Up to 40 percent of the American population may experience chronic pain. It may begin from an injury or disease process, or you may not be able to identify the origin of the pain. Whatever the cause, if you live with chronic pain, or you know someone who lives with chronic pain, you are very much aware of how it affects every aspect of daily life. Chronic pain affects physical, emotional and psychosocial aspects of our lives.
We’ve all experienced acute pain in some form — a stubbed toe, or a paper cut — and we know that this kind of pain resolves on its own in a short period of time. Our nervous system is letting us know we have a problem that we need to take care of. Chronic pain is different; it continues for weeks, months or even years. Common chronic pain complaints include low back pain, headaches, cancer pain, arthritis, and nerve pain.
Living well with chronic pain is challenging. Managing chronic pain effectively requires being well-informed about causes of chronic pain and its treatment options. The wide variety of treatment options can be overwhelming and it may be hard to find a place to start. There are many web-based resources to help you get informed. Try visiting the American Chronic Pain Association’s website here for lots of useful information. Research shows that becoming an active participant in your chronic pain treatment yields greater benefits.
The experience of chronic pain is a very personal one, and no two people will have the same response to the various treatments available. Chronic pain treatments to consider include, medications and placebos, acupuncture, yoga, electrical stimulation, exercise, psychotherapy, relaxation and meditation, biofeedback and behavior modification.
In our busy lives it’s important to find ways to address chronic pain even if we only have a few minutes of free time. Studies show that there is a strong connection between the mind and the body. Many individuals find that by quieting the mind, and practicing mindfulness, their experience of chronic pain is improved. Try a 10-minute guided meditation: Chronic Pain Guided Meditation. We know how hectic a work day can be, but we also know how much better we feel after just a few minutes of yoga! Try this Mindful Chair Yoga video. Remember: use a chair that does not have wheels – we don’t want another injury!