It’s in the back of your mind whenever you go out. Will you be able to finish your shopping or enjoy your dinner at the restaurant once that familiar ache in the knee or burn in the lower back returns with a vengeance?
For millions of Americans like you, that’s the reality of everyday life with chronic pain, which can flare up when you least expect it, leaving you unable to enjoy a simple outing or time with your family. There’s only so much that medication can do, so here are some ways to find relief without a prescription and regain some control over how you feel.
Learn to Meditate
According to Psychology Today, this practice has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent. All you have to do is focus your mind on your body and all the sensations running through it, concentrating on each one before letting it go. This process gives you some control not only on how you respond to pain, but to what degree you can feel it.
Take a Few Deep Breaths
This is a crucial part of meditation, but can be used on its own to lessen the effects of pain and gain some control over flare-ups. It’s quite simple. When you feel pain, your body tends to tighten up, restricting your breath and the flow of air into your lungs. Breaking that circle by consciously slowing down your rhythm and inhaling deeply from the diaphragm loosens your muscles and lessens the intensity of the pain.
It all comes down to inflammation. That can be a good thing when it defends your body from injuries or germ invasions, but it can quickly outlast its usefulness and cause severe discomfort without doing any good at all. Luckily, there are foods that fight inflammation, including ginger, salmon and tart cherries. Bear in mind that these should be a part of an overall balanced diet, as putting on weight would only make chronic pain worse.
Often, when people experience chronic pain, they give up physical activity to avoid any possible flare-ups. While this seems logical, it results in a steady deconditioning of the body as it becomes weaker and more susceptible to pain. What you really need is some exercise that makes you stronger and more flexible so you feel less discomfort. There’s no one right way to do it, though an effective routine would consist of cardio, strength-training and stretching.
Get a Massage
The word itself probably makes you feel more relaxed, and there are other reasons to work a session or two of deep-tissue work into your weekly schedule. For one thing, it reduces pain by improving circulation to aching muscles and joints by warming up the surrounding tissue and widening the blood vessels, according to HealthDay. Massages also relieve nerve compression and may trigger the release of natural pain-killing hormones in the brain.
Join a Support Group
There are other tools available for relieving chronic pain, from footwear to smartphone apps, and this is where you can learn about them. Others in your position are out sharing information and vetting products on a number of online support groups, and there’s nothing stopping you from signing up and taking part in the discussions.
Have Repairs Done
Some of your pain may be coming from your own house, as it wasn’t designed with someone with chronic pain in mind. However, a few improvements would go a long way in easing your suffering, and these include improving accessibility, raising seats to ease getting up, and lowering cabinets so you don’t have to reach for things. There are plenty of professionals who are ready to make these modifications.
Though it may seem hopeless at times, you can get control over your life and do the things you want. It just takes is a little effort to change your lifestyle and try something new. Your only other option is suffering.
- Jackie Waters, Hyper Tidy