Managing Chronic Pain Without Drugs

Managing Chronic Pain Without Drugs

by Jacki Waters

Feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration are common when you’re in pain, but when pain continues for months or years, every day can feel like a struggle, and the joy of life slowly starts to fade.

According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks and adversely affects many facets of life, including sleep, relationships, appetite, physical health, and more. With some lifestyle adjustments and exercises, you can better manage your chronic pain and begin to enjoy life more.

Lifestyle Adjustments

“Lack of sufficient physical activity and being out of shape increases the risk of injury and exacerbated pain,” says Clear Passage Physical Therapy & Physiotherapy, which is why exercise is an important part of managing chronic pain. The Arthritis Foundation states that excess weight puts more pressure on your joints, increasing pain. In addition, excess fat tissue sends out chemical signals that increase inflammation, leading to more pain. Exercise helps keep your weight in check and causes your brain to release endorphins, which improves your mood – both outcomes help alleviate pain.

Your diet also affects your weight, so be sure to consume nourishing foods in healthy quantities. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Be sure to avoid processed foods, red meat, and sugary drinks. Getting adequate rest is also crucial in pain management and overall health. When you’re in pain, it can be difficult to sleep, and alcohol can aggravate sleep issues, especially if consumed an hour before bedtime. Consider reducing alcohol consumption or eliminating it altogether.

Stress and all of the negative emotions that come with it can increase your body’s sensitivity to pain. Find ways to reduce and control your stress levels. Try to cut stress out wherever possible and have a better hold on the remaining stress. To relieve stress, attempt relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery, calming music, or yoga.

Exercise Therapy

As stated above, yoga is a great way to relax. It also improves flexibility, balance, and strength. You can modify yoga to meet your specific needs and challenges. For example, you can use props (such as blocks, pillows, or a chair) to make poses more comfortable. The Arthritis Foundation adds that poses can be modified by not going “deep” into the positions.

Instead of ignoring or fighting your pain, it may be more effective to explore the sensations of pain and illness as they rise and fall in your body, according to Psychology Today. This approach is known as mindfulness meditation, and it has been shown to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent, with skilled meditators reducing it by over 90 percent. “In effect, mindfulness teaches you how to turn down the volume control on your pain,” says Psychology Today.

The Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute claims that water is most likely the oldest medium of physical treatment with physiological and psychological benefits. Someone can exercise and move in water, especially warm water, with little or no pain. Also, due to its buoyancy, you can move around in the water with little effort. Even though it feels effortless, water also creates resistance, which increases muscular strength and endurance. Most chronic pain sufferers find water exercise to be rewarding and find that it enhances their mood, which in turn creates a sense of hope and feeds the motivation to continue.

Full Circle

Beyond diet, exercise, and other activities, the Washington Post recommends engaging in solving your pain issues, avoiding isolating behaviors, improving communication with your loved ones and doctors, and working with a counselor. It’s also important to incorporate structure, activities, socialization, purpose, and meaning into each day of your life. By actively participating in your wellness, activities you enjoy, and support groups, you can greatly improve your overall well-being and happiness and work toward managing your pain.

(Visited 729 times, 1 visits today)
Subscribe to Jenna's Lyme Blog
Yes, I want to subscribe. I understand I will only receive one email each month when there are new posts.
This entry was posted in Chronic Lyme Disease, Coping with Lyme disease, Discussion, Pain and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Managing Chronic Pain Without Drugs

  1. Paul Richard says:

    Informative post! It will really help those who suffer severe pain problems.

  2. Lori Geurin says:

    Thanks for sharing this great article on dealing with chronic pain without meds. Pain medications have become a huge problem in our country.

    There are some wonderful doctors out there, but there are also those who prescribe addictive drugs, such as opioids without a thought to all the other options available. I think if patients were more aware of these helpful, less risky options to help manage their pain many of them would be open to trying that.

    I have chronic Lyme and have dealt with chronic pain for a few years now. I recently weaned myself off of 2 pain meds (not opioids) my rheumatologist prescribed because I was so tired of dealing with the side effects. I’m working hard to live a healthy life and live as naturally as possible, although it’s a process.

    I’ve found that taking a turmeric curcumin supplement daily is just as effective at controlling my pain as my pain meds, without the unwanted side effects (and unnatural chemicals). It’s a win-win.

    As you mentioned, exercise, such as yoga, healthy eating, and reducing stress as much as possible are all things we can do to help us deal with chronic pain.

    Thanks again for the great info, Jenna!

    • I’d like to know more about the Turmeric Curreumin supplement. Do u have a brand u like? I have Lyme and suffer with severe back pain. I take Opiates to get thru the day, but I’d love to try something more natural BUT I am in severe pain all day. I’ve been doing all these treatments with my back but I’m wondering if it’s just all Lyme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *