Chronic pain is pain that lasts or recurs over a long period of time, usually more than six months. It is different than acute pain in that many of the effects that come with it, such as increased heart rate and respiration levels as the body, cannot keep these up over a long period of time and so it becomes a sort of normal feeling for the body. This does not make it any less distressing for the person feeling the pain, however. It can be caused by any number of things and a varied range of diseases, illnesses and conditions could be the cause.
Chronic pain may be less intense than acute pain. The person with chronic pain does not usually display increased pulse and rapid respiration because these autonomic reactions to pain cannot be sustained for long periods.
Living With Pain
Pain can be extremely difficult to live with whether it is acute and temporary or long term and chronic. Whilst chronic pain doesn’t tend to be as intense as acute pain it is more debilitating and can have a severe and long term affect on people’s ability to look after themselves and carry out their lives normally. Sufferers of chronic pain often face stigma from others, particularly if their pain is not physically obvious and this, coupled with any disability they may face in regard to carrying out personal care and tasks, can lead to mental health problems such as low mood, depression and anxiety.
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.
Being Stress Free
It can be difficult to lead a stress free life for anyone, let alone someone who is living with chronic pain. But stress can actually exacerbate those feelings and make it worse. So as hard as it is, you need to try and take steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life. When things feel like they are getting out of hand, listen to some music, read a book or draw yourself a long hot bath, anything that will help to reduce the tension and anxiety.
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.
While it may be difficult for a person dealing with chronic pain to get exercise, there should always be something that he or she is able to do. Swimming is a great form of exercise for those who have pain issues related to bones and joints as it takes the weight off from them which removes some of the pain. Exercising releases happy endorphins in your brain which give you a feeling of well-being and can help to numb your pain receptors and sensitivity.
Finding a hobby or an activity that you enjoy can be instrumental in helping you live with your pain. When you are concentrating on this activity you are not thinking about the pain you feel and so you can feel relaxed and happy. Regularly taking part in an activity can also give you more of a feeling of independence and normality because for that amount of time you are engaging in your hobby your life is not being run by your pain.
Keep A Diary
If you want to be able to effectively treat your pain then you will need to keep a track of it. Which activities increase it as well as anything which helps to decrease it? Write them down. This way your doctor can decide on what types and how much of pain medication they need to prescribe you as well as any other methods that may benefit you in one way or another. If you track your pain on a scale of one to ten this can be helpful for your doctor too.
Even if you can’t take care of your pain you should still take care of other parts of your body to reduce your risk of developing other health complications. To do this you need to keep a healthy diet, making sure that you include lots of fruits and vegetables to keep your heart healthy. As certain pain medications can also cause constipation and other digestive tract issues you should include fiber and other foods which can help keep this healthy.
Even with the use of the best pain meds, there will still be times when chronic pain can get the best of us. We can lose control of it and feel like it is never going to go away. A good way to keep yourself calm when this happens is to learn some breathing exercises; they help your body to stay relaxed which in turn helps the pain as tensing up can only make things worse. Meditation has been really helpful to many sufferers and if you are struggling to get your head around it then there are courses in meditation and relaxation that you can take.
Getting a massage is another way to completely relax yourself and reduce tension. But in addition to this, if you focus on the area that is the main site and source of the pain you may find that it can actually have a more long term benefit, especially if you have these massages on a regular basis. Obviously, you should not have this type of massage without first consulting your medical practitioner to ensure that it will not make any issues worse or put you in any kind of danger.
Chronic pain may not have a cure. However, it can be treated and not always with medication. There are alternative therapies and other things you can try to help. Regardless of that, it does not have to be a life sentence and limit everything you do.