Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain that impacts their daily activities and overall quality of life, leaving many people overwhelmed and desperate for relief. The month of September is Pain Awareness Month, a time to promote pain education and raise awareness about issues related to chronic pain. Living with chronic pain can be incredibly challenging, affecting every aspect of your life. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, here are five effective ways to deal with chronic pain.
Simple changes to your lifestyle can have a positive impact on your chronic pain management. Focus on maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Engage in regular, low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming or gentle yoga to enhance flexibility, strengthen muscles, and prompt the release of endorphins – your body’s natural pain relievers. Prioritize sufficient sleep by establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating an environment conducive to rest. Additionally, employ stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, to alleviate the stress that can exacerbate your pain. Although these changes may seem small, they can make a big difference when it comes to chronic pain.
Pain Management Therapies
A range of alternative therapies can effectively complement medical treatments in your chronic pain management journey. Applying heat packs or cold compresses to the affected area can be beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation. Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese practice involving the strategic placement of thin needles at specific points on the body, stimulates energy flow and can offer relief. Professional massage therapy serves to relax muscles, enhance circulation and mitigate pain, providing a holistic approach to pain management.
Depending on the source of pain, an injection may be the best solution for treating pain. Below are some of the most common injections to relieve chronic pain.
- Joint injections are a commonly performed treatment to provide quick relief of pain and inflammation in your joints.
- Epidural steroid injections are common for lower back pain but may also help with upper back and neck pain.
- Trigger points are painful areas in muscles that can be described to feel like a “knot” or specific area of tightness. When pressure is applied to the trigger point, the pain spreads out to other areas of the body. Trigger point injections are administered directly at the trigger point, which can reduce pain and increase physical function.
- Bursa injections are injections of a steroid medication into your bursa – the gel-filled sac that helps muscles and tendons glide over bones. When bursae get swollen, they can cause joint pain.
- Facet joint injections can reduce pain, as well as help in determining if the facet joint is the cause of the patient’s pain. Each vertebra on the spine has two pairs of facet joints, one pair points up (connecting with the vertebrae above) while the second pair points down (connecting with the vertebrae below).
When other therapies and injections don’t seem to work, medication may be the best option. Medication can play a crucial role in the management of chronic pain, but needs to be monitored closely by a specialist to ensure the correct medication is being administered and that it is working as it should be on the patient. Talk to your pain management provider to develop a medication plan that is right for your chronic pain.
Managing chronic pain is a challenging process that may require a combination of approaches tailored to your unique circumstances. Patience, an open-mind and a positive attitude toward trying various strategies will help guide you toward finding relief and enhancing your overall quality of life. Always collaborate closely with healthcare professionals before making any significant changes to your pain management plan. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, call the Southwoods Pain & Spine Center at 330-314-9100 to schedule an appointment.