Fighting Back: Putting It All Together

Pain Management Fighting Back Step 10: Putting it all toge

Pain Management Fighting Back Step 10: Putting it all together Taking control over your chronic pain is not easy. In fact, it may be one of the most difficult challenges you face in your lifetime. Pain Management Fighting Back Step 10: Putting it all together Taking control over your chronic pain is not easy. In fact, it may be one of the most difficult challenges you face in your lifetime. Some individuals will never take control over their pain because they expect that their doctor can and should take it all away. They don't take responsibility to change their thoughts and behaviors so that their pain can be controlled. Some individuals will eventually take action to control their pain only to relapse into the same poor habits they previously broke. Others will practice self- manag thumbnail 1 summary
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Fighting Back: Putting It All Together

Pain Management

Fighting Back

Step 10: Putting it all together

Taking control over your chronic pain is not easy. In fact, it may be one of the most difficult challenges you face in your lifetime. Some individuals will never take control over their pain because they expect that their doctor can and should take it all away. They don’t take responsibility to change their thoughts and behaviors so that their pain can be controlled. Some individuals will eventually take action to control their pain only to relapse into the same poor habits they previously broke. Others will practice self- management techniques on a daily basis and conquer the chronic pain beast.

Here is a summary of key points discussed in earlier sections on this website.

  1. Acknowledge that you have pain. 
    The sooner you accept that you have a pain problem, the earlier you can focus your energy on healing. Constant complaining to your family and friends is not going to help you and will only remind you of your pain. This does not mean that your pain is not real or that you are not suffering. It also does not mean that you should not seek help from your doctor.

  2. Use positive thinking.
    Individuals with chronic pain, who work to change their attitudes, and make the most of their situation, will discover that their tolerance to pain improves. Eliminating irrational thoughts will help lessen stress and will allow an individual to cope more healthily. Positive thinking closes the pain gates, increases happiness and well being, increases confidence and self-esteem, relaxes your body and mind, and activates your healing systems.

  3. Exercise-Use it or lose it!
    Having chronic pain does not mean you should become a “couch potato”. An initial increase in pain with exercise does not necessarily mean harm. Reasonable increases in activity or exercise are usually beneficial to those with chronic pain conditions. Benefits of exercise include release of natural pain relieving substances called endorphins, muscle strengthening, improved joint flexibility, increased muscle mass and reduced fat, reduction in depression, improved immunity, and improved self-esteem.

  4. Use diet to help control pain.

    • Eat foods that relieve inflammation. Eat the two types of fat that relieve inflammation, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). ALA is found in vegetables, beans, fruits, and fish oils. It can also be found in concentrated forms in flaxseed oil, canola, wheat-germ, and walnut oils. GLA is much rarer and can be found in borage oil, evening primrose oil, black currant oil, and hemp oil. Avoid animal fats and common cooking oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil. These types of fats cause our bodies to release chemicals that promote inflammation (arachodonic acid). For a person with chronic pain, eating these fats is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

    • Elevate serotonin levels. Raising serotonin levels reduces your perception of pain, improves mood, helps regulate sleep cycles, and reduces levels of substance P, the main pain promoting chemical in the body. You can raise serotonin levels by eating foods rich in L-tryptophan (chicken, halibut, eggs, peanuts, cheddar cheese), taking the supplement 5-HTP (or 5-hydroxy L-tryptophan), or taking antidepressants such as Prozac, or Zoloft.

    • Identify food sensitivities that worsen pain. In some individuals, various foods may trigger release of inflammatory chemicals in the body, thus worsening pain. Possible culprits may include milk and dairy products, corn, cured meats (bacon, hot dogs, bologna, and ham), eggs, citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, nuts, coffee, wheat, oats, or rye. Keeping a food and pain diary will help you identify any sensitivity that you may have.

  5. Practice relaxation techniques daily.
    Relaxation methods such as progressive muscular relaxation, meditation, visualization, hypnosis, yoga, or tai chi can help control stress, tension, and pain. Just like most things in life, the more you practice, the better you become at them. Relaxation techniques must be practiced regularly in order for them to be effective.

  6. Understand how thoughts, feelings, and actions connect to pain.
    The experience of pain is a complex interaction between our nerves, brain, body chemicals, and our psychological state. Distorted or pessimistic thoughts can lead to increased pain and suffering. Recognizing the troubled thoughts and replacing them with constructive alternatives is vital.

    Chronic pain and depression feed on one another. Chronic pain can cause or worsen depression and depression can worsen chronic pain. Adequate treatment of depression is an important part in gaining control over chronic pain. Combating depression may involve exercise, counseling, and treatment with antidepressant medications.

  7. Take control of your pain by setting regular, realistic goals in life.
    Just as the old cliché says, “you must walk before you can run”, taking control over pain requires setting small regular goals. For instance, if you would like to return to a job which requires that you stand for most of the day, you may have to set targets of standing for 15 minutes at a time, then progress to 30min, and then to one hour and so on. The key is to create a balance between challenging yourself to accomplish new goals without setting yourself up for failure. By gradually pushing yourself to succeed in new goals, you will improve your pain tolerance as well as improve your self-esteem.

  8. Get your family to reinforce helpful actions-not the “poor pitiful me” behavior. 
    If others constantly treat you as if you are disabled, you will be conditioned to feel and act as an invalid.

 

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