Pain related to chronic conditions like muscle, bone and joint issues, diabetes, or heart disease can impact our daily life to a great extent. Pain can make it harder for us to go to work, carry out our daily tasks, sleep well at night and affect our mood. While medications can provide relief, there are other strategies can help with pain management and lessen its impact on our daily life and improve our efforts to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle. Please talk to your healthcare provider before you make any changes to your exercise, lifestyle or medication regimen to determine if they are safe for you.
Diet and Exercise
- Eating a healthy, well balanced diet can help with reducing inflammation in the body and reduce the stress caused by pain on the body. Talk to your healthcare provider about the current nutrition you are receiving from your diet and any supplementation (Vitamin D, calcium, etc) required for you.
- Low impact exercises such as walking, stretching, or even aquatic exercises have been shown to reduce pain. Especially in the case of chronic back pain, movement as tolerated by you is recommended over bed rest.
- Yoga and tai chi not only strengthen muscles, they also relax the mind through controlled breathing and meditation.
- Massage and acupuncture is another therapy that has been shown to be safe and effective in improving pain.
- Getting enough sleep at night can also improve pain and lack of adequate sleep can increase the pain we feel. Some tips for getting a healthy night sleep are avoiding the use of phones or tablets before bedtime and setting a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends). Ensure that your pillows and mattresses are comfortable, and avoid bringing work into your bed.
- Only go to bed when you are sleepy. If you find that you are unable to sleep after 15 minutes of being in bed, it is recommended that you go to a different room to read and return to the bedroom when you are sleepy.
Mindfulness and Other Strategies
- Pain has as much of a mental impact as it does physical. Pain can cause depression and hopelessness. Talking to your psychologist or doctor about how your pain affects your mood is very important to come up with strategies to improve your mood.
- Pain can also cause us to isolate ourselves from our loved ones. But it is important for us to seek support and spend quality time with our friends and family. This can improve our ability to manage our pain.
Education and Self-Management
- Pain BC is a free resource available to residents of British Columbia. Pain BC not only provides information about resources to manage your pain. They also have a pain support line (1-844-880-PAIN) available Monday to Thursday 9am-12pm and 1-4pm. For more information, please visit painbc.ca
- 2. If your pain is caused by arthritis or osteoporosis, the Arthritis Society of Canada and Osteoporosis Canada provide information on how you can manage your pain. For more information, please visit arthritis.ca and osteoporosis.ca.