5 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain Naturally
When you’re injured, acute pain is triggered by your nervous system to let you know that something is wrong. It forces you to pull your hand away from a hot stove or seek medical attention when you break a bone. But chronic pain is different. While it sometimes has roots in an injury or illness, it can exist without an identifiable cause. It persists for weeks, months and sometimes years, and it can create emotional responses like fear and anxiety.
If you are experiencing chronic pain, you’re not alone. As many as 100 million Americans are currently dealing with some form of chronic pain.
Doctors understand that chronic pain is a complex issue since it’s influenced by the way the brain processes pain signals. It’s subjective and can really only be defined by the person experiencing the pain. However, because it plays such an important role in interpreting pain signals, the mind of someone suffering from chronic pain can be trained to manage and redefine those pain sensations.
Here are five natural ways that you can manage your chronic pain – physically, mentally and emotionally.
1. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can make chronic pain worse. Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water. Avoid caffeinated drinks, like coffee and tea, as well as alcohol since these beverages will actually make you more dehydrated.
2. Monitor Your Diet
What you eat can help or hurt your attempts to manage chronic pain. Focus on foods that reduce inflammation, such as leafy greens, omega-3 fatty acids, asparagus, cherries, cranberries, and soy products. Avoid foods such as tomatoes, eggplant, dairy, red meat, eggs, and chocolate as they may increase inflammation.
3. Practice Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation address both the physical and mental aspects of chronic pain. The core benefits of yoga are increased strength and flexibility. It also teaches you to systematically relax you muscles, which is helpful when chronic pain causes you to tense up. Meditation, along with deep breathing, can also help you relax your body and ignore thoughts that trigger the emotional response to chronic pain.
Exercising is an effective way to manage chronic pain. Like yoga, it helps to stretch and strengthen your muscles, helps to improve circulation and reduces stiffness in your joints. While exercises like running may not work for you if you have chronic pain, sports like swimming and cycling can provide the same benefits without the high impact.
5. Use Imagery and Pain Control Techniques
Your mind is a powerful tool. After warming up with deep breathing, using your mind and imagination can help you control and manage your pain. For instance, through a technique called “mental anesthesia,” a chronic pain suffer will imagine a shot of anesthetic being injected into their painful body part. This has been proven to lessen the sensation of pain naturally, without any medication.
Because management of chronic pain involves both your body and your mind, you will need the help of a pain management team to find effective relief. This team will include your primary doctor, a neurologist, a physical therapist, a psychologist, and other healthcare professionals dedicated to helping you find a solution to your chronic pain. One of the most important parts of your treatment is to remain as optimistic as possible – you are not alone, and your team will help you find the relief you need.