4 Key Components For Combating Chronic Pain

Battling chronic pain is no easy task, but it gets easier if you know the best way to tackle the condition. Today, we share four ways to help combat chronic pain, and we explain how these factors can help you conquer your daily discomfort.

The 4 Keys To Conquering Chronic Pain

chronic pain keysThere is no magic pill that will get rid of your chronic pain. If you want to reduce your daily pain, focus on these for areas.

1. Exercise – If there’s one thing we can recommend when it comes to conquering chronic pain, it’s regular exercise. As someone who struggles with back pain, I find that it is best controlled when I’m actively working on strengthening the area. We know that chronic pain can make it difficult to exercise, but try to find an activity that works for you, whether it be running, cycling, walking or swimming!

2. MindfulnessA recent article published on Medscape suggests that mindfulness probably won’t help you with back pain. It’s true that mindfulness alone won’t magically cure your back pain, but we’ve found that patients who try to eliminate stress in their life and who focus on putting pain behind them instead of feeling sorry for themselves seem to respond better to treatment. Mindfulness isn’t something you can just achieve, but there are a number of activities you can participate in to help push pain out of your mind. From speaking with a therapist, to taking a Tai Chi class, to simply making it a point to get out of bed and not let pain slow you down, treating your mental health is just as important as your physical health when it comes to conquering chronic pain.

3. Diet – Your diet also plays an important role in chronic pain expression. A number of chronic pain flare ups are caused by inflammation, and that inflammation can be triggered by certain foods in our diet. Try to eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, proteins and fish, and stay away from the sugars and saturated fats. Sometimes a diet change is all you really need.

4. Professional Assistance – Finally, don’t try to take on your chronic pain on your own. Medical professionals can help you get to the bottom of your condition and devise a number of different treatment methods to suit your needs. You wouldn’t try to fix your own cavity or fill your own taxes (Okay – some of you are probably brave enough to do your own taxes, but I prefer to hand it all over to a professional), so don’t try to combat your chronic pain all alone. We’ve studied this stuff for decades, let us help!

Pain Management Needs To Be A Complimentary Approach

Complementary medicineA recent publication in Mayo Clinic Proceedings explored the benefits of complementary therapy in the greater picture of pain management. This is a subject we’ve preached on the blog time and time again; There is no magic pill for chronic pain, and you need to put in the effort to have the best results. Oftentimes this comes in the form of other activities in conjunction with the standard care of rest, rehab, physical therapy, etc. Some of these complementary methods include:

“Medications may not completely relieve chronic pain or can produce unwanted side effects, including the potential for addiction. Thus, many people may turn to complementary health approaches to help manage their pain,” said Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, lead epidemiologist at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Complementary Medicine Benefits

Without going into too much detail, the article looked at a number of complementary approaches to common chronic ailments. What they found was that acupuncture and yoga were beneficial for individuals with back pain, acupuncture and tai chi had benefits for knee osteoarthritis, and massage therapy was proven useful for individuals with cervical spine and neck pain. Considering that more than 120 million Americans deal with some sort of chronic pain, these complementary approaches have the potential to positively affect millions of people.

This beneficial link is important because unfortunately many people have to pay out of pocket for some of these treatment techniques. In fact, national data suggests that people pay more than $8.5 billion annually for out of pocket complementary treatments for back pain alone. Now that there’s a link between these approaches and chronic pain improvement, there may soon be a push to make some of these options at least partially covered by insurance. It may require insurance companies to spend a little more in the short-term, but if it helps people recover faster and more fully, it could greatly reduce expenses in the long run.

We need to continue investing money into chronic pain research to find the best methods to treat pain, reduce costs and help patients.

Follow These Tips To Calm Your Chronic Pain

Happy 4th of July! Hopefully you had a wonderful long weekend with friends and family. If you’re like most Americans, you probably did some traveling over the long weekend. Traveling can be a lot of fun, but not if your chronic pain flares up. Today, we share nine tips from our friends at Cleveland Clinic for managing chronic pain when you’re traveling and throughout your daily life.

Chronic Pain Tips

Applying Pain Lessons To Our Every Day Life

Managing Chronic Pain health wellnessI try to skim the medical news every couple of days to see what’s making waves in the field of pain management. Most of what I see has to do with a variety of topics related to musculoskeletal medicine and pain.

A lot of articles I see have limited value to my current practice, but some topics have interest because there is science that may be important if it is applied in a more broad way. Other things are interesting because they are rooted in obvious facts.

Last week, the Star Tribune had an item on cancer prevention. JAMA Oncology had an article that 63 percent of men’s cancer and 41 percent of women’s cancer was preventable. The interesting thing was that if we just lived a healthy lifestyle, a lot of cancers would not occur. The obvious is the simple stuff, like not smoking and wearing sunscreen. The other aspects are a bit tougher, like eating healthier foods, not being obese, exercising, and sleeping adequately. It is a potent reminder of how we live life significantly impacts our overall health. The best way to cure cancer is to prevent cancer in the first place.

Another article in the paper was on baby powder causing cancer.  The most common cancer was ovarian, but lung cancer may also be linked.  The connection to cancer is that baby powder is a very fine particulate.  It is also very similar to asbestos.  If these fine particles get inside the body, they can cause immune reactions and stimulate abnormal tissue growth as well as cancer.  So a supposedly harmless substance we use can cause deadly problems.

Take Away Points

There is a message here from these news pieces about cancer that applies to all of us. The first is that if we work at keeping ourselves healthy, we will have less illness and medical problems.  Secondly, keeping compounds that naturally do not belong in our bodies out helps prevent cancer.

Applying this logic to pain management is natural. Let’s first look at the ideology of keeping ourselves healthy to prevent chronic pain. Exercises including stretching, strengthening and aerobically conditioning the body all help prevent pain. I used to be able to do parts of a program sporadically and function fairly well. As I have aged, consistency with a well-rounded program of exercise has been essential, as skipping days does not work well for me. Getting enough quality sleep is a problem; I have not yet focused on how I will try to improve my sleep. Eating healthy has been issue, but I am slowly changing my diet, lowering my carbohydrate intake, and concentrating on protein, vegetables, fruit and some cheese. I am trying to find a diet plan that makes sense and is sustainable.

The second point of focus is not adding things into my body that may not be healthy. That means keeping my medicine intake to what is necessary to prevent illness, such as taking cholesterol medicine (I have a familial variety of high cholesterol), and asthma medicine when needed. I keep away from addictive medicines. Overall, the most important aspect of health and pain control comes down to eating right, exercise, and good sleep. There is very little magic and a lot of personal work put in on my end, and my body thanks me for it.