According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic pain affects about 100 million people in the United States – from senior patients to young, that’s one-third of the total population. It’s a health issue that results in significant losses – both in workdays and medical expenses. For efficient chronic pain management, more and more patients are turning to physical therapy.
Chronic pain conditions result in limited mobility, depression, stress, anxiety, opioid dependency, and overall reduced quality of life. While there is a variety of treatment options available for chronic pain management, the National Institutes of Health has reported that up to 70 percent of patients with chronic pain don’t receive proper chronic pain management.
In today’s post, let’s talk about some practical tips for managing chronic pain and how you can incorporate them into your day-to-day life.
Educate Yourself About Chronic Pain Conditions
The more you know about chronic pain, the better understanding you will have in managing it. When you have been diagnosed with chronic pain, one of the most critical steps to take is educating yourself about your condition.
Naturally, you wouldn’t want to make assumptions about your health or do self-diagnosis; the most reliable information should come from your doctors, physical therapists, or other healthcare providers. However, it wouldn’t hurt to do some research about your condition, so you have a better understanding of it.
Ask your doctor or physical therapist about any reading or informational materials they can recommend that explains your condition.
Work with a Medical Team Experienced in Chronic Pain Management
Once you know more about your condition, seek out healthcare providers to help you with chronic pain management. You will have to turn to their expertise for your healing and recovery, so they must be experienced in managing chronic pain.
A medical team that helps in chronic pain management is composed of a primary care doctor, physiatrist, and physical therapist. When you find a physiatrist or primary care doctor, they will most likely refer you to a physical therapist, so you don’t have to seek one yourself.
The vital thing to do is to ask for evidence-based treatment methods. Also, before you go in for chronic pain management, make sure to understand that you, as the patient, will need to commit to the treatment plan, your medical team will give you.
Patients who tend to bounce from one specialist to another in search of a quick fix don’t achieve favorable long-term results.
Patients with chronic pain are inclined to withdraw from socializing with friends and family.
To add to this, those with chronic pain risk reduced working schedule or completely losing their job.
This social isolation can trigger depression or anxiety – mental disorders that many chronic pain patients have reported having.
In chronic pain management, it’s also important to consider your mental health. Try to strengthen your social support. Aside from interactions with friends and family, try to find a support group with people who have the same condition as you. This way, you can share similar feelings and experiences.
Join a club if you can – whether it’s a walking or a painting group – anything to get you out of isolation and get moving. You can even host a craft or game night at home. Know that as you battle this condition, you are not alone in the journey.
Many chronic pain patients will describe their days as “good” or “bad” – often relating it to how well their chronic pain management efforts were and how the condition affected their daily routine.
A “bad day” will usually mean finding it difficult to even get out of bed and feeling like they are in a daze. On days like this, even the littlest of movement or activity can’t be handled, prompting the patients to just stay in bed.
While resting is essential in managing chronic pain, long periods of inactivity can be harmful.
When patients with chronic pain do little to no movement for extended periods, there may be a loss of muscle strength, diminished cardiovascular function, decreased endurance, and even osteoporosis.
Even with “bad days,” try doing a five or 10-minute brisk walk. Mild aerobic exercises offer a quick, immediate reduction in chronic pain.
Participate in Graded Activity Programs
These activity programs initiate small doses of physical activities and exercises that promote stimulation in the nervous system. Ask your physical therapist for graded activity programs that will work best for your specific condition.
I have been a family dentist in Phoenix, Arizona for over two decades. Arizona is my home, and I would never want to leave here for the world. I’m happily married to the dazzling Karen with two bustling boys.
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