Coping With Chronic Back Pain
Over time, it’s easy to fall into some counterproductive habits when dealing with chronic pain. Take a look at this list to see if your routine could use some tweaking:
Catching sleep whenever you can. Chronic pain can throw a wrench into your sleeping routine, but frequent naps can make the problem worse. By napping off and on, your body fails to develop a clear day/night sleep cycle that results in deeper, more refreshing sleep. Relaxation therapy or cognitive behavior therapy, plus following a set of healthy guidelines known as sleep hygiene, may help you drift off and get the quality sleep you need. Addressing a treatable disorder, such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, can also make a huge difference.
Avoiding exercise. No one expects you to go mountain climbing, but working small amounts of exercise into your day is crucial to maintaining strength and flexibility—and boosting your mood. If you haven’t worked out in a long time, it might be best to start with just a few minutes of light exercises, such as walking or stretching. If exercise leaves you in agony or exhausted, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the best type of exercise for your condition. Many people with chronic pain find they can exercise more comfortably in a warm therapy pool. You don’t need to know how to swim to join in.
Trying to do it all. Do you struggle to take care of all the household and family responsibilities yourself, despite your pain? Learn to accept others’ offers of help. Have a few simple tasks in mind the next time friends offer to pitch in. For example, most people would be happy to pick up a few groceries for you the next time they’re at the store or change a hard-to-reach light bulb. If your budget allows, hire someone to help with the heaviest chores.
Procrastinating on filling painkiller prescriptions. New laws requiring a new prescription every time you need a refill can leave you stranded if the doctor is not available and you’ve waited until the last minute to make an appointment. Make friends with your pharmacist, and ask about any restrictions you may not know about. Some states, for instance, have strict laws requiring people to carry painkiller medication in the original bottle from the pharmacy—no putting a few pills in your pocket anymore.
Trying to ignore your depression. Sleep deprivation, social isolation, and financial stresses are just a few reasons people with chronic pain may be more likely to be depressed. Unfortunately, depression can make it more difficult to take an active role in your treatment. If you have persistent symptoms of sadness or anxiety, a change in appetite, or lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed, talk with your doctor about treatment for this serious but treatable condition.
What To Expect From Chronic Back Pain Treatment
People seeking chronic back pain treatment tend to start by consulting with the family doctor. Your family doctor will act as the coordinator for your treatment. Your family doctor has a very good understanding of the causes of chronic back pain but cannot determine a detailed approach to treatment like a specialist can. The first thing your doctor is likely to do to try and help you deal with the pain is to prescribe painkillers. These are pills that can help you deal with the pain but are really not an effective long-term treatment if the pain persists for more than a few days.
The main problem with taking painkillers on a long-term basis is that they are very addictive. Most people find that a continued exposure to that sort of treatment results in an addiction that can be difficult to kick. As a treatment for the temporary pain they can be an easy, convenient cure – But be aware of using them to treat persistent back pain. Although they do take away the pain temporarily they can bring about a very difficult addiction that can be even more painful than the back pain.
Another popular chronic back pain treatment is shots into the back. Usually, doctors will use some sort of steroid for this chronic back pain treatment and this type of treatment is painful. The doctor has to get the needle as close to your spine as possible and it is impossible for the doctor to not hit a few nerves on the way to the spine. The needle is four to five inches long and the process is usually pretty short, but for the period of time that the needle is in there is tremendous discomfort. The worst part is that many people say the shots in the back are possibly the least effective chronic back pain treatment available.
It’s All About Health And Exercise
The best thing a specialist can do, regardless of how much pain you are in, refers you to a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan that will help you strengthen your back and deal with relieving the pain. Physical therapy is the most effective treatment but it can take a long time for the patient to feel the effects. Your doctor might recommend combining painkillers to deal with the intense pain in the short term and then phase them out as the physical therapy makes you stronger.
If you are overweight your doctor or physical therapist will counsel you to lose the extra weight. Excess weight puts pressure on your damaged back that will only make it hurt more. A nutritionist can develop a weight loss plan together with you so you can lose weight in a healthy way without feeling like you are on a starvation diet. Sometimes this can be the best treatment for your chronic back pain without having to resort to painkillers or long-term physical therapy, although regular exercise will make you stronger and should definitely be part of any weight loss plan.
5 Ways You May Be Coping with Chronic Back Pain All Wrong, Last Update: 11/4/2017