Developing A Plan Of Attack With Chronic Pain: How Exercise, Relaxation, And Medications Can Help
It can take years and dozens of medical appointments to get answers when you’re experiencing chronic pain issues. Receiving a diagnosis provides much-needed information, but it can be difficult to determine how best to move forward. Here are some helpful strategies to assist you during this transition.
Develop a plan, incorporating exercise when you can
A Woman’s Health explains that fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues are often misunderstood by patients and doctors. Pinning down a diagnosis can be difficult and the answers that come can be jarring. It may feel as if you are facing a lifetime of pain and struggling, but exercise and relaxation techniques can help ease the burden of this diagnosis.
Exercise is an essential tool in managing chronic pain. As difficult as regular physical activity may be, Chronicality details that your body will function less efficiently with inactivity. In addition, poor body function will bring on pain and a lower quality of life, which often sets off depression and other mental health challenges.
If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your doctor or visit with a physical therapist.
Low-impact activities can bring big rewards
Everyday activities are a perfect way to ease into becoming more active. Prevention points out that playing with your kids provides plenty of exercise, so does housekeeping, walking your dog, gardening, and other day-to-day tasks. You don’t have to tackle all of your desired activity at once, though, so spread things out throughout the day as needed.
Walking, swimming, and yoga are forms of exercise that are gentle on your body and can build your strength. These activities are well-suited to beginners and there is plenty of room for growth as you become stronger. Strength training and stretching are other valuable physical activities that can decrease your chronic pain issues. Try incorporating a Swiss ball, exercise bands, and foam rollers into your stretching regimen. If you do decide to add strength training to your routine, start out with a low weight and work your way up. If you’re not sure where to start with weights, try joining a gym or talking to a physical therapist or personal trainer.
Simple relaxation techniques reduce stress and improve your physical wellness
Relaxing may feel impossible when you are living with chronic pain, but a few simple techniques can help reduce your anxiety, thereby reducing your pain issues. Your pain won’t completely go away through the application of relaxation techniques, but these techniques can help you feel stronger and more in control of your situation.
Practicing relaxation techniques can help you calm your mind and shift your focus away from your pain, pushing it into the background. Believe it or not, even something as simple as singing a song can be helpful at distracting you from your pain, or you can take a break and walk away from a situation that is adding to your stress.
Deep breathing is another helpful relaxation technique that can help with soothing your pain, and it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Simply inhale fully through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then fully exhale out of your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breath as you repeat this several times with your eyes closed, be sure to slow down your pace down with each repetition.
If you have trouble incorporating relaxation techniques, consider taking a meditation class. Oftentimes these classes can even provide insight into harnessing relaxation techniques.
Consider Your Diet
What we eat can have a major impact on how our body functions and feels. It’s no surprise, then, that your diet could be contributing to your chronic pain symptoms. For many people who suffer from chronic pain, re-evaluating their diet can make a big difference in reducing these symptoms. Some of the more common foods that contribute to inflammation include processed foods, red meat, sugar, caffeine, and dairy. Start out slow if you opt to remove things from your diet, and do you research. There are an abundance of resources online and at your local library to help you adjust your diet to eliminate inflammation-causing foods. Alternatively you can visit with a nutritionist to determine a solid eating plan.
Work with your doctor on a plan for medications
Many pain treatment plans will also include medications. Some people find relief via medications like ibuprofen, tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants, while others utilize opioids such as oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. These can be quite effective in reducing pain levels, but many worry about the possibility of developing an addiction.
If you and your doctor utilize opioids as a part of your chronic pain management plan, take them as prescribed. Do not increase or decrease your dosage without coordinating with your medical team and be especially cautious about using opioids if you have a personal or family history of addiction.
If you realize pain medication is not the best option for you, consider a more holistic form of therapy such as acupuncture, acupressure, or massage. Some people even find relief by visiting a chiropractor. Remember, medication is always an option, it just might not be the best option for you.
Finding what works for you will be a process. You might see a lot of trial and error, or you might see a lot of improvement all at once. Be patient as you look for ways to boost your quality of life. Keep notes, talk to others who have a similar condition, and do your best to communicate regularly with your doctor.
When you receive a diagnosis related to chronic pain, form a plan for improving your physical and mental wellness. Low-intensity exercise and relaxation techniques can be helpful, and medications have a place in pain management too. However, you should work with your doctor to develop a safe plan regarding usage, especially if opioids are prescribed. It may not be possible to eliminate your pain entirely, but a well-rounded plan can make a significant impact on reducing your chronic pain.