For some of the patients at our Orange County emergency clinic, pain doesn’t end after an injury heals. Because of an injury or medical condition, millions of Americans deal with chronic, ongoing pain on a daily basis.
If you’re dealing with chronic pain, using the following pain management steps can help you manage your pain levels and learn how to better manage living with your condition:
- Track your pain levels – Most chronic pain does not stay at a consistent level all the time, but fluctuates from day to day. While it may seem like the increases and decreases in pain are random, they may be affected by your daily activities. By keeping track of pain levels on a day-to-day basis, it will be easier to examine which activities cause the pain to get worse, and which ones may be helping it get better.
- Get some exercise – While some chronic pain may make it difficult to be physically active on a regular basis, getting exercise as often as possible can help treat chronic pain. This isn’t just because healthier bodies heal faster and better (which they do). Exercise also causes the body to produce endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain reliever. The higher your body’s endorphins, the less pain you feel, and the more your mood improves.
- Reduce stress – Stress is bad for the body, causing high blood pressure and other negative health effects. But, more than that, stress, depression, and other negative feelings also increase the body’s sensitivity to pain. To help manage chronic pain, find activities that reduce the amount of stress you feel. Enjoying favorite activities or taking up a new hobby can reduce stress levels, take your mind off your pain, and decrease the amount of pain you feel.
- Meditate – Meditation and other relaxing exercises, such as deep breathing, can reduce tension in the body and help manage pain levels. Try to find time every day to be by yourself, where you can meditate, relax, and focus on centering your mind and breathing. Even twenty minutes a day can have a measurable impact on chronic pain levels.
- Stop smoking – The negative health effects of smoking are well documented, but one of the lesser-known symptoms associated with smoking is that it makes chronic pain worse. Smoking damages the body’s circulatory system and reduces the amount of blood flowing to an injured area. This slows healing, increases pain, and makes managing chronic injury even harder.
- Speak with a therapist – Not all the symptoms of chronic pain are physical. Dealing with ongoing pain can be stressful and discouraging, which can lead to depression, anger, and other negative psychological effects. This is a perfectly natural response to chronic pain, but ignoring feelings about an injury won’t make it better. If pain is having a negative impact on mood and behavior, seek out a counselor or therapy group that can help you deal with your emotions and get better at managing your pain.
Looking for more health and pain management tips? Give us a call at 949-548-8400.