Chronic pain refers to pain that persists for longer than six months and can negatively affect various aspects of your life. In some cases, chronic pain can be debilitating as it not only affects you physically, but psychologically as well, and can lead to decreased quality of life.
Everyone feels pain from time to time, but chronic pain is different; it persists for a lengthy period of time, lasting for months, and even years in some patients. Chronic pain comes from a series of messages that pass through your nervous system. When you suffer an injury, the injury activates pain sensors in the injured area. The pain sensors then send a message from the nerve to the brain, and your brain processes the signals and sends out the message of pain. The pain signal usually stops when the underlying cause of the injury is resolved; however, if you suffer from chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after healing has occurred.
Physical and emotional pain are closely related, and can create a vicious circle of symptoms in chronic pain patients. When you have persistent pain, you’ll likely experience negative feelings such as stress, anxiety, etc. The increased stress levels can then increase the pain you experience. By learning ways to manage your stress levels, you may notice that you start to have some control over your pain levels.
Relaxation techniques involve concentration and deep breathing to help release muscle tension and relieve pain. Learning to relax takes a lot of practice, but once you’re able to do it, relaxing can help to focus your attention away from your pain and can release tension in all muscles.
For deep breathing, try to block out distractions by finding a quiet location Get into a comfortable position. Imagine the spot just below your belly button and breathe into that spot and fill your abdomen with air. Once it is full, let it out slowly.
There are a variety of ways to mediate – try focusing on your breathing, ignoring your thoughts and repeating a phrase or word (manta). Learning mediation on your own is possible, although in some cases it helps to take a class.
Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and kicking bad habits will help to control your chronic pain symptoms.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet including lean cuts of meats, fresh fruits and veggies, whole-grain breads and cereals, and low fat dairy products is important if you suffer with chronic pain. A healthy diet can help to improve digestion, help with weight control, reduce your risk of heart disease, and control blood sugar levels.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that help to improve your mood and block pain signals, which can help to ease your pain. Exercise also helps to strengthen muscles, thereby helping to reduce the risk of re-injury. In addition to these pain-relieving benefits, exercise helps with weight control, reduces your risk of heart disease, and controls blood sugar levels. Speak to a physical therapist at Blue Hills Sport & Spine Rehabilitation to help develop an exercise program that is suitable for your condition.
Quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol consumption are important if you suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain can make sleeping difficult and alcohol can exacerbate your sleep problems. Cutting back on alcohol consumption can help to improve your sleep and decrease your chronic pan symptoms. Smoking can increase your pain symptoms because it can worsen circulation issues. If you’re a smoker and you suffer with chronic pain, you’ll want to cut back, or quit this unhealthy habit.
If you suffer with chronic pain, you know just how debilitating it can be. The physical therapists at Blue Hills Spine & Sport Rehabilitation can help to set you on the right path toward managing your chronic pain symptoms and help you enjoy your life to the fullest.