10 Tips to Relieve Chronic Pain

Are your normal daily activities suffering because of your pain? Chronic pain is the most common reason adults seek treatment in the United States! Research has shown that the long-term effects of chronic pain often cause individuals to reduce or eliminate physical activity. Chronic pain is generally defined by pain that lasts longer than the body’s typical healing time. Chronic pain can impact physical, mental, and emotional well-being which can limit daily activity and quality of life. Some ways that chronic pain has shown to limit activity include the inability to carry groceries, walk long distances, climb stairs, stand up straight, uphold schedules, sustain sociability, travel, and participate in hobbies.  

The natural response to chronic pain is to rest and relax. Too much rest can lead to a vicious cycle of reduced activity, reduced muscle strength, and more pain. We avoid activity because we fear pain or pain associated with movement. When we stop, rest, or avoid movement we feel less afraid, and the sense of relief reinforces the decision to stop the activity. This cycle eventually increases the level of disability and distress. While these activities are understandable, all the evidence points towards the benefits of physical activity and managing pain.

Studies have shown a number of reasons for physical activity helping improve the overall health of our bodies. Activity will help with weight management, mental wellbeing, stronger bones and muscles, and reduced disease burden. Physical activity can lower the risk for developing chronic pain and managing chronic pain. If you have been experiencing symptoms that may relate to chronic pain consider these 10 tips to help relieve chronic pain:

  1. Talk About Your Pain: Gaining a better understanding of your pain is an effective way to reduce the effects of chronic pain. You can talk about your pain one-on-one with a healthcare professional, like a physical therapist, or you can join a support group to meet with other people who also battle with chronic pain.

  2. Eat A Healthy Diet: Many foods have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Avoid eating processed foods and foods that are loaded with salt and sugar. Instead eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.

  3. Stay Active: Activity is a great way to block pain signals from traveling to the brain. Walking, swimming, gardening, biking, and dancing are all exercises that can help reduce nervous system sensitivity and improve mood. If you need help getting started please consult with a medical professional about starting and re-engaging in activity.

  4. Limit Smoking and Alcohol: Both will affect your body in a negative way that magnifies your pain. Drinking alcohol affects your quality of sleep. Smoking contributes to circulation problems, which may also affect you, and increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.

  5. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can aggravate the symptoms of many different chronic conditions such as headaches and back pain. The diuretic effect of coffee, soda, and juices make them poor choices for hydrating. Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated.

  6. Practice Sleep Hygiene: Sleep deprivation is linked to increased rates of pain, depression, and obesity. It is optimal to achieve 6-8 hours of sleep each night.

  7. Distract Yourself: When you live with chronic pain, it is easy to withdraw into yourself, which makes your discomfort even worse. It is important to find ways to distract yourself by doing something that you enjoy. This can be a crossword puzzle, calling a friend, or pursuing a hobby you enjoy. It is helpful to make a list that you can turn to.

  8. Take Up Yoga: Yoga is known to promote strength and flexibility, while also calming the mind and reducing stress. The practice of yoga has been around for centuries.

  9. Take Up Meditation: Meditation is a technique that helps your body relax, which can help to ease pain. While you can learn to meditate on your own, there are also classes available if you have no experience with meditation.

  10. Replace Negative Thoughts: It can be easy to fall into a trap of negative thoughts when you are living with chronic pain. In order to stay positive, first you need to become aware of the negative thoughts you are having. Replace negative thoughts such as, “I hurt so much I can’t do anything,” to, “Even when I hurt, there are things that I can do that I enjoy.”

  11. BONUS! Seek Help: Sometimes, we do need help. If you find that these 10 tips do not alleviate your chronic pain, you likely need professional intervention. In that case, we recommend a Free Screening with one of our expert Axes physical therapists. We can help assess your condition and recommend a completely customized treatment plan. Following your consultation, your physical therapist will work with you on next steps, which may include further evaluation and referral to a physician.

To learn more about Chronic Pain Relief or to see if physical therapy is right for you – contact an Axes in your area today. You do not have to live with your current pain level! With now 14 Greater St. Louis area locations and an expert staff – we are here to help.

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To schedule an appointment with Amanda or any of our expert therapists, request an appointment online today.