Like many, I have chronic pain due to two injury sites, both of which have been reinjured. I have had to adapt my life to address my chronic pain and have learned a great deal about myself and my injuries. Here are a few tips that you may find value in if you are also experiencing chronic pain.
1) Be Your Own Best Advocate
Before I visit any healthcare practitioner, I prepare by noting any questions I have and any new treatment options that I have learned about. Healthcare practitioners are busy, but I refuse to be rushed; I end my appointment when I feel that I have been heard, and my concerns and questions have been fully addressed.
Keeping a journal can guide your conversations by identifying pain triggers and sources of relief. I exercise regularly by doing many different activities. I find that resistance training is particularly beneficial as it strengthens my muscles and dramatically improves my mood. Take charge of your own wellness. Find reputable, science-backed, and accredited practitioners, and advocate for yourself at all times.
2) Seek Joy
It’s all too easy to mope, so I decide to reject that state of mind every day. I cannot remain in a place where pain dominates my life. I make the conscious decision to move on, despite the pain. I embrace an active and adventure-filled life not defined by my chronic pain. I do this by being diligent about my self-care, including a dynamic and healthy lifestyle, and various wellness services and products. Seeking joy is purposeful and must be done with intent. It means being present and finding the magic in seemingly little moments. Find your joy, and let it outweigh your pain.
3) Stay Active
Research shows that being physically active improves mood and reduces the chance of many disease processes. During exercise, our bodies release a feel-good chemical called endorphins. Be active every day for at least 30 minutes; go for a walk, take a dance class, do yoga, hit the gym, jump in the pool…. the opportunities are endless. By staying active, the release of endorphins will improve your mood, which will lead to you feeling up to engaging with life.
Further, regular exercise will benefit your cardiovascular system, bone health, and muscle strength. Adding exercise into your daily life is as simple as adding a brisk walk or swim. Resistance training is easy to do even within your home with inexpensive and effective loop and pull-up bands. Consider what activities you can do today to get active!
4) Educate Yourself
My chronic pain guides my choices and conversations with my healthcare team. I have tried everything, from acupuncture to prescription drugs to meditation. Some preferences provide more relief than others, and new options arise every day. I will continue to try those that are safe and backed by research. Many new wellness products are designed to provide physical relief, such as compression socks, which reduce foot pain and increase circulation, or knee braces, which reduces stress and relieves pressure on the knee joint. Learn how you can relieve your pain by educating yourself and always confirm that the product or treatment you are considering is safe and effective.
5) Invest in Yourself
Over the years, I have purchased many wellness items that are now in my “toolbox” for better managing my pain. I have wheat bags to heat in the microwave, ice packs in the freezer, and essential oils like peppermint that provide relief when applied to the skin. I enjoy a professional massage now and then. Self-massage is an affordable way to reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and treat muscle spasms and soothe sore spots. You may find that orthotic insoles and compression socks provide pain relief for your feet, legs, and entire body; being on our feet most of the day can result in chronic pain. I consider it an investment in my health and money well spent if it means feeling better. Your pain is unique to you, so seek relief and get active again!