THE BLOG

6 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

05/14/2014 12:59 pm ET | Updated Jul 12, 2014

2014-03-13-pain.jpgIf you live with chronic pain, life might seem unbearable at times.

Unlike acute pain, which is the body's way of telling us that something needs swift attention, chronic pain is ongoing pain that serves no useful purpose.

This pain could be fibromyalgia, back pain, arthritis, chronic headaches, or any pain associated with chronic illness.

Being constantly in pain can affect many areas of life, including work, personal relationships and our psychological state. If you are experiencing chronic pain, finding ways to manage it may be essential to your wellbeing.

Here are a few tips that you may find helpful on your quest to leave your chronic pain behind:

1. Watch your diet: Diet can play a role in controlling chronic pain. It's a good idea to steer clear of foods that can cause inflammation, such as nightshade vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes), dairy, and gluten containing grains (such as wheat). Stay away from processed foods and stick to easy-to-digest natural, whole foods. Try to reduce your meat consumption -- especially red meat -- focusing more on a plant-based diet, which tends to be anti-inflammatory.

2. Stay hydrated: According to the Mayo Clinic, some chronic pain issues are made worse by dehydration. In order to make sure dehydration is not an issue for you, drink lots of water and steer clear of coffee. Alcohol is best reduced or avoided. Stick with beverages that help to hydrate and rehydrate you.

3. Try yoga and meditation: Yoga and meditation can lessen both the physical pain and the stress that chronic pain causes. Stress can lead to muscle spasms, which are common with chronic pain sufferers, so practicing yoga and meditation can train your body and mind, helping them to reduce that stress.

4. Therapeutic approaches: Psychological aspects of chronic pain play an enormous role in its power to incapacitate. There is some evidence that certain types of therapy, such as biofeedback, and guided imagery, can help alleviate chronic pain. Try to see a therapist who specializes in working with patients who have pain issues.

5. Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is another helpful option for chronic pain sufferers, and can be a powerful way of managing pain. Be sure to select a hypnotherapist experienced in pain management. In your hypnotherapy sessions you will learn how to enter the trance state through self-hypnosis. In this state it is possible to change the way your brain perceives pain. Therapy can also help you cope with anxiety, depression and other common mental wellbeing issues that chronic pain sufferers so often have to deal with.

6. See only a specialist: Every case of chronic pain is different and therefore different treatments work for different people. It's important to find a doctor or therapist who specializes in treating pain so you can approach your particular situation from a knowledgeable perspective. It's best to find a specialist who is board certified in pain management.

While managing chronic pain can be challenging and frustrating, it can be done. Be gentle with yourself and be sure to respect your limits. Try these tips and strategies and they may well help you to live more comfortably.

IMPORTANT: This article is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. Always consult your doctor or medical advisor if you are experiencing pain.