Around one-fifth of American adults live with chronic pain daily, and it’s something that makes life a lot more difficult than it needs to be. If you’re struggling right now, you might be wondering what steps you can take to relieve pain – maybe you’ve tried different pain management techniques in the past but none have worked for you?
Fortunately, we’re here to outline some of the most important tips to ease your chronic pain. Keep reading to find out what they are, and you might just discover a technique that works well for you.
7 Effective Chronic Pain Management Techniques
You don’t have to live with chronic pain and just accept it. There are plenty of things that you can do to help manage the pain, from keeping active to getting enough sleep. We’ve outlined some of the best ways to control pain below.
1. Keep Exercising – But Not Too Much
Gentle exercise can be a great help when it comes to pain management. You don’t need to hit the gym every day – just some walking or swimming, or even gardening and housework can do the job.
These simple exercises help to block pain signals from reaching your brain. They can stretch sore muscles too, which also relieves pain.
Other exercises to try include aerobic work and stretching. This can also improve your mood.
Start off light and gradually increase your workload and you’re unlikely to cause any harm – just be sure not to overdo it. In the case of an injury, use an ice pack straight away. Consult your physician if you’re not sure how to start.
2. Focus on Your Breathing and Relaxation
Even just simple breathing can be a useful pain management strategy. Breathe in slowly and deeply, showing yourself that you’re in control of the situation. Try meditation and yoga too.
You can feel yourself becoming less tight and tense as you breathe in deeply and repetitively, focusing on yourself and your movements. Likewise, you might want to listen to relaxing music or do some guided imagery, as these can decrease your stress levels and make you feel more at ease.
3. Try Counseling or a Support Group
It can be therapeutic to discuss things with other people going through the same thing as you. They might also have their own techniques and ways to control pain which you can pick up on.
Individual counseling might work better for you, or be appropriate alongside a support group. Particularly if you feel that your chronic pain is impacting your mental health or causing depression, speaking to a professional in a one-to-one setting can give you various coping strategies and ways to manage your pain.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, can help you to self-manage pain by changing your thought processes.
4. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but it can be all too easy to use smoking and drinking alcohol to cope with your chronic pain. If you’re struggling with your sleep, alcohol can make it worse. Of course, lack of sleep has effects too, which we’ll discuss later.
Likewise, we’re all aware of the numerous issues caused by smoking, but one that often slips under the radar is that it can increase pain relating to circulation problems. As tempting as it might be, smoking and drinking when you’re trying to manage your chronic pain just isn’t worth it.
5. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Sleep Schedule
Like with smoking and drinking, we might be tempted to treat ourselves to some unhealthy food if we’re struggling with pain. However, there are many advantages to eating healthy food. This can reduce the risk of a variety of medical conditions that could affect your chronic pain further, as well as improve your blood sugar levels.
Moving onto sleep, you might find that your pain is at its worst while you’re in bed, which can make it tempting to put off going to sleep. But if you stick to a consistent sleep schedule your body will thank you in the long run. If you’re sleep-deprived, that can increase the pain, so go to bed at the same time each night and try not to nap in the day if you can help it.
6. Keep Track of Your Condition – But Don’t Let It Take Over
This is a great help if you want the best and most appropriate treatment. Try keeping a journal in which you chart your ‘pain score’ each day, along with the activities you did that day.
A log like this will give your doctor or a pain management clinic the whole picture with regards to how you’ve been coping with pain, and can then suggest the best severe pain management techniques for you.
At the same time, do your best not to let thinking about your chronic pain take over. Although it’s perhaps easier said than done, do your best to keep yourself busy with your favorite activities. Even when you’re in pain, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied.
7. Try Other Therapies
There are alternative therapies and treatments available for you to try. For example, some people find that biofeedback works well for them. You can teach your body to control functions through wearing sensors, which can be effective for dealing with your chronic pain.
Of course, there’s the option of getting a massage too – these can help to relieve tension in your muscles and decrease stress and anxiety at the same time. There’s also acupuncture. Yes, the science surrounding the practice is dubious, but, for some people, it allows them to manage their chronic pain a little better, so it could benefit you to some degree.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is another therapy to consider. It involves tiny electrical currents passing through you via the use of electrodes. Although there’s no concrete evidence that it works, some people have claimed that they have felt a benefit.
Managing Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain isn’t easy, but, hopefully, with the pain management techniques outlined above, you’ll have an idea of how best to help you deal with yours.
If you’re looking for more tips on getting the most out of your health, check out some of our other blog posts!