September is National Pain Awareness Month. Whether caused from an accident, an illness, an injury, or simply “old age,” pain can affect us in many ways. Although the type, location, and severity of pain can vary a great deal, pain has one common thread: Nobody likes to be in pain.
The American Chronic Pain Association was instrumental in recognizing September as Pain Awareness Month. Its efforts aim to raise awareness and provide education on chronic pain and pain management to both the public and professionals.
Two of Excelsior’s course offerings, HSC 316 Mind, Body, Health and HSC 402 Managing Stress, are excellent resources for the topics of pain and pain management. There is truth in the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Mind, Body, Health focuses on the psychology of health and fitness and also explores how we can make positive changes in our health behaviors. Managing Stress also approaches the psychological aspects of health but continues to offer an expansive list of methods by which someone can not only reduce stress in their life, but also manage pain through both mental and physical means.
In keeping with the theme of Pain Awareness Month, here are 10 suggestions of non-pharmacologic pain management techniques from these courses, and other resources:
- Keeping track of your actions, activities, and the level of pain associated with them can help you identify and manage your pain triggers.
- If you are able, exercise is a great way to release endorphins (your body’s natural pain-killers) while also reaping the many benefits of physical activity.
- Deep Breathing and Mindfulness
- Being “in the moment” and fully aware of our body can provide focus and establish a connection between your physical and emotional being.
- Eating a Healthy Diet and Staying Hydrated
- The importance of sound nutrition and hydration should not be discounted. Our body needs the right fuel for optimal function and to support immune health.
- Besides being relaxing, a therapeutic massage can improve the flow of blood and the work of the lymph nodes. This provides oxygen and nutrients to the cells while simultaneously ridding the body of toxins through increased lymphatic drainage.
- Reducing Stress
- Believe it or not, stress can actually intensify the perception of chronic pain. Identifying your stressors and eliminating them can significantly improve your overall level of pain.
- Healthy Pleasures
- Doing things that we truly enjoy has been shown to provide a therapeutic distraction, which both supports and restores our recuperative powers.
- Speaking of recuperation, the body needs adequate sleep to recharge after periods of prolonged stress, even the stress associated with chronic pain. Sleep is vital to optimize physical and mental well-being.
- Support Groups
- Speaking with others who are also in chronic pain can help you to realize that you are not alone, and that help is available. They can also be a tremendous source of information for the most current and valuable treatment methods.
- Creative Outlets
- Although popular methods include art, music, humor, and hobbies, the possibilities are endless. Regardless of your preferences, finding an activity that is personally rewarding can provide peace of mind while boosting physical wellness.
It is well-established that the best outcomes are achieved with compliance. In other words, finding coping strategies that you like and can stick with will give you the best results. If you are suffering from chronic pain, try some of these techniques then expand your search if necessary.