The New Year is the perfect time to clear your slate, re-set your priorities and resolve to do things differently. If you’re someone who suffers from chronic pain, you may feel like you’ve tried everything available to get relief from your pain. While that’s possible, it’s more likely that your pain has left you feeling stuck in a rut. What you might need now is a new perspective on your pain and some fresh options to challenge what has become the status quo.
Separate yourself from the pain
Many people who suffer from chronic pain are overwhelmed by the sense that they have no control over what is happening to them. They often feel alone, isolated and misunderstood, which is a very difficult place from which to heal. For some people, stress and depression can develop because of their chronic pain. Depression can worsen and prolong the pain which, in turn, can increase the stress and depression, causing a complicated cycle that is often difficult to break.
To make matters worse, prolonged pain appears to set up a pathway in the nervous system that sends pain signals to the brain, even in the absence of an anatomical issue. In these cases, pain itself becomes the disease. Therefore, it’s important to take action early on in your struggle with chronic pain.
At its simplest, pain is a warning sign for the body. That’s why the first step in coping with chronic pain is to get a comprehensive medical evaluation and an accurate diagnosis. Then, if it turns out you are, in fact, dealing with chronic pain, there are several proactive steps you can take to help you cope:
- Harness the power of your mind
It has been proven that chronic pain sufferers have a few simple psychological tools and techniques at their disposal to help them handle their pain. These include:
- Breathing and visualization to achieve deep muscle relaxation.
- Shifting your attention away from pain signals through simple counting techniques.
- Thinking about images or sounds that are pleasant to you.
- Using your mind to detach and distance yourself from the physical pain.
- Find a support group
If you feel lonely and misunderstood, find a support group in your area for people who are experiencing similar challenges or connect with others through an online support group. Being surrounded by people who can empathize with what you’re going through without judgment can be a wonderfully therapeutic experience.
- Relax, stretch and strengthen
Many people who suffer from chronic pain find relief and control through regular yoga practice. Yoga focuses on breathing, releasing body tensions, changing the way the body responds to pain and, perhaps most importantly, the way the mind views the pain. Studies have shown that people who practice yoga just twice a week for 8-12 weeks can make significant gains in strength, flexibility, endurance and pain relief. Of course, it’s important not to push your body further than it can comfortably go, or yoga could aggravate your pain.
- Eat right and get enough sleep
Your diet should include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and adequate protein for effective healing. Getting adequate rest a minimum of 7 to 9 hours a night is also vital for healing the body.
- Conserve your energy
It’s important for people with chronic pain to learn how to pace themselves. Some days are naturally easier than others, so it’s important to not get carried away with activity on easy days. If you do, you run the risk of draining your energy and possible causing yourself pain flare-ups the next day.
It is estimated that of the 50 million people who experience chronic pain, 75 percent don’t get effective treatment. If you’re suffering from chronic pain and want to take your commitment to the next level, call Pain Management and Injury Relief at (877) 724-6349 to make an appointment today. It may just be the beginning of a very happy New Year.