Chronic pain affects about one in five people in the U.S., making it challenging, if not impossible to work, form social connections, or enjoy the little things in life. Chronic pain is linked to conditions such as arthritis, injuries, lupus and other elusive causes. While there are medications to treat chronic pain, there are also some holistic ways to reduce pain at home.
When dealing with chronic pain, having a solid, understanding, helpful support system is crucial. Many times, the cause of chronic pain is not visible to those around us, leading to frustration, lack of understanding, and added stress for families and friends. There are numerous ways for spouses and partners to support those dealing with chronic pain. There are also plenty of resources available to help a friend, neighbor, and co-worker dealing with chronic pain. If you yourself are experiencing pain, consider the following.
Exercise is a tricky subject when it comes to chronic illness. Everyone will have their own level of stamina when it comes to introducing exercise into their regimen. Exercise is a natural endorphin-booster that can actually help increase your pain threshold. Endorphins can change our brain’s perception of pain, helping to decrease the daily effects of chronic pain. Often, chronic pain can be too overwhelming to start an exercise routine, so consult with your doctor and see what small things you can incorporate into your daily routine at home. Even short 5-minute bursts of walking or a 15-minute gentle or restorative yoga session can help.
Consider Fish Oil and Turmeric Supplements
There are a variety of natural dietary supplements that can help reduce chronic pain. Fish oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties while turmeric can reduce stiffness and inflammation linked to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. You can use turmeric powder in your cooking or take it as an over-the-counter supplement. Consult with your doctor to determine if one of these natural supplements could benefit you and to find the proper dosage.
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Implement an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
In addition to supplements, there are numerous foods known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Consider adding foods like fresh organic fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-glycemic carbs, and healthy fats such as olive oil and omega-3 rich fish. The impact felt from adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may take longer to experience. This is a long-term lifestyle change to help reduce inflammation caused by chronic pain.
Participate in Meditation
Meditation can help reduce stress, provide a deeper connection within your own body, and help quell the pain. According to a study published by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, 109 patients with chronic pain that participated in mindfulness meditation reported more pain relief, as well as lower anxiety, reduced depression, and a better quality of life.
To set up a peaceful and relaxing environment in your home, try to remove as many distractions as possible. This could include making necessary home repairs, like fixing a leaky faucet, repairing a faulty air conditioning system, swapping out flickering light bulbs, and lowering the noise levels in your house. You can also remove any clutter on the floor and piled up work, which can lead to increased stress levels.
Try Heat or Cold Therapy
The key to feeling the benefits of heat or cold therapy is to know when to use which. Pain from an acute injury needs ice right away. For example, a twisted ankle that is painful and swollen needs ice to reduce the swelling. Heat makes that situation worse by increasing blood flow to the injury and thereby increasing swelling.
Lingering pain, such as back pain and spasms, call for heat. Warm showers, hot Epsom baths or a localized heating pack can help reduce pain.
Many times, alleviating chronic pain is a series of trial and error attempts. These are just a few examples of things you can try at home to help reduce chronic pain. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about other ways you can relieve your pain levels.