Everyone has experienced pain in their lives at some point or another.
Pain is the body’s natural reaction to injury – it’s how your body lets you know that something is wrong. Once the injury heals, the pain fades.
Chronic pain is different, however. Most doctors define chronic pain as any pain that lasts for 3-6 months, or longer. The pain may feel sharp or dull, causing a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be steady or intermittent, coming and going without any apparent reason, and can occur in any part of your body.
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 1.5 billion people around the world suffer from chronic pain. It’s the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States, as it can affect a person’s mobility – limiting their flexibility, strength and stamina.
What causes chronic pain?
There are a number of different factors that could cause chronic pain, such as:
- Injuries that failed to heal properly
- Nerve damage
- Diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia
- A combination of any of the above
In some cases, chronic pain may begin without any obvious cause.
You may be at greater risk of developing chronic pain if you are an older adult, having an injury, having surgery, female, or are overweight/obese.
How can I learn to cope with chronic pain?
Living with chronic pain isn’t easy. There isn’t really any cure available, so the best thing to do is learn how to manage it to the best of your ability.
Here are some suggestions that may help you to cope:
1. Get a full medical evaluation.
Naturally, the first step in dealing with your chronic pain is for you to get a thorough medical evaluation to determine the cause of the pain.
Your doctor will need to find out the level and type of the pain in order to help come up with a treatment plan, including things like physical therapy or medication.
2. Relaxation training.
Putting your body into a state of proper relaxation can really help to reduce pain.
It may take some practice, but relaxation techniques are easy enough to learn, either on your own or in a class. Once you’ve got it down, you’ll be able to release tension from your muscles and focus your attention away from your pain.
3. Biofeedback therapy.
This will probably sound like something straight out of science fiction, but bear with me – it’s a real therapy, which is sometimes used to help people deal with their chronic pain.
Biofeedback therapy works by allowing you to learn how to control various body functions, such as heart and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, sweating and muscle activity.
During a session, sensors are attached to your skin, which will send signals to a monitor, displayed as a series of squiggly lines or beeps that reflect what’s happening inside your body. A biofeedback therapist will then help you learn how to read this feedback and practice relaxation exercises that are meant to help you control those squiggles and beeps – and essentially, your own body functions.
4. Reduce your stress.
Higher stress levels tend to increase the severity of chronic pain. There’s a vicious loop created: When you’re hurt, you tend to feel stressed, depressed and anxious, which can actually make your pain even worse… and then the cycle repeats itself.
To help relieve your pain, you’ll want to take control of your stress levels. Relaxation techniques may help. You could also try other methods like listening to calming meditative music like the video above, or using guided imagery to relax and reduce your stress.
Exercise tends to release natural endorphins in your body, which helps boost your mood and provide some natural pain relief. It also strengthens your muscles, helping to prevent re-injury and further pain.
Best of all, it’ll also help keep your weight down, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help control your blood sugar levels – the perfect way to improve and maintain your overall health.
(Note: You may have certain health conditions which prevent you from being too active. However, you shouldn’t have to miss out – do speak to your doctor and get their help in planning an exercise routine that will work for you.)
Are there any natural remedies to help relieve chronic pain?
Yes, there are! Some people may find that medications don’t provide enough relief, or they may simply be looking for holistic, natural supplements to add on to (or replace) their standard treatments.
Here are some natural supplements which may help:
Often found in Indian cooking, turmeric is a natural, potent anti-inflammatory. The power of turmeric comes from a compound called curcumin, which provides a long list of benefits such as anti-tumor and antioxidant abilities. Turmeric is used to treat all sorts of conditions from arthritis and joint pain to headaches, and in some cases,
has even proven superior to medications like ibuprofen and aspirin.
Fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with relieving pain. In one study, researchers got patients who had neck or back pain to take 1200 mg of fish oil supplements with eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid. After 75 days, 59% of the 125 participants who reported back said that they had stopped taking their prescription painkillers.
There are plenty of other amazing options for all-natural herbal painkillers, such as white willow bark, devil’s claw, capsaicin, boswellia, ginger root and oregano.