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How to Take a Holistic Approach to Managing Your Chronic Pain

One of the hardest conditions to treat is chronic pain because its root causes are most of the time obfuscated. Chronic pain can affect nearly every system of the body and can be exacerbated by mental issues. Many turn to opioids to help them manage their chronic pain, but that is problematic in most cases. Prescriptiondrug abuse and addiction are more common in those who suffer from chronic pain. That’s why it’s vital to take a holistic approach to coping with your pain. Here are some tips.

Focus on sleep

For whatever reason, many people who suffer from chronic pain do not immediately make the connection between the way their body feels and their sleeping habits.

“Getting the proper amount of sleep helps the body fight inflammation, pain and disease. A 2009 study published in the medical journal Sleep found people who get less than six hours of sleep, or have disrupted sleep, have higher levels of C-reactive protein in the body, which causes inflammation,” says CNN. (For more on that study, check here).

Without sleep, your body and mind have no chance to reset and heal themselves. Being chronically exhausted only serves to exacerbate pain. 

Try an anti-inflammatory diet

Some of the prevailing thought on chronic pain is that it is caused in part, or at least exacerbated by, inflammation in the body.

“Nutrition that supports a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is another approach to chronic pain management. The anti-inflammatory diet is a lynchpin of such an integrative approach. Although there are no magic foods, putting the right combination of foods into your diet can produce remarkable results,” says the Cleveland Clinic.

So, how do you go about eating an anti-inflammatory diet? It’s all about adding certain foods and, possibly more importantly, eliminating quite a few. Vegetables in general, but especially broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, and leafy greens, are great for reducing inflammation. Fatty fish rich in omega3 acids like salmon and mackerel, nuts, and berries are all known inflammation-reducers. Many nightshades like tomatoes are somewhere in the middle, helping some chronic pain sufferers and making the problem worse in others. It’s important that you pay attention to your body and figure out how what you eat, specifically, affects your level of pain.

Foods that you must try to avoid or at least reduce are red meat, foods high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol, and things that are fried. Check here for more info on how to build an anti-inflammatory diet.

Try alternative therapies

Eating well, sleeping well, and getting enough exercise are certainly the building blocks of living a pain-free life, but for those with severe pain there’s a chance it won’t be enough. These are the people that are at the greatest risk of turning to opioids to help them cope - those who feel like they have tried everything and failed.

There are plenty of alternative therapies that you should try, however. Here’s a thorough but non-exhaustive list: biofeedback, massage, acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic care, hypnosis, yoga, focused breathing, meditation, therapy.

That last one is interesting, as it’s often overlooked. There is a strong connection between what’s going on in our heads and how our body feels, so it would make sense that treating mental issues like depression and anxiety could really help reduce our pain.

Since the root causes of chronic pain can be so spread out and nonspecific, it makes sense that you would want to target your pain with the treatment equivalent of a shotgun as opposed to a sniper rifle. If you listen to your body, you’ll soon discover which holistic treatments make the best impact.


Ms. Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com.