Pain — whether from illness or injury — may seem never ending, but there is hope for feeling better.
Relief is available for your chronic pain. It just requires a personalized course of action.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach,” explains Michael Salas, MD, a physiatrist at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital, specializing in Pain Medicine. “We have to first define and treat the problem to decrease pain, improve a patient’s functioning and quality of life, and then minimize any side-effects or risk that may occur from treating pain.”
So whether you are recuperating from an accident or injury, suffering from a degenerative condition such as arthritis or osteoporosis, or experiencing pain due to nerve or other issues, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Try the following techniques to help manage and lessen your pain:
- Consider traditional approaches such as physical or occupational therapy, which can include exercise, hands-on manipulation, ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
- Learn deep breathing or meditation techniques to help you relax. Focusing on the breath or repeating a word or phrase can quiet the mind and help shift focus away from your pain.
- If you’re taking over-the-counter or prescribed medications to relieve pain, work closely with your doctor to adjust dosage and frequency as needed — especially if you’re treating long-term pain.
- Complementary alternative therapies such as massage, yoga, acupuncture, supplements and tai chi can be viable additions to a pain management program. Dr. Salas notes that studies indicate these treatments may be helpful for certain conditions, and recommendations can be made based on an individual’s condition. For example, massage is not always good for those with osteoporosis.
- Join a support group or get psychosocial treatments such as cognitive therapy to gain insight and companionship from others who share your experience. It can be easy to lapse into depression when faced with chronic pain, but counseling and social support can help you cope and maintain optimism.
- Cut back on or eliminate alcohol. Drinking to dull the pain can lead to sleep problems, which weakens your overall health and diminishes your ability to cope with pain.
- Exercise to boost natural endorphins while you strengthen muscles to prevent further injury. Work with your doctor to determine a routine that is right for your specific condition.
- Don’t smoke, as it can worsen chronic pain.
- Log your pain level and activities, and share this information with your doctors so they understand and are aware of how you’re dealing with your condition.
Dr. Salas notes that chronic pain can last longer than three to six months, and that pain doesn’t always subside quickly. “Many conditions take a lot longer than you may think to recover from,” he explains. “Time is a great tincture, and patience may help. “