Living with pain every day is almost unbearable, even if the person doesn’t look sick. He or she may have a “poker face” in front of other people, but in reality, they are truly hurting inside. Dealing with chronic pain is one of the most difficult things out there, but that doesn’t make it impossible. People are adapting, and learning how to live fulfilling lives despite the pain.
But before we talk about how to deal with chronic pain, let’s try to understand when acute pain becomes chronic.
Usually, it’s determined by an arbitrary interval of time since onset. For example, if the pain doesn’t go away after 3 or 6 months since onset, the patients are getting a new diagnosis – their acute pain becomes chronic. Some theorists and researchers are suggesting that this transition actually happens after 12 months, but most of them are supporting the 3-6 months theory.
There is, however, another definition of chronic pain. According to popular belief, this type of pain can’t be determined by an arbitrarily fixed duration. It all depends of the condition causing the pain. In other words, chronic pain is the pain that extends beyond the typical period of healing.
How can you recognize this condition? Chronic pain symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but these are the most common ones:
- Pain that does not go away after an injury or severe illness
- Pain that feels like aching, burning, shooting, or even electrical impulse
- Continuous soreness, discomfort, stiffness, or tightness
Chronic pain can lead to other complications, such as chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, loss of interest in favorite activities and weakened immune system. It is also common for patients to experience depression, which in turn can cause all the symptoms to become much worse. If left untreated, chronic pain can even lead to disability.
That’s the reason why we decided to create this short Lifestyle Updated guide on how to deal with chronic pain.
Dealing with chronic pain
Emotionally dealing with chronic pain can be very draining. Luckily, there are many ways you can help yourself.
Let’s start with this amazing quote from Joseph Campbell saying:
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and that will burn out the pain.”
The easiest way to do this is by learning deep breathing or meditation. These two amazing techniques can help your body relax, easing your pain significantly.
There are many types of meditation, but focusing on your breathing, ignoring all your negative thoughts, and repeating a mantra can do wonders for you. Deep breathing is also very helpful with chronic pain. All you have to do is find a quiet place, sit or lay in a comfortable position, and “delete” all your distracting thoughts. When you are ready, take a deep breath, and fill your diaphragm with air. Then breathe out, like deflating a balloon.
Some will feel instant relief, while for others it might take several attempts. But don’t give up, because practice will make perfect.
As you meditate, you will learn to appreciate the absence of chronic pain as well. Needless to say, it is important to become aware of the transition – when chronic pain subsides, leaving room for a pain-free experience.
There’s another quote that can be very helpful for people dealing with chronic pain. This one comes from Elizabeth Taylor:
“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and… you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about your business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.”
First of all, never underestimate the power of a good cry! Crying is never a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’s a sign of bravery! You will feel better with every new tear, and after just a few minutes, you’ll feel like an entirely new person. Your chronic pain will suddenly become more tolerable or maybe even completely disappear for a while. Crying is letting go – and for that you need courage, along with determination.
Yelling and cursing can also help. If you feel like you have a negative energy build-up in your body, you have to find some type of an outlet and release yourself from these toxic emotions. Just let your inner voice come out and don’t think about the consequences. For a moment, you’ll feel like you are in control of your body and maybe even forget about the debilitating pain altogether.
If crying, yelling or cursing is not your thing, than maybe you should try dancing! And by dancing, I mean dancing like no one is watching. Press play on your favorite song, crank up the volume and let the music guide your body. And if you can picture yourself dancing to a beat, the Cize workout from Beachbody is perhaps the easiest entry into rhythmic workouts. Coincidently, you will lose a couple of pounds, and substantially improve your health.
And then, the only thing you can do is simply move forward. You keep pushing through, because even with pain, life is a gift and it’s worth living.
There is one more quote that needs to be mentioned here, and this one is from Kahlil Gibran:
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that you and your life are defined by pain or that you need to suffer to be more powerful. It’s your experience of living through it that makes you stronger. Never forget this!
Chronic pain exercises
How to deal with physical pain that never seems to end? If you live with mild to debilitating chronic pain from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis or other chronic illnesses, you might already know that regular exercise can be very helpful in managing your condition. There are several types of chronic pain exercises that will ease your pain and make your struggle much more tolerable. Here are the best ones:
If chronic pain doesn’t interfere with your walking, then going for a long walk will relax your entire body. This is a low impact activity that can be done almost anywhere. Even a simple walk in the nearby park can make your pain much more manageable, hence giving you a reliable tool for the long run.
For those who need something more engaging then walking – swimming is the best option! I’m sure you already know that swimming can improve your cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility. What you might not know is that it can also help you cope with chronic pain. The non-impact nature of swimming as an exercise, and the fact that your body is moving through water, defying, in a sense, even the laws of gravity, make swimming the perfect option for long term management of chronic pain.
3. Yoga or Pilates
To ease your chronic pain, some proper breathing techniques from yoga can be a life saver. On the other hand, Pilates can strengthen both your body and mind.
If you want to try a combination of Yoga moves and Pilates exercises, consider the PIYO workout by Chalene Johnson. You will tone your muscles, and work towards losing some weight, while increasing flexibility, stability, and range of motion.
4. Foam roller exercises
Deep myofacial release can significantly change your experience with acute pain, and somewhat lessen the burden. If you are struggling with lower back pain, buying a foam roller is most likely the single best investment in your life. Browse YouTube, and hang tight, for we are preparing a lengthy guide on how to select your foam roller and how to use it regularly in order to get the best possible results.
Chronic pain therapy
If nothing works, you should probably start thinking about chronic pain therapy. Chronic pain and anxiety go hand-in-hand so if things are not getting better, they will most definitely turn for the worst. That means that the pain and the anxiety caused by it, ultimately lead to depression. And depression… well, depression can easily turn into disability – making you incapable of functioning in everyday life.
Depression can make every condition worse than it is, and the chronic pain syndrome is not an exception. Do not allow things to get out of control, and ask for professional help in time. Combing therapy with some kind of physical exercises will get you back on your feet sooner than you thought possible. This will also help you live your life to the fullest, not letting the chronic pain interfere with the vast and colorful experience that is living in this 21st century society.
Dealing with chronic pain can look impossible at some moments. You might even have that feeling right now, while reading this article. But the truth is that it will become easier. Living with pain every day will make you appreciate all those good little things you have and it will teach you how to cherish the days without pain. This will have an unbelievable effect on your future, when you’ll finally defeat your chronic pain.