Living with chronic pain is nobody’s idea of a good time. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to choose. For millions of us, constant discomfort or even agony is in the cards and our only option is to cope. That shouldn’t take away from your quality of life. There are so many coping practices, medical procedures and mental techniques to minimize pain that you should consider.
If you’re looking for ways to really make sense of pain management, the only limit is what you can set your mind to. Below, you can find a few tips and techniques – things to do, things to avoid – that can help you deal with your chronic pain.
These methods can really add up, so do what works for you.
DO: Cut back on things that make it hard to sleep. Fatigue will exacerbate your chronic pain, so avoiding things like alcohol, excessive caffeine, and late-night eating can help keep you well rested.
DON’T: Don’t get bitter with yourself or those around you. The limitations you have to live with are tough, but they may not be permanent, and if they are, they needn’t leave you unfulfilled. People around you who care about you will feel unsure how to broach the topic, or how they can help.
DO: Tell the people around you how they can help. An honest dialogue between you and your loved ones can really open up possibilities in your life. If they’re running to the grocery store, let them know that it’s alright to call you and see if you need anything. Tell them that it’s okay to share their adventure stories with you.
DON’T: Let those around you overtax you. Don’t be afraid to listen to your body. When you’re tired, say so. Chronic pain means you will fatigue faster than most of the people in your life, and they will always want to help. Sometimes that means leaving, so you can get some rest.
DO: Explore meditation and deep breathing. It’s proven that these can help relax your body, which can reduce your pain. Massage can also help immeasurably, though it’s best to seek out a professional for that.
DO: Exercise. Any physical therapist worth their salt will back this up. You only get better by working at it. Allowing your body to atrophy because you’re afraid of pain will only lead to more pain. If, on the other hand, you force yourself through careful exercises, the natural endorphins will help your body cope with discomfort.
DO: Talk to professionals. Pain management specialists are all over, and most of them are just fantastic. Their job is to help you deal with exactly what your body is throwing at you, and help you maintain the highest possible quality of life. They can do things for you that you can’t do for yourself, including offer specific, tailored advice to your situation, and provide medication or therapy as needed.
DO: Talk to others. Even join a support group. There are a lot of people experiencing chronic pain out there, and their stories can help keep you motivated. You can do the same for them, and that is an uplifting experience that shouldn’t be underestimated. Support and counseling will help you avoid developing depression about your condition, which can make it all drastically harder to bear.
Remember: asking for help is the opposite of weakness. Nothing you are going through means you have to sacrifice your happiness or your dignity.
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Tony is a medical assistant that has worked for a doctor specializing in Pain management in New Jersey for several years.