Chronic pain is any kind of discomfort that does subside in three or six months and can last longer. Technically, if the pain in any specific part of the body is experienced for at least 12 weeks, it is called as chronic pain. Nearly 100 million people in the country are affected by chronic pain problems. With increasing number of people leading a sedentary lifestyle without much physical activity, cases of chronic pain have been on the rise. Add to this unhealthy diet and excessively stressful lives and you would get a number of health problems afflicting people everywhere.
Pain usually starts out as an acute discomfort that comes and goes sporadically. It lasts for weeks to months and subsides after the cause has been diagnosed and treated. If left untreated, it progresses to chronic pain. And chronic pain management is difficult as it lasts for months and years. Common causes of chronic pain can include injury such as sprain or pulled muscles, overweight, major surgery, and nerve damage. Other major causes of chronic pain include the following:
- Inflammatory bowel disease: This causes inflammation and chronic pain in the abdomen and the digestive tract.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome: This causes extreme tiredness that last for long periods. It is usually accompanied by chronic pain.
- Fibromyalgia and sciatica: Common among women, this causes chronic pain in bones and muscles, especially in the lower back.
- Arthritis: Caused due to inflammation of joints, arthritis causes chronic pain that makes it quite difficult to do day-to-day tasks.
Although the causes of chronic pain are physiological and physical, the effects can psychological. This is mainly because people affected have to learn to live with the pain and cope with its debilitating effects. In extreme cases, chronic pain hinders normal life to such an extent that it may even lead severe emotional stress. This makes it necessary to adopt chronic pain management techniques that not only help in dealing with the discomfort but also enable the person to have a normal life. Here are seven chronic pain management tactics that can be adopted in daily life to deal with chronic pain.
- Eating a diet high in certain nutritious values: The diet should include food that help to combat inflammation. Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in sugar should part of daily meals. Green leafy vegetables, turmeric, ginger and soy-based products should be regularly consumed. Processed food should be avoided. The consumption of certain food items aggravates chronic pain. These include dairy products, eggs, wheat-based products, red meat with high-fat content, oranges, sweet lime, lemon, tomatoes, and so on. Their intake should be reduced. The consumption of caffeinated beverages should be also decreased.
- Drinking sufficient water: Chronic pain such as back pain and headaches become more severe due to dehydration. It is necessary to drink sufficient water daily to keep the body hydrated. It is recommended that an adult should consume not more eight 8-ounce glasses of water. Water also helps in chronic pain management. Tea, coffee, juice or soda should not be consumed as substitutes of water, since these may add to the daily calorie intake with increasing amount of sodium, and caffeine.
- Manage stress: Stress adds to the symptoms of chronic pain. Anxiety, anger, and depression aggravates chronic pain effects. It is essential to reduce stress and adopt relaxation techniques that sooth the nerves and bring down stress levels. Regularly meditating also helps in dealing with stress. Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, mental imagery relaxation, listening to calming music can help to manage stress and chronic pain as well. Routines such as yoga, tai chi, massage therapies and so on can also help to deal with stress.
- Regular physical exercise: With chronic pain, the idea of exercising may seem quite strenuous. However, a regular exercise regime can help to reduce weight, keep the movements of joints and muscle fluid and also release endorphins. These chemicals improve the overall mood and relieve stress that help in alleviating the symptoms of chronic pain. An exercise regime that suits the person’s age, stamina and extent of chronic pain should be adopted. Consult a physiotherapist if required.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine: Alcohol affects sleeping patterns. This results in an increase in the intensity of chronic pain. Nicotine in cigarettes leads to circulation problems and makes a person more prone to cancer and heart ailments as well. Smoking weakens the body’s autoimmune systems and makes it more difficult to manage stress. Avoiding the consumption of alcohol and not smoking are effective chronic pain management techniques that will also ensure a healthy life.
- Adopt a proper posture: Chronic pain can be reduced to a great extent by adopting proper postures while sitting and standing. This is especially important when sitting for long hours. It is necessary to avoid putting pressure in the spine and neck. Wrong postures are often the culprit behind a lot of chronic pain problems.