More than 100 million Americans are living with chronic pain. That’s more than the number of Americans affected by cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined. What’s worse, it is three to four times more likely that someone with chronic pain is also suffering from depression.
Chronic pain can last for weeks, months and even years. Sometimes chronic pain is caused by an injury, infection, or an ongoing condition like arthritis or cancer. By not managing chronic pain, it can lead to deepening depression, poor sleep, agitation, and loss of concentration.
Chronic pain is uncomfortable. If you are living with chronic pain, you can find relief. There are many resources and solutions available to you that can help you live a happier, healthier life – despite your pain. For starters, try these strategies:
Get out of bed
Although it may be tempting to go on bedrest while you’re in pain, staying active daily will help keep your body and mind in better shape. Avoid movements that would make your pain worse, but try low-impact activities that minimize the risk for further injury. Your doctor can suggest the safest activities for you.
Certain relaxation techniques, such as meditation or breathing exercises, have proven to be helpful in managing chronic pain. Plus, going to your own “happy place” can distract you from any physical pain.
Take the right medication for your pain
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Acetaminophen (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can be purchased over-the-counter and effectively relieve you from muscular and bone pain. Antidepressants may help control pain as well as any emotional toll you may be experiencing due to chronic pain. Muscle relaxants, another prescribed option, are often used to reduce pain caused by muscle spasms. Talk with your doctor about what the best fit for you might be.
Yoga can be key in preventing or even reversing the mental effects of chronic pain. Depression or anxiety caused by chronic pain can lead to loss in brain tissue – which can then lead to memory impairment and emotional problems. Research shows that regular yoga practice has the opposite effect on the brain – a major point of encouragement to roll out your mat.
Feed your body good
Certain foods can fight inflammation, make your bones stronger, and therefore help alleviate your pain. The best foods for arthritic pain, for example, include fish, soy, and olive oil because they contain anti-inflammatory properties like omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, a healthy diet can help life your spirits.
In addition to these strategies, be sure to talk with your doctor about self-care solutions that are tailored to your own chronic pain.