Photo via Pixabay
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a condition that causes chronic pain, you might be able to take some comfort in the fact you have plenty of company — and an increasing number of options to safely manage symptoms.
Indeed, a wide variety of conditions including headaches, back injuries, and disorders such as fibromyalgia can cause chronic pain, and some sufferers may not even know what’s behind the persistent pain they feel. The diversity of culprits behind chronic pain means it’s extremely common. According to a 2015 report from the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 11.2 percent of American adults, or 25.3 million people, experienced some sort of pain every day for at least three months. Although not necessarily persistent, an estimated 126 million adults, or 55.7 percent, reported some type of pain in the three months prior to the NIH’s data collection survey.
Exploring Strategies Outside the Doctor’s Office
The prevalence of chronic pain has led more people to try health approaches such as yoga, meditation, massage, and other strategies that may help manage symptoms not fully or consistently addressed with medication, surgery, or other conventional treatments. If you’d like to explore some of those options, clearing clutter in your home to create a serene space for yoga and meditation sessions is an excellent first step toward proactive pain management.
Start slow to avoid aggravating any pain-causing conditions when you are creating a relaxation zone. Make your serene space an electronics-free zone and consider introducing low-maintenance plants that purify the air. Maybe you could also experiment with essential oils to add aromatherapy, which has been shown to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression in some small studies, to your self-treatment arsenal.
Your area doesn’t have to be expansive, but it does help if it’s in a location with minimal distractions. So select a spot away from the traffic flow of your home and opt for lamps or sconces rather than harsh overhead lighting. If your hideaway does double duty as a yoga and meditation area, include some type of aesthetically pleasing storage system for your mat and other yoga gear so they won’t take your mind off meditation.
Yoga can be part of a regular exercise routine, which studies show helps control chronic pain, especially when coupled with a healthy diet. You might also want to add massage to your pain-management toolbox. Studies have shown massage therapy can lessen symptoms associated lower back pain, arthritic knee pain, chronic tension headaches, fibromyalgia, and other conditions. Research shows massage therapy can also stave off stress, muscle tension, anxiety, and insomnia, which can be both causes and effects of chronic pain for some. Consult your medical provider for advice when looking for therapists (the cost of a one-hour massage averages $60).
Chronic pain can limit the amount of tasks you can complete on a daily basis. Instead of struggling to do them all by yourself, try to focus more on relieving the pain by asking for assistance. You can turn to a professional service for help. Whether the lawn needs to be mowed or the house needs a cleaning, professionals can complete these chores for you. You should research the costs before deciding on a service; for example, a cleaning service in Ellenton usually costs $81 – $140.
Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders often go hand in hand with chronic pain. So monitoring your mental health is just as important as addressing your physical needs. If you need help coping with your condition, there are a number of resources to tap. Try talking to your doctor or investigating education, advocacy, and support groups listed by organizations such as the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association.
You may also consider consulting a mental health professional to help you deal with your diagnosis. Some psychologists and other practitioners are specially trained to work with patients diagnosed with conditions that cause chronic pain. They can teach relaxation techniques or even help you develop strategies to change the way you think about pain.
Chronic pain is serious, and managing it isn’t easy for many. But you can take steps to help your healthcare team handle your chronic pain and the conditions behind it. After all, only you know exactly how you feel at any given moment, so take charge and become your own biggest advocate.