Living with chronic pain can significantly impact your daily life, making even the simplest tasks a struggle. But just because you’re hurting doesn’t mean you don’t have options for reducing your pain and maintaining your overall wellness.
Your quality of life can usually be improved with the right techniques. Every person is different, so what may work great for one person may have less of an effect on someone else. Exploring various approaches to pain management can be the key to finding what works best for you and your body. The important thing is to take the time to put those options to the test and know there is hope to reduce your pain.
Understanding Pain and Wellness
Wellness is the word we use to describe a healthy lifestyle (outside of acute illness — a condition that comes and goes relatively quickly). It’s the state of one’s physical health in which people have the ability and energy to do what they want to do in life … until chronic pain comes along.
Chronic pain is to wellness what fire is to ice. It’s difficult — if not impossible — to feel good or even perform life’s basic tasks when you’re suffering. Pain and wellness aren’t a match made in heaven — in fact, quite the opposite. The goal is to reduce pain and increase wellness!
And there’s hope! There are numerous steps patients can take to mitigate their pain and get back to doing the things they love. Below are the most common and effective tips for managing the kind of pain that just won’t go away.
1. Assessing Your Pain
The first step in managing pain is understanding the difference between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is temporary, typically caused by an injury or illness, and subsides once the underlying issue has healed. Chronic pain, on the other hand, persists for months or even years, often with no clear cause.
Identifying the source and type of your pain can help you determine the best course of action for managing it. Keep a pain journal to track when and where you experience pain, as well as any potential triggers or patterns. This information will be helpful when working with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized pain management plan.
2. Consult with a Healthcare Professional
Healthcare professionals are essential in the chronic pain management process. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of your pain and recommend appropriate treatments. Remember, it’s important to be honest with your medical practitioner about your symptoms, concerns, and treatment goals.
Together, you and your healthcare professional can develop a personalized pain management plan that addresses your specific needs. This may include working with a pain management specialist, physical therapy, medications, or alternative therapies, depending on your unique situation.
3. Pain Management Interventions
A pain management intervention is a type of treatment used to reduce pain. Common pain management interventions include injections, radiofrequency ablations, nerve blocks, therapy, medication, or other minimally invasive procedures.
Consult with your healthcare provider and consider seeing a pain management specialist in your community. Pain management interventions can be a great alternative for surgery or opioid usage and help relieve pain.
4. Medication Management
Medications can provide relief for many chronic pain patients. Common options include over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen, prescription medications such as opioids or muscle relaxants, and topical treatments like creams or patches.
Only take medications that have been prescribed or recommended by your healthcare provider to ensure their effectiveness and minimize the risk of unwanted side effects. Be sure to discuss any concerns about side effects or potential interactions with other medications with your healthcare provider, and schedule regular check-ups to monitor your progress.
Keep in mind that, while medications are one of the most common treatments for pain, they may not be the most effective, especially in the long term. Pain medications don’t address the cause of your pain; they only mask it temporarily and some even pose a risk of addiction. Seek alternatives to medication as part of your plan to overcome chronic pain.
5. Incorporating Alternative Therapies
In addition to traditional medical treatments, many chronic pain sufferers find relief through alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care. These approaches can complement your existing pain management plan and offer additional benefits like stress reduction and improved flexibility.
To find the right therapy for your specific pain, consult with your healthcare provider and consider trying different approaches to see what works best for you.
6. Exercise and Physical Activity
Like it or not, regular exercise and physical activity can go a long way in alleviating chronic pain. It strengthens muscles, improves flexibility, and releases endorphins — the natural chemicals in your body that help reduce pain perception. While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you’re in pain, staying active can actually help manage your symptoms.
Start with low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or gentle stretching, and gradually increase the intensity as you become more comfortable. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Whenever you’re not sure, it’s always smart to seek advice from a local physical therapist, pain management specialist, or primary care provider.
Staying motivated to exercise can be challenging, especially when suffering from chronic pain. Set realistic goals for yourself, enlist the support of friends or family members, and consider joining a local support group or online forum for additional encouragement.
7. Mind-Body Techniques
Chronic pain is a physical experience … and an emotional one. Stress, anxiety, and depression can exacerbate your perception of pain and make it more difficult to manage.
Incorporating mind-body techniques into your pain management plan can help address these psychological factors and improve your overall well-being. Try practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation to help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Oftentimes, professional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help patients avoid “spiraling” by developing healthier thought patterns and coping strategies for dealing with pain.
8. Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Living a healthy lifestyle can support your overall wellness and improve your ability to manage chronic pain. Focus on maintaining a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep, and managing stress through hobbies or activities that bring you joy.
HPM Pain Management
At HPM, we’ve made it our mission to bring pain management care to chronic pain patients living in rural communities throughout the country. We take a highly specialized approach to reducing pain without the use of opioids or surgery. Our medical practitioners are uniquely trained to pinpoint the true source of each patient’s pain so that we can apply the most effective and advanced treatments available.
If you have questions about pain management, or if you’d like to find a HPM clinic in your area, contact our team or visit our website.