Open Accessibility Menu

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update Learn More

5 healthy ways to treat chronic pain

Published in Pain Center, For the Health of It Author: Michael Massey,DO

There are 50-100 million Americans estimated to be suffering from chronic pain. Most of us have experienced or know someone who struggles to manage their pain and stay healthy. It can be very difficult to get physical exercise or have a sound mind when suffering from chronic pain. Medications for pain also have side effects that can get in the way of being healthy. Here are five healthy ways you can treat chronic pain:

  1. Get moving. Our bodies are meant to move around every day, even when you’re in pain. It makes sense that someone would not want to move around when they’re in pain because it hurts. However, when we don’t move for long periods of time, our muscles can get weak and stiff. This can cause other painful issues. Some activities that can help you get moving are Tai Chi, physical therapy, pool therapy, daily walking and yoga.
  2. Eat well. We are what we eat. Some foods can have harmful effects on the body. For example, there are foods that promote inflammation in the body. This is not healthy and can increase your pain. Other foods have anti-inflammatory properties that are healthy and excellent for treating pain. Foods that cause inflammation in the body are sodas, fruit juices, pizza, donuts, deep fried foods, white rice, red meat and excessive alcohol. Foods that fight inflammation are fruits, nuts, olive oil, leafy greens, fatty fish (e.g. salmon) and tomatoes. Talk to a CentraCare Health dietitian if you want to create a customized diet plan that fights inflammation.
  3. Sleep well. When we get a good night’s sleep, we feel better. Not only does our pain improve but, our body and mind recharge. Sometimes simple changes in our sleep habits can help us get a better night’s sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night. No screen time with the TV, tablets and/or smart phones one hour before the time you go to bed. The bedroom should only be for sleep and sex, get rid of the TV. The goal is about eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have questions or concerns about your sleep patterns, you can make an appointment at the St. Cloud Hospital Sleep Center.
  4. Be mindful. Mood and stress levels are often made worse with chronic pain. This can lead to issues with anger, depression and anxiety. Also, the way you think about your life and situation can have an impact on the amount of suffering that occurs while in pain. Being mindful means to be aware, particularly of your feelings and the feelings of others. It is much easier to relax, improve mood, manage anger and have inner peace when being mindful. CentraCare Health offers mindfulness classes that are structured to help individuals with chronic pain.
  5. Be social. It is very common for people with chronic pain to withdraw from social activities that give them joy. Key relationships with family and friends often suffer when someone is experiencing chronic pain. Do not forget those who love and care for you. Remember to do your best to stay social. Social media does not count. We all need interpersonal interaction with our family and friends. Go to the movies with your family, go to church, go watch the game and try to participate in outdoor activities. You will most likely feel better in general as you keep a healthy social life.

These are just a few healthy ways that people can control their chronic pain rather than allow the pain to control them. If you would like to know more on how you can manage your chronic pain and improve your life, please call 320-240-7859 to make an appointment at the Neurosciences Pain Center.