My experience of chronic pain
Emily lives with chronic pain, and gives her tips on managing it
Written by Emily Garber
Voices - Experiences
Young people share their personal experiences.
Chronic pain is defined as "pain without apparent biological value that has persisted beyond normal tissue healing time. The pain may be continuous or intermittent."
Living with chronic pain is hard, it affects day to day activities that many people take for granted. When you suffer from chronic pain, simple tasks like putting away the dishes, typing on a computer, folding laundry, and more can be stressful to the joints or whatever part of your body that inhibits you from performing these tasks comfortably. Although chronic disease may be incurable, that does not mean it is untreatable. Here are some treatments that have helped me over the past eight years living with chronic pain.
I cannot stress this enough! Exercise may seem daunting when your muscles and joints are in pain and all you want to do is give your body a rest, but that actually makes the pain worse. Your muscles and joints will become stiff from being in the same position for too long and in turn it will result in more pain. You don't have to go for a five mile run or lift 100 pound weights, but simply going for a walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift everyday will help decrease your pain and increase your strength. Exercising with arthritis or chronic pain can increase your strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue.
Eating right improves your bodies health overall, but it is especially essential when you are suffering from chronic pain. Here are some foods to always have in your fridge to combat inflammation: tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fish, strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges.
Here are the main food groups to avoid with chronic pain: refined carbohydrates, fried foods, sugar sweetened drinks, red meat, and margarine. Even though we feel better when we eat healthy, we're only human and sometimes we have cravings for food that we know are bad for us, especially when dealing with chronic pain and inflammation. If you must eat some of these foods, do so sparingly.
Know when to rest
It can be embarrassing when you are doing activities with a group of people such as sports, walking, hiking, biking, etc., and have to take a break sooner than everyone else. But that is because bodies that are suffering from chronic pain cannot deal with the wear and tear on our muscles and joints as well as those without chronic pain. It is okay to take a break and give your body a rest when it needs it. Ice or heat, and lots of water always works for me when I have pushed my joints too hard. Listen to your body, don't push yourself too hard but also don't let your body be still for too long, either.
Living with chronic pain is a challenge but don't let it stop you from living your life to the best of your abilities. It may be hard to get moving everyday, but by following these three easy steps it can become much easier. Your body was made to move, so move it.