When pain surfaces, a person experiences physical discomfort or suffering, usually because of an injury or illness, but the perception of pain can be present without such stimuli. It can be acute—often pronounced with a sudden occurrence and lingering for a short time. With chronic pain, however, suffering persists, by clinical definition, for a minimum of three months.
A person with chronic pain could have pain in virtually any localized or remote area of the body. According to reports from the American Academy of Pain, the number of chronic pain sufferers worldwide exceeds 1.5 billion. In the United States, a third of the population falls prey to this "invisible" disability.
Aside from difficulty sleeping, strained sexual intimacy, prolonged completion of tasks, and psychological and emotional afflictions, the claims of many people with chronic illness do not get heard. Because you don’t have to look sick to be in pain, many outsiders, even many doctors, do not believe the complaints of pain-inflicted patients.
This article focuses on eight ways people may be perpetuating and provoking their perception of chronic pain, which they may not be aware they are doing. Although there could be biological and physiological causes for a person’s chronic pain, there are practical steps you can take and behavioral and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce severe pain naturally.
The body’s immune reaction to contamination is inflammation, in which the body attempts to cleanse and purify itself. Consequentially, when swelling occurs, pain abates in the body. Since almost 70 percent of the body’s immune cells are in the digestive system, food allergens, imbalances with such hormones as insulin, and bacteria in food can trigger the immune system to begin inflammation. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, high-glycemic starches and processed sugars can elevate inflammation, causing swelling, overheating, redness, and pain.
Inflammation is vital to the body’s restorative mechanism, but when it is chronic, harmful diseases can arise, some of which could be fatal. Chronic inflammation is a painful condition that can be helped by a diet that reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system. This could be the best way to fight it.
Because it is natural, many patients prefer a dietary approach to combating their pain instead of undergoing medication therapies, which could cause adverse effects to develop. Practitioners often recommend nerve blocking treatments, but it is not beneficial for everyone. Changing one’s eating habits can be a healthier method of pain management.
• Eat eight or nine servings of vegetables, especially cruciferous ones like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.
• Reduce your consumption of milk and dairy products while increasing your consumption of whole grains.
• Replace meat with fish in your meals and eat red meat only on rare occasions. adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, chicken is neutral and offers no benefit.
2. Vitamin D Deficiency
Patients with particular types of chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, often suffer from hypovitaminosis D, or vitamin D deficiency. When vitamin D is low, people may have any of the symptoms below:
• Insufficient post-exercise recovery
• Low pain threshold
• Muscle and bone pain
• Fatigue and weakness
The sun is a person’s best source of vitamin D. However, the amount of sun exposure needed to generate sufficient amounts varies based on the time of day, season, skin pigmentation, and other factors. If a person is deficient in a vitamin, supplementation is a more rewarding option. To elevate the blood levels of vitamin D, you should supplement with vitamin D3, which is an active form of the vitamin.
Many experts will recommend dosage based on the following guidelines:
• Blood level less than 30 ng/mL: 10,000 IU vitamin D3 per day, under physician supervision.After three months, your doctor should recheck your blood levels.
• Blood level of 30 to 45 ng/mL: 5,000 IU per day under doctor supervision, with a three-month follow-up blood level check.
• Blood level greater than 45 ng/mL: 2,000 to 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day is recommended for maintenance.
If a deficiency is present, it could take up to six months with a high daily dosage before blood levels get to the point where supplementation can continue with maintenance doses.
3. Bad Posture
Have you heard of "text-neck?" Looking down at a smartphone to browse or send messages can lead to this new diagnosis of neck pain and injury. It is a common problem for many young people who spend more than three hours a day texting.Most people look down to check notifications on their phone or send a text at a 60-degree angle. Doing so adds about as much pressure to the back of the neck as adding 60 lbs.
Being engrossed in smartphone activity is not the only source of postural issues.Neck, back, shoulder, arm, and headache pain can come from stress on the musculoskeletal system by sitting for long hours in front of a computer or sitting in a single position for too long.
The sciatic nerve runs along the lower back, through the buttocks, into the lower leg. When a person has poor posture as he or she walks, they could experience sciatica pain. If you don't walk right, you can strain your muscles, misalign your bones, and hurt the sciatic nerve.
There are corrective measures one can take to improve posture. They include:
• Making use of alignment-correcting devices
• Performing specific exercises, such as yoga, to aid in the formation of new posture habits.
• Making your workspace more ergonomic.
• Using a lower back pillow
• Using the Gokhale Method, which promotes pain-free living by restoring "structural integrity" as you bend, stand, sit, or move with proper and comfortable posture.
4. Inadequate Exercise or Lifting
The lumbar curve is a curve of the lower back or lumbar spine where the vertebrae curve inward toward the abdomen. Improper exercise worsens structural impairments and leads to chronic back pain, especially if you are lifting weights that are too heavy.
Follow these steps when lifting or moving heavy things to lessen the strain on the lordotic curve of the cervical and lumbar spine:
1. Stand in front of the weights or object to be moved, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Squat slowly, bending only at the knees and hips.Your knees should not be ahead of the line of your toes.
3. Maintain a straight back and shoulders by looking straight in front of you.
4. As you lift gradually, stretch your knees and hips.
5. Take deep breaths and avoid twisting while lifting.
6. As you move, keep the object or weights as close to your body as possible.
5. Lack of Proper Diagnosis
Diagnosis of chronic pain is often delayed or overlooked because of the varying severities experienced by different people, and it is common for it to be attributed to other causes, such as aging. While many patients feel chronic pain is all in their heads, it is real and can be unpleasant. Symptoms should always be assessed by a health care professional. However, sometimes a person can tell what kind of issue he or she has through these self-assessments:
If you experience pain when walking, it is typically an SI joint issue. The SI joint, or sacroiliac joint, lies next to the bottom of the spine, below the lumbar region and above the tailbone.
If you suffer from pain while sitting, it usually means there is a lumbar spine problem. Perform the Valsalva maneuver; if it hurts, you may have a disc problem in your spine.You may be unfamiliar with this. You perform this technique by attempting to exhale in a mildly forceful way against a damned airway. An example would be pinching your nose closed and pushing out as if you were blowing up a balloon.
It is crucial to get help with chronic pain by communicating your experience accurately to your doctor about the places where you are suffering, its severity, and how it is impacting your life. Pain management has become more of a team effort over the years, so your doctor may send you to a pain specialist or a group of pain specialists.
If, in the beginning, you feel your doctor is dismissive or not providing your pain with the attention it deserves, you should calmly stand your ground. Try to work together as a team to find the best ways to ease your suffering and discomfort.
6. Central Sensitization
For those individuals who feel pain is not a valid condition and exists only in their heads, explaining "pain hallucinations" would only intensify their beliefs. However, these false perceptions are not mental manifestations. Patients experience central sensitization when their threshold for pain lowers. With little provocation, people become susceptible to illness due to changes in the central nervous system. Sometimes, slight pressure and touch can cause the pain to echo within your body, failing to fade and subside.
For sensitized dysfunction, medications that target the central nervous system offer promise. A doctor trained in chronic pain is the only one who can prescribe the medicine. One thing you can do, without a prescription, is to minimize the degree of pain you feel by soothing yourself and creating a safer, gentler, less stressful life.
With central sensitization, the central nervous system perceives the pain signals to be more severe than they actually are. While it is incorrect to think of chronic pain as "all in your head," you should take steps to ensure that your brain determines that you are safe, and the pain will subside as a result.
7. Bad Sleeping Posture
Having the wrong positions when asleep can take a toll on your body by not only causing pain as you sleep but also long-term harm. Spinal misalignment or vertebral subluxation can lead to chronic pain in your neck and back, including remote body pain. Also affected by poor slumbering posture are nerves, joints, muscles, and organs.
Chronic pain makes it difficult for many people to fall asleep and stay asleep. One of the most common medical conditions contributing to people’s insomnia is being in pain. Consequentially, lack of sleep worsens pain.
Sleep disorders are a regular occurrence for up to two-thirds of chronic pain sufferers. With a few changes to your sleep environment and posture, you can prevent more severe health conditions from surfacing. Keep the rules below in mind the next time you want to shop for a new bed, pillow, or to create new habits for sleeping:
You want to stay away from mattresses that are either too soft or too firm. Try to get the firmest mattress you can handle that has the highest spring count within your budget.
• If you sleep on your side, use a high, thick pillow to prevent your head from causing a side tilt while you sleep.When sleeping on your side, be sure to keep a pillow between your legs if you have full hips. Use a thinner pad that will not translate your head forward.
8. Emotional Anxiety
If you have a challenging life at home or a fast-paced or stressful job, you involuntarily allow more pain to abide in your body due to emotional stress. If you are characteristically an overly anxious person, your reaction to triggers is more intense than the average person's. For that reason, managing stress levels is critical to easing chronic pain. Excessive worrying can exacerbate pain symptoms.
Dealing with day-to-day problems and personal or professional obligations can create panic in many people. Research shows that people with chronic pain have an increased risk three times greater than average of becoming excessively anxious or developing an anxiety or mood disorder. An interesting statistic reveals that depressed individuals are three times more likely to develop chronic pain. Anxiety, emotional stress, and depression all have a lot of symptoms that can cause long-term pain or be made worse by changes in how a person eats, sleeps, and works out.
The good news is that anxiety and mood disorders are manageable with medication, therapy, and complementary and alternative treatment options. Your doctor needs to have a complete view of your health. When dealing with chronic pain, cognitive and emotional health can go unmanaged or overlooked. However, the conditions can often affect one another, so addressing more than one of these issues could help you heal and recover. You know the signs of anxiety.
It is important to note that sedentary behaviors and inactivity also contribute to chronic pain, increased fatigue, inflammation, muscle tension, and central sensitization. Medication, pain therapy, and alternative treatments can all help, but also lifestyle changes and better self-management can help decrease pain, like diet, stress management, and posture when sitting, standing, or sleeping.