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5 Tips for Minimizing the Effects of Chronic Pain
by Jackie Waters
It seems like there are as many ways to treat chronic pain as there are types of chronic pain. In reality, a combination of pharmacological, dietary, physical, and mindfulness modifications is likely the best solution for most people. Of course, it helps to have some basic tips on where to start.
Get up and get moving
If your body hurts, getting up and making your body work might seem counterproductive. If you’re scared of exercise because you think your chronic pain will be too limiting, it’s important to know that any little bit helps.
“If you’re in pain, you might think that exercise would only make the discomfort worse. However, there’s substantial research showing movement — done safely and carefully, of course — can actually improve the situation. That’s because exercise is a known endorphin trigger, so getting moving sends those feel-good chemicals throughout the body and lowers pain. Exercise also seems to reduce certain substances in the body called cytokines that promote inflammation, according to a 2012 study that examined the effects of physical activity on nerve pain,” says The Huffington Post.
Start slowly. Try swimming or bike riding - both are low-impact exercises that shouldn’t exacerbate chronic joint pain. Take a walk around the block with your dog. Even 20 minutes of exercise can have a positive impact on your overall health.
Try drinking water (and only water)
The benefits of staying hydrated are well documented, so we won’t go into them here, but the benefits of drinking water extend to what you’re not drinking when you drink water. If you replace your sodas, coffee, and wine with water, you’re reducing your intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. All three of those substances can make chronic pain worse.
Know your limits and don’t be afraid to say no
Much of dealing with chronic pain is knowing how to remove yourself from situations where it can be exacerbated. It’s important to listen to your body. If a certain activity or exercise is causing you too much pain, stop and rework it. Don’t push through pain just because you think you can. Know your limits.
Learn how to recognize drug abuse
Many people turn to prescription medication to help them cope with their chronic pain. When advised by a doctor, this can be a safe and effective method for minimizing pain, but with drugs comes the risk of drug abuse and dependency. It’s important that you know the warning signs and are able to recognize any of them in your own behavior. Of course, spotting drug abuse in yourself can be tricky but if you are prepared, you’ll be better equipped to know when to seek help if the time comes.
Some signs include: confusion and lack of coordination, lowered blood pressure, dry mouth, weakness, dizziness, and sleepiness. You may also experience sleep deprivation or “nodding”, slow, slurred speech, or constant flu-like symptoms. DrugRehab.org notes that extreme and sudden changes in mood and personality should also send up red flags.
If you recognize these signs in yourself or if others note them in you, it could be time to seek professional help to wean you off the medications in question.
Accept your pain
This one is a bit more philosophical, but it’s just as important. Denying that you’re in pain and trying to cover it up or convince yourself it isn’t real can be disastrous for those suffering from prolonged pain. If you accept your pain, you can then begin to find what works for you in terms of minimizing it. Without this crucial first step, you’ll never be able to fully focus on what triggers your pain and what works best to reduce it.