You want relief from your pain -- fast. And you’re ready to work to keep it at bay. Use these 11 ideas to kick-start the process.
1. Seek solutions. There’s good reason to be optimistic. Even if your pain has been with you for a while, you can take steps to tame it. The first step is to find the cause. Your doctor can help you with that. Once you know what the problem is, you can start to chip away at it.
In the past decade, there has been a growing acceptance of the benefits of mind-body therapies, acupuncture, and some nutritional supplements for treating pain. Other alternative treatments such as massage, chiropractic therapies, therapeutic touch, certain herbal therapies, and dietary approaches have the potential to alleviate chronic pain in some people. However, the evidence supporting these therapies is less concrete.
2. Slow your pace. "Very few tasks need to be completed in one sitting," says Brett Stacey, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Pain Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR. "Divide physical activities into small, easy-to-complete sections. For example, mow the front lawn one day and the back lawn the next."
3. Be a detective. Spy on your pain. When does it strike? What patterns does it have? What makes it worse? What makes it back down? Write down what you notice. These clues will help you find ways to feel better.
4. Tap into pet power. "Find distractions to take your mind off the pain and improve your mood," says Irene Wu, MD, assistant director of UCLA’s Pain Management Center. "For example, a lot of my patients have a pet. Walking the dog is not only a good distraction but also good exercise."
5. Breeze through trouble with better breathing. Caught up in stress? Get out of its trap. To take the edge off, shift your next few breaths. Inhale slowly and then exhale even more slowly. As you relax, you may have less pain.
6. Do the thing you want to avoid. If you think exercise is out of the question because of your pain, you’re missing out. Done right, activity actually eases pain, builds strength, and gives you more energy. Ask your doctor what’s OK for you to do. A physical therapist can show you how to do the moves.
7. Make your life simpler. Sometimes, you just need to make a few tweaks to your daily routine. For example, if arthritis makes it hard for you to cook, look for kitchen devices that make it easier to chop, stir, and open jars and cans.