It’s a new year, but that doesn’t mean you’ve left your back pain in 2016. One-third of the population battles regular pain in one form or another, so although you’re not alone, we thought the New Year was the perfect time to lay out some resolutions for pain sufferers to take back control of their bodies in 2017. Here are some resolutions to keep in mind to help control your chronic pain this year.
The first thing is to commit to change. If you continue to do everything the same as you always have done, the results will be the same. Change is hard, but without change, there is little chance that a different outcome can be achieved. Choose to make one change at a time. It will be uncomfortable, but not all pain is bad. The first stretch in the morning always hurts, but after the initial pain, it goes away and then you feel better. Since we all are humans and not perfect, we can all benefit from change.
For many people who have pain, the next place to turn is to see a physician, especially one who specializes in Pain Management. Believe it or not, this is a small specialty of medical doctors who have expertise in diagnosing and treating all kinds of things that cause pain. Doctors who have medical boards (approved certifications by the American Board of Medical Specialties) in both Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (P.M. and R.) and in Pain Medicine may be your best choice for an expert to help guide your treatment. Most importantly, find someone in the field who has experience, and with whom you feel comfortable. Try to find those doctors who are in the top 10 percent of the specialty, as they have extensive knowledge about diagnoses and treatment, and are continuing to educate themselves about new information.
Change Your Habits
Changes that make a difference are often those that are basic to a healthy life in general. Start simple and try to get good sleep at night. The brain needs to shut down at night and follow good sleep hygiene habits. If you’re still not sleeping, have an evaluation by a physician specializing in sleep quality.
Nutrition is the next big area, what we eat and put into our bodies has a huge effect on every part of our life. We are what we eat. For many of us, we absolutely need to change our diets. Be honest with yourself, track what you eat and change it slowly. If you have no idea what to change, get some help.
Lastly, nothing changes if you do not exercise. Exercise has to be done daily, and it will include stretching, strengthening and conditioning. Stretching should be daily, while strengthening and conditioning can be alternated. Find 30 minutes a day outside of regular activities to devote specifically to exercise.
Resolve to change in the new year. Get motivated, and be responsible to yourself. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, because a third of the world has chronic pain. Medicine knows some of the best solutions are the simplest. Exercise, nutrition, reducing stress and sleep solve many of our health problems. If you have difficulty finding the path on your own, get some help by experts.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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