Let’s take a look at a few ‘repeat offenders’ that can affect your chronic pain, and how you can help manage them!
Sleep is being recognized more as an essential component to pain management. Poor sleep quality can make perception of pain worse. Thankfully, good sleep quality can actually reduce pain experience! If your quality of sleep is poor, consider your routine before bed. Avoid screens, exercising, and eating immediately before bed. This can get your brain, gut, or cardiovascular system ‘ramped up’ too soon before you are trying to ‘wind down’, and falling asleep takes more work.
Try to incorporate other ways to prepare yourself for sleep. Alter your sleeping environment to be cool, dark, and comfortable. Create a sleep ‘routine’, such as reading, breathing exercises, or listening to relaxing music. When repeated enough, your brain will register these activities as a preparation for sleep.
Your physical therapist can discuss your sleeping positions, especially if pain is making it difficult to sleep. There may be a more restful position to consider, and your therapist can help you with that, along with giving you breathing or stretching exercises that can be part of your sleep routine.
Imagine the last time you woke up with a ‘kink’ in your neck. It probably really hurt to turn your head to the side. As time went on, however, you got more comfortable with more movement and likely after a day or two gained back your full motion without pain. This describes a normal acute pain reaction; our bodies tend to alter our movement patterns, or stop certain movements, in order to protect us from injury and pain.
However, we don’t want this lack of movement to become the response with chronic pain. In fact, there is current research suggesting movement can help reduce patients’ chronic pain reports. Oftentimes, there is associated fear of movement with chronic pain, often linked to the misconception that the movement itself is what is causing the pain. The good news is that this is frequently not the case!
So if the takeaway is that increasing your daily movements can help with chronic pain control, what does that look like? Adding movement does not necessarily mean exercise! While exercise has wonderful benefits, it can be daunting to go from nothing to walking outdoors or going to the gym multiple times a week. You can start your journey towards increasing daily movements by easy movements like getting up from your chair, stretching, and walking your house’s hallway. Aim to take a movement break every hour!
Our diets can be such a complicated topic, but we can confidently say that there is a role that nutrition plays in the management of chronic pain! Negatively, a poor diet (lack of optimal nutrition) can lead to increased pain experience, decreased healing, and poor bodily function if your diet is lacking in certain staple nutrients. Alternatively, having the proper nutrition, often coming from staying hydrated and consistently consuming fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, can improve pain experience and give the body what it needs to function optimally.
Aim to have 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, whether fresh, frozen, or canned! Stay hydrated primarily with water, and aim for light yellow urine color.
Need help finding relief? Our team of experts at Nesin Pelvic Health can help! Give us a call to setup your evaluation at 256-513-8442