Pain isn’t just something you get rid of easily, pain is a complete assault on your body. Living with chronic pain can feel like trying to get comfortable on a cactus couch. It becomes crippling and puts a hold on your life. You make plans, but end up canceling them because you don’t want to go out while feeling miserable. You have a long list of things you want to do, but wonder if you will ever be able to do them because you aren’t sure if you will ever feel up to it. Pain begins to take over your body, both physically and mentally. But by living a healthy lifestyle, you may be able to get that chronic pain under control.
Managing chronic pain is hard but it is possible with positive, healthy lifestyle choices that will give you energy and improve your quality of life.
Top 9 Healthy Lifestyle Ways to Manage Chronic Pain
Understand where the pain comes from.
By understanding where your pain comes from, you will be better able to manage the pain. According to the American Pain Foundation, many cases of chronic pain are related to:
- Lower back pain
- Arthritis and/or osteoarthritis
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Neuropathy (nerve damage)
The first step to managing your chronic pain is by working to treat the underlying condition.
Try Physical Therapy and/or Exercise.
Although uncomfortable at first, physical therapy or exercise can relieve pain over time. In documentation published by the War Related Injury and Study Center (WRISC), an inactive lifestyle creates a cycle of fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased fitness, pessimism, and disinterest in exercise. Many times, when suffering from chronic pain, an attempt at exercise can feel like a shot in the dark. It may be met with a flare-up pain and discomfort.
But once the pain cycle is broken through exercise, a new cycle is created. An active lifestyle creates a cycle of increased activity, increased ability to perform daily activities, optimism, and interest in exercise. Benefits of exercise with chronic pain include a decrease in pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and joint and muscle pain.
Treat Yourself to Routine Massage Therapy.
Not only does a massage feel good, it does good things for your body. Massage therapy works to release tension in tight, stiff muscles and puts the mind in a deep state of relaxation, releasing natural endorphins that help relieve pain all over. There are also tons of different types of massages that can help your body in various ways. So, find a good massage therapist and treat yourself.
You may be thinking, easier said than done. It’s hard to truly relax with chronic pain. But it is vital to managing your pain. Relaxation will help to quiet your mind and remain in a positive mind-state. Relaxation will also help your body to relax and tension throughout your body to subside. Find what it is that helps both your mind and body to relax. Take a bubble bath and read a book, practice yoga, or meditate.
Consider Healing Herbs
Before painkillers and pharmaceuticals, our ancestors used a variety of herbs to heal pain and ailments of the body along with a healthy lifestyle. Today, we do not rely on healing herbs as much but perhaps it is worth trying. Some of the best healing herbs for pain control include:
- Turmeric. The spice that gives curry such a distinctive flavor and coloring has also been shown to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and helps to improve circulation in the body. The healing power of turmeric comes from its active ingredient, curcumin, which lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. So, as you cook, sprinkle it in your food occasionally.
- Ginger. A natural anti-inflammatory, Ginger has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese to cure pain. Ginger helps relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle soreness.
- Valerian Root. Often called nature’s tranquilizer, valerian has been used for centuries to regulate the nervous system and relieve insomnia, tension, irritability, stress, and anxiety. Valerian is also a natural pain reliever that reduces the sensitivity of the nerves.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) oil. This well-known herb works best as part of a healthy lifestyle for pain if used in the form of cannabidiol oil (CBD oil). What the heck is CBD oil? Medical Marijuana Incorporated describes CBD oil as a non-psychotropic hemp oil that interacts with our naturally occurring cannabinoid systems but doesn’t give us a “high”. Thus, against contrary belief, cannabis oil does not get you stoned to the point of not feeling pain. CBD oil works against pain by simply regulating how much pain a person feels and regulating immune cells to reduce pain.
Get Plenty of Rest
Many of us don’t always sleep well or get enough sleep. The average adult should sleep a sound 7 to 9 hours each night to stay in tip-top health. Not only does the lack of sleep leave us feeling like a zombie, it also has many negative effects on our overall health. Not getting enough quality sleep has been shown to increase our chances of heart disease, kidney disease, poor immune system, chronic pain, diabetes, and obesity. Take your sleep seriously and try to get a good night’s rest each night. Try sticking to a good sleep schedule, exercising daily, avoiding caffeine before bed and taking supplements such as melatonin or magnesium.
When we eat well, we feel well. Providing our bodies with the nutrients they need will help prevent diseases and illnesses from worsening. Most chronic pain conditions are related to either inflammatory diseases or inflammation. By eating an anti-inflammatory diet, you can help control the inflammation in your body. Eat a whole foods diet as part of your healthy lifestyle, avoiding consumption of high-fat dairy, grains, and sugars. Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish. Enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and teas.
Attend a Support Group
Pain not only starts to control your life physically, but it begins to affect your mental health as well. Anxiety and depression often follow chronic pain. It is important that you have a good support group of people around you who can relate to what you are going through as part of your healthy lifestyle. You should not feel alone on your journey. Surrounding yourself with people who are going through the same thing will help you stay positive.
Find a Good Doctor
Of course, healthy lifestyle changes can help manage your chronic pain, but finding a good doctor who understands any medical conditions you may have will give you a greater chance of controlling your pain long term. Find a doctor that truly cares about your pain and works well with you and your lifestyle to devise a treatment plan for your pain. And always consult with your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes.