Living an Active and Fulfilling Life as a Chronic Pain Sufferer

If you suffer from chronic pain (whether by injury, illness, or condition), you do not have to resign yourself to a life of inactivity — a life on the margins. While you may never be able to “cure” yourself of your chronic pain, you can effectively manage it in a way that lets you lead a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. Here are some tips and resources to help.

Get a Handle on Your Inflammation

For a lot of chronic pain causes, the real culprit is inflammation. It’s the preferred expression of dozens of conditions, if you will. That’s why learning how to avoid flare-ups and reduce the overall impact is vital. An anti-inflammatory diet is your first solution. Many have success with the Mediterranean approach (olive oil, fish, veggies), and switching out sugar, red meat, and saturated fat for some anti-inflammatory foods like strawberries, avocados, and tomatoes will help.

Another thing you should learn about is your gut health. It’s a big source of health, because the gut microbiome helps to determine how much fat you store in your body, how well your immune system works, and how happy you feel. However, certain foods can hinder your gut’s efforts of increasing your overall health. Along with a poor diet, antibiotics and alcohol are some of the things that can contribute to chronic inflammation in the body by compromising the health of the digestive system. Again, turning to anti-inflammatory foods is key to creating a healthier gut.

Slowly Exercise Your Way to Less Pain

Exercise can be scary for chronic pain sufferers. Many feel that pushing their bodies to work hard will simply exacerbate the pain. While it’s true that you do not want to strain your body beyond its limits (especially at first), it’s wrong to abandon exercise altogether. In fact, a main building block to an active, fulfilling lifestyle is introducing exercise into your daily life.

One recent study found that “for chronic pain … frequent movement is preferable to sedentary behavior,” and the most-successful exercise regimens are those that are “tailored individually, progressed slowly, and account for physical limitations, psychosocial needs and available resources.” Exercise not only improves your joints, musculature, and strengthens tissues and cartilage, but it also releases endorphins in the brain; the latter is key to pain management.

So, start slow and listen to your body, but definitely get up and get moving.

Connect with Others Who Have Chronic Pain

It’s easy to feel isolated when you suffer from chronic pain, but the truth is that over 100 million people worldwide have some sort of chronic pain condition. Connecting with people like you who can truly understand your day-to-day struggles is vital to helping you come out of your shell and live a more fulfilling life. Through support groups, you can find people to talk to, get useful advice, and even find people with whom to exercise or do other activities. Check here to find pain support groups in your area, or look for online options.

General tips

Here are some additional things you can do to help your chronic pain:

-Stop smoking

-Get more sleep

-Drink more water

-Consider weekly massage for stubborn pain areas

-Practice meditation and/or deep focused breathing

-Stretch every day (yoga is great for this)

-Find hobbies that work fine motor skills and also distract you (needlework, playing music, visual art, etc.)

The causes of chronic pain are not always fully understood, and that can be frustrating. You should check out this amazing educational resource on all things pain if you want to know more about what you’re going through and how you can begin to understand it. Your pain does not have to define you. It can be controlled, and you can lead a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

So, start slow and listen to your body, but definitely get up and get moving.

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