Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dealing With The Pain

Imagine after a long day of work or play that you lay down to sleep, but you can't sleep due to physical pain. Can you picture not being able to play with your children or grandchildren because you are simply in too much pain to do so? Or not being able to work? These scenarios and more are are the reality for over 76.2 million American who live with chronic pain, according to the American Pain Foundation.

Of those 76.2 million, of which I am one, an estimated 46 million people have been told by their doctor that they have arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia, diseases that affect multiple parts of the body. The four most common pains reported are lower back pain, migraines/headaches, neck pain, and facial pain. Approximately twenty percent of American adults have reported having pain or physical discomfort multiple nights a week, so much so that it interferes with their ability to sleep. In addition to impacting people's quality of life, chronic pain also impacts the economy. The American Pain Foundation estimates that chronic pain costs the economy 100 billion doallars annually, due to healthcare expenses, lost income and lost productivity.

If you are one of the 76.2 million American, here are some tips to help you manage your chronic pain.
1. Be healthy. This includes eating healthy, stop smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and rest,
rest, rest.
2. After consulting with your doctor, exercise. In addition to the health benefits of exercise, when
you exercise, brain chemicals called endorphins are released which helps your mood and
blocks pain signals.
3. Develop your relationship with your doctor. Communicate with your doctor about your pain
and any questions you might have. Keep a pain and activities log and bring it to your doctor so
that they can get an accurate idea of your daily struggles. Write down any questions you
might have, do NOT simply think you will remember, you might get side tracked or the
doctor could be in a hurry that day. If you have questions written down, you will remember
to ask them.
4. Educate yourself about your disease/pain. In addition to reading about your illness, and
talking with your doctor, use your own knowledge. For example, if you are having back pain,
does using a heating pad help? What about ice packs? Those trial and error exercises can be a
huge help in how you manage your pain.
5. Try getting a massage to help reduce stress, relieve muscle pain, and increase circulation.
6. Try to reduce your daily stress, stress can intensify the body's sensitivity to pain. Learn about
relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and
guided imagery.
7. Be open and honest with the people around you. Do not try to be Superman. Be willing to ask
for help on the days that you need it.
8. Try to maintain a positive attitude. Remember the things that you are able to do.
9. Find ways to distract yourself. Engage in hobbies, chores, exercise, reading, etc.
10. Finally, join a support group. Support groups serve a wonderful purpose in that in addition to
providing support, they are a wonderful place to find resources, share ideas, and they help
reduce the feel that no one understands what you are going through.

Hopefully some of these ideas will be able to help you better manage your pain. If you are struggling with chronic pain, and would like to talk with someone on a one on one basis, please feel free to contact our office at 386-736-9165.

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