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Untreated pain can be a trigger for relapse, which is why taking chronic pain seriously is vital during recovery. As stated in a study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, pain is known as the “fifth vital sign” and it can be defined as “whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever he says it does.” In other words, it involves more than a physical sensation. It also has emotional, sensory, cognitive, behavioral, spiritual, cultural, and other components. Interestingly, people who become addicted to painkillers report that the first time they took an opioid, they not only felt pain relief, but also a soothing of anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. Clearly, people experiencing pain can benefit from treating pain holistically and understanding that their thoughts and emotions can worsen or soothe pain, as can their behaviors and beliefs.

Mindfulness and Pain Management

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that mindfulness is a proven, effective strategy in helping to reduce chronic pain. Through mindfulness practices such as breathing and meditation, you can decrease repetitive thinking and reactivity, enhance your acceptance of unpleasant situations, boost your self-compassion, and decrease stress. One study published in the journal, Psychiatric Services, involved assessing pain in a group of people before and after an eight-week mindfulness program. The study involved two groups, one of which completed a mindfulness program, and the second of which took part in the same training program without the mindfulness component. The results showed that although both groups had less self-reported pain, only the mindfulness group showed significantly reduced pain based on neuroimaging.

Prioritizing Ergonomics at Home and at Work

If you have a desk job, then you may be fortunate enough to be in a company that invests in ergonomic furniture for staff. Items such as standing desks, chairs with good back supports and adjustable heights, and large computer monitors can all help lessen pain on the job. However, if you are one of the 50% of people who work remotely at least part-time, then make sure to include a few key pieces in your home office set-up. Aim to get up from your desk frequently to perform stretching routines and to get your circulation going. A walk to the park, a run up and down the steps, and walking to see others instead of phoning them will do their share to help counter the effects of sedentarism.

 Considering Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a gold standard therapy for a myriad of conditions, including anxiety, stress, and depression. Owing to its ability to change negative thought patterns and behaviors that worsen pain perception, it can also be a powerful aid in the battle against chronic pain. CBT for chronic pain typically involves five components: exercise (for instance, walking), pacing (helping people accomplish tasks thoughtfully and sensibly), relaxation training (to ease stress and muscle tension), cognitive restructuring (identifying unhelpful thinking and balancing thoughts), and behavioral action (increasing one’s participation in meaningful, rewarding activities). Studies indicate that chronic pain and mental health disorders often co-occur, making CBT an ideal way to combat both during the challenging process that is recovery.

 Acupuncture for Chronic Pain

A recent large-scale review of the effect of acupuncture on chronic pain confirmed and strengthened prior findings that acupuncture has a clinically relevant benefit compared to no acupuncture. What’s more, its effects cannot be attributed to the placebo effect, and the effects of the treatment persist over a 12-month period. One new finding indicated that acupuncture has higher-than-average effects on upper body musculoskeletal pain. That is, the treatment seems to quell shoulder and neck pain more than lower pain, headache, and osteoarthritis-related pain.

Consuming the Right Diet

Some foods can contribute to inflammation and exacerbate pain, while others have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation-causing foods include red and processed meats, refined grains (including white bread, pasta, and cereals), snack foods like cookies and chips, sodas and sweetened drinks, and fried foods. Foods that battle inflammation, meanwhile, include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, fatty fish like tuna and salmon, nuts like almonds and walnuts, and fresh herbs and spices.

 Incorporating these holistic strategies can play a pivotal role in navigating chronic pain during recovery. By embracing mindfulness, optimizing ergonomics, considering therapy, exploring acupuncture, and making dietary adjustments, you can empower yourself to manage pain comprehensively. Your pain experience encompasses various dimensions, and addressing them collectively can lead to improved well-being and a more fulfilling recovery journey.



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