Chronic pain is a common complaint
among U.S. adults — affecting about 20.4 percent of the population, according to the CDC. Moreover, about 8 percent of American adults suffer from high-impact chronic pain — a type of pain that lasts for three or more months and restricts individuals from performing at least one major activity, such as working outside of the home. The four most common
types of chronic pain include back pain, headaches, joint pain, and neuropathic pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica are two examples of chronic nerve pain, while scoliosis and lordosis are types of chronic back pain.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a new medical condition that causes chronic pain, you may be looking for ways to manage and alleviate your symptoms, cope with your diagnosis, and adjust to your new normal.
Safe Symptom Management
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition that causes pain in your head, back, nerves, joints, pelvic region, or any other part of your body, there are some steps you can take to safely manage the physical and psychological symptoms you may be experiencing. These include:
Modifying your diet.
Certain foods like sugar, white flour, dairy, and artificial preservatives can worsen symptoms of inflammatory medical conditions — while foods high in carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin D, and omega-3s may alleviate symptoms in some chronic pain sufferers. As such, incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet and avoiding inflammatory foods could help to improve your symptoms over time. For additional assistance, look to a professional
dietitian to help you coordinate a healthy eating plan that’s right for your condition.
Exercising often. Regular exercise
to keeping chronic pain symptoms under control and improving your quality of life — whether it’s walking, swimming, golfing, yoga, tai chi, or pilates. The Curable app
is a great place to start if you suffer from chronic pain, as you’ll receive access to a variety of exercises for the mind and body — including guided meditations.
Like diet and exercise, there are relaxation techniques
to help to manage chronic pain and alleviate stress and anxiety — including guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, autogenic training, biofeedback-assisted relaxation, and progressive muscle relaxation. Spine Nation
explains that therapeutic massage can also help to alleviate the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain — especially when used two- to- three days per week.
Connect With Other Chronic Pain Sufferers
After you’ve been diagnosed
with a new medical condition, you may feel scared, anxious, and uncertain about the future. However, coping strategies such as joining a support group, asking loved ones for help, and seeking the assistance of a mental health professional can make a big difference in how you feel moving forward. By joining Chronic Pain Anonymous
(CPA), for instance, you can find online, in-person, or phone-based meetings with other chronic pain sufferers — and there’s no charge to become a member.
Other support groups are offered through the American Chronic Pain Association
(ACPA), Pain Connection/U.S. Pain Foundation, and National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA). The Mighty is another type of online community for chronic pain sufferers — offering tips, resources, and real-life stories on a variety of health topics. Plus, you can even share your story
with The Mighty community, seek and give support, and connect with other chronic pain sufferers in a safe online space.
Living with chronic pain isn’t easy — and some days or weeks will be far worse than others. By managing your symptoms through diet, exercise, and various relaxation techniques — and connecting with other chronic pain sufferers — you’ll be better able to cope with the physical, mental, and emotional effects of your diagnosis.
Updated: June 5, 2021