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How To Manage Chronic Pain Naturally
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is any pain that continues for at least three months and usually affects all part of someones life including physical, emotional, social, relationships and financial.
There are many causes of chronic pain, the most common being injuries, disease and invisible illnesses such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)/Hypermobility.
It is often difficult and distressing to get the proper help for those in constant pain. Modern healthcare systems have a reputation for not listening and having an automatic reaction to prescribe anti-depressents, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and treating those asking for help as drug-seekers. I have lived with chronic illness all my life and know others in a similar position, all we want is to know what the cause is and what we can do to help ourselves.
Thankfully there are things most of us can do that can help control pain levels. I've used some of these techniques to reduce my own pain and they have worked great...
Treat the Cause Not the Symptoms
The best thing you can do is find out what is the cause of the pain and how you can heal that cause.
Most doctors are only taught how to treat symptoms, however, and will often prescribe drugs like anti-inflammatories. These can have side-effects. Other drugs may be needed to combat the side effects and so on. This approach is less effective than finding out what has caused the inflammation and how to reverse it. More on getting the right help later.
Do your own research, make lots of notes and ask lots of questions...it will be worth it as doing it this way could lead to being completely healed one day.
Nutrition and Pain
One of the first things you can do for chronic pain relief is watch what you eat and drink. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves but most of us aren't giving our bodies the correct conditions for them to do so.
Avoid chemically based or altered substances, refined foods and caffeine.
- At the top of the list are sweeteners (particularly Aspartame) and Monosodium glutamate (MSG) both of which are linked to increased pain, headaches, cancer, abdominal pain, Fibromyalgia, joint pain, MS and many other scary symptoms
- Sugar alone is known to cause or affect over 140 health problems ranging from allergies and inflammation to depression and cancer. I know personally when I cut out refined carbohydrates my joint pain lessens dramatically, my mind is clearer and I have more energy.
- Caffeine, sugar, white flour and alcohol all affect your body in the same ways. They increase pain, decrease energy, cause bad cholesterol and Diabetes, not to mention make sleeping difficult which when you have chronic pain is bad enough! Remember caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cocoa and many sodas.
Eat foods that heal
- Boost your immune system by eating foods such as cayenne pepper, fruit rich in vitamin C, honey and garlic. These foods fight infection, reduce inflammation and are high in essential nutrients.
- Our bodies are like machines. Just like all machines, our cogs need a bit of oil to stop them sticking. Eat foods rich in Omega 3 oils such as flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnuts~ these are also anti-inflammatory.
- KEEP HYDRATED! Fizzy and sugary drinks as well as caffeine actually aid dehydration so try to avoid at all costs. Your best source is spring water and lots of it.
Other foods to watch
- Depending on the cause of your chronic pain watch out for the following as though they are natural they can aggravate pain~ broccoli, white potatoes, peas and red peppers.
Stress and Depression and Their effect on Pain
Many doctors believe that virtually all chronic pain is 'in the head' whereas those suffering from it will swear the opposite.
The more stressed you get, the more tense your body is so the more pressure there is on it. When your body is under a lot of pressure it hurts, let alone when it has the added strain of injury or illness. What many doctors don't realise is that the stress of not being listened to can make bad pain, worse. The irony is, being mistreated by those who should be there to help can cause the depression you were told was the cause in the first place.
Your frame of mind will have an effect on the amount of pain you feel but don't let anyone tell you it's all in your head~ especially without proper testing. You have lived in your body all your life, no one else. But if your entire focus is on your pain it will feel worse.
Try avoid physical and emotional stress at all costs. Find ways to relax such as yoga, reading and music. They calm your body and take your attention away from the pain. Reduce the stress of feeling misunderstood and left out socially by explaining to friends and family what you are going through. Tell them what you can manage and work out ways together how to still have fun within your capabilities~ this alone will make the pain seem more bearable.
Get Your Breathing Right
Most of us in the western world don't breathe correctly!
We have become chest breathers when in our bodies thrive on breathing from our diaphragm. This is because breathing through our chest results in shallow breaths and minimal oxygen intake whereas diaphragmatic breathing is deeper and takes in much more oxygen.
So what's this got to do with pain, I hear you ask? Oxygen feeds nutrients to every cell of your body and is very cleansing, reducing inflammation and pain. Also when we are in pain our natural response is to hold our breath which only increases the problem.
Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi and Deep Breathing will remove harmful toxins, energize your cells and feed any damaged areas with nutrients to allow healing.
If you are unsure where to start take a local class or look up breathing exercises on YouTube. Deep breathing also has the added benefit of helping to reduce stress and tension.
There is a common understanding that humans can live 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. This makes oxygen our most vital form of nutrition.
Get the Right Help
Remember it is your body. You know how you feel and if you don't agree or aren't sure about what you are being told it's not only OK it's essential to get another opinion and ask questions.
Many authority figures rely on people having blind faith in them and they will try to make you feel bad for questioning them. But this is your health we are talking about. There is no need for anyone to live in pain or take a treatment they don't agree with. Listen to your body and be prepared to try as many doctors as necessary until you find one that will listen and take you seriously.
Also research. Find and talk to others in a similar position to you, look at all the possibilities and read as much as you can...it will serve you well. Just be warned it is easy to become a hypochondriac through the web. Keep an open mind and keep realistic about what your body is going through.
Give Your Body the Right Environment
Allergens, pollution, temperature, and other toxins can all affect pain levels. The more unnatural substances your body has to battle the more it will hurt and suffer. Keep your home as naturally clean as possible and make sure your body doesn't get too cold. Also be aware of other poisons. I recently had my amalgam fillings replaced and a root canal tooth removed which has made a remarkable difference to my pain levels.
Many get relief from painful joints using heat pads and hot baths as when you are cold your muscles contract causing more pain.
Also make sure you keep your body properly supported in chairs, sitting at computers, in bed and standing. There are several different shaped cushions that are designed to support various parts on the body and make sure your computer screen is at eye level to reduce strain on your neck, shoulders and back. Wear flat shoes where possible and make sure you have the correct posture as these can play a bigger part in chronic pain than we realise!
Alternative Pain Management
You can get pain relief without having to reach for drugs by trying some alternative treatments.
Many have found that holistic therapies such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies and aromatherapy make a huge difference. I myself like to use Rosemary Essential Oil mixed with Sweet Almond Oil to massage into my bad shoulder. Just be careful. As with all treatments make sure you do your research first. For example people with high blood pressure should not use Rosemary.
Whatever you do don't give up! There are ways to ease the pain and get your life back, you just need to find what is right for you. There are always people who understand what you are going through and who offer support. Search online for support forums for your particular ailment and ask them what they have found useful, which doctors understand that problem and so on.
I hope this has been of help to you and your pain goes soon. If you have any other pain management ideas to add don't be shy and comment below, only through sharing will we heal!