Of the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain, many turn to prescription medication to help them cope. For some, this may be an important pillar of their treatment. You should always consult your doctor to see what’s right for your specific pain.
But for others, medication may not be the answer.
Whether it’s the side effects, risk of dependency, or simply the desire for an alternative approach, some would rather seek solutions to their pain that come from outside of the medicine cabinet.Risk of dependency
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Professional massages aren’t just luxuries. In fact, massage can be a potent tool to help you deal with your chronic pain.
“Massage therapy has been shown to boost levels of endorphins and serotonin - the body’s natural painkillers and mood regulator - and to reduce stress hormone levels.
Massage therapy may also work at a molecular level, helping to turn on and off genes associated with inflammation, according to a study in Science Translational Medicine,” says Prevention Magazine.Prevention Magazine
Not only that, but massage can also help treat sleep issues by helping people experience deep sleep, a factor for restoration. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can exacerbate the effects of chronic pain.
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Exercise in general is important for minimizing chronic pain, but for some sufferers exercise can be a tricky subject. Even if you know that exercise can help reduce the effects of your chronic pain, the existing pain may make exercise too painful.
One way to get around this is to get your exercise from less-impactful, but still moderately strenuous means. Yoga can have a positive impact on both mind a body. While chronic pain leads to gray matter (also known as grey matter) degeneration in the brain, yoga can have the exact opposite effect.
“Practicing yoga has the opposite effect on the brain as does chronic pain,” says M. Catherine Bushnell, PhD, according to the American Pain Society. “Some gray matter increases in yogis correspond to duration of yoga practice, which suggests there is a causative link between yoga and gray matter increases.”American Pain Society
Meditation, whether it comes in the form of repeated mantras, focused breathing, or other types, has been shown to help chronic pain patients reduce their symptoms. Researchers think that it works by training the brain to “turn down the volume” on existing pain - in other words meditation helps to reduce the efficacy of pain reaction signals.
“Primary pain arises from illness, injury or damage to the body or nervous system. You could see it as the raw information sent by the body to the brain. Secondary pain is the mind’s reaction to Primary pain but is often far more intense and long lasting.
Crucially, it is controlled by an ‘amplifier’ in the brain that governs the overall intensity of suffering,” says Psychology Today. “In recent years, scientists have begun to work out how the mind’s pain amplifier is controlled, but more importantly they have discovered ways of turning down the ‘volume’ control on suffering.”Psychology Today
The good thing about meditation is that you can practice it almost anywhere. You can set up a designated quiet space at the home, office, or even meditate in your car.
Obesity, excess sugar, and caffeine all make chronic pain worse.
Fish oil and foods high in omega 3s have been shown to reduce the inflammation that leads to chronic pain.
You may feel like your overall pain is often out of your control, but your diet is something that’s 100% in your control. Making some small changes to eat better can have drastic effects on your wellbeing.
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