7 Drug-Free Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) implies that acute pain, left untreated, can lead to chronic pain. Chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined and leads the cause of long-term disability in America.

First, determine which type of pain you have.

  • Acute pain can be brief or last for months. Acute pain goes away after the cause has been treated.

  • Chronic pain is ongoing. It lingers for months or years and can impact your physical and emotional well-being.

Here are simple ways to help manage your chronic pain:

  1. Watch Your Diet: According to Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, staying away from processed foods can mitigate inflammation. Incorporate leafy greens (spinach, kale and collards), omega-3 fatty acids, asparagus, low-sugar fruits (cherries, cranberries, plums, blueberries) and soy products.

  2. Hydrate: Staying hydrated may subdue the symptoms of some chronic pain like headaches and back pain. Try to avoid diuretics such as coffee, soda, or juice.

  3. Foods to Avoid: Certain chemicals in foods can cause inflammation. Avoid eating dairy, grain-fed meat, refined grains, chocolate, tropical fruit, processed foods, eggs and caffeine.

  4. Turmeric: Turmeric is an antioxidant that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties to alleviate arthritis, muscle sprains and other chronic pain. Before incorporating turmeric into your daily cooking, consult with your physician to ensure that you have no pre-existing conditions that may be impaired by turmeric consumption. Excessive intake can cause complications with several medications and treatments.

  5. Yoga and Meditation: Chronic pain changes the brain structure linking to depression, anxiety and impaired mental function. Yoga has a differing effect on the brain and can relieve chronic pain by promoting strength and flexibility while calming the mind to reduce stress. Stress is known to cause muscles to spasm. Practicing asana, the postures of yoga, breathing and meditation, trains your body to relax.

  6. Posture: Many of us are guilty of the C-slump (a rounded back with our heads in front of our spine). Maintaining appropriate posture is essential in fighting pain, so be mindful of your posture as you sit at your computer or as you watch TV.

  7. Get a Massage: A massage can reduce chronic pain by alleviating muscle spasms, promote relaxation, the perception of pain and anxiety. Massages can also lower the pain intensity in the lower back, neck and other areas.

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