How to Cope with Chronic Pain
By Jackie Waters
Living with chronic pain can be quite the adjustment for someone who has previously lived a very active lifestyle. When bouts of pain arise, it can be very frustrating and make you feel like your quality of life has diminished. Although the pain in your body causes you to not want to be mobile, there are several things you can do to give you some much needed relief. With effort and a positive attitude you can turn this once debilitating situation around for the better!
Make changes to your diet
Most chronic pain stems from chronic inflammation in the body. Acute inflammation is the body’s attempt to self protect and remove harmful stimuli in order to start the healing process, which is needed for the body to function properly. Chronic inflammation is where the problem lies, because your immune cells start to overreact and fail to eliminate what was causing acute inflammation. One of the best ways to combat chronic inflammation and reduce pain is to make sure you are eating a diet rich in green vegetables and fatty oils such as olive oil. You will also need to eat lots of foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax meal, beans and walnuts. Eat coldwater fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel at least 3 times a week. For snacks, eat a serving of fruit or unsweetened greek yogurt. Avoid the consumption of processed foods and refined sugars because they trigger inflammation and pain in the body. This type of diet will not only help you find relief from your pain, it will also give you more energy, which is a necessity to get through your days!
Do not become dependent on prescription painkillers
One of the easiest ways to cope with pain is to be prescribed medication for it. While medication such as opioids and antidepressants provide temporary relief, many people find themselves addicted to the pills later down the line. While those who have had previous issues with substance abuse are more likely to become addicted to painkillers, those who have not had such issues are still at risk because they tend to overuse the prescribed amount in search of relief. While this fact may alarm you, do not try to avoid the use of pain pills until you are in extreme discomfort, because waiting may actually cause you to break down and use more pills than you should. The best way to avoid a dependency is to only use the recommended dose of medicine for your pain. If you still find yourself hurting, find alternative ways to minimize your pain such as meditating or practicing yoga.
When you are in pain, the last thing on your mind is exercising. However, the natural endorphins that are released from exercising can boost your mood and change your brain’s overall response to pain. When you exercise you strengthen your muscles, which helps prevent re-injury and more pain. As you begin exercising frequently, you begin to overcome limited functioning because you are challenging your joints and muscles. Whichever method of exercise you choose does not have to be strenuous in order to be beneficial. You can start by going on brisk walks around your neighborhood for 30 minutes a day or participating in a beginners yoga class. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for advice on what exercises will help you the most.
Chronic pain does not have to be a battle that takes your life away from you. There are going to be good days and bad days, but as long as you commit yourself to staying active and positive, you can still manage to live a happy and healthy life!