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5 Tips For Managing Chronic Pain

If you have chronic pain, you know how it affects every area of your life. Anything that can bring you relief benefits you in multiple ways.

5 Tips For Managing Chronic Pain

However, it’s natural to become overwhelmed with all the advice flying around on the internet and in public circles. Practically everyone with an ongoing health condition has rolled their eyes more than once at their aunt’s folk miracle cure — how can you find what’s legit and works for you? Here are five proven tips for managing chronic pain that span multiple ailments.

1. Research Your Treatment Options 

As a chronic pain patient, you have to become your own best advocate — especially if you are a female. Sadly, physician and societal bias toward female pain continue to prevent countless women from getting the relief they need. For example, it takes an average of seven years to get an endometriosis diagnosis even though one out ten women have this debilitatingly painful condition.

Fortunately, you now have more information at your fingertips than previous generations could dream of, thanks to the internet. While you don’t want to self-diagnose, you can research symptoms like leg numbness and muscle weakness to find potential causes. Along the way, you’ll learn vocabulary that will empower you to have a more clear discussion with your provider about your treatment options.

Even if you can “talk the talk” by mastering challenging medical terminology, it helps to take a partner or friend with you to your appointments. You might be one of many who feels intimidated when dealing with hurried medical personnel — a support system can encourage you to ask your questions anyway. Plus, it’s natural to forget information when dealing with high-stakes matters like your health.

2. Embrace Customized Ergonomics

Pick up nearly any productivity self-help article, and you’ll find tips like, “get dressed for the office, even when working from home,” and “sit at a desk, not on your couch.” If you have chronic pain, kindly take those well-meant words and chuck them out the nearest window. You work at your best when you aren’t distracted by discomfort. Full stop.

Therefore, if you are at your most productive when pillows fully support your aching back, go right ahead and work in bed. Ask yourself what your boss would rather have — more work completed or a picture of you sitting at a desk in your home office?

If you still commute to a traditional workspace, make it work for you as much as possible. Some people report considerable relief from variable-height desks that help them move more throughout the workday. Others do better with an inflatable fitness ball that lets them stretch their lumbar vertebrae as often as needed. Hopefully, no rule says that you have to use the chair HR originally provided. Ask for an accessibility upgrade.

3. Streamline Your Routine

Are you familiar with spoon theory? It’s a beautiful way of explaining how the fatigue associated with chronic pain and illness can make it challenging to get through the daily tasks non-disabled people take for granted. A person without an agonizing health condition starts each day with more “spoons” in their drawer, whereas those who do must dole out their energy more judiciously.

Therefore, get rid of as many energy vampires in your life as possible. Does your commute drain you so much that you sometimes call in sick rather than face it? Talk to your employer about telecommuting. Many people began this working arrangement during the pandemic, which is such a boon for spoonies — you might succeed in convincing them now even if you failed in the past.

4. Take the Easy Way Out

When pain taps your energy levels, you sometimes have to sacrifice unrealistic ideals in the name of practicality. Become an expert on hacks that can save you time and stress.

Learn to let apps do much of your work for you. If brain-fog makes you forget what you were doing in the middle of doing it, get friendly with the reminders app on your phone. You won’t forget to stop at the store after work if Siri reminds you on your commute home. Other apps, like Our Groceries, alert you to the fact that your partner just polished off the last of the cottage cheese, saving you an extra trip back to get it.

The bottom line: If you have the means to take advantage of modern conveniences, do so. If getting your groceries delivered saves you enough spoons to cook a healthy dinner instead of hitting the drive-thru — and potentially eating a flare-triggering food — go for it.

5. Keep an Open-Yet-Scientific Mind

Think about this: if you were born before penicillin’s invention, would you have ever imagined that mold could play such a vital role in treating infectious diseases? As a chronic pain patient, you might feel like you have tried everything to manage your condition. It’s okay to be skeptical of new holistic or traditional treatments, but please keep an open mind.

When trying a new technique, follow the scientific method and listen to your doctor’s advice. Many medications and herbal remedies take time to work effectively — if you give up in despair too soon, you could miss out on valuable benefits.

Instead, learn how to keep careful records, safely adjust your methodology and analyze the effectiveness of your approach. For example, if you try an elimination diet to see which foods trigger your painful flares, keep a written record in a journal. Sharing this information with your healthcare provider could offer insight into the best treatment regimen for you.

Manage Chronic Pain More Effectively With These 5 Tips 

Chronic pain stems from various causes, and it’s easy to get caught up in a sea of well-meant advice. The five tips above can help you manage more effectively regardless of why you ache.

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