Are you living with chronic pain – pain that has lasted 3 months or more? You are not alone. Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons to see a doctor, and it can affect anyone at any age. It may not have a clear cause, and may disrupt your everyday activities, work or school, and your relationships.
Chronic pain can range from mild, irritating pain to very bad pain that does not go away. It may feel like shooting, burning, aching, or electrical pain, and can cause soreness, tightness, or stiffness. Chronic pain also can weaken the body's immune system, causing infection or illness. It can become so frustrating that it may lead to depression.
So what are your treatment options? Your doctor may prescribe different kinds of pain medications – pills, creams, or shots. Your family doctor may also refer you to the Pain Management Clinic. The Pain Management Clinic hopes to improve your function, reduce your pain, and give you an improved quality of life.
There are other treatment options that you can try while taking medication:
1. Manual therapies, such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care, and massage
2. Counselling and support groups - it is common to respond to chronic pain with depression, anxiety, frustration, fear, and anger. Support groups and counselling can help you manage your pain and keep you from feeling alone.
3. Acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine where very thin needles are placed in the skin at certain points on the body.
4. Guided imagery, where an instructor, tape, or script directs thoughts and suggestions to guide your imagination toward a relaxed and focused state.
5. Meditation, which can help focus your attention to help you feel calm and give you a clear awareness about your life.
6. Yoga, which includes meditation and exercises to help you improve flexibility and breathing, decrease stress, and maintain health.
7. Staying active by doing regular aerobic exercises to build your strength, such as swimming, walking, or stationary cycling. Remember to talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
8. Practicing healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking, and lowering stress in your life.
9. Considering tools that may help keep you mobile and independent, such as walking canes.
10. Getting enough sleep by setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time, getting exercise during the day, and avoiding naps and caffeine later in the day
It is important to remember that no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Since chronic pain can deal with both physical and psychological conditions, it is important that treatment addresses both of those aspects.
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Submitted by Kali Duke, RN with Dr. Prince