Home Lifestyle Taking A Physical Approach To Dealing With Chronic Pain

Taking A Physical Approach To Dealing With Chronic Pain

by InvisiblyMe
A photo of a man facing a white wall. He's got one hand on my shoulder/neck, and the other on his lower back. There are red highlights to suggest pain. Overlaid is the title: Taking a physical approach to dealing with chronic pain.

Chronic pain can be incredibly debilitating, wearing us down mentally and physically. There may not be any quick fixes or methods to rid us of pain, but there are ways, methods and tools for better managing it so that we can live a little easier. This collaborative post looks at a few physical ways to help manage pain without, or alongside, medications.

Given how different chronic pain can be for different individuals as well as the different abilities of people to withstand it, it should be no surprise that there are some who may need plenty of medicinal help to manage their pain. However, if you’re wary about relying too much on medication, especially opioids, then you may want to look at the more physical ways you can address your pain. Here are a few examples of ways to do that.

Stretch & Exercise

Exercise is consistently linked to lower levels of pain in people who are prone to chronic pain in the joints and the back. For one, exercise can improve the strength of the muscles around the joints, which supports the parts of the body most affected by chronic pain. Many find that the likes of swimming and yoga are particularly beneficial as they improve flexibility while not putting too much pressure on joints. Furthermore, exercise releases neurotransmitters called endorphins, which can dull your pain response, even if temporarily.

Of course, a lot of people with chronic pain may find it difficult to become physically active, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about low-impact exercises that may actually be safer for you to do.

Let’s Get Physical

While not specifically a medical treatment, there are some readily available approaches that you can take without needing to talk to your doctor. While it’s recommended that you see whether or not your doctor approves of it first, massage therapy can be booked by just about anyone. The act of relaxing muscles and improving blood flow can help a lot of people quell their joint and back pain to some degree. Furthermore, massage therapy has also been shown to help with depression and anxiety, and even to improve the average individual’s ability to sleep well in the night.

The Precise Hands-On Approach

While massage therapy can help when it comes to soothing muscles and relaxing your body to help alleviate pain to some degree, there are methods that are more direct. For instance, if you need help for neck pain and dizziness, then an osteopathic treatment targets it specifically.  Through careful articulation or joints and manipulative techniques, they can adjust the body in a way in a way that meets the needs of the individual to calm the specific pain they feel.

An osteopath in white is putting pressure with both hands on a man's back to help treat chronic pain as he stands upright. On the wall behind them is a poster of the human body.

Self-Help Tools

To help ourselves day to day, there are various products we can try. They’ll work differently for everyone, so it’s a case of trial and error to see what might benefit you. There are warming gels and the likes of Voltarol to help reduce inflammation and the pain in joints and muscles. For self-massage, there are spiky balls to roll over muscles and help release tension, or infra-red massagers. TENS machines can help some, while others swear by CBD.

Improving Your Sleep Habits

A lack of sleep is going to consistently result in an experience of increased pain. Poor sleep leads to a great production of cortisol, the stress hormone, which causes the muscles in the body to tense, leading to back and joint pain due to the added friction and resulting inflammation. Finding the right mattress that offers you the support that you need is crucial.

Besides that, create a nightly schedule that can involve meditation to help you relax, banning any electronics from the bedroom, and ensuring that the area you sleep in is as quiet as can be.

Support pillows for the back or to use between your knees can also help with back and hip pain so you can get a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Physical Approaches In Conclusion

If you’re in need of some assistance in dealing with your chronic pain, then you should use what methods work best for you. However, for those who want to avoid relying on medication or who want something to use in conjunction with prescription pharmaceuticals, the tips above can help you manage it.

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What methods do you find help with chronic pain?

[ This is a collaborative post and as such the ideas expressed here are that of the author ]

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Looking for the Light September 28, 2020 - 4:03 pm

Hi Caz
Great post. We are talking about a new mattress and my hips can’t wait. We have an adjustable bed and its breaks down all the time. So we decided to go back to a tradition mattress and be done with the repair man. Getting our new puppy has really helped me move around more and has helped with my physical pain, most of the time and been great for my mental health. He is so funny and is a momma’s boy. He cuddles up at night and can’t get enough tummy rubs. Take care.

InvisiblyMe September 29, 2020 - 3:08 pm

I bit the bullet and got a new mattress recently and I’m so, so glad I did. I know there might be a point in future where I’d be better off with an adjustable one because of my breathing but I’d worry about the possibility of breakdowns too, which it sounds like you’ve experienced too much of. I also now use a memory foam pillow, just a mini one, between my knees to take some of the pressure off my hips and it definitely makes a difference. Every little helps when you’re trying to sleep in agony. Have you tried something between your knees, Mel? Might be an idea if not. And it’s great your little pupster is making such a positive difference in your life  ♥ xx

Sandee September 28, 2020 - 4:14 pm

You have to keep moving for sure. There are many ways to make ones life better and you have the talent of finding out what those things are. Excellent.

Have a fabulous day and week, Caz. Big hug. ♥

InvisiblyMe September 29, 2020 - 3:09 pm

Little bits of movement here and there is usually the best plan for many people, it just needs to be paced well. Thanks very much, Sandee, I’m glad you liked the post! I hope you’re having a lovely week so far xx

Terri, Reclaiming Hope September 28, 2020 - 6:40 pm

Another brilliant post Caz! As you said, whether or not we need medication for chronic pain, taking some steps to make lifestyle changes can be extremely helpful. It’s often hard to start exercising when you’re already in pain, but if we start out small and slowly, it can help us start to feel better. I’m a firm believer in Osteopathic treatment – I see my doctor for OMT once a month. It’s made a huge difference in my pain levels. As far as sleep goes, the first thing my doctor told me when he told me I had fibromyalgia was that I needed to make sure I was sleeping on a good mattress. It really does make all the difference. I hope you’re starting to feel better and getting back to your baseline. Sending hugs!

InvisiblyMe September 29, 2020 - 3:51 pm

A new mattress can make a big difference. I’m so glad I finally got a new one recently as mine was nearly as old as I am and the springs were digging in my ribcage constantly, not to mention how hard and uncomfortable the whole thing was. It’s great that osteopathic treatment is beneficial for you, and I agree on exercise being helpful for many people with fibromyalgia. Just little steps can add up, once you pace and figure out what works best for you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Terri! ???? xx

gemmaslittleworld September 28, 2020 - 5:51 pm

I get horrendous pain in my back and I know walking should help but sometimes it makes it worse unless i stretch. I cant believe how much stretching helps!

InvisiblyMe September 29, 2020 - 3:15 pm

I’m sorry you’ve got to live with such pain, Gemma. Stretching really can be beneficial, especially if you have muscles issues making any nerve or joint pain worse. I hope gentle stretching continues to be useful for you lovely xx

Darnell Cureton September 28, 2020 - 6:59 pm

These are good suggestions to manage pain. I like the idea of using alternate methods along with some meds to control pain. I think it would cut some of the med costs down and help prevent addiction(s) I like the idea of getting more rest. We never get enough sleep in todays fast paced world. Especially me.

InvisiblyMe September 29, 2020 - 4:06 pm

I like the combined approach to mix and match what works for different types of situations and different types of pain. The modern world almost shuns rest, as though we need to be productive and on the go all the time, which is so unhealthy. I hope you can pencil in a bit more rest time, Darnell. Working hard is something I aspire to as well, but don’t overwork yourself. Give your body & those grey matter cells enough R&R. xx

B September 28, 2020 - 8:25 pm

Exercise, massage, sleep…Yes to all.

InvisiblyMe September 29, 2020 - 4:08 pm

Three excellent aspects for self-care as well as pain management! xx

Tim O'Connor September 29, 2020 - 11:36 pm

Excellent article with great ideas. My issues involve my gut. So, eating plant-based meals and carefully attending to what I eat is very helpful. Physical exercise and stretching is very helpful for gut issues and reduces pain and bloating. I think it keeps things moving. Take care.

InvisiblyMe September 30, 2020 - 1:34 pm

As someone who’s had gut issues for 10+ years I empathise, and I’m sorry you’ve got to deal with these issues too. I’m glad you find plant-based meals and a little exercise can help keep things moving. Things work differently for everyone so when you find something that helps, that’s great! Thanks for sharing your experiences, Tim. I hope the week is treating you kindly so far ????

Holly October 2, 2020 - 2:42 pm

Every single one of these tips can significantly improve the quality of someone’s life! As you rightly say, we are all individuals who feel and process pain differently. That makes a difference because pain control is anything but a cookie-cutter experience. I think this is where so many doctors get it wrong too. Just because their last patient has been doing “XYZ” for the last 6 months and feels like a different person, doesn’t mean they should push that for every patient.

Exercise and sleep have by far been the two biggest adjustments I made to find improvement in overall pain levels. For years, I was probably discounting how much my lack of quality sleep affected me. My most productive hours are typically between 6pm-2am. If I was trying to force myself to be on a ‘normal’ schedule, I’d be waking up long before my body was rested. Enter in absolute misery and poor health. It’s just another prime example of how health care is not a one-size-fits-all deal.

For years I also found great help with a knowledgeable Chiropractor as well. Have you ever seen one, Caz? Finding the right one is key. I love their comprehensive approach to pain relief, as they will often add in massage therapy, occupational therapy, etc.

Another awesome article, my friend! ❤

InvisiblyMe October 22, 2020 - 5:11 pm

Not a “cookie cutter experience”, that’s exactly what I was trying to pull through when it comes to our experiences of pain and methods of management. Sleep can be so tricky, can’t it? It’s a vicious cycle too when pain interrupts your sleep or makes it harder to get quality sleep, but then lack of it makes your physical health worse. Do you find your sleep habits and ability to get quality rest are a bit better these days..? I’ve never seen a chiropractor, no. I’ve never even had a massage, though I love the idea of a shoulder massage because I get painfully tense, knotted muscles there. It’s great you’ve found a chiropractor to be helpful, and I think that more holistic approach with working in other techniques etc would make it all the more helpful.

Another amazing comment! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Holly.xx

Stacey Chapman October 8, 2020 - 1:01 pm

Great post, Caz.
And I really appreciate how you talk about combining solutions with taking pain meds. There was a time I refused Tramadol and was terrified of taking it and Opioids. But I only got my life back, once I started on the Tramadol.
It’s a trial and error type of life we have to live, between meds, alternative therapies and holistic approaches. What works for me, may not work for you. But you offered some great suggestions that covered all the bases.
Same here with the mattress! It’s SO important! Well that and the right pillow!

InvisiblyMe October 22, 2020 - 5:35 pm

Same here with needing to get my head around pain meds. I refused them for a long time until I couldn’t any more, and it was the best decision in moving forwards. It’s not like we want to be in this position, we just have to work with it as best we can. And it’s definitely a trial and error kind of thing with management. That’s why I like hearing what others find useful and learning more about different therapies and meds and products. There’s a lot out there to try, which can give us a little hope when we start to feel hopeless. We’re not at the end of our options because there are always other things to try. Thanks for the great comment lovely! xx


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