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How to Manage Your Chronic Pain without Depending on Drugs

Many who suffer from chronic pain use prescription medication to help manage their pain which can help ease their symptoms. Some medication used to treat chronic pain, however, can be habit-forming. Even if you’re not taking opioids for your pain, you may want to reduce the amount of medication you’re taking and take a more holistic approach to your own health. Here are some tips courtesy of Lifestyle Medicine for managing chronic pain without relying solely on prescriptions. 

Alter your diet

When it comes to how the body feels, there’s nothing that more directly affects it than what you put in it. Eating poorly will make you feel worse. Obesity is the number one exacerbating factor in chronic pain, so maintaining a healthy weight is crucial.

Eating right to mitigate chronic pain is also about eating nutritious foods and cutting out unhealthy foods. Foods like olive oil, tomatoes, berries, nuts, and fish rich in omega-3 acids are known to reduce inflammation  – a leading cause of chronic pain. Foods with refined carbs and excess sugar, red meat, and caffeine are known to increase inflammation. Also, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water as dehydration will magnify any chronic pain you feel. 

Seek out alternative pain management therapy

There are a ton of options for pain management that don’t involve pills, and you should explore every avenue to find out which one works for you. Everyone’s pain is different, and one alternative therapy may work for one person but have a negligible effect on another person. Unfortunately, trial and error is really the only way to figure it out.

One option is practicing mindfulness. Activities like yoga, meditation, focused breathing, and Pilates help boost the mind-body connection, allowing you to tap into your brain’s control over your pain.

Other options are hands-on therapies, which include massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, and chiropractic care. Many find great comfort in these body manipulations, but most only find that relief for a short period of time. 

Finally, there are injection options for severe pain. The majority of these are outpatient procedures and include epidural steroid injections, lumbar sympathetic blocks, celiac plexus blocks, and facet joint injections. All of these need to be approved by your doctor. 

Make some changes around your house

You must set yourself up for success, and that means making sure your home life (where you spend the majority of your time) is configured properly to help you reduce chronic pain. If you can, hiring a housekeeper either full or part-time is a good idea. You can also hire help for other home maintenance tasks like yard work and gutter cleaning. To find reputable contractors, Google “residential gutter cleaning near me” and read up on ratings and testimonials from customers. It’s typically best to have your gutters cleaned at least twice a year. 

Dedicate a room in your home to mindfulness. It should be a room that can accept natural light, but also block it out if need be. You can paint the room a soothing color and fill it with mats and pads for mind-body practices like yoga and meditation. Add some indoor plants to purify the air and boost your mood. 

Distract yourself

Take up knitting. Go for a hike or bike ride. Read a book. Work a puzzle. Anything that gets your mind off your pain and on to something else can help. 

“When you suffer from chronic pain, it’s easy to withdraw into yourself, which can make your discomfort even worse. Instead, find ways to distract yourself by doing something you enjoy, especially something that engages your mind,” suggests The Huffington Post.

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