Healthy Habits That Can Actually Relieve Your Pain

Healthy Habits That Can Actually Relieve Your Pain

Over 20% of US adults are dealing with persistent pain, a frustrating situation that tends to chip away at quality of life. While it can seem as if there’s nothing you can do to make things better when you’re living with pain, research shows there are lifestyle factors that can work for or against pain management. 

Board-certified interventional pain management physicians Stuart Hough, MD, and Ramani Peruvemba, MD, make up the team at Pain Management Specialists in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland. Our team develops treatment plans to improve your pain using a range of treatments, including the latest, innovative techniques. 

This may involve medications like steroid injections, or advanced approaches such as radiofrequency ablation, neuromodulation, and MILD® (minimally invasive lumbar decompression). 

In addition to medical management, there are steps you can take at home to improve your pain so that it’s easier to manage. 

Stay active

It can be challenging to get yourself moving when you have pain, however, but being inactive is a lifestyle factor that is shown to contribute to pain severity. It’s important to break the cycle with some form of physical activity, no matter how small or limited initially. 

Regular exercise helps maintain flexibility, strengthen muscles, and reduce inflammation. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, which can help boost your mood and reduce pain perception. Work with a health provider to create an exercise strategy that is safe for you to incorporate into your lifestyle. 

Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet

Nutrition can be an enemy or an ally to pain management. Factors such as nutrient deficiencies, and unhealthy food choices can make it harder to manage pain. Even if you eat a seemingly healthy diet, choosing foods that promote inflammation can undermine pain management. What you eat can influence your pain levels. 

A diet rich in colorful fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens), and lean high-quality protein can help calm inflammation and improve pain. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and sardines, are especially effective in reducing inflammation. On the other hand processed foods, sugars, and foods high in fat, promote inflammation and contribute to pain. 

Get enough sleep

More than 65% of people with persistent pain report difficulties getting a good night’s sleep. Restorative sleep plays a vital role in healing and repairing your body. Whether you struggle to fall asleep or toss and turn throughout the night, a lack of restorative sleep can worsen pain symptoms and affect your pain threshold. 

Prioritize a sleep routine and good sleep hygiene. If you’re still struggling to get adequate sleep, talk to your primary care provider about strategies, treatments, and resources that can restore your sleep quality. 

Manage stress

Stress increases pain and pain increases stress, creating a vicious cycle. Stress increases the body's sensitivity to and perception of pain. Incorporating stress-relieving activities into your lifestyle can break the cycle and help you manage pain more effectively. 

Deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness exercises, and yoga are all excellent strategies that boost relaxation and reduce tension throughout the body. Techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can also decrease muscle tension and alleviate pain. These types of relaxation techniques are shown to improve pain management. 

Start small by integrating one or two habits and gradually build on them, and always consult with a pain management specialist to tailor these suggestions to your specific needs. 

For individualized recommendations, contact us at Pain Management Specialists to request a consultation today. We offer a patient-centered approach to help you improve your pain and enjoy your life more. 

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