The short answer to this question is whenever you feel it is necessary.
However, there are many tips and tricks that may help you live with chronic pain without needing professional assistance. Here are just a few that you can try on your own!
We’re fairly certain that as you’re reading this you’re saying “easier said than done.” While that may be a pretty relatable feeling among most, stress can actually increase your body’s sensitivity to pain, which can cause even simple daily tasks to seem daunting.
Taking a few minutes each day to stretch, listen to calming music, or simply breathe can relieve stress enough to make your pain calm down. Try doing a few stretches early in the morning to get your day started. By reducing stress first thing in the morning, you may see it carry through the day in its entirety!
Cut Out Alcohol and Cigarettes
Drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes may be things that you use when feeling pain, but both can contribute to worsening chronic pain. Alcohol can cause inflammation in your body and create abnormal sleeping patterns. Smoking can cause circulation issues, and increase your overall risk of heart disease and cancer.
Try cutting back your alcohol intake, especially in the late evening, to see if your sleep patterns get better. Then, attempt to complete cut out alcohol entirely, thus helping your body’s inflammation. For smoking, try to cut back one day at a time. Though some may be able to quit cold turkey, others may not want to do this due to the potential pain associated with withdrawal.
Change Your Diet to Be Healthier & Begin Exercising
Even without chronic pain, a healthy diet and consistent exercise come with a ton of health benefits. If you have chronic pain and are sedentary, you may find that your body consistently aches. Couple this with a low functioning digestive system or high blood pressure, and you may find yourself being in more pain without doing anything.
Focus on eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. By not retaining as much water, you may find that you’re able to move a bit more freely. In addition, getting your daily amounts of fiber and water intake will aid your digestive system and decrease the amount of bloating you may feel. Exercising may be more difficult for some, but start by simply walking a few times a day, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The blood flow will create healthy circulation, causing less pain.
Join a Support Group and Find a Distraction
One of the biggest contributors to chronic pain is the sheer focus on it every day. While there’s no way to absolutely avoid your pain, you can release negative thoughts that may be harbored by talking about it to others, or even developing a new hobby. Some may even begin to develop depression in addition to chronic pain, causing both physical and mental health issues.
In talking to others, you may learn many different coping mechanisms that can help you. Some may even tell you about hobbies that were able to help them both physically and mentally, and you can even share things that have helped you!
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help
At the end of the day, seeking help is not a bad thing. If you are unable to use any of the tips above, or are still having persistent chronic pain, contact Weirton Medical Center’s Western PA Physicians to discuss other alternatives. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and not of weakness!