
Understanding what you’re up against will help you adjust and overcome. Also, knowledge can keep irrational fears at bay. Here are some things to expect from chronic pain-related conditions:
- It’s not always curable: Chronic pain isn’t always curable – that’s what makes it “chronic” or long-lasting. You may be able to alleviate it over time and get better at managing it. Sometimes it does go away altogether.
- It affects everything: While the pain may be a physical symptom, it has a chain effect on everything else. Constant pain makes it hard for you to function. It affects your emotions, lifestyle, relationships, career, and more.
- Mental health: Needless to say, people in pain may develop mental health issues. You may have off days, lash out at people, and be stressed or anxious.
- You will need to adapt: You will need to develop strategies to live with and overcome the pain. You can team up with your support circle, which will include your loved ones and healthcare professionals. The power is always in your hands.
Figure out solutions
Every chronic pain condition is different. Your age, lifestyle, health, health history, environment, and other personal factors will affect your condition. Once you understand how it’s affecting you uniquely, you can take steps to manage it.
Here are some common treatments for chronic pain:
- Medication: Some examples of medicines that may assist with chronic pain are muscle relaxers, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, sedatives, medical marijuana, and topical pain relievers.
- Physical activity: Exercise can reduce your pain and make it more manageable. It’s also a stress reliever. Experts recommend you perform 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day for pain relief.
- Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques range from meditation and mindfulness to massages and getting more deep sleep. These techniques can heal you and calm your mind.
- Diet: Nutritious, balanced meals make you happier and healthier, not to mention give you extra energy. Some foods are known to have anti-pain relief properties – such as red grapes, cherries, turmeric, ginger, soy, and coffee.
- Environment and indoor air quality: Your environment can bring you peace of mind and better health. The air quality, especially, directly influences your well-being. Clear, pollution-free air reduces illnesses, increases the quality of life, and can make you more energetic. It’s a good idea to change out your HVAC air filters or tune up your system to make sure you’re getting good-quality air. You can find the closest HVAC service provider online via a quick Google search.
Get in touch with support groups
Not everyone understands chronic pain, even if they mean well. Your friends and family might not understand the pain you’re going through and how big of an impact it may have on your lifestyle. You might not understand it yourself. Participating in a local support group for chronic pain can help you gain a better grasp of your condition. You’ll learn about best practices and remedies. Also, you’ll have the ear of other people who can personally relate to what you’re going through.
Chronic pain brings good days and bad days. Your goal should be to maximize the number of good days and minimize the bad ones. You can manage your pain through medications, exercise, rest, diet, and making sure you breathe clean air. Don’t hesitate to take help from your support circles, such as friends or family, and medical professionals – it will make life much easier for you.