I recently connected with, Jackie Waters, creator of Hyper-Tidy who so graciously wrote an article for Massage HealthOne.
Safely Managing Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain: What It Is and How It Affects You
Chronic pain has a way of permeating your entire life. The discomfort can be downright debilitating, and that debilitation can mess with you both mentally and emotionally as well. While some people are able to get clear answers about the source of their chronic pain, others are left in the dark. Knowing that something is wrong but not knowing what it is or how to stop it can often lead to anxiety, isolation, and depression.
So what is chronic pain? Technically, physicians label your pain as “chronic” if it has been persistent for weeks, months, or even years. Typically, it takes about 6-12 weeks before a doctor can really determine whether or not your pain is chronic. The discomfort impairs your ability to complete day-to-day activities as you lose your strength, flexibility, and stamina.
While a physician may not always be able to determine the exact cause of your chronic pain, there are some common conditions that often result in it:
- A past injury like a damaged muscle or broken bone may continue aching even after much of the healing is done.
- The same can be said of surgery recovery; even after the bulk of the recovery is done, you can still feel residual pain.
- Spinal injuries can cause chronic pain in completely different parts of the body.
- Migraines are persistent, blinding headaches and are considered chronic pain.
- An undetected infection that causes pain necessitates immediate medical attention.
- Nerve damage, like a spinal injury, can cause chronic pain in other parts of the body.
- Arthritis in the joints is a type of chronic pain.
- Fibromyalgia is perhaps one of the most well-known conditions connected with chronic, multifocal pain.
The Dangers of Prescription Painkillers
In the past, patients were often given prescription painkillers—often opioids—in order to manage their severe chronic pain. While some people need these prescriptions in order to function, those with a history of addiction risk abuse and dependence. The best way to manage this dilemma is to be ever vigilant when it comes to the warning signs of prescription drug abuse and talk to your physicians regularly about your concerns regarding using them. They may suggest alternative methods to dealing with your chronic pain that can help.
Alternative Methods for Managing Chronic Pain
If you experience chronic pain, you need to consult your physician about treatment and management to find the perfect solution for your unique situation. However, there are certain holistic treatments that can help with pain but also work for improving overall life quality for those not experiencing it. Basically, you can put these treatments under the “it can’t hurt” category of treatment. Other “alternative medicine” treatments don’t work for everybody, but some people find they work for managing chronic pain when nothing else does. These include:
- Proper diet and regular exercise reduce inflammation in the body, which alleviates the pain.
- Reduce pain triggers by creating a stress-free, calm environment at home where you can relax.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, other relaxation techniques, including breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visual imagery, and meditation and mindfulness, can help manage pain even when not at home.
- Massage therapy is a proven method that helps manage chronic pain.
- Alternative treatments like acupuncture and hypnosis may help with chronic pain relief.
- Spinal manipulation is a procedure performed by a chiropractor that may help with certain types of chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a debilitating issue that can lead to depression, anxiety, and isolation. While there are some conditions, illnesses, and injuries we can link to chronic pain, the source is not always known. In the past, doctors turned to prescription painkillers to help people with chronic pain manage their condition, but the increase in opioid abuse in the United States prompts some people to look for alternative methods to cope. Many of these are holistic treatments that can help with improving the body’s overall health (e.g., a healthy diet, regular exercise), while other alternative treatments may not be for everybody, but they still show some promise (e.g., acupuncture, hypnosis, chiropractic therapy).
As a mom, wife, massage therapist, juggling life, and my own health challenges I know the difficulty of dealing with chronic pain. I would encourage you to speak with your health practitioner about appropriate alternative methods.