Pain is generally classified as either acute (temporary) or chronic (long-term). We are only discussing chronic pain in this article, which is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months.
Doctors have known for some time that 50% of all chronic pain sufferers also experience clinical depression. Therefore, if you have chronic pain you should discuss your emotional and psychological health with him or her. If depression is present in a patient then the pain and the depression will almost always be treated simultaneously. The doctor can treat the physical pain and a psychologist can treat the depression.
Doctors have more tools available to treat physical pain than they had just a few years ago. Today pain therapy techniques and programs can be very focused and effective. Some of these pain treatment tools include physical therapy, water or aquatic therapy, psychological treatment, and if necessary, surgery.
However, there are a number of “self-help” tools that any patient can use to improve his or her overall health and reduce their level of pain. Before beginning any “self-help” treatment you should always discuss your plans with your doctor.
Quit Smoking – Among the many negative effects of smoking are reduced blood circulation and the possibility of cancer and heart disease.
Biofeedback – Biofeedback is learning to control a body function, such as muscle tension, and it can be very effective. Keep an open mind regarding biofeedback.
Meditation – Meditation and deep breathing has helped many patients reduce their chronic pain. Take a class and again, keep an open mind.
Healthy Diet – Eat a healthy diet because your body needs to repair itself. The human body has daily repair work to do even for a healthy person. If you are experiencing chronic pain then your body has extra repair work to do. If you are not sure how to proceed then work with a nutritionist. Your body needs a healthy balance of foods, vitamins, and minerals.
Exercise – Talk to your doctor about what exercises you can or should do. Exercise produces natural endorphins which are brain chemicals that block pain signals. Plus exercise has many other benefits for your body. If you are a “couch potato” then it is time to change.
Reduce your Stress – Find ways to reduce stress in your life because stress can increase your sensitivity to pain. Identify the stressors in your life and find a way to minimize or eliminate them. In addition, relaxation techniques such as soothing music and mental imagery relaxation can be helpful.
Chronic pain sufferers have many tools available to help them. Talk to your doctor and your psychologist and create a plan to reduce or eliminate your pain.