Common Chronic Pain Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Living with a condition that causes pain around the clock is no easy feat. And people often don’t understand the toll it takes on a person’s mind, body, and soul. There are a few ways, however, to fight this invisible invader and take control of at least some of your pain. The following common triggers can worsen physical discomfort if not addressed.
Stress and prior trauma do more than just hurt your emotional balance. Studies have shown that there is a connection between your emotions and your body. And it’s stronger than you might think. Susanne Babbel, Ph.D., M.F.T. illustrates the connection by pointing out that up to 30 percent of chronic pain sufferers have also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. While there is nothing you can do about past emotional trauma, you can take steps to reduce the impact on your daily life. Consider speaking with a counselor or simply get things off your chest by opening up to close friends or family.
Poor sleep patterns
Sleep is vital to our overall health and well-being, both physical and mental. And it’s a key indicator of health in adults and children alike. While awake, your body doesn’t have a chance to “shut down” and go to work repairing tissue. During sleep, your brain releases the hormones the body needs for proper growth and development. Additionally, when you enter deep sleep, your muscles have an opportunity to relax completely. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night so that your body reaps the benefits of this vital resting period.
Clothing and accessories
Believe it or not, the clothes, shoes, and accessories that you wear and carry don’t just affect your appearance. Carrying a heavy shoulder bag, for instance, can cause or exaggerate back pain. Likewise, wearing a poorly fitted shoes can irritate plantar fasciitis, increase knee and joint pain, and potentially cause hip displacement. Avoid accessories that put an unbalanced amount of pressure on one side of the body, and invest in well-fitted shoes that accommodate your particular foot structure.
Painkillers are a useful medical tool to help people manage severe, acute pain, such as after an accident or injury. Unfortunately, opioids, including oxycodone and morphine, can actually trigger hyperalgesia, a condition that renders medications less effective and causes the body to sense pain in heightened degrees. Over time, using painkillers can lead to dependency, which opens up a whole new world of physical and emotional concerns. Withdrawal from opioid dependency can cause everything from insomnia to headaches and anxiety, each of which makes chronic pain that much worse. If you must take medications to manage your condition, speak with your doctor about prescribing the lowest dose possible and consider implementing lifestyle changes that reduce chronic inflammation and pain.
A little-known mineral, magnesium plays an important role in all of the body’s major systems. Low levels of magnesium are found in most people with clinical conditions such as fibromyalgia, migraines, angina, atherosclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and PMS. Consider adding a magnesium supplement to ensure you receive the daily 310 mg to 420 mg recommended for adults.
Diet and exercise
Physical activity and what you put in your body also play an important role in the way your body and mind handle pain. Certain processed foods (vegetable oil, refined flour, and artificial sweeteners) can trigger systemic inflammation, which can actually cause other conditions that initiate pain. Also, physical stagnancy, like being a couch potato, may do more damage to the body than the perceived benefits of rest. Make sure to eat whole, healthy foods and participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Chronic pain is one of the nation’s leading causes of disability, according to the Council for Disability Awareness, and can significantly impact your day-to-day life. Pain can interfere with your personal relationships and career and put you at risk of addiction and depression. And while you may not always be able to control your pain, you can manage many of the risk factors that make it worse. By avoiding these triggers, you work toward reclaiming your life, health, and happiness.