“Management of chronic pain can be difficult,” says Dr. Geoff Gray, a California-based board-certified specialist in orthopedic and sports physical therapy and founder of Heeluxe. “It requires an individualized approach because each person [has unique factors that hinder their ability to be pain-free].” He recommends working with a medical professional to determine the origin of pain (such as a lumbar disc bulge) and then creating a multi-faceted pain management plan, which may include pharmaceuticals, activity modification, ice or heat, injections (such as cortisone or epidural injections), acupuncture, massage or topical creams.
Inflammation is one of the most common causes of pain, so it makes sense to find ways to control it. Registered holistic nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos, host of Kitchen Cures with Peggy K on Veria Living, recommends reducing inflammation through diet. She highly recommends incorporating omega-3s into your diet. “Oily fish, savi seeds and chia seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids,” she explains. “Omega-3s reduce inflammation, lubricate joints and soothe sore muscles -- hence, reducing pain.” The holistic health educator also recommends the following anti-inflammatory foods: turmeric, ginger and cayenne.
When you’re wrought with pain, it may seem like the best option is to stay in bed, but moving your body can actually provide relief. Once treatments are in place to control inflammation, Dr. Gray works with patients on improving range of motion and muscular strength. The only way to do it is by moving. “[Pain can] cause tightening of the body in different ways -- restoration of mobility will aid the body in returning to natural movement and postures,” he says. Sadie Nardini, healthy living expert and host of Rock Your Yoga, agrees and recommends yoga poses to ease pain. “Yoga poses can help ease inflammation, since they improve circulation and lengthen muscles.” Talk with your health care provider to determine the best and safest physical activities for your condition.
When you have chronic pain, it’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of your life. However, positive thinking -- which you have to choose to do because it may not come naturally -- can help you manage pain. Shawn Anchor, an expert on positive psychology and author of the New York Times best-selling book The Happiness Advantage, says you can choose happiness even in the midst of chronic pain and, by doing so, experience pain relief. “In a study in which people who journaled about a positive experience each day for six months, some were able to drop their pain medication by 50 percent,” he says. The pain may not go away, but positive thinking can increase pain tolerance. Anchor recommends journaling or writing a positive email to a friend or family and finding ways, such as helping others or watching funny movies, to keep your thoughts positive.
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