Many Americans live with chronic pain on a daily basis and fail to seek help for it. According to the American Osteopathic Association, close to 1 in 2 Americans say pain is part of their daily life, and 41% believe is a normal part of aging. Outside of the procedures and treatments we have to offer, there are other ways your chronic pain can be managed. Most of these are used in conjunction with the procedures and treatments we have to offer. If you are interested in any of them, please bring this to your doctor’s attention.
Seeking the help of a physical therapist is sometimes a key part of chronic pain treatment. These specialists can teach you home exercises, addressing your specific injury, as well as teach proper lifting and bending. Please see our blog “Staying Active after Epidural Injections” for some general exercises. Please note this should not take the place of actual physical therapy.
Back and Sacroiliac Braces
These braces are used during times of activity, when your injured area is most vulnerable, to help support the affected area. They help to remove pressure on the discs, and reduce inflammation. Please ask your doctor for more information if you are interested in a brace. Our clinical team will get you fitted with the proper brace the same day of your appointment, pending insurance approval. For more information, please look at our blog “How Back Braces Help with Lumbar Pain”.
Our physicians work with a large network of alternative treatment providers such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, & others. If you are interested in a referral for any of these, please speak with your doctor and we can create one for you.
TENS Units and Muscle Stimulation
Some patients find this type of noninvasive stimulation helpful at masking their chronic pain. We work with several providers in the city who can help get you fitted with the unit that is right for you. If you would be interested in a TENS unit, please let your doctor know and we can make that referral for you.
Change in Daily Habits
Proper body mechanics, dietary changes, and desk ergonomics are daily life habits that can affect your chronic pain without you realizing it. It is important to learn how proper care can help to decrease your chronic pain. For more information, please check out our blog page and ask your doctor about how you can make these changes.
Massage involves stroking or rubbing muscles and other soft tissues. Massage stretches and loosens soft tissues to improve blood flow, which helps alleviate pain. Massage is also proven to reduce stress hormone levels, improve joint function, and reduce inflammation. There are 4 types of massage: Swedish, deep tissue, sports, and trigger point massage. Each of these types range in pressure and movement, and can target specific types of muscle pain.
You can also purchase an electric vibrating massager to help increase blood flow and “numb” the area temporarily. Some electric massagers also offer heat functions, which can ease pain. Brookstone offers a variety of body massagers that can target specific areas of pain.
Taking time out of your day to intentionally relax is a vital tool to reduce pain. In many situations, pain is caused by tension and stress in muscles. Twice a day, practice relaxing areas of pain. One way to do this is to create tension in that area and release. Your muscle should relax every time you release.
Breathing exercises are also a great way to relax. The 4-7-8 breath is the most popular breathing exercise:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Vacations and other times dedicated to relaxing are very important to your health, so don’t let yourself go without them! Even if you have a “staycation” at home, allow yourself to occasionally get away mentally and emotionally from stressful situations.
When you feel pain you may be reluctant to exercise because you think it will cause your pain to worsen. Although exercise can be difficult to begin, once you start a rhythm, it can be the best thing for your aching body. Not only will you feel better physically, but exercise can help you emotionally, and mentally as well.
You should always ask your doctor about your limitations before exercising.
Rules for exercising:
- Find exercises that are right for you. Walking, riding a bike, and swimming are some examples you can do at home.
- When you first start exercising you may hurt a little more. This is natural. Unused muscles will be sore at first.
- Take care with exercises. Learn how to “listen to your body.”
- Keep as active as you realistically can; your body is designed to move.
- Stop if you feel a sharp or new pain.
- Don’t rush through your exercises. They should be done in a calm, steady manner, with awareness of how the movements affect your body.
- Increase your enjoyment – try exercising, or just moving, to slow, relaxing music.
These tips can help manage your pain temporarily, but if you feel you need some extra help, the doctors at Oklahoma Pain Management have the expertise to diagnose your specific pain.
For more ways to manage pain, visit our Pain Management Blog.