Mature women using hula hoops in exercise class
1 / 10

Exercise

It's a Catch-22: You're hurting, so you don't exercise; but without exercise, you may lose muscle tone and strength, making pain worse. Fortunately, even mild exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals that lift mood and block pain. Ask your doctor if aerobic, strengthening, or stretching exercises can give your body the boost -- and relief -- it needs.  

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Mature woman with eyes closed leaning against tree
2 / 10

Practice Relaxation

It sounds so obvious, but few of us actually take the time to stop what we're doing and calm our minds. Stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and biofeedback relax your body, which helps ease pain. Talk to your doctor to learn more. In the meantime, slow down, close your eyes … breathe in … breathe out.

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Sleeping woman with empty wine glass near bed
3 / 10

Avoid Alcohol

You need a good night's sleep to help soothe the stresses pain puts on your body. Although a drink can help you fall asleep, when alcohol breaks down in your body, it leads to shallow sleep, shortens important time in REM sleep, and may even wake you. The result: A less restful night.

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Invitation to stay home on silver tray
4 / 10

Quit Smoking

Some people find temporary relief from stress and pain with a quick smoke. The irony is that smoking may actually add to your pain in the long run. It slows healing, worsens circulation, and raises your chance of degenerative disc problems, a cause of low back pain. Ask your doctor about programs and medicines to kick the habit.

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Mature woman chopping salad on cutting board
5 / 10

Eat Well

You want to do everything you can to help your body, not hinder it. One way to keep your body strong is a nutritious diet. Eating right improves blood sugar, helps keep your weight in a healthy range, lowers the odds of heart disease, and aids digestion. Aim for a diet rich in fresh produce, low-fat proteins, and whole grains.

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Woman writing in diary in sunlight at home
6 / 10

Journal

Help your doctor help you. At the end of each day, record a "pain score" between 1 and 10. Then note what you did that day and how these activities made you feel. Bring the journal to your next appointment. It may give your doctor insights so he can understand your pain better and treat you more effectively.

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Invitation to stay home on silver tray
7 / 10

Give Yourself Down Time

Don't push too hard. Set limits. That may mean saying "no" to events like parties when you need the rest. It may be booking regular massages. Or making an unbreakable dinner date with good friends to boost your spirits. How you care for you is unique to you -- and it's also up to you.

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Man blowing bubbles with boy on park bench
8 / 10

Distract Yourself

One potent prescription for relief is to keep busy with activities that take your mind off the pain, instead of focusing on it. Take that cooking class you've had your eye on, join a garden club, try yoga. Even if you can't control the pain, you can control the rest of your life. Get started!

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Mature pharmacist explains medication to customer
9 / 10

Know Your Medicines

You should understand the medicines you're taking, what they can do for you, and their side effects. Your goal is to have a normal mood and activity level. If you don't, then a different medicine might be better for you. What are your options? Be proactive, ask questions, and look for answers.

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Two women having a heart to heart talk
10 / 10

Ask for Help

Reaching out is a great habit for you to develop. It's OK to tell friends and family what you're feeling and what you need, because they won't know otherwise. Learn more about your condition, and share what you find out with the people in your life. You're not alone -- as many as one in every three people is dealing with chronic pain.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 01/03/2017 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 03, 2017

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

(1) Ariel Skelley / Blend Images
(2) B2M Productions / Photographer's Choice RF
(3) Comstock Images
(4) Image Source
(5) Zia Soleil / Iconica
(6) Marc Romanelli / The Image Bank
(7) Comstock Images
(8) DK Stock/David Deas / Collection Mix: Subjects
(9) Bruce Ayres / Stone
(10) Sam Edwards / OJO Images

REFERENCES:

American Chronic Pain Association.
Cleveland Clinic.
Medscape Medical News.
National Pain Foundation.
Newswise.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 03, 2017

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.