Tips For Living Well with Chronic Pain
There’s nothing easy about living with chronic pain. When you live with daily pain, every little task becomes difficult, whether it’s cleaning the house or participating in a favourite hobby. If that isn’t bad enough, pain often causes relationships to suffer too. When others don’t understand the invisible illness you live with, it’s hard to feel connected and involved. Some days, it feels like pain rules your life — but that’s the wrong mindset. Pain affects you, but it doesn’t define you! While chronic pain certainly adds a hurdle, it shouldn’t stop you from living a full, enriching life.
Living well with chronic pain means effectively managing your pain and adapting your lifestyle to minimize pain without limiting yourself. No single method works for everyone, but these are some of the best strategies for living with chronic pain.
Exercising with Chronic Pain
It sounds counterintuitive, but exercise is one of the best things you can do to manage chronic pain. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center identifies exercise as effective against pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy, but it may help pain caused by other conditions too.
Exercise helps chronic pain management by improving strength, flexibility, and range of motion so your body stays strong and capable despite pain. In the short term, exercise also releases neurotransmitters that temporarily relieve pain.
Low-impact exercise like yoga, stretching, and swimming are generally recommended for chronic pain, but the right exercise for you depends on your particular condition. Work with a physical therapist to develop a safe exercise program and purchase fitness equipment so you can exercise comfortably at home.
Home Adaptations for Chronic Pain
Changing the way you do everyday tasks can also have a big impact on your pain. As you go through daily tasks at work and home, take note of which activities trigger pain. Keeping a journal helps you identify causes of flare-ups so you can better address them.
Once you understand what’s helping versus hurting your pain, take steps to eliminate pain triggers. Things as simple as changing the way you manage chores or modifying your office desk can have a meaningful impact on pain levels.
Alternative Remedies for Chronic Pain
Narcotic pain relievers are used by many people with chronic pain. While they have their benefits, the fact is that opioid pain relievers only reduce your perception of pain, they don’t address the underlying cause. That’s why there’s so much interest in alternative pain remedies.
Most alternative remedies target inflammation, a sneaky culprit that can cause pain or make existing pain worse. There are over-the-counter medications that address inflammation, but prolonged use comes with nasty side effects. Thankfully,there are other ways to reduce inflammation in the body. Eating a healthy diet and managing stress are two important methods, but CBD is also getting attention for its anti-inflammatory properties. There are many CBD oils on the market; if you’re interested in using CBD for pain, do some research to learn about the options and potential benefits.
Mental Health and Chronic Pain
It’s well-known that stress and depression worsen chronic pain. It’s not easy staying upbeat when you live with pain, but managing your mental health is essential. Rather than waiting until you’re in a crisis to seek support, take a proactive approach to mental health. Practice regular self-care, exercise, meditate, and meet with a therapist to work through difficult emotions surrounding your pain.
If you find it challenging to connect with others because of your pain, reach out to people who understand your experiences. There are many support groups for people with chronic pain, both in person and online. If you’ve lived with chronic pain for a long time, maybe you’ve already tried some of these strategies. Maybe you’ve even decided they don’t work for you! If that’s the case, we encourage you to try again. While no one self-management technique will eliminate pain, adopting a lot of little strategies and sticking with them can have a big impact on your chronic pain.