From diet and exercise, to enjoying nature, there are many ways to help relieve your symptoms of chronic pain
Living with chronic pain is no joke, and many Australians do so, to some degree or other. For some this means constant annoyance and others it means completely crippling pain. Most of our patients here at Transcend Health do not want to rely on painkillers for the rest of their lives and so we encounter many questions about how they can change their lifestyles to cope with it.
We have helped our clients to achieve results above and beyond what they thought possible before coming to us, leading to our team being recognised as the experts in treating chronic pain. Hopefully this article can help you too.
What is chronic pain?
Understanding the effects of chronic pain can be a challenge for non-sufferers – if they can’t see the illness then they may feel that sufferers are not sick… this way of thinking, however, is outdated and offensive.
Chronic pain can stem from a various number of conditions and lasts more than 3 months. Usually, ‘invisible’ illnesses cause the pain, from back pain and headaches, to life crippling conditions such as endometriosis and osteoarthritis. Chronic pain can be thought of as the brain having sent the pain system into over-protective mode and is doing too good of a job.
What are the effects of chronic pain?
Keeping in mind that chronic pain can often last for months or years at a time, it is easy to understand the debilitating effects that it would have the sufferer’s body, from the digestive and mental health, to social life and familial bonds.
Your mental health, as a sufferer of chronic pain, has a major impact on how your body responds and handles pain – studies have shown that anxiety, depression, and stress can greatly impact the experience.
At Transcend Health, we understand that, while it may be easier said than done, we encourage our clients to change how they perceive their chronic pain. Instead of looking at it as something that will never change, making gradual changes of how sufferers react to it can help their mental and physical health.
For instance, instead of thinking ‘it is what it is’, take deep calming breaths and remind yourself that this is only temporary, and that you are strong. Deep breathing and gentle focus can be genuinely helpful when used in conjunction with the following lifestyle remedies and the advice of your doctor.
Lifestyle remedies for chronic pain
Having a well-balanced diet does not mean going on a diet; it means creating a lifestyle change. For example, use the foods that you already love but incorporate extra vegetables.
Similarly, choose a piece of fruit instead of protein bars, which can be very misleading as they typically contain similar amounts of calories to burgers or sugar-rich fruits such as bananas. while also watching your portion sizes. Don’t forget that it’s totally okay to eat a variety of food… variety is the spice of life!
You do not need to dive right into a hardcore routine. In fact, starting at a lower level, you’ll find a bit of pain or soreness, but won’t be at risk of damaging any bodily tissue or further hurting yourself. We don’t want you to push yourself, so start out slow by going for a 30 minute walk, a gentle swim, or even a beginner’s yoga session. Learn to listen to your body though and don’t push it to point of pain. Here at Transcend Health, we can help you develop an exercise plan specifically to target your areas of pain.
The thought of reducing or managing your stress levels can be stressful in itself! But, by giving yourself time to just be quiet, calm, and reflective, you are giving your body permission to relax and when we relax.
Headspace has a great blog on 6 Ways to Practice Mindfulness which includes:
- breathing techniques
- nature walks
- mini breaks
- apps that help you to learn to meditate more effectively
- Tai Chi.
All these activities can help improve your mental health and reduce your depression and anxiety symptoms. Ultimately, however, frequent quiet time created by freeing up moments in the day will positively influence your stress levels. Don’t forget that you can always talk to one of our team members for some focused tips and tricks they have.
When we’re in pain, busy, depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, it can be very difficult to give yourself permission to do things you love. Whether it’s going for a swim, riding your bike, nature walks, or going for a scenic drive if the experience gives you a sense of calm you can use your mindfulness techniques to further enjoy the experience.
If you’re not quite sure what hobbies you can currently tolerate, your Transcend Health team member can help you brainstorm some fun and safe activities and even help you get back to the hobbies you used to love.
Pain can greatly impact how and when we are able to sleep and, while it may be hard to stick to a sleep schedule, it’s one of many things that you can do to help ensure you have a good restful night of sleep. Here are Transcend Health’s tips on improving your sleep:
- Try to get up and go to sleep at the same every day.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
- Create a comfortable bedroom that is quiet and dark to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Your bedroom is for sleeping in, so be sure to keep technology and food or drink out. This helps your body and mind understand that it is rest time when you go to your bedroom.
- If you can, don’t exercise, eat big meals, or work, before bedtime.
- Reduce or avoid your caffeinated beverage intake throughout the day.
- Don’t drink alcohol or smoke in the evenings.
- Try to be as active as you can throughout the day, even if it’s just pottering around the garden.
- Don’t nap for longer than 20mins, and do so before 3pm, otherwise you’ll throw off your sleep schedule.
Chronic pain management resources
There are a ton of resources out there to help you with pain management from ACI’s Pain: Lifestyle and Nutrition to speaking with your GP. Your GP can refer you to health services such as Transcend Health, where we help our clients to get their bodies moving the way they want and need.
Chronic pain is the most common condition we treat and by using tried and proven pain education and exercise plans we can provide a safe, effective, and evidence-based care that empowers and enables our clients to achieve beyond what they thought possible.
We specialise in Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiology and offer a variety of exercise classes here in the Newcastle area. To find out more, give us a call on (02)49613399 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, click here to book your appointment online now and we will be glad to help you manage your chronic pain, long term.