If you’re struggling with chronic pain, you’re far from alone. Research from the CDC suggests that over 20% of US adults were dealing with chronic pain in 2019.
This statistic might not feel encouraging if you’re trying to improve your health, but it’s worth remembering that “chronic” doesn’t mean “forever”—and many people eventually find ways to eliminate, reduce, or manage their pain.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce pain and enhance your quality of life. Here are a few simple but powerful strategies worth trying.
1. Cool Things Down
Icing pain away isn’t just something that you do after an immediate injury, and the area in question doesn’t need to be visibly inflamed or swollen. This tried-and-tested tactic can help to reduce unseen inflammation, and it can also help reduce pain by interrupting nerve signals.
Note that you’ll want to follow a few best practices: don’t let the ice come in direct contact with your skin, and make sure to try this strategy for a maximum of 15-20 minutes at a time. If you’ve noticed great benefits from icing your pain away, ask a chiropractor or physical therapist to do a pro-grade icing, which can penetrate deeper into the muscle.
We know, we know: if you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is get moving. However, research shows that exercise is one of the single best things you can do to both manage pain and prevent it in the future.
Exercise can help strengthen the muscles that support your joints, which can be crucial in managing certain types of chronic pain like stubborn upper or lower back pain. In the short term, it also triggers the brain to begin producing endorphins, which can also help to relieve your pain.
The good news is that you don’t have to become a marathon runner to see the benefits of exercise. Walking for a half-hour per day, learning a new dance, doing yoga, swimming, and riding your bike can be great ways to exercise. If you have chronic pain that limits your mobility, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about movement opportunities that are gentler on your body.
3. Watch Your Diet
While it’s true that losing some weight can sometimes help ease certain types of pain, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Instead, it’s important to consider your overall nutrition.
This is especially true if your chronic pain is related to inflammation. Stay away from foods that cause inflammation, like sugary sweets, trans fats, refined carbs, and processed meats. Instead, get more of the foods that reduce inflammation, including fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and fatty fish.
In some cases, you might also want to look into certain supplements, such as Comfort Guard for Inflammation Relief, to support your health. You should also reach out to your doctor if you’re worried about any nutritional deficiencies.
4. Physical or Occupational Therapy
If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain on your own for a while, it might be time to bring in some backup. A physical therapist can help you on several fronts.
First, physical therapists can identify any postural corrections you’ll need in order to reduce the pain, especially if you spend a great deal of time sitting or performing repetitive motions for work or sports.
Next, physical therapists can help you improve your strength and mobility in gentle and safe ways, reducing your risk of injuring yourself by pushing too hard.
In addition, they can help you identify the lifestyle risk factors and behaviors that may be worsening your current pain.
5. Practice Stress Relief
This is often easier said than done, but research shows that conditions like anxiety, stress, and depression can actually worsen chronic pain. If you struggle with any of these conditions, be sure to reach out for the help you need, as you may find them inextricably linked with your chronic pain.
In addition, try adding more stress relief tactics to your everyday life. Try your hand at meditation, start a yoga class, connect with friends and family, keep a journal, or make time for self-care.
6. Massage Your Pain Away
Massage is more than a relaxing service for your next spa day. Instead, therapeutic massage can help with pain relief by working the tension out of your muscles. This, in turn, can loosen up tight areas and even help nerve fibers to stop sending painful messages to your brain.
Note that massage is not ideal for all types of pain or injuries, especially more recent ones. If you’re uncertain, speak with your doctor or physical therapist.
7. Get More Sleep
Again, this is a tough tip for many people suffering from pain, as pain itself can make it difficult to get enough sleep. However, sleep is one undeniable factor in terms of healing from and managing your pain, so it’s important to do all you can to get more of it.
If you struggle with sleeping, try out a few key tactics like reducing your total time in bed. You might also want to opt for sleep compression therapy in order to jump-start better sleep hygiene habits.
Take Steps to Reduce Pain Today
You don’t have to struggle with chronic pain day in and day out. The tactics on this list can help you reduce pain in both the short term and the long term, allowing you to enhance your overall health bit by bit. Don’t forget to reach out to a health care professional for insights, as specific guidance can help you get back on your feet faster!
Want more helpful lifestyle advice? Check out our other content for a host of other tips and tricks.