Chronic pain easily ranks among the most debilitating (and frustrating) issues for so many people. In fact, chronic pain regularly affects approximately twenty percent of Americans. This can mean less mobility, opioid addiction, depression and anxiety. Generally, it’s the reason for a much poorer quality of life. Additionally, chronic pain costs the United States somewhere between $560 billion and $635 billion a year in lost work days and medical bills. Of course, there’s a diverse range of treatments available. However, evidence shows that 40-70 percent of people dealing with chronic pain aren’t receiving the appropriate treatment.
At Farmingdale Physical Therapy West, we take enormous pride in helping our patients conquer their pain without any drugs or surgical procedures. Assisting them in restoring mobility, eliminating pain and regaining proper functions is an indescribably rewarding part of our work. In this post, we’ll discuss four tips to help you manage chronic pain. You can apply these tips to your everyday schedule in order to contribute to a pain-free life.
1. Deep Breathing & Meditation
Often, coping with pain is impossible without feeling a sense of calm. Severe pain usually makes us feel the opposite, and makes us feel anxious or agitated. Therefore, effective techniques to relax and find a sense of serenity are indispensable when it comes to managing chronic pain. It’s as essential to pain management as stretching is to efficient exercise.
It’s not just about soothing your state of mind, either. Deep breathing and meditation also help to relax your body. As a result, the tension and tightness that’s worsening the pain leaves our muscles, as they receive a message from the brain to relax. Focus on your breath, dismiss any distressing thoughts, and repeat a word or phrase (a mantra). It may take some practice, and sometimes you might not be able to meditate properly at all. However, it’s absolutely worth learning and refining in order to ease your pain. A similar technique to ease chronic pain may be Shiatsu massage.
2. Eliminate Stressors (Whenever Possible)
Did you know that stress makes chronic pain worse? Any resoundingly negative emotions can increase our physical sensitivity to pain. Therefore, it’s essential to eliminate anything in your life that’s stressing you out or inducing negative emotions.
Figure out which factors in your life influence you negatively and eliminate them. You’ll very likely find that this provides a respite from your chronic pain. And if there’s a specific stressor in your life you can’t eliminate, commit to stress management techniques in order to cope.
One fantastic way to reduce your chronic pain is with something that your brain produces on its own: endorphins! However, it needs a little bit of help to start pumping these endorphins out: exercise. Endorphins are the brain’s chemicals that greatly improve our moods and also inhibit pain signals. We experience the euphoria of endorphins when we rigorously exercise.
In addition, exercise alone (without the aid of endorphins) can be enormously helpful for your chronic pain relief. It strengthens your muscles, helps to prevent future injuries and additional pain. Furthermore, losing weight, improving cardio health and keeping blood sugar down (all of which come from exercise) can help relieve your pain. However, if you find it difficult to exercise without aggravating your acute or chronic injury, ask your doctor for a routine that’s right for you. For additional assistance with developing the right exercise regimen, look into fitness apps.
4. Cut Back on Alcohol
An astonishing number of people believe that alcohol actually alleviates their chronic pain. In fact, it can actually make chronic pain much worse. While someone is drunk, the alcohol’s effects confuses their central nervous system. As a result, the body interprets pain with less sharpness. Therefore, it’s understandable that so many of us would believe that alcohol helps ease chronic pain.
The most significant way alcohol worsens chronic pain is by greatly disturbing our sleep. Alcohol disrupts our circadian rhythm, which is responsible for our sleep cycle. Of course, you’ll likely fall asleep easier while you’re intoxicated. However, the odds of sleep interruption are significantly higher. Also, you likely won’t experience a deep, restful sleep, but a more shallow and less restful sleep. This inhibits your ability to heal and makes chronic pain much worse. Alcohol also dehydrates us, which can leave muscles uncomfortably tight and vulnerable to further injury.
Conclusion – Farmingdale Physical Therapy West
Of course, the most effective way to eliminate chronic pain isn’t among these four tips. However, physical therapy is the most reliable way to liberate yourself from the restrictions of chronic pain and provide you with a pain-free lifestyle again. Helping our patients return to normal lives (and the activities they love) is endlessly rewarding. Give us a call to get started with one of our physical therapists and develop an individualized treatment plan.