Lifestyle Changes That Improve Chronic Pain

Lifestyle Changes That Improve Chronic Pain

Chronic pain affects physical and mental well-being and decreases quality of life. This type of long-term pain develops from many causes and creates a wide range of symptoms. 

Because chronic pain is so complex and affects people differently, no single treatment works for everyone. 

At Orthopedic & Wellness, our compassionate pain management physicians — Dr. Ojedapo‌ ‌Ojeyemi ‌and‌ Dr. Matthew Roh — take an individualized approach to chronic pain. We offer many treatments to help our patients get relief, including medications, injections, and surgery when appropriate.

Though these interventions help our patients, changing habits and behaviors works, too, and may enhance the benefits you get from our pain management efforts. Here, we share with you some lifestyle changes that improve chronic pain and quality of life.

Stress management

Your body’s stress response is a protective mechanism. When you feel stressed, your body releases stress hormones that tense up your muscles and make you more alert.

Unfortunately, pain triggers the release of stress hormones. Additionally, chronic stress exacerbates physical pain by keeping your muscles tense and tight. 

Because of the close connection between pain and stress, finding healthy outlets to reduce your stress improves pain. Breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation exercises are simple stress management tools you can easily incorporate into your life.

Regular exercise

It may feel counterintuitive, but physical activity is one of the best tools for reducing chronic pain. Adding regular exercise — like a daily walk or a low-intensity fitness class — can do wonders for your stress level, pain, and mood. 

If you’re not sure where to start, we can refer you to physical therapy for a personalized home exercise program. 

Balanced diet

Your diet choices may also affect your pain level. Many conditions that cause chronic pain — like sciatica and arthritis — are inflammatory. Processed foods increase inflammation and may worsen your pain, while fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish contain nutrients that lower inflammation. 

Eating a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from all food groups may provide your body with nutrients that reduce inflammation and improve pain.

Adequate sleep

If you suffer from chronic pain, you may have a difficult time getting a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep triggers the release of stress hormones that exacerbate your pain.

Creating a sleep routine may help you get more rest. For example, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, designing a bedroom that’s quiet and comfortable, and putting away all electronics one hour before you go to bed. Good sleep hygiene may help you get more high quality rest, reducing stress and improving pain.

When you suffer from chronic pain, you may feel as though you have no control over your symptoms. But you do. 

If you’re struggling to gain control over your pain condition, schedule a consultation with the pain management experts — we’re located in Frederick, Germantown, or Waldorf, Maryland — by calling the office near you or booking an appointment online today.

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