Chronic pain affects over 100 million Americans and is defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. If you suffer from chronic pain, you may already be receiving professional therapy to help ease some of the symptoms. You also might be taking medications to manage your pain and help with everyday activities. When you’re not in therapy, there are many steps you can take at home to manage chronic pain.
8 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain at Home
1. Stay hydrated
Dehydration is known to trigger some symptoms of chronic pain, especially headaches, migraines, neck pain, and back pain. Water is used as a lubricant in the spinal vertebrae, as well as many other joint structures in the body. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, try increasing your water intake. Adequate levels of hydration will create circulation and help manage chronic pain.
2. Eat right
Pain management diets are becoming more popular in treating those suffering from chronic pain. You may not need to change your whole diet, but knowing which foods are known to alleviate inflammation and which ones add to it can truly help. Processed foods tend to contribute to pain, so try to limit those. Leafy greens, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, low-sugar fruits, and soy products can help lower inflammation and pain.
3. Use Turmeric
Turmeric is a beneficial treatment for many health conditions, especially chronic pain. Although use for pain is not supported by some studies, many people claim to benefit from it. Curcumin is the natural component of turmeric that reduces inflammation. Turmeric is widely used in Asian cultures as well as in Indian cuisine, as it is a major ingredient in curry powder. It is also available in capsule, tablet, and paste forms.
4. Take up yoga or meditation
Yoga and meditation are well-known practices that ease stress. In addition to stress relief, yoga promotes flexibility and strength, which can help manage chronic pain. Stress can create muscle spasms, so relaxing and practicing yoga or meditation can be great for alleviating pain. Yoga poses can also positively affect poor posture, which is a leading cause of neck pain.
5. Concentrate on breathing
Concentrating on your breathing can act as a form of meditation. When you feel pain, breaths may become short and quick, almost as if you’re gasping for air. Try to take your focus away from the pain and concentrate on your breathing. Shifting your attention alone can help manage chronic pain, but using breathing techniques can take that further. Try to slow your breathing down and take longer, deeper, breaths. Practicing breathing techniques also promotes relaxation and stress relief.
Not intense exercise, but simple everyday activities could be a huge help in managing pain. Walking, swimming, gardening, and dancing can be effective in blocking pain signals. Exercising can build pain tolerance by strengthening and working stiff muscles, ligaments, and joints.
You might be hesitant to exercise or participate in any physical activities out of your comfort zone, thinking it could do more damage. Don’t jump right into it, but instead become more active gradually. You may feel pain initially because those muscles and joints have not been worked in a long time.
7. Get enough sleep
Setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it is a great way to manage chronic pain. Most people say that the symptoms worsen when it’s time for bed, but getting a good night’s sleep is very important. Sleep deprivation can worsen pain, and insomnia can cause migraines along with stress. A healthy amount of sleep is beneficial for health in general, so try to get enough shut-eye every night.
8. Keep in touch with family/friends
Chronic pain can definitely cause someone to not want to leave the house or interact with others. Although this can certainly happen, it can make everything worse. There’s no scientific evidence, but keeping in touch with friends and family will provide a sense of support and distractions from pain. You don’t have to spend all day with someone, but even short visits can be a mood booster and take the attention away from your pain.