Don’t Go Down Without a Fight: How to Live With Chronic Pain
By Sara Butler
Chronic pain is everything you think it is. It’s exhausting and it impacts your daily life in ways too numerous to count.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a whopping 20 percent of Americans deal with chronic pain. That means millions of people in the United States are dealing with the impact of chronic pain each day.
If you’re living with chronic pain like I am, then you know that treatments from the chiropractor (and sometimes medication) can help, but it often cannot control all the symptoms experienced. That’s why it’s vital to understand what you can do to try to manage chronic pain if you’re living through it.
What Is Chronic Pain?
The basis on which pain is deemed chronic is time. Pain is considered to be chronic if it lasts for three months or more. It can come and go or be a constant problem -- and it can happen anywhere in the body.
The biggest issue with chronic pain is how it impacts daily life. Working, being social, or even taking care of yourself and those around you can be very challenging when dealing with chronic pain. It can cause sufferers to feel depressed, anxious, and have trouble sleeping -- which is a vicious cycle that can make the pain you’re experiencing even worse.
How Chronic Pain Impacts Life
When someone is living with chronic pain, they are often limited in their daily activities. For some people, this can lead to something called disuse syndrome, which is just a fancy way of saying if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.
It makes sense that people would avoid things that cause them pain or make the pain they are in even worse. As humans, our brains are wired to avoid pain, so it will steer you to avoid things that might cause increased discomfort and pain. However, this may lead to a loss of stamina and increased weakness, which makes things harder to do and more likely to cause pain when you do them. It’s a downward spiral.
Additionally, your state of mind plays a big role in chronic pain and its impact on your life. It can lead to feeling depressed, angry, and irritable, and make it more difficult to concentrate. Your state of mind can be just as debilitating as the pain is, so it’s vital to think about what you can do to help yourself deal with the chronic pain you are experiencing.
How to Beat Back Chronic Pain
You’re dealing with the medical side of your chronic pain, but you also need to look at what you can do to help you live with chronic pain. Here are some things to help you exist with what you’re facing.
Developing coping skills - The big picture of chronic pain can be grim, especially when you think about the worst that can happen. But in reality, a lot of people do live well despite chronic pain because they have found the coping skills necessary to keep going. You may need to change your habits, change your lifestyle, and incorporate some other treatments, such as chiropractic and massage, to help.
Exercising anyway - If you don’t move your body as it is made to, then you may experience more pain. Talk to your chiropractor about how you can move in a way that won’t inflame your condition but can improve your fitness level so you feel better and more mobile. Plus, exercise with chronic pain can help to ease some of its symptoms, it’s simply a matter of finding what you can do.
Trying other treatments - Aside from working with your chiropractor, you may also want to explore treatments such as massage, acupuncture, cupping, mindfulness, or even magnetic therapy. Talk to your chiropractor about other types of treatments they would recommend to help you cope.
Relaxing - When you don’t feel well you probably feel more stressed. And when you feel more stressed, you will be more tense. That tension can lead to increased pain, so you must learn to relax! Meditation can be a helpful tool for relaxation, and there are plenty of apps that will guide you through meditation. Try out a few and see what you think. Tai chi and yoga are also excellent ways to say goodbye to muscle tension.
Chronic pain can make you feel physically miserable, but you don’t have to idly accept it. There are things you can do to reduce your pain and increase your health, so reach out to your chiropractor and other supports in your life to help.
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