Pain can often feel like an unwanted burden, but it is an important part of your survival. Pain is one of the ways your body communicates with you to let you know that something is wrong and that you need to act quickly in order to protect yourself.
After enough time has passed and your body has healed or is otherwise out of danger, the pain should stop. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t always how it works. Sometimes, pain seems to happen without warning and for no good reason.
This phenomenon is called “chronic pain.”
Chronic pain is different from short-term pain because it stays in your body for at least three months after the initial reason for the pain is no longer present. The pain will limit your productivity and quality of life. Managing the pain may help in improving the quality and productivity of your life.
1. Avoid Staying in Bed Longer Than You Need to
Spending as little extra time in bed as possible is an important step in dealing with chronic pain, as lying down may make your pain last longer. When you sleep, your body is inactive, which causes your muscles to stiffen and may make pain worse.
Plus, staying in bed too long can take a toll on your mental health. This can make you feel anxious, hopeless and depressed, potentially worsening your chronic pain.
2. Stretch on a Regular Basis
Stretching is therapeutic and may be an effective way to reduce chronic pain. Stretching loosens your muscles and makes your joints more limber, thus reducing the amount of stiffness-induced pain you might be feeling.
Stretching also increases the flow of blood to the region of the body that is being stretched. This can help your body heal faster and may even release endorphins that can make you feel peaceful.
Soaking in a hot tub before stretching can help warm the body and may bring significant positive results if you experience chronic pain. However, when stretching, it is important to use the right technique. If you bathe before stretching, you may overstretch and end up feeling more discomfort later.
If you are unsure about what kind of stretching may work best, talk with your doctor or a physical therapist to get pointers on some effective techniques.
3. Exercise Regularly
One of the many benefits of exercise is to help manage chronic pain in your body. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins, which are hormones that can boost your mood and help block or diminish sensations of pain.
Exercising is also important because it strengthens your muscles and may help make them less stiff over time while improving your heart health and providing several other benefits.
One of the most important benefits is the positive effect that exercise can have on mental health. There are several links between mental health and chronic pain, so there is a chance that improving your mood may help improve your pain as well.
To get the most out of exercise, particularly aerobic exercises, you should do it for at least 150 minutes a week for moderate exercise (or 75 minutes for more intense sessions). However, if you are not used to exercising regularly, there is nothing wrong with starting small and building on your progress over time.
The last thing you want to do is overexert yourself at any point and end up with less mobility and more discomfort than you had in the first place.
4. Try Meditation
You might be wondering how meditation will help you deal with chronic pain. Yet mindfulness meditation is known to be one of the best ways to naturally manage the body’s pain levels. In fact, ]meditation has been shown to help reduce pain intensity by up to 40 percent.
The system works by helping an individual physiological control over the pain they are feeling. The body exhibits pain in two ways: electrical signals caused by an injury and the mind’s reaction to those signals. Using mindfulness meditation is thought to help strengthen the areas of the brain that deal with processing pain.
The best part is you do not have to be a master meditator to reap the rewards of mindfulness. Research has shown that many people may see the benefits of meditation much sooner than initially thought. This means that it can work well for beginners, lowering their stress and potentially relieving (though not completely eliminating) pain.
5. Try to Relax
Relaxing the body when you are in pain is not easy, yet it is important to try anyway. Stress is known to cause issues with sleep, mental health and other factors that in turn affect pain levels. Frequent stress may cause a chronic pain flareup or intensify your symptoms. Therefore, reducing stressors will aid in your overall well-being and may help decrease your pain levels.
Additionally, when dealing with stress, your body will be on alert. This will make your muscles more stiff and rigid, which can increase the intensity of your pain.
6. Get a Massage
Not surprisingly, massage therapy plays a vital role in pain management approaches. This is because massages help improve some of the factors that contribute to chronic pain. As mentioned above, there is a correlation between muscle stiffness and chronic pain, just as there is between pain and stress.
Massage therapy helps you overcome these issues by helping you relax your muscles and also your mind.
This will decrease stress and tension in your body, hopefully leading to a decrease in the intensity of any pain you might be feeling. By making you feel relaxed, massage therapy may also help you get better sleep, compounding its positive effects.
Even though managing chronic pain can seem like a challenge, many of the strategies discussed above may have a positive impact not just on your pain but also on other areas of your life. Ultimately, it is important to remember that everyone is different. Therefore, finding the right way to manage your chronic pain may take a fair bit of trial and error. However, the improved quality of life you may be able to enjoy if and when you find a healthy way of managing your pain long term is well worth it.