Pain isn’t all bad. It’s just our body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong, such as a chemical burn or a sprained ankle. Otherwise, we would find it more difficult to identify an injury, especially an invisible one. But if your pain doesn’t go away after a while and starts to interfere with your life, you need to take steps to prevent further damage down the road.
If your pain persists after three months, you might have chronic pain. Pain immediately felt after an injury is completely normal and expected. If it lingers, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Some of the most common reasons for chronic pain include cancer, obesity, and arthritis. Identifying the source can help relieve the pain. For instance, if you have scoliosis-induced pain, exercises for curved spine scoliosis might alleviate the problem.
Here are a few ways to control your chronic pain that don’t involve surgery.
1. Harness the power of heat and cold
There’s a reason why we often use ice packs and hot towels to relieve mild pain: because it just works. If you need a quick and easy way to deal with pain flare-ups, you can always rely on cold and heat to make yourself more comfortable. If the pain still doesn’t go away, ask your physical therapist or primary care provider about advanced pain management techniques that harness the power of temperature.
Whether your pain is physical or psychosomatic in nature, relaxation is an oft-used method of relief. Tension and stress often manifest as physical pain, and the only way to deal with this is to help your body relax. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing are a great way to relieve tension from your body and ease the pain you feel.
There are many ways to relax, so experiment with different methods and see what works for you. Techniques that utilize repetition are especially effective. Your body starts to relax as you meditate. The formula is quite simple: you clear your mind, you focus on your breathing, and you repeat a motivating mantra. Search online for effective meditation techniques. You can also download an app that offers guided exercises.
Another effective technique is deep breathing. It’s something you can learn on your own. Find a quiet spot and sit or lie down. Start by ignoring distractions and clearing your head of thoughts. Slowly breathe in and out, letting your abdomen inflate and deflate with each breath. Do this for a few minutes each day.
3. Get therapy
It never hurts to ask for professional help, and physical and occupational therapy are two of the most effective ways to deal with chronic pain. But first, you need to learn the difference between the two. Physical therapy focuses on mobility, while occupational therapy deals with quality-of-life improvements.
If you’re looking for a way to build your strength and endurance, a physical therapist is your best bet. Meanwhile, an occupational therapist will teach you methods of doing everyday activities while keeping your pain in check.
4. Get active
Exercise can help relieve pain in two ways. One, exercise helps strengthen our muscles and improve our endurance, reducing the severity of chronic pain. Regular physical activity also releases endorphins, a chemical that helps block pain and boost your mood. If you have a preexisting condition, regular exercise should help alleviate some of the symptoms that cause pain.
Talk to your primary care provider if you’re thinking of starting a fitness routine. They may be able to refer you to a fitness specialist who can work around your needs. Not all exercises are appropriate for chronic pain patients. In some cases, exercise can even exacerbate your condition. Make sure to consult with a health professional before doing home exercises.
5. Communicate your pain
Pain affects both the mind and the body. If you feel anxious, isolated, or depressed, your emotional pain may manifest as physical pain. It helps to join a support group and talk to other people who understand what you’re going through. Social support staves off feelings of loneliness, which then eases some of the pressure you’re feeling.
It also helps to talk to a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist. Mental conditions can cause physical pain, and you could lessen the severity of your psychosomatic pain if you work on your mental health.
The bottom line
Pain management is an ongoing struggle, and these five tips will help you find relief without resorting to invasive procedures. Your pain will never completely go away unless you address its root causes, so talk to your doctor about long-term treatment.