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Quick Tips to Manage Pain

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WebMD Magazine - Feature

1.Take notes. Keep a diary. Record when and where you have pain, and what helps you feel better.

2. Stay calm. Stress can intensify pain. Try deep breathing, visual imagery, and meditation to ease your anxiety.

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3.Take it easy. If you have arthritis, for example, learn to do everyday activities in ways that put less strain on your joints.

4.Keep active. When done right, exercise eases pain and builds strength that may help you avoid future pain and injury.

5. Quit smoking. Kick the cigarette habit to improve your overall health and ease lower back pain.

6. Be positive. If you stay optimistic rather than feeling helpless, you can dial down your pain.

7. Monitor your mood. Depression can worsen your pain. Talk to your doctor if you feel down for 2 weeks or longer.

8. Try acupuncture. This ancient Eastern practice can relieve lower back pain as well as knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, among other types of pain.

9. Sleep tight. A good night’s sleep in a healthy position can soothe your pain. Sleep on your side on a medium to firm mattress to relieve some back pain.

10. Learn more. Visit WebMD’s Pain Management Health Center.

Expert Tips

"Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and spinal manipulation may help ease back pain, but they don’t work for everyone. Talk with your doctor to help decide if such methods are for you."

--Steven P. Cohen, MD, professor, anesthesiology and critical care medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.

"Find distractions to take your mind off the pain and improve your mood. For example, a lot of my patients have a pet. Walking the dog is not only a good distraction but also good exercise."

--Irene Wu, MD, assistant director, UCLA Pain Management Center, and assistant clinical professor of anesthesiology, UCLA Medical Center

"Very few tasks need to be completed in one sitting. Divide physical activities into small, easy-to-complete sections. For example, mow the front lawn one day and the back lawn the next."

--Brett R. Stacey, MD, medical director, Comprehensive Pain Center, and professor, anesthesiology and perioperative medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD Magazine."

Reviewed on September 22, 2013

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