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- Take control of your overall health and the management of your pain. Start by making healthful lifestyle changes such as eating well, moving/exercising, reducing stress, etc.
- Insist on a thorough assessment and a treatment plan that includes options.
- Insist on care that is person-centered and tailored to your individual needs. The plan should consider who you are—in mind, body, and spirit, and in the context of your environment, not just what condition you may have. Insist on care in which there is open communication between you and your health care providers.
- Recognize that there is no single medication or procedure that will make you better. Learn about and consider all appropriate modalities (both conventional and complementary and alternative), approaches, and clinicians to achieve wellness (including your physical and mental health, function, and meaning and purpose).
- Get engaged. Get active. As much as possible, start doing things that bring pleasure and meaning to your life.
- Above all, accept that there is hope—that you can get better. You can become stronger and healthier in your body and mind, and with that, regain function, reduce your pain, and restore meaning and pleasure to your life
Pain Relief: Walking
Pain Relief: Distract Yourself
We sometimes think of distraction as a bad thing that stops you from getting stuff done. But it can actually be a treatment if you have chronic pain. Studies show that when you’re distracted — by a conversation, or a crossword puzzle, or a book — the areas in your brain that process pain are less active. Getting your mind off your pain really does help — even on a neurological level.
Pain Relief: Diet Changes
Could food be affecting your pain? It’s possible. People with migraines often find that specific foods — like red wine and cheeses — trigger attacks. Fatty meats may worsen the swelling and pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Keep a food diary for a few weeks to see whether any foods seem to increase your pain. Then cut them out and see if your symptoms get better.
Pain Relief: Track Your Hurts
Pain is elusive — it can be hard to describe. Make it more concrete by keeping a pain journal. Note how much you hurt each day using a pain scale. A popular one asks you to rate your pain from 1 to 10, from least severe to worst. Others use smiling and frowning faces and add details about what you did that day. After a few weeks, you’ll have a valuable record to share with your doctor.
Take a minute to breathe deeply and slowly. Put your hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall. After a few minutes of deep breathing, you may feel some pain and tension melt away. What’s great about deep breathing as a pain treatment is you can do it anywhere — when you’re stuck in a traffic jam or at your desk.
Pain Relief: Strength Training
Strengthening muscles — with weights or resistance exercises — may reduce pain as effectively as many drugs for back pain and arthritis. Building strength also improves your balance and flexibility. Aim to strengthen muscles twice a week.
Pain Relief: Supplements
Ask your doctor about supplements for daily pain. Studies show that some seem to help. Fish oil, glucosamine, and SAMe, which is believed to reduce inflammation, may help with the stiff, painful joints of arthritis.
Avoid Prolonged Bed Rest
In the old days, people treated pain with rest. Now, doctors say that while a little rest is OK after a new injury — like an ankle sprain — it won’t help with chronic pain. Lying on the couch for too long will weaken muscles and may make pain worse, not better. Instead, try to keep active.
Physical, Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapy both can help with chronic pain. In physical therapy, you’ll learn exercises and get treatments that help increase mobility and build strength. Occupational therapy helps you work around pain — teaching you new ways to do things, from buttoning buttons to cooking dinner.
Pain Relief: Talk Therapy
Some people with pain feel reluctant to get help from a counselor or therapist — they think it’s an admission that the pain is not real, that it’s “all in their heads.” That’s not true at all. Therapists can help you grapple with the impact of pain on your life — and work through practical solutions to the problems you face each day.
Don’t Overuse OTC Painkillers
When it comes to pain treatment, don’t do it yourself. Over-the-counter painkillers — such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen — are good for occasional pain, but they may be risky if you take them in high doses or for a long time. Always follow the instructions on the medicine bottle and don’t use OTC painkillers for more than 10 days in a row unless a doctor is supervising.
Seeing a Pain Expert
If you’re in chronic pain, see a specialist. A pain specialist focuses on one thing: getting rid of your pain. Many work at specialty pain centers. There, you may get all sorts of treatment — from medication to massage — under one roof. Ask your doctor for a referral — or call local medical centers to see if they have a pain management clinic.
How to Talk About Pain
Don’t just tell your doctor it hurts. Have specifics so your doctor can really understand how pain is affecting you.
- Describe exactly what the pain feels like. Aching? Burning?
- Describe how pain affects your life. Does it slow you down? Make it hard to work?
- What makes the pain better or worse? Specific times of day or activities? Medications?
Pain Relief: Surgery
For hard-to-treat pain, surgery is sometimes an option. Possibilities range from operations to correct the underlying cause — such as a slipped disc for back pain — to implanted pain control devices. Although surgery can bring relief, it has risks and works only in specific circumstances. Talk about the possibilities with your doctor.
Don’t rely on alcohol or illicit drugs to control pain. Self-medicating may ease pain in the moment, but over time substance abuse can make chronic pain worse. Alcohol and illicit substances can have dangerous interactions with other medications. If you’re leaning on alcohol or substances to get through the day, get help.
Healing your pain
For most people with ongoing pain, there is no single, miracle cure. Instead, good pain management is usually a combination of approaches. That might include a new exercise routine, improved habits, medication, and therapy. It may take time, but you’ll most likely find a combination that works for you
Vitamin C is essential for the body to make collagen, which is a part of normal cartilage. Cartilage is destroyed in osteoarthritis (OA), putting pressure on bones and joints. In addition, some researchers think free radicals — molecules produced by the body that can damage cells and DNA — may also be involved in the destruction of cartilage. Antioxidants such as vitamin C appear to limit the damage caused by free radicals.
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can lower your levels of vitamin C. If you take these drugs regularly for OA, you might want to take a vitamin C supplement.