Life is an adventure, full of surprises, unexpected turns, and happy moments. Our bodies are the vessels that carry us through it all, and there comes a time when it rebels and presents us with its own challenges. For people recently diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, things change quickly, but with a few tips and lifestyle changes, you can help minimize the impact and improve your quality of life.
Eliminate Pain Triggers
A chronic pain condition means living with discomfort and finding ways to navigate it in order to make life more tolerable and enjoyable. According to Bustle, there are a variety of triggers that can worsen pain. These might differ between people, and may include:
- Anxiety and Stress: Experiencing prolonged periods of stress can stiffen the muscles and promote poor posture, which can trigger pain.
- Sleeping Habits: Not getting proper rest can put you in a vicious cycle of anxiety, insomnia, and stress. Science Daily reported that a lack of sleep can cause pain hypersensitivity.
- Overexertion: Whether at work or with any physical activity, overexerting yourself can trigger painful consequences.
- Inflammatory Foods: Certain foods can cause inflammation in the muscles, causing pain.
Working on your environment can prove a useful way to find personal antidotes to pain and reduce triggers of stress and anxiety.
- Plants: Psychology Today reports that adding house plants can help in productivity, improve well-being, and lower levels of anxiety after surgeries or while in pain.
- Light: Improving lighting in your house, particularly letting in natural light, is a great way to ease feelings of depression and boost energy.
- Meditation Space: Designate a place in your house where you can retreat for a moment of quiet, peace, and meditation. Practicing meditation might actually help in combating stress and learning to deal with your pain in a healthier way. The Atlantic has reported that mindful meditation could replace the use of narcotics and put the patient in greater control of their own treatment.
The Opioid Risk
When talking about chronic pain, it is difficult to avoid the conversation about the risk involved with using strong opioids. The addictive nature of some of these pain medications has received scrutiny in the past couple of years. It is important to remain vigilant and conscious of the risks and effects of taking opiod painkillers for short and prolonged periods of time, and being aware of the warning signs that there may be an addiction issue. As reported in Harvard Health, it’s easy to find oneself taking high doses to maintain levels of relief. This is because the effect wears out, and the body often builds a tolerance for it. This is why alternative methods like exercise and physical therapy have been more closely explored in recent years.
Lifestyle Changes and Strategies
Chronic pain requires that certain lifestyle changes are made in order to aid in the constant struggle of pain and its triggers. Implementing these changes over time can help in reducing pain and increase a sufferer’s quality of life.
- Exercise: Keeping the body moving is probably one of the most important tips for those suffering from pain. The Huffington Post reports that exercise can help blood flow to the brain and thus improve neuroplasticity, which aids in pain resistance. Some useful exercises for chronic pain include swimming, yoga, and strength training.
- Clean Diet: Aside from keeping your body moving, a healthy and clean diet plays a vital role in mitigating chronic pain. As stated above, inflammatory foods can be a major trigger. Greasy and fatty foods tend to cause increased inflammation. Some anti-inflammatory foods include fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fats, olive oil and nuts. Clean diets, like the Paleo diet, help reduce inflammation and give the body the fuel it needs to fight chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a labyrinth millions of Americans find themselves trying to move through. Remember that your body is your own, and you have control over how you treat it. Treating yourself well and committing to small lifestyle changes can not only minimize pain, but improve your overall health, wellness, and quality of life.
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