One out of every five Americans are living with some type of chronic pain. Defined as pain lasting 3-4 months or more, this type of discomfort often stems from an initial injury, such as a strained muscle. Chronic pain is believed to be the result of damage that has extended to nerves. Managing this type of pain often includes identifying possible triggers so certain movements or activities can be modified or avoided.
Ongoing stress can increase the production of cortisol and other stress hormones that may make inflammation worse and trigger your chronic pain. Stress can also cause you to focus more on your pain and become more aware of it. Keeping a journal, exploring different forms of meditation, and taking up a hobby are just some of the ways you may be able to manage your stress.
Changes in temperature and the onset of colder weather and more cloudy and rainy days may have an impact on how you experience pain. Studies have noted a connection between chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis and weather changes. Staying indoors on hotter days and dressing warmly on colder ones, even when inside, sometimes helps.
Lack of Sleep
Some studies suggest 90 percent of all chronic pain sufferers have difficulty sleeping. It’s often a vicious cycle since flare-ups make it difficult to sleep and a lack of productive sleep keeps tissues from properly healing. Try to stick to the same sleep schedule and avoid exercise or alcohol consumption right before bed. Getting a more supportive mattress and being mindful of sleep positions may also make it easier to get sufficient rest.
Processed foods and snacks or meals loaded with salt, sugar, or unhealthy fats may trigger inflammation that can worsen pain. Part of the reason for this may be that such foods tend to result in high blood pressure and spike blood sugar levels, which can contribute to your pain. On the other hand, fatty fish like tuna and salmon, almonds and walnuts, and berries are some of the foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties that may actually reduce your chronic pain symptoms.
In addition to knowing your triggers, effective management of your chronic pain may include customized exercise routines to strengthen or recondition muscles and techniques such as electrical muscle stimulation and massage therapy. Making positive adjustments to your diet and maintaining your weight can also help keep chronic pain in check.
Posted on behalf of Allied Pain & Spine Institute