Health & Wellness

Tips for Living with Chronic Pain

by Pam Smith

You step out of bed in the morning, and you feel it immediately: those all too familiar aches and pains that have plagued you for years. For some of us, it’s a creaky, aching back, or throbbing knees. For others, it’s stabbing pain shooting up from the heels, or a burning sensation in the hip.

As we age, our muscles and connective tissues become weaker, less flexible and more prone to injury. We tend to experience more disease and surgery, and our bodies are less able to control, or recover from, painful conditions. All of this will often result in chronic pain.

Chronic pain can disrupt our sleep, make simple movements difficult, and reduce energy. It can impair our work, social, recreational, and household activities. Chronic pain will often have a negative impact on our financial security, and can provoke alcohol or drug abuse.

The good news is that there are proactive steps we can take to minimize the pain that crept into our muscles and joints while we were not paying attention to the calendar. While we cannot eliminate all of our physical ailments, we can certainly try to make improvements upon our condition.

 Maintain a healthy weight and stay active

The more our body hurts, the less we move. The less we move, the more likely we are to gain weight. The more weight we gain, the more likely we are to exacerbate existing health issues. It is essential to break this harmful cycle if we wish to minimize our chronic pain.

Reduce stress in your life

Negative feelings like anxiety, stress, and anger can increase the body’s sensitivity to pain. By learning to take control of stress, you may find some relief from chronic pain.

Several techniques can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Listening to soothing, calming music can lift your mood — and make living with chronic pain more bearable. There are even specially designed relaxation tapes or CDs for this. Mental imagery relaxation (also called guided imagery) can help you feel peaceful.

 Don’t smoke

Cigarettes can impair healing and have been identified as a risk factor in the development of many diseases including degenerative disc disease, a leading cause of low back pain.

 Stretch and flex pain away

Yoga and Pilates may seem too “out there” to be of any use in dealing with aches and pains, but increasingly exercise physiologists are recommending them. These strength and flexibility exercise regimens add tone and strength to muscles in a way that is totally nonimpact, and their use has become quite commonplace.

 Join a support group

When you’re with people who have chronic pain and understand what you’re going through, you feel less alone. You also benefit from their wisdom in coping with the pain. You might also consider meeting with a mental health professional. Anyone can develop depression if they’re living with chronic pain. Getting counseling can help you learn to cope better. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

 Alternative Therapies

 Acupuncture:

Acupuncture is a treatment based on a belief that fluids flow through channels in our bodies. Caregivers insert very thin needles just under your skin. This is believed to open the channels, allowing fluids to flow better. This treatment may decrease pain and improve healing. Always see a caregiver for acupuncture.

Biofeedback training:

Biofeedback is a special way to control how your body reacts to things like stress or pain. The first step in this training is to use electrodes (wires) to monitor your body responses. These electrodes are placed on different parts of your body, such as your chest. The electrodes are attached to a TV-type monitor which gives a paper tracing of your heart beating. You will learn how to control body changes, such as slowing your heart rate, when you become upset.

Meditation:

This therapy teaches you how to focus inside yourself. The goal of meditation is to help you feel more calm and peaceful.

Keeping yourself informed and educated about your condition can help you maintain a good quality of life while you are living with chronic pain. We suggest you always consult your physician before starting a new routine or therapy. For more helpful information visit:  http://www.ampainsoc.org/

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Susan
9 years ago

About 2 months ago I started going to a Maximized Living chiropractor. They emphasize healthy living and eating habits: ie. limit refined sugars, unhealthy fats, exercise daily, reduce toxins in our bodies, daily reading ( Holy scripture preferred ), reduce stress and an x-ray & adjustments as needed by the dr.. Our back, neck and hip pains are decreasing daily and headaches disappearing. They’re are about 250 k patients nationwide being helped by this group ! Look them up .

Lloyd
9 years ago

I had the misfortune of being a cop during the period of American history when throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails at policemen was considered a rite of passage by many folks.
Had a concrete block dropped on my head from the roof of a building. My helmet undoubtedly saved my life. Had a very large and very drunk individual knock me down with a table leg and then kick me numerous times in the head and ribs with his steel toed boots. Got shoved off the roof of a two story building by a burglar. He miscalculated and went with me so all was not lost. . So yes, I’m certainly familiar with chronic pain. I have not been able to sleep more than two hours at a time for more than twenty years. At various times, different doctors have had me on about every pill available. I’ve often joked that I’m the poster child for “better living through chemistry.” I still take 16 a day. The best physical relief I’ve experienced was treatments by a Chiropractor but he’s expensive, the relief is only short term and the insurance won’t pay. I agree with others here that the longest lasting and most effective relief is a quiet conversation with our Lord. I’m not claiming any miracles but it takes my head to a place where my physical condition doesn’t matter. About 5 out of every 7 days I’m able to walk with a cane so I’m not complaining. Will tell you a funny story though. My wife and I are both teetotalers but there is a beef marinade she makes that includes a certain kind of wine. All the alcohol burns off during the cooking process and leaves the meat with a nice nutty flavor that we both like. She buys the wine about every 18 months or so. Once when we were shopping, she asked me to go get the wine. I found it but when I stooped to pick it up a nerve in my neck that apparently gets pinched once in a while got me. It sends the feeling of an electric shock through my body and literally takes me to my knees. So, there I was in the wine aisle on my knees, holding onto the side of the grocery cart with one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. A lady about my age saw me go down and ran over to see if I was alright. Told her i was, it would pass in a couple of minutes and I’d be able to stand again. She took a step back, gave me a good look, sniffed and said, “Well, you need to leave that wine alone!” before marching away. My wife and I later had a good laugh. One thing that helps and I think makes my life a little easier. Every day I remind myself that just because I have a pain, I don’t have to be one..

Thomas Bunetta
9 years ago

I’m 63, a smoker since 11 (pack a day) had a motorcycle wreck (2 actually, one broke both arms at the wrist, crushed my thumb at the 1st (longest) bone… the other gave me a compression fracture of T10 greater than 80%)
I have arthritis of the neck and spine, degenerative disk disease (I know smoking aids and abets. (Wish I could quit).
I was addicted (with help from my Orthopedic!) to Percocet at the rate of 100 5 mg per month for ten years.
When the DEA cracked down I was informed when calling for a refill I had to have an office visit.
The first in 8 years.
2 years earlier I had weaned myself from the neck to hip brace I was given and had worn for 8 years.
Long made short, I talked to another Md and got the map to being addiction free, and followed it.
The surprise came 3 months later when my own endorphin’s kicked back in.
I had no more pain without the drug than I’d had with it.
I now use traction daily 50 reps. at least once a day. It helps.
One day (if and when Medicare will “care” for me, I’ll seek treatment.
My right knee went “out” one day for no apparent reason (no misstep or fall, etc.).
Now I have a brace, and literally take each day one step at a time, VERY carefully, since it has become a part of life that it will repeatedly go “out:” every few days (ouch face here!)
I agree Prayer helps.

Ruth
9 years ago

On 9/16/1996 my car was rear-ended at a stop light–daylight and good weather. I had a triple whiplash–side to front, front to back (2).
Activator chiropractic treatment puts my body back in alignment whenever it goes out. The C-1 through C-4 discs are deteriorated–surgery not recommended. Physical therapy exercises also help. Hot packs from “grandpasgarden.com” (Maine) feel wonderful. Dr. Riter’s real-ease neck and shoulder relaxer is used daily (Amazon).
Hope this might help someone. God bless you all.

priscilla ervin
9 years ago

excuse me Dr Pate, but some days it does not feel better to get out of bed and there are days i absolutely could not make it through the day without prescription pain meds. i do not have a ‘poor me’ attitude; i do as much as i can while pacing myself. telling someone to get a better attitude is invalidating their pain.

Jim Owens
9 years ago

Taking 1 to 2 cloves of roasted garlic a day when I remember has reduced my fatigue. This is something I found out recently, I have always eat garlic in food but not everyday. As I get older and with the arthriris, fibro etc. you try everything but garlic seems to have helped.

Frank Courter
9 years ago

Had severe leg cramps in bed at night. Saw an online article about aspartame (Equal) and some of the side effects it can cause. Swore off all products containing it and the cramps went away

Dale Tharp
9 years ago

You have symptoms of hypothyroidism. No one in America gets enough iodine. Google, Dr David Brownstein and get his book, “Iodine Why You Need It”. I and my friends are taking iodine supplements and pain in joints, foggy brain, high cholesterol, hypertension and other things are being regulated. The tests for hypothyroidism don’t measure the amount of iodine in cells and that is where the doctors miss the mark.

george m
9 years ago

I am 83 and i walk 2 miles every morning and the aches and tingling go away. I also take about 40 supplements 4 days a week and slack off onthe weekends but i take the important ones 7 days a week.

Dick Malsch
9 years ago

I have been drinking Xango for several months, and my chronic pain has been reduced.

Debbie
9 years ago

In pain for more than ten years, I heard about magnesium and began reading about it. I now take GNC brand, “Calcium Plus 600 with Magnesium & Vitamin D-3”. I take one in the morning, one at noon and one at bedtime. I began to feel good within a day of starting this and after one month, began to have so much less pain that I can not walk distances I was unable to walk before. I also no longer have to take Prilosec as it takes care of that problem, too. I can’t believe that I had not heard about how good magnesium is for pain. It’s amazing!

Rick
9 years ago

I am a Christian an have found that yoga has help a lot.When the teacher says to look into yourself just look at your body that God has made an praise Him.Try it has work well for me. God bless

Byron
9 years ago

I’ve lived in severe pain since a fall resulted in a crushed vertebra. What was left of it was filled with surgical glue, so it won’t get worse but won’t get better either. I became addicted to pain killers but took the cure. Now I take a minimum amount of pain killers, get injections in my spine every three months and joined a 12-step group that points out our real dependence on God and all He will do for us. I pray a lot and just take things one day at a time.

Vicki
9 years ago

Thank you, everyone, for the helpful testimonies. I took notes as my family has serious health problems the worst ones being that 2 of our 5 young adult children have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Yet no parents or grandparents have had this!

Susie
9 years ago

One more thing: try not to take NSAID’s on a regular basis, as they somehow prevent your body from healing itself; instead take natural anti inflammatories like bromelain and papaya, which are inexpensive supplements. Also, during the 3 to 4 weeks it took me to achieve pain relief, I was very very good about following his protocol, but now I can enjoy coffee and the night shades every now and then; I just don’t overdo it; generally, just avoid an acidic diet, because your body tries to maintain the proper acid/alkaline balance and it will pull calcium from bones to make your body more alkaline. Acidic foods: coffee, soft drinks, red meat, packaged crackers and processed foods; Alkaline foods: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, grapefruits, lemons, limes, melons, olives, oranges; artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cucs,…you get the idea; this also helps prevent cancer, as cancer thrives in an acidic environment! Read on this and educate yourself!!!! There is so much available online on this entire aspect. The acid/alkaline balance is essential for good health. Read Dr. Susan Lark for info on how your body creates arthritis as a response to acid/alkaline imbalances. Good luck!

Susie
9 years ago

Years ago, my husband was pushed into a pool in the shallow end and his hip hit the bottom (he’s very tall). He was in so much pain he couldn’t walk – he just laid on the living room floor! After many drs visits and muscle relaxers to show for it, a golfing pro recommended an acupuncture, as it had helped him. Just one visit and 10 days later he was about 80% better.
Also, about 6 years ago I developed horrible pain in my shoulder and couldn’t sleep; after an xray and MRI, I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in my C3 disc and it was pinching the nerve that ran down my shoulder. Drs wanted to give me cortisone shots weekly and physical therapy weekly; if that didn’t help they said they would fuze the discs to eliminate the pain, but that it was degenerative, which only meant that it would get worse. Well, I was only 47 at the time, so I was floored – also it probably meant I had degenerative arthritis elsewhere – it just hadn’t manifested itself quite yet. So I decided to read everything I could on this and I found the best book, I call it my Bible for Health! It’s by Dr. Gary Null, the guy on PBS, and called The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. It lists diseases and ailments and descirbes the ailment and then gives you a bullet list of to-do’s and not-to-do’s. There is a lot to do to prevent/repair arthritis, but here’s generally what worked for me: avoid night shade veggies and coffee as much as possible, Vitamins ACE, Glucosamine sulfate with MSM (1500mg avail at WF in their generic brand), cod liver oil, grape seed extract, omega 3 fatty acids, curcumin; we also took hyarulonic acid, but he did not mention that. Just take a good multi vitamin. After about 3 or 4 weeks, I woke up after having slept through the entire night!!!! I have been pain free ever since – needless to say my conventional doctor didn’t have much to say….have a different dr now. Get his book – it’s worth its weight in gold. When my husband saw how much it helped me, he started doing the protocol, as he had many ankle injuries from basketball and was considered fuzing his ankle, as he had two surguries and still had pain, with no cartilege left in his ankle. He took alot longer to experience relief, but now he is in only a little pain, which buys us time until they have better ankle replacement type surguries for him. Sorry about the length but I hope this helps somebody! Your first wealth is your health!

Jean Gonzalez Wingo
9 years ago

Since God expects us to use our brain and meditation is really just a form of thinking/not thinking, don’t limit God or yourself. Same for yoga which is often recommended as a form of stretching and exercises highly recommended by doctors. Skip the types that meditate if you wish, but do CAREFUL stretching exercises which can be done under the care/advice of a physical therapist or competent chiropractor after seeing a doctor (Spine Orthopedic Surgeon is my favorite). Take as little narcotics as possible and stick with over the counter. Above all stand up straight and lose weight which will take the pressure off those joints and also make you healthy. Signed, a personal trainer, Christian, 67 yr old graduate of UF College of Health and Human Performance.

Jean Gonzalez Wingo
9 years ago

Since God expects us to use our brain and meditation is really just a form of thinking/not thinking, don’t limit God or yourself. Same for yoga which is often recommended as a form of stretching and exercises highly recommended by doctors. Skip the types that meditate if you wish, but do CAREFUL stretching exercises which can be done under the care/advice of a physical therapist or competent chiropractor after seeing a doctor (Spine Orthopedic Surgeon is my favorite). Take as little narcotics as possible and stick with over the counter. Above all stand up straight and lose weight whhich will take the pressure off those joints and also make you healthy. Signed, a personal trainer, Christian, 67 yr old graduate of UF College of Health and Human Performance.

Bill M
9 years ago

Quite a few folks with diabetes are left with Periphial Neuropathy (PN). Numbness, tingling in the feet and legs and sometimes in the arms as well, shooting pain difficulty in walking-etc. I have PN, but from a bout of Sepsis and three weeks in the hospital later-there it was! Anyway, I then found a topical oil by the name of “Neuragen PN”. It is not cheap..$59.00 for a .5fl. oz. bottle. Users with a limited area pain problem can use it and it will last applying a wet finger-tip amount at a time. I mix up a combination of the oil and combine it with any Johnson type cream-oil (Baby cream lotion, Bedtime Lotion-etc.) I use an empty air travel size bottle and fill half-way with the cream-lotion add about 18 drops cap a shake, then fill the rest of the way and add about 18 drops again, shake the whole thing really well. I apply daily to the entire lower portion of the body about 3 times daily with great results. the amount of the relief can vary from day-to-day, I guess due to natural body metabulism. I do not think that I could walk very well without it. It works immediately for me! You can obtain at CVS, Rite-aid and Walgreens. Usually stocked in the diabetes supply area. A small bottle is also available for $30 bucks. Not much at all in that size bottle. The larger one that I described aling with my mixture lasts me about a week applying it 3X a day.I used to buy it direct from the manufacturer in Nova Scotia and I mentioned it to CVS in a reply to their ad/email and they wrote me back that they would investigate. About 2 weeks later they responded back that they were going to start carrying Most anyone that has nerve damage will see immediate relief of some degree. This IS NOT an answer for any muscular or joint type of pain. Purely nerve related pain. Although I use it at the base of my spine for a disk related back pain and usually experience some relief for that. Now on those days when it doesn’t do as much for me, I then switch for the day to “JonesEucalyptus Formula” which I order from the net (ingredients are Eucalyptus, grapeseed, Aloe vera, jojoba oil). Not always as effective as the Neuragen but on days when that just doesn’t have the relief that I need, then use the Jones stuff. I really would be in great pain when standing upright most of the time without these great products. The Neuragen is FDA approved, as well. Friends with nerve damage now swear by it. Sorry for the very long disertation but I want to bring this to the attention of anyone with this type of pain. My Neurologist now recommends the PN stuff to other patients too!…Good luck!!!

keeks
9 years ago

The article failed to mention therapeutic massage. Physical therapists in Europe (and formerly in this country) learned that manipulation of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in a manner that restores blood flow and oxygenation can reduce pain and improve range of motion, flexibility and function. This technique has been dropped from many PT protocols in the US to save time and increase reimbursement per hour. “Therapeutic massage” or “clinical massage” are not the same as spa massage, so one needs to find a properly trained therapist.

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