Pain and Discomfort: 6 Ways to Manage Your Pain
by AZ Pain Doctors, on Jul 20, 2021 1:23:00 PM
Dealing with chronic (or even occasional) pain can be frustrating. In 2019 alone, 20.4% of adults suffered from chronic pain. Some of them reported that it limited their daily activities.
If you experience frequent or constant pain and body discomfort, there are a few steps that you can take to manage it on your own between visits to the doctor's office.
You don't have to sit through your pain. Keep reading to learn some of our top pain management tips.
1. Modify Your Diet
This may sound overly simplistic, but many people can manage their pain by changing their diets. It won't be a complete fix; pain is complicated. With that in mind, avoiding certain foods and drinks (and exchanging them for better options) may make a drastic change to the way that you experience pain.
You want to avoid excess inflammation. Eating healthy foods that don't generally trigger inflammation will make you feel better and give you more energy.
It's a good idea to test out cutting out dairy products. While many people can consume dairy without a problem, the lactose in dairy may cause inflammation even if you don't think that you're lactose intolerant.
Sugar is another problem for people with chronic pain. While you can eat sugar in moderation, too much sugar can cause your pain to worsen (and cause weight gain which can also worsen chronic pain). Stick to fruits and vegetables for your sugar needs.
While you should still limit fruit intake, picking high-potassium produce (like bananas) may help with certain kinds of chronic pain.
If you drink alcohol, try to cut back or omit it entirely. Alcohol has no nutritional benefit and it can trigger problems with sleep. When you already struggle with sleep from pain, your body won't be able to get adequate rest (thus worsening pain).
Believe it or not, exercise is good for chronic pain.
It's tempting to stay in bed on bad pain days, and while this is fine from time to time, you aren't doing yourself any favors in the long run. Moving your body, stretching your muscles, and getting your heart pumping are great for pain management.
You don't have to partake in heavy exercise. Many people with chronic pain aren't capable of doing exercises like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or heavy strength training, but that doesn't mean that you can't find an exercise that works for you.
Consider starting with brief walks around your neighborhood or through a local park. Even getting outside and enjoying some sunlight will help you.
You can also try gentle exercises like yoga or pilates. They're bodyweight exercises that also focus on flexibility and core strength so you don't have to put too much stress on your joints.
Yoga is also great for practicing mindfulness and breathing, so it has double the benefits.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Those endorphins are great for temporary pain reduction.
3. Join a Support Group
Living with chronic pain is sometimes isolating. It's hard to connect with friends and family members who don't understand what you're going through. If this sounds familiar to you, seek out a support group for people who suffer from chronic pain.
If you're having trouble finding a local support group, talking to a mental health professional might help. Not only can you receive individual therapy to help manage the mental aspects of chronic pain, but they may also be able to find you group therapy sessions or support groups.
4. Reduce Your Overall Stress
Did you know that stress can increase your pain?
Getting rid of stress isn't as easy as it sounds. When you live a busy lifestyle, have a lot of responsibilities, and manage pain on top of that, stress is part of life.
Taking some steps to avoid stress will help even if you can't get rid of it entirely.
First, start engaging in self-care when you can. Try putting together a self-care kit so you have something to reach for whenever you're feeling stressed.
Different people will have different things in their kits. Many people de-stress with journals or other forms of writing. Others like having sensory objects to provide a distraction.
Consider giving yourself an at-home spa day. Fill up your bathtub with water and bubbles (we suggest a soothing scent such as lavender) and rest your aching body. For extra relaxation, add a soothing face mask.
5. Get a Massage
Speaking of relaxation, a good massage will help you manage your pain.
A massage is great for loosening your muscles. While the help is temporary, it's good for serious pain days when nothing else is working. Not all massages are alike, so make sure you discuss your needs with the masseuse before you get started.
6. Learn Breathing and Meditation Skills
When the pain is so intense that exercise doesn't seem possible and the idea of getting into a bath or visiting a massage parlor is unrealistic, try to calm yourself with breathing techniques and meditation.
Deep breathing techniques will help you calm your mind down. This reduces stress and allows you un-tense some of your muscles.
Meditation is a great way to disconnect from your pain. When you're focusing on your breathing and the rhythm of your heart, it's easier to distract yourself.
You Can Manage Your Pain and Discomfort
Learning to manage your pain and discomfort will change your life. While you still need medical help to fully manage your pain, these techniques will help you while you're between doctor's visits. Try each technique and see which one works best for you.
Are you looking for a doctor to help you manage your pain?
At AZ Pain Doctors, our experienced medical professionals understand the impact that pain can have on your daily life. We want to help. Contact us to make an appointment today and start your healing journey.