Chronic pain is pain that lasts for three months or more. It can occur in any part of your body and can affect anyone, regardless of age. People who suffer from chronic pain can have symptoms that range from mild to symptoms that are so severe it disruptions daily activities. But unfortunately, the cause of the pain is not always known.
If you are experiencing chronic pain, it's recommended that you see a doctor. He or she will most likely ask about your past illnesses and overall health, as well as do a physical exam. This could determine if a medical problem is causing the pain. In most cases, test results are normal. But this does not mean the pain is not real.
So what do you do to help ease your symptoms? One or more of the following combined could help make the pain more manageable.
Get plenty of sleep – Try to wake up and go to bed at the same times, every day. And yes, this includes the weekends! Avoid taking naps and cut caffeine out of your diet. This includes coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
Pain medications – Over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen can often help control chronic pain. It may take several weeks for it to work. And in many cases, medicine may work best when it's used together with other types of treatment. Be careful when taking any pills and always remember to follow the instructions on the label.
Exercise – Staying active could help alleviate chronic pain. Get regular aerobic exercise such as cycling, walking or swimming. If these activities hurt to do, you may consider water exercise. Start slowly and increase your efforts bit by bit. If your joints are stiff, try taking a warm bath or shower first to loosen up. Also, do some stretching exercises each day. Schedule your day so that you are most active when you have the most energy. Learn to move in ways that are less likely to make your pain worse.
Practice healthy habits – Eating well will help you stay healthy and strong. If you are a smoker, quit. It could be one of the things affecting your level of pain. Practice stress management. Try a relaxation therapy such as breathing exercises or meditation. Try self massage, you can help to relax some of your own muscles using a tennis ball.
Counseling – Living with chronic pain can be hard. Talking with a therapist may help you cope with your issues and help deal with frustration, fear, anger, depression and anxiety. Untreated mental health problems may make your chronic pain harder to treat.
You may also want to consider assistive devices such as a cane or doorknob extender to help with your daily activities. These devices can help you to be more mobile and independent.
Talk to your doctor before you begin any treatment options. And be sure to call him or her if the pain does not go away or if it gets worse.