Changing a few simple aspects of your lifestyle can put you in better control of your chronic pain, and may actually decrease the pain you experience. In fact, you’ll likely be surprised if you take a good look at these nine things that can make your pain worse, and find any in your own life that can be improved.
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Avoiding Your Doctor
Your doctor should just assume you still have pain, and everything is status quo, right? Wrong. Every day, advances in research increase our knowledge about disorders and medications. Your doctor is your number one resource. Not only can he assess how you are progressing, but he knows if something is newly available that may be better for your condition. You don’t have to see your doctor every week, but make sure to schedule routine visits to discuss your case. You may just learn something new.
Eating Junk Food
Refined sugar and saturated fats taste great, but they don’t give your body the fuel it needs to operate efficiently. Remember, efficient muscles use less energy, saving you effort with every move.
We are just beginning to understand the importance of good nutrition in chronic pain, but what we’ve learned so far has some pain physicians believing that good nutrition may be one of the best approaches to managing chronic pain.7
We know that junk food causes inflammation, what’s now been coined the “inflammation diet” and that fruit and vegetables usually do the opposite. But do we really need a host of studies to tell us this?
We may hate to admit it, but most of us feel better when we eat our vegetables and drink more water. Maybe it’s time to put down that doughnut and coffee and start the day out right with some whole-grain cereal or protein-rich yogurt. Not sure where to start? Talk to your doctor, or consult a dietitian.
Not only does alcohol decrease the rate of transmission of some kinds of nerve impulses in the brain, but it can also interact harmfully with medications.8 Believe it or not, this includes over-the-counter painkillers. Moderate to heavy drinkers also have a greater risk of heart and lung disease.9 If you have chronic pain, it’s best to leave the bottle alone.
Overdoing things on days when you feel good can have disastrous consequences.
While it may be very tempting to tackle your entire to-do list on a day when you have virtually no pain, you can set yourself back for several days as you recover. It is better to keep a steady level of activity from day to day—one that you know your body can handle.
This final tip on what to avoid so that you don’t worsen your pain may be the hardest to follow. When you have a day when you feel good you may frantically try to catch up—thinking that you’ll feel better if you do so. Though it’s tempting, pace yourself.