Pain is a common experience shared by all human beings. It’s the body’s natural alarm system which occurs in response to a perceived threat. But, it’s important to realize everyone experiences pain differently. That means everyone will have different ways to manage pain for different situations.
As you may have heard in the media, the U.S. is currently in an opioid epidemic as a result of increased prescription and abuse of pain medications. This is because opioids have now been found to be highly addictive, which can lead to overdose and death if used improperly. What is less commonly known, is there are many ways in which pain can be managed without using pain medication.
Top 3 Take-Home Tips for Managing Pain:
- Find your favorite relaxation techniques. As previously mentioned, pain occurs in response to a perceived threat. This can come in many forms, and can be compounded by physical, emotional, and mental stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, and soft tissue massage can be helpful in managing stress and turning down the body’s natural alarm system. Taking as little as five minutes of each day to devote to relaxation can be beneficial to decrease pain and stress over time.
- Light aerobic exercise. Just a single bout of light, aerobic exercise increases the production of the natural opioids produced by your body, called endogenous opioids. These are well-known to reduce anxiety, enhance mood, and aid in pain relief. So if you are able to safely move around, it’s never a bad idea to work up a little sweat by going for a walk or jog, a bike ride, or participating in physical activities that you enjoy. Movement is medicine!
- Establish healthy sleep habits. Sleep is crucial for daily functioning and has been shown to have effects on how your body processes and perceives pain. This means if you don’t get adequate sleep, you may experience increased pain, reduced quality of life, and a whole lot of other negative effects. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to help set your body’s natural biological clock. Block blue light before bed. Don’t do anything in your bed except sleep and sexual activities.
If you are struggling with pain management, schedule a visit with a health care provider such as a physician or physical therapist. These qualified healthcare professionals can help you come up with an individualized plan to manage your pain.