8 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain is never easy. Friends and family don’t understand when you can’t do your normal activities. To the outsider, lying around in bed and binge-watching Netflix looks lazy. In reality, it hurts to stand, it hurts to lay down, it hurts to do life. Watching t.v. seems to be the only thing to take your mind off of the pain. Spending hours searching for answers and treatments, only to find conflicting responses is frustrating. I have struggled with chronic pain for twelve years, have tried many different treatment options, but everyone is different. What works for me, may not work for you. Here are a few tips to try when you are in the midst of a flare-up.
Give yourself permission to take care of your health
Allowing yourself to take the time for your body to get through this flare, may be the difference between a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Guilt can often push us to try to do more than our body will allow. It is imperative to listen to your body, and feel no guilt when choosing where you spend your energy. You can say “NO” when you need to, LEARN THIS, and PRACTICE OFTEN!!
Make sure to drink plenty of water. We all know the benefits of drinking water, but here are a few that are specific to fibromyalgia pain. Add a squeeze of lemon, for added Vitamin C and to help with digestive issues.
- Keep muscles and joints lubricated
- Eliminate toxins
- Reduce headaches and increases mental clarity
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt isn’t really salt, but magnesium sulfate which is known to help relax muscles. I use Epsom salt infused with lavender oil, which also helps with relaxation. This can improve circulation, help remove toxins, and take pressure off of sore joints and muscles. It also helps relax the mind when you light candles and play soft music. Make sure to drink your water to stay hydrated while soaking.
Take a Magnesium Supplement
Just as the Epsom salt bath helps absorb magnesium through your skin, taking a magnesium supplement can further help with muscle and nerve support. Magnesium Malate is a combination of magnesium and malic acid. This has shown to be the form to best relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, support energy levels, and has less impact on digestive issues.
Cut back on inflammatory foods
On my flare up days, I tend to cut out foods that cause inflammation such as sugar, white flour, dairy, and caffeine. Focus more on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. I could go on extensively about diet and fibromyalgia, but for now, I just say to eat as clean as possible, and keep drinking that water!
Rest, Movement, and Exercise
I can’t stress enough the importance of listening to your body when it comes to the amount of rest it needs. However, lying in bed can cause joints and muscles to stiffen. Make sure to stretch and walk whenever you can. Go outside for a few minutes for fresh air and sunshine. Do what feels good, but don’t overdo it.
I linked a video that helps with neck and shoulder pain. I highly recommend the Egoscue Method for realignment. I do these exercises whenever I find myself tightening up, actually several times a day. It’s amazing how such subtle movements can help tremendously.
Getting regular massages can not only help with preventing the frequency of flare-ups, they can also help in the midst of a flare. Getting the blood, oxygen, and lymph system circulating and helps keep the muscles, joints, and fascia flexible. Make sure you find a massage therapist that has experience with fibromyalgia patients because if you have a therapist that is too aggressive, it can extend the flare or make it worse. Swedish massage and myofascial release are the best types of massage for fibromyalgia, but well-trained therapist will know how your body responds. Be sure to communicate well.
If you can’t afford regular visits to a massage therapist, be sure to train your spouse or significant other how to help you during your bad days. I keep lotion with essential oils (I am a lavender fanatic!) next to my bed and will even resort to massaging my own neck and shoulders if I can get someone else to do it for me.
If you are anything like me, I tend to hold my breath when I am in pain. I have to consciously focus my breathing; in through my nose, out through my mouth, taking deep breaths, relaxing my mind, envisioning a quiet, peaceful place. For me, I meditate on ocean waves, timing my breath with the rhythmic motion.
If I let my mind wander to the beauty in nature, it helps me to not focus on the reality of living with chronic pain. As a believer in Christ, I then pray and am thankful for the blessings I have. I would have never chosen to live with fibromyalgia, but it has made me a more empathetic person. I can choose to be joyful in all circumstances.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)