Everyone has experienced pain at some point in their lives. Whether it’s the result of an injury, sickness, or the body simply acting strange, pain is a universal human experience. But a significant number of people deal with a different type of pain. In 2016, the CDC estimated that 20.4% of American adults live with a condition called chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as pain or discomfort that persists for at least 12 weeks. Since some people can tolerate more discomfort than others, chronic pain is somewhat subjective and difficult to diagnose. But once it has been diagnosed, how can you deal with it in your day to day life?
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Most cases of chronic pain can be traced to a current or past medical condition the patient has dealt with. Multiple doctor visits may be necessary to truly pinpoint the cause. Several common culprits include:
- Back strain
- Post-surgical complications
- Nerve damage
- Post-traumatic residual pain
Taking Medication for Chronic Pain
While doctors generally try to treat pain by focusing on the cause rather than on the pain itself, some conditions simply have no known cures. In these cases, medication to manage the pain is the only real solution. Doctors approach this with caution, however, since some prescription pain medications can become addictive in high enough doses. If you’re taking pain medicine and have noticed symptoms such as mental health struggles, nausea, hallucinations, rapid weight loss or gain, or similar sudden health problems, tell your doctor immediately.
Developing New Habits
For most patients, the best treatment for chronic pain is a changed lifestyle. Some of these changes–such as proper diet and exercise–may seem a bit cliche, but they can work wonders in helping your body fight whatever’s causing your pain. Sleep is also essential to help your body recover at the end of a long day. If you notice your pain is interfering with your nighttime routine and causing you to lose sleep, talk to your doctor about how to make sure you get enough rest.
Pro Tip: Stress and chronic pain are deeply related problems, with each contributing to making the other worse. Find ways to reduce stress in your life to help manage your pain.
Managing Your Pain for a Healthy Life
Regardless of the ultimate cause of your chronic pain, the best ongoing strategy is self-care. Listen to your body and keep track of any more pain you experience. Work to improve your diet and incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Find the pain management strategy that works for you and stick to it consistently.
Contact us to talk to a doctor about living with chronic pain.