Health management is a multi-faceted concept that plays a large role in your daily life, whether you realize it or not. One of the major aspects of successful health maintenance is self-advocacy. For those who don’t know, self-advocacy means playing an active role in the upkeep of your health. This is especially crucial for individuals living with chronic pain, as there are many aspects of their particular conditions - both small and large - that need to be addressed at any given time. Self-advocacy may be natural for some people who are more outspoken, but it can certainly be taught (and practiced) to introverts. Here are some of the basics of self-advocacy as part of your journey toward chronic pain relief.
1. Be honest
Being forthcoming about all of your habits, lifestyle, and symptoms is one of the best ways you can start off (and maintain) a relationship with any healthcare provider. And by all, we really mean all information related to your pain. Some people may be...
By now, you're probably sick and tired of hearing about chronic pain.
However, the sad truth is that some people living with chronic pain don’t know the root cause behind the debilitating discomfort they are experiencing.
This begs the question: How can you properly get your pain under control if you don’t even know where it comes from?
The mechanisms of chronic pain begin the same as many other types of pain, which are intended to alert the body to potential injuries. When this pain happens in response to a new, potential injury, it is called acute pain.
When the same pain continues to happen for more than 3 months or even years after your injury has healed, it is called chronic pain.
Pain originates through signals from receptors in the skin, which then travel to the brain and spinal cord. In most individuals, these receptors are only triggered when there is new pain that you must be alerted to.
However, individuals living with chronic pain have hyperactive receptors...
Strength. Toughness. Resilience. Self-reliance. Dominance.
Because people commonly associate these words with a certain gender, men have been known to experience difficulty breaking down barriers in healthcare.
The perpetuation of this stereotype has even impacted the health behaviors of men, as males are significantly less likely to report symptoms of pain than women are.
One study analyzed the effects of pain in patients who sought treatment from a specialty pain clinic.
Results showed that women experiencing pain report higher activity levels, more acceptance of pain, and greater social support for their pain.
On the other hand, men experience more mood changes, lower activity levels, and more fear of movement in response to pain (Rovner et al., 2017).
These results may be surprising to some people who don’t realize the dynamics at play within this underserved population. The lasting impact of chronic pain on men should be discussed more often and in...
Mindfulness is a common buzzword these days.
You may have heard it mentioned alongside terms like meditation and self-care. This is because mindfulness is a self-care practice that can be used during stress management techniques such as meditation.
But what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of controlling your attention to focus on everything happening in the current moment.
This tool can be used for several minutes to find temporary solace from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Here is a quick run-down of what you need to know about using mindfulness for chronic pain relief:
Start by setting up your environment.
Once you become more skilled in the art of mindfulness, you may be able to practice this anywhere. Find a quiet place (like a bedroom or basement) where you can be at ease. Have your favorite blanket, soft chair, or exercise mat. You may want to dim the lights.
Position your body so you are relaxed and not in severe pain, but will still remain awake. This...
We are aware of the most publicized demographics who are feeling the effects of COVID: the elderly, employees who are now working from home, and the frontline or essential workers.
But what about individuals living with chronic pain?
This already under-served group has been feeling the ripple effect of high stress and fear throughout our communities. Such emotions are truly contagious, especially during times of high societal unrest.
Much of our response to these concerns lies in the emotions we are currently experiencing, which help create our mindset.
For example, individuals with chronic pain who may already feel vulnerable and scared are more susceptible to picking up on the fear and anxiety of others.
A transmission of emotions can happen long-distance by watching the news or hearing about someone else’s struggles, but this can also happen directly and more discreetly from people we interact with on a daily basis.
Many people are venting their frustrations outwardly...
If you are living with chronic pain, you’re already well aware of what you don’t need in your life: extra work, more stress, and more pain.
It seems obvious to include “more pain” in this list, but some people may unknowingly adopt health habits that hurt their body and mind.
This is yet another reason why education and planning are so important for chronic pain relief.
In order to appropriately manage your pain, you need to be keen to the activities and health behaviors that aggravate your symptoms, causing both short-term and long-term discomfort.
In addition to negative practices we should avoid, individuals living with chronic pain should incorporate protective strategies to strengthen their bodies.
Here are some of the BEST ways that you can relieve pain by preventing acute, or new, injuries from occurring.
You are probably familiar with braces and splints that shield your joints from unnecessary impact throughout...
In order to effectively cope with chronic pain, it truly does take a village.
Even the most independent people need help from time to time, especially with something as monumental as the quest for chronic pain relief. Thankfully there are plenty of resources in place to assist you in this process.
Finding outside support to guide you with your personal pain relief efforts is crucial. This guidance not only allows individuals to learn what they need to understand about their pain, but also offers people a beacon of hope in what may otherwise be a lonely and difficult journey.
In addition to taking advantage of resources around you, here are three other mistakes you are making by dealing with your chronic pain alone:
People who have been living with chronic pain for a long time may have developed a habit of managing their pain this way. Perhaps this practice started as an effort to “get ahead” of an overly...
So much of what we know and do can be attributed to motor memory and social learning. Since humans are creatures of habit, our bodies tend to develop routines and make them second-nature.
Motor memory is the reason that we can complete certain tasks without even thinking about it, such as driving, walking, and riding a bike. Social learning refers to the way we often unknowingly pick up on the knowledge and behavior of others.
Each of these principles can help or harm the quest for chronic pain relief. And, especially during a time where misinformation can run rampant, nothing should be taken at face value.
For this reason, we decided to debunk some common adages related to pain:
This phrase is sure to make any wellness professional cringe. A rule like this should never be applied to rehabilitation or pain management protocols, whether they include strengthening and resistant exercises or gentle stretching.
No matter what knowledge you have about the inner workings of the human body, many of us have at least heard of the mind-body connection.
This concept is relatively self-explanatory, and states that by-products of our mind (such as thought patterns, emotions, habits, behaviors, etc.) are influenced by our physical body.
The same also applies to the impact our body has on our mind. This means that poor health choices in either realm can have a negative impact that extends far beyond one area of your life.
For example, these days you may be spending more time engaging in sedentary activities like watching TV while slouched on the couch or hunching over your computer without taking any breaks.
If you do this for a short period of time (even just an hour), you may find yourself experiencing minor pains in your lower back, legs, neck, and wrists. These aches will persist if you continue to assume poor posture.
These minor concerns can potentially lead to long-term injuries that result...
There are many factors that play a part in successful chronic pain management.
These foundational areas lay the groundwork for the biopsychosocial model, which looks at how a person's biology, psychology, and sociology contributes to their pain -- both positively and negatively.
In particular, adopting certain qualities and habits can be vital in the quest for effectively managing pain.
Here are four tenets you can follow to get started on the right path:
Putting the work in is the key to success in any venture, and pain management is no exception. In order to see results such as lower pain levels, more energy, improved motion, and better sleep, a certain degree of persistence is needed.
Each person living with chronic pain must work diligently to understand the mechanisms of pain and what they must do differently to instill positive change in their lives.
Along with this comes equal parts patience. You may see results in some areas quicker than others, so you...