Lifestyle modification is extremely important in chronic pain management. While making lifestyle changes may not eliminate your pain entirely, it can help you make the pain easier to manage. Moreover, it can help you avoid making the pain worse, which is crucial to maintaining a good quality of life despite this chronic condition.
To avoid worsening your chronic pain, here are the habits that you should avoid:
1. Procrastinating appointments
If you suffer from chronic pain that entails regular chiropractic appointments, the worst thing you can do is to not attend them. This is especially true if you are suffering from pain caused by a car crash; not seeing your trusted car accident chiropractor regularly can make you more susceptible to increased levels of pain due to non-treatment. So even if the pain is “not that bad” or you think you’re too busy, make time to attend appointments regularly.
2. Not exercising
When you are in pain, the last thing you want to do is get up and work out, and it may even seem counterintuitive to avoiding pain. However, exercising actually helps relieve pain and is a common treatment for chronic pain. It helps relieve inflammation, increase mobility, lubricates joints, and strengthen muscles, which also helps prevent injuries while providing overall pain relief.
Start incorporating exercise into your routine gradually. Aim for at least 5 to 10 minutes of low-impact exercise twice or thrice a day, such as walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga. Consult with your pain management specialist to curate your exercise routine according to your needs and physical limitations.
Smoking does nothing good for your body, and if you have chronic pain, you are making your condition worse by lighting up. On top of that, smoking makes it more difficult for your body to heal itself, which can prolong your recovery from injuries and various types of illnesses.
If you need help with quitting smoking, approach your healthcare provider for treatment.
4. Not managing stress
Stress stimulates the release of stress hormones in your body, which leads to inflammation and even more pain. On the emotional aspect, stress can make you agitated and anxious, feelings that can increase the intensity of your pain.
The best way to avoid this is to learn how to manage stress, be it through deep breathing techniques, meditation, and avoiding the things that stress you out in the first place. Engaging in hobbies and other activities that you enjoy can also reduce your stress levels.
5. Sitting for too long
Even if you don’t suffer from chronic pain, sitting for long periods of time can put a lot of pressure on your back, which often leads to pain. Avoid this habit by being mindful of how long you sit at one time. Get up and engage in some form of physical activity every half an hour or so, even if it’s just walking around your house. If you work a desk job, stand up and walk at least a few paces every thirty minutes. Better yet, alternate between sitting and standing while working to avoid increased tension in your body.
6. Failing to get enough sleep
Sleep is the time when your body heals and repairs itself. So when you are not getting enough sleep, your pain is bound to get worse.
Strive to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If this is not possible, take a few 20-minute naps throughout the day to give your body a chance to rest. Moreover, limit caffeine, avoid screen time before bed, and practice relaxation techniques to help yourself sleep better.
7. Ignoring nutrition recommendations
Your pain management specialist will likely have given you a set of dietary recommendations that are designed to help you manage chronic pain. Avoiding inflammatory foods is usually part of those recommendations. Foods that can cause inflammation and make pain worse include sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, refined carbohydrates, artificial trans fats, excessive alcohol, and processed meats.
8. Putting too much focus on your pain
It’s difficult to ignore pain, especially when it’s intense, but you’re not making it any better by focusing on it. Instead of allowing your pain to become the center of attention, distract yourself using any strategies that work best for you, for example: reading a book, watching TV, doing chores, or playing a video game.
These habits can make chronic pain worse, which is why being proactive in avoiding them is a critical part of pain management. Once you eliminate these habits from your lifestyle, you’ll find that it’s easier to manage chronic pain and achieve a better quality of life without them.