Chronic pain, or long-term pain that lasts 90 days or more, is a difficult and debilitating condition. Affecting nearly one third of the population, it is one of the most common and costly health conditions that are encountered by healthcare professionals. It disrupts life for the patient and creates issues for doctors because it can strike suddenly and linger for months or years.
Doctors often prescribe pain medications such as prescription pills and opiates. Relying too heavily on prescription painkillers is problematic, not only because it can interfere with daily activities such as working or driving, but also because these medications are highly addictive.
If believe that you or a loved one might be living with an addiction to prescription pain pills, it can help to understand how to identify addiction. Here are some warning signs you might look for:
- Confusion and/or lack of coordination
- Extreme drowsiness and/or changes in sleeping habits
- Constricted pupils
- Increased pain, even when taking prescription pills at higher doses
- Slowed breathing
- Social withdrawal
- Extreme shifts in mood, including anger or euphoria
- Poor decision-making
The good news is that you don’t have to completely rely on prescription pills for treating your symptoms of chronic pain. There are many ways you can manage your symptoms on your own by making simple lifestyle changes in the comfort of your own home.
Here is some advice for those who have recently been diagnosed with a chronic pain condition.
Naturally Treating Pain
Luckily, you have alternatives to using pain medications to relieve your chronic pain symptoms. There are many ways you can naturally treat pain without drugs or prescription pain medications. For instance, did you know that gentle forms of bodywork such as massage therapy, myofascial release, and craniosacral therapy can be effective in treating chronic pain?
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage can help treat more than just your pain symptoms. It can also provide relief from possible underlying conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial pain syndrome (CMPS), two common conditions that are known for causing long-term pain.
It’s important to understand that a single massage session will not “cure” your chronic pain. Instead, AMTA recommends chronic pain patients schedule regular massage appointments because “pain and other issues tend to reappear if time between appointments is too great.”
Eliminating Pain Triggers
In addition to seeing your doctor as needed and getting massage therapy or other forms of bodywork on a regular basis, there are also many things you can do to manage your symptoms from home. You can start by keeping a daily pain journal to help pinpoint what’s triggering your pain so you can eliminate the triggers from your daily lifestyle.
You might also consider modifying your diet to reduce your intake of gluten. According to the Arthritis Foundation, gluten has been linked to inflammation in the body. This inflammatory response can increase pain levels in people who are living with any number of chronically painful conditions such as gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and certain types of arthritis. By making some dietary modifications to reduce your intake of grains and other foods containing gluten, you might find relief from your symptoms.
Managing Your Symptoms
Even if your pain doesn’t completely heal on its own, you can still make lifestyle adjustments to manage your symptoms and flare-ups. For instance, studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can positively change the way your body interprets pain, making your symptoms less severe. Meanwhile, daily yoga practice and regular exercise can be healthy strategies for reducing your symptoms and healing your body.
Chronic pain can be a difficult illness to live with each and every day. Luckily, you can empower yourself to take your health into your own hands by implementing pain-management strategies like the ones listed above. Good luck!
Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.