Throughout each of our lives, whether we prioritize healthy living or not, it is normal to feel pain. Yet abnormal chronic pain — or pain that occurs outside of the body’s natural response to injury or illness, persists after healing, and lasts longer than 6 months — affects up to 30% of the global population.
The Secret To Living Better With Chronic Pain
Despite its prevalence, many people struggle to manage chronic pain with medication. Consequently, far from having an optimistic prognosis, it can be life-altering and may even be life-ending.
For many, the secret to more effective pain management is a holistic approach to healthy living. Many different sensory, emotional, and behavioral factors influence pain experiences. It follows, then, that living better with chronic pain often calls for intervention that spans the different physical, mental, and social elements of life.
Keep reading to see some of the best tips to do just that:
Tip 1: Adjust Nutritional Goals & Consider Natural Supplements
For chronic pain patients, eating “better” hinges on knowing which eating habits can exacerbate (or soothe) pain. With that in mind, chronic pain patients can benefit from:
- Adopting specific diets (like a Mediterranean diet);
- Following specific dietary guidelines (like restricting salt intake); and/or
- Eating more antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory foods (like berries and fish).
Moreover, medical experts increasingly support using natural supplements — like those derived from healing plants — to help nutritionally manage pain. This is not just because they help fill the gaps in a balanced diet; research shows that different natural herbs and nutraceuticals can help control different types of chronic pain and reduce patients’ reliance on OTC and prescription painkillers.
Used together, an intentional pain management diet and appropriately dosed natural supplements can even make other pain management therapies more effective.
Tip 2: Create A More Mindful Life
Mindfulness — a mental state of peaceful engagement with the present moment — is a highly recommended strategy for improving chronic pain patients’ quality of life. That is because mindfulness exercises can:
- Prompt the release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain reliever);
- Reduce the emotional and physical stress often associated with chronic pain; and
- Activate the parts of the brain that are responsible for pain management.
For example, both “mindfulness” meditation and “progressive muscle relaxation” meditation can significantly reduce pain and pain-related medicine consumption, improve treatment outcomes, and boost emotional health and wellbeing.
These effects may be sustained for as long as a person continues to regularly engage in mindfulness exercises.
Tip 3: Explore Effective Alternative Medicines
The most effective pain management plans approach pain, its causes, and its effects from a variety of different angles in consideration of a patient’s unique circumstances. That is why alternative medicines are commonly recommended to complement any formal pain treatment plan.
People most often think of touch/tactile-based therapies (like acupuncture and massage), which are both proven to diminish pain-related stress and some pain sensations. Yet chronic pain can make the physical contact, body manipulation, and body positions involved in these practices uncomfortable.
Luckily, highly effective alternative therapies for chronic pain also include no- and low-touch approaches, like aromatherapy and topical products using the oils derived from natural herbs and healing plants.
Tip 4: Seek A Stronger Support System
People frequently underestimate the importance of friendship as an element of healthy living. Yet having a strong social support system contributes greatly to improved health and wellbeing.
For people living with chronic pain, pain and social support share a cyclical relationship: Chronic pain is often a barrier to enjoyable socialization, while the ensuing social isolation makes pain worse. As a result, chronic pain patients often cultivate fewer meaningful friendships and feel lonelier and more socially rejected than their pain-free peers.
That is why one of the most influential buffers for chronic pain is improved social inclusion. The quickest means include attachment to online support networks as well as talking with friends and family about pain experiences.