in ,

Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Reduce Chronic Pain

Reduce Chronic Pain
The best treatment plan for chronic pain uses a variety of strategies, including therapies, medication, and lifestyle changes

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for over three months. It may come and go, or maybe they’re all the time and can occur anywhere in your body. Chronic pain interferes with your daily activities, such as working and taking care of yourself or others. If untreated, it can lead to trouble sleeping, depression, and anxiety, which worsen your pain. Continue reading to learn about lifestyle changes that help reduce chronic pain

Chronic pain comes in various forms. Common types of pain include:

  • Back pain.
  • Joint pain, or arthritis.
  • Neck pain.
  • Headaches, including migraines.
  • Orchialgia (testicular pain).
  • Cancer pain.

Chronic pain is mainly caused by:

  • Physical injuries.
  • Diseases, such as arthritis or cancer.
  • Psychological factors such anxiety, stress, and depression.

The best treatment plan for chronic pain uses a variety of strategies, including therapies, medication, and lifestyle changes.

This article will discuss five lifestyle changes to help you reduce chronic pain.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Chronic Pain

Eat Healthy Diets

Diet is the easiest and the hardest thing to change to help reduce chronic pain. It’s easy as it doesn’t require anything complicated, but making these changes is problematic because we must re-adjust patterns we may have followed since childhood.

Eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits helps reduce weight, which eases stress off your joints and enables you to move quickly.

Healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals help fight inflammation, a chronic pain source. These foods include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole fruits, whole grains, legumes, and foods rich in Omega-3 fats.  

A healthy diet also gives one more energy, which enhances exercise. Exercise helps with weight loss, reducing pain and stiffness.

To maintain a healthy diet, limit your intake of:

  • Junk foods or highly processed foods (e.g., soft drinks)
  • Refined carbohydrates (e.g.white bread)
  • Added sugars (e.g.flavoured, yogurts)
  • Foods with a high glycaemic index.
  • Foods high in saturated fat ( e.g., fried fruits)

Improve Sleeping Habits

Restful sleep helps reduce irritation and fatigue and your perception of chronic pain. It’s hard for people who don’t get enough rest to deal with their pain, compared to people who do.

It’s essential to develop and maintain a healthy sleeping routine to encourage restorative and restful sleep. Lack of good quality sleep at night makes you feel irritated and tired throughout the day. These two things can elevate your perception of chronic pain and make it hard to deal with. 

Strategies for maintaining good quality sleep include:

  • Follow a sleep schedule. Try sleeping and waking up at the same time each day, regardless of how well or bad you slept
  • Keep your bedroom comfortable, clean, dark, and quiet
  • Avoid heavy exercises, meals, or working late in the evening
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking in the evening
  • Use your bed for sleeping and intimacy with your partner only

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Chronic Pain

Manage Stress

Another crucial lifestyle change to reduce chronic pain is minimizing stress levels. Stressful life events and negative thoughts can cause pain. Depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation are highly linked to chronic pain.

Pain can cause an increase in stress levels; however, stress can also increase pain. This cycle can be avoided when you manage your stress effectively. It’s essential to discover your stress triggers, including work, relationships, homelife, negative thinking, and lifestyle choices.

Aim to create helpful thinking patterns that improve your mood and make you produce feel-good chemicals that help reduce signal levels in your pain pathways.

Relaxation techniques also help calm the body and reduce time spent fighting stress and chronic pain. These techniques include:

  • Yoga. 
  • Meditation. 
  • Mindfulness progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Guided imaginary and tai chi.

Regular exercise is an excellent way to eliminate stress as it improves your sense of well-being and lifts your mood.

Although the above techniques can help manage stress – the daily stress of managing chronic pain can be tiring, overwhelming, and isolating, especially with limited support. In such cases, joining a support group can offer advice or a listening ear.

Exercise 

Physical activity should be a priority in your treatment plan for managing chronic pain. Exercise helps maintain strong muscles and to keep joints moving.

It helps keep your lungs and heart functioning well and helps maintain optimal body weight, thus reducing stress on weight-bearing joints. 

Exercise is good for your mental health and is an excellent way to help improve your sleep and manage stress.

A study by the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommends:

  • A total of 2.6 – 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. This means you should be exercising at least 30 minutes at most, every day of the week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities for at least two days each week

If you aren’t sure where to start, talk to an instructor and your doctor to see what’s suitable for you. Some options to begin with include swimming, walking, yoga, and pilates.  

Tip: start a walking schedule of five minutes every day. Add a couple of minutes every day until you’re able to walk for 30 minutes a day. This can increase your energy levels and improve your general sense of well-being.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Chronic Pain

Get Into Nature

Research shows that our environment affects our pain and stress levels. A stressful environment elevates heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. In addition, it weakens the immune system.

Study shows that more than 67% of people prefer natural settings to ease stress. People with chronic pain should include getting into nature in their lifestyle.

There are several options to make nature a part of your lifestyle. Including:

  • Nature walks
  • Taking hikes with friends
  • Making a garden
  • Seating outdoors

Conclusion

The above lifestyle changes will help improve your mood, have positive thoughts, and reduce overall stress. People with chronic pain should also listen to the natural sounds of birds, wind, or trees to manage their pain. Studies show that music therapy has an immediate impact on pain. It works like relaxation and guided imagery techniques that strengthen the part of the brain that controls the body’s healing process.

What do you think?

1.7k Points
Upvote Downvote
Samuel Njoroge

AUTHOR: Samuel Njoroge

Samuel (he/him) is a freelance writer, blogger, copywriter, and marketer. And a career spanning three years and enjoys crafting error-free content that increases subscriptions and sales. Samuel excels in mental health, self-improvement, technology, and marketing topics.

fawn response

Trauma Responses – Part 4: Fawn Response

substance use

Why is There Such a Stigma With Substance Use and Addiction?