Chronic Pain and Pain-Free Lifestyles: Kick the Medication
Pain management and addictive painkillers too often go hand in hand. For chronic pain sufferers, this can be bad news. The number of addicted chronic pain sufferers is unknown, but it is estimated that the number could be as high as 40%. Rather than run the risk of addiction to opioids, consider making a few pain-killing lifestyle changes. For some, managing chronic pain simply means living well. Here are a few changes you can make to your life to feel better while fighting chronic pain.
Incorporate Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Diet can have a significant impact on chronic pain, either by reducing or contributing to pain. Many common components to Western foods will actually aggravate chronic pain by increasing inflammation. If inflammation is your problem, you should begin to avoid things such as fast foods, artificial sweeteners, heavily processed grains and sugars (white rice, white bread, and high fructose corn syrup), and fried foods.
Replace these overall unhealthy foods with inflammation-fighting options such as fatty fish like salmon, nuts, dark, leafy greens, colorful vegetables like peppers and beets, or even turmeric. Not only are these foods good for you but they can also work against chronic pain flare ups.
Get Quality Sleep
Studies are now showing that inadequate sleep can increase chronic pain while quality sleep can reduce it. It is important that you get enough high-quality sleep in order to feel better in every facet of your life. Insomnia is a common side effect of living with chronic pain, meaning you must find ways to fight both the pain and the inability to sleep.
Certain foods and drinks can help coax sleep. For example, tart cherries are rich in melatonin while bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, two components of muscle relaxation and better sleep.
Another great way to help bring on sleep is to create a nightly routine. As your brain grows accustomed to the routine, it will eventually learn to start feeling sleepy at the appropriate time, making sleep easier.
Exercise has also been proven to reduce the effects of chronic pain for some patients by building muscle and lubricating joints. Of course, exercise is a critical component to any healthy lifestyle, meaning your mood, body, and overall well-being will improve as you work to fight chronic pain.
Some great options for pain-reducing forms of exercise are yoga, Tai Chi, and basic stretching. Both yoga and Tai Chi focus on the entirety of the body rather than working one area at a time. Yoga, in particular, is great for flexibility. Both also have the added benefit of meditative practice. Though meditation alone has been shown to reduce chronic pain (and improve mental wellness), combining it with physical exercise is a perfect way to fight chronic pain. Tai Chi is a great option for people who may be older or less able to do vigorous exercise.
Basic stretching is a way to wake up the muscles and keep the joints in motion, preventing stiffness. Though exercise is best for your overall healthy lifestyle, stretching may be a good alternative for the days you can’t get out to exercise.
Treating chronic pain does not have to mean dangerous medications or the risk for addiction. Pain management can be as easy as building a healthier lifestyle for yourself by eating well, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. These things will improve your condition while simultaneously offering you a lifestyle that simply makes you feel good.
Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.
Image via Pixabay by cattalin
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