Sleep, exercise, and diet can impact chronic pain

Chronic pain can be debilitating. More people seek medical help for chronic and acute-onset pain that any other health issue. While acute-onset pain requires immediate medical attention and can be due to an emergency situation, chronic pain is something that patients have to live with and find ways to manage. Taking pain relievers and anti-depressants are both very successful ways to manage pain, as well as the depression and anxiety that can accompany chronic pain, though neither are sustainable ways to live and can cause side effects over long periods of use.

If you suffer from chronic pain there are many ways that you can help yourself, in addition to seeking conventional medical help. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and using complementary and alternative medical help such as Qigong, Tai Chi, and acupuncture, can help to manage pain symptoms and provide relief. For my own back and neck issues, I've found that chiropractic has been helpful and I may also try acupuncture at some point since this seems to be the only aspect of traditional chinese medicine that recent scientific data has indicated may actually provide more than placebo effect. As for chiropractic, I was NOT a believer in any sense until I found that adjustments did seem to alleviate my neck pain. To each his own, of course.

Establishing a sleep routine, keeping a food journal to determine food sensitivities, and exercising at least 30 minutes a day have all been shown to increase mood and reduce pain (walking does wonders for my own mood and general health). Tai Chi is thought to relieve muscle cramping, while acupuncture is alleged to stimulate pressure points that can reduce pain, elevate endorphin levels and elevate cerebral spinal fluid. Qigong, apparently, has been shown to reduce pain through relaxation techniques.

Although it may seem easier to keep up an unhealthy lifestyle, taking control of your daily routine can do wonders for pain. In addition to conventional pain killers (which, if you read the news, seem increasingly to be the cause behind other problems), complementary and alternative medicine "may" have the potential to help manage pain symptoms and improve quality of life.

Having said that, though, it's my own personal belief that new problems and symptoms, and old problems that seem to be changing in some respect, should always be given a "run through" with a family physician. Better safe than sorry, particularly when its so true that, with certain illnesses, early diagnosis seems to be at least half the battle.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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