If you suffer from chronic pain, whether you know the source of the pain or not, you aren’t alone. According to the CDC, chronic pain affects somewhere between 11% and 40% of the US population.
You have “chronic pain” when you’ve suffered from pain for over three months, especially if your body isn’t responding to medical treatment. The stress and anxiety associated with this condition, along with the struggle to manage chronic pain, can feel overwhelming.
While you may want to work with a range of professionals from chiropractors to psychotherapists, it can help to know how to relieve this issue at home. What methods can you use on a regular basis to reduce your symptoms, and what lifestyle changes can keep the pain at bay?
If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at some of the best methods of managing chronic pain at home.
- Cold and Heat Therapy
Most medical professionals will recommend the use of heat or cold packs immediately after an injury. These options are often considered best for “acute” pain.
While you shouldn’t rely on them all the time, it’s worth noting that these therapies can be just as useful for chronic pain management. When you have an episode in which your pain grows stronger, using heat and cold packs can help. Both of these are useful to control chronic pain in between appointments.
Heat therapy in particular can help boost your blood flow, which can relieve stiffness. Cold therapy, on the other hand, can help reduce any inflammation or swelling. Whichever you choose, make sure to wrap the pack in a towel, and apply it for no more than fifteen minutes.
You can be excused for thinking that the best way to manage chronic pain is not to exercise. After all, isn’t the common advice we give to someone in pain, “Get some rest?”
It’s true that a short period of rest can sometimes help ease your pain. However, refraining from exercise over a long period can in fact make lingering pains worse. It can even make it more difficult to get back up and moving when you try to resume movement again.
It may be counterintuitive, but research has shown that physical activity can help adults to better manage their chronic pain.
Of course, you may be struggling to figure out which types of activities to choose, especially if you have chronic knee pain or back pain that makes it difficult to do standard activities like jogging.
However, there are plenty of activities you can try, regardless of your condition. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming are accessible to most people, for example. Simple strengthening exercises as well as yoga are other great options.
If you’re not sure how to exercise without causing undue pain, consider working with a physical therapist. This professional can help you identify the movements that don’t cause pain, building out your range of motion from there.
One helpful side effect of more exercise is, of course, additional weight loss. Because many painful conditions can become worse when you carry excess weight, losing weight can in turn help ease certain types of pain.
The phrase “mind over body” may seem like a silly witticism when you’re struggling with chronic pain syndrome. However, the truth is that meditation may be able to help ease some of your worst symptoms.
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your body in general, but it’s worth noting that they can also impact your blood pressure and immune system. The negative impact to these symptoms can actually increase your pain, which in turn can cause more stress and anxiety.
This is why activities that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety can help with pain. Meditating for a few minutes throughout your day can help in many ways. Most importantly, it can soothe your nervous system and reduce the inflammation response stress causes.
If you’re new to the realm of meditation, there are plenty of apps and websites to help you get started. Beginners may want to get started with mindfulness techniques or breathing exercises for an easier way in.
- Myofascial Release
If you’ve ever gotten a great massage, you already know the basics of myofascial release. “Fascia” refers to the connective tissues around your muscles and organs, but you might know of this therapy by another name: trigger points.
Trigger points are tender points around your muscles, sometimes referred to as “knots.” They may feel hard or tender to the touch. Relieving them can feel great, and though it won’t make your pain go away forever, it can provide some short-term relief.
There are many techniques to help with myofascial release outside of your home. Massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments are two types of pain care that involve myofascial release, and they can help provide longer relief than you often can at home. However, you can also perform chronic pain management on your own using this method.
You’ll find a wide range of products available to help you deal with trigger points, from foam rollers to lacrosse balls. You can even get started by using your own hands! Check out an online introduction to get started.
Take Steps to Manage Chronic Pain
No matter where the issue lies, these key tips can help you better manage chronic pain, as well as the associated stress and anxiety. In addition to medical treatment, the strategies above can help you reduce your pain between appointments and encourage more peace of mind. Be sure to set aside time to decide how to fit them into your lifestyle!
Need more essential health guides to get you through the day? Check out our other helpful posts for more insights.