By Kevin Whipps
Pain of all kinds is difficult to deal with, but there are some types of pain that are easier to manage than others. With headaches, for example, you know where the problem is and therefore where to focus your attention. But what about the pain that seems to come from everywhere that has no specific location? It’s that type of pain — general pain — that can frustrate and confuse the average person.
So what do you do about it? Well that’s what we’re here to help with. Let’s take a moment to check out some different ways to manage general pain symptoms, and what you can do to cope no matter what the problem. There’s no reason to suffer if you don’t have to.
Cut Out the Stress
Did you know that stress can intensify your pain? Whether you’re under the gun at the office, or just have a lot of things on your mind, that can exacerbate your problems. It’s funny the way the body works, but when you’re focusing too much on things that make you nervous, stressed or irritated, your body can turn up the wick on your pain centers — or at least make it feel like it’s much worse. That causes you to get stressed out further, and therefore, more pain. The cycle continues.
The solution? Cut it out. Now it’s obviously an easier thing to say than do, but if you can find a way to mitigate or at least minimize your stress levels, then the pain will work itself out. Is it a permanent solution? No, you still need to get proper treatment for your problem with a pain specialist. But this is at least an option for managing the pain instead of dealing with an overload of pain in general.
Find a Support Group in Your Area
It may feel like you’re living with this pain all by yourself, but the fact is, you’re not. There are many, many others out there who suffer with pain as well, both specific and general in nature. Wouldn’t it help you out if you talked to someone who could relate to your issue?
Yes, you could talk to a therapist, psychologist or psychotherapist, but if you talk to other people in a support group who share similar problems to your own, you get the advice of those who have walked in your shoes before. That alone can help you figure out how to manage your pain, and when coupled with help from a pain specialist, you’re in good hands all the way around.
Eat the Right Way
If it’s a Tuesday afternoon and you’re feeling like making dinner is a major hassle, you might consider stopping at a drive-thru and commiserating with a double cheeseburger, hold the onions. You might want to reconsider that option.
When you’re feeling bad, eating bad just makes the problem worse. As is said way too often, like a car, the better fuel you put in, the better results you’ll get back. Having that double cheeseburger might make you feel good temporarily, but long term, it’s not a good idea. This applies to alcohol as well, which also can exacerbate your sleep problems. And without a good night’s sleep, you’re also slowing down the body’s natural healing problem, and therefore keeping yourself in pain longer. Oh, and smoking? Also not a good idea. Not only are the drawbacks of smoking well documented, but it can exacerbate circulatory problems as well and that’s not good for pain, either. Have something healthy instead and fuel your body the right way.
Work It Out
One of the secret pain inhibitors that your body has on tap all the time are endorphins. These are produced by the brain to make you feel better and strengthen your muscles at the same time. So by working out, you’ll not only get in shape, but you’ll also feel good at the same time.
Of course, working out has lots of benefits anyway, most of which you’ve heard ad nauseam. But when it comes to pain, there are some other bonuses. If your pain comes from excessive weight — issues that can arise from back pain and the like — then working out will help keep the pounds down. All that said, make sure to talk to your doctor before starting a workout routine, because you don’t want to do anything that could put you in worse shape than before.
You’ve probably seen those activity trackers that you can use to count your steps, log your calories and so on, right? Well although they use fancy electronics to get the data for you, they work because people log their information. By simply entering the calories that the person consumes, they learn just how much they’re putting into their body. Sometimes, it’s just about data. And the more you have, the better off you are.
The same thing goes for logging your pain. By writing down when you’re in pain, the duration, where it happens, the environment you’re in when it happens, the food you’ve recently consumed — everything related to your current situation — you can give your doctor a more accurate picture of your overall condition. This data is what your doctor needs to give you the best diagnosis possible, and every little bit helps. So do your best to log all of your food, information and conditions in a notebook, and that will help your pain specialist get you the help you need.
Know what makes pain worse? Sitting there and focusing on that and nothing else. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, or something like that. Get out there and do something that will distract yourself from the pain at hand. Go on a walk to clear your head. Play a game with friends or just treat yourself to a massage (which also helps with some forms of pain, FYI). Whatever you do, just make forward progress and keep your head up. If you can keep busy, do so.
The Final Steps
At the end of the day, the most important thing for you to do is to see a pain specialist as soon as possible. They know what they’re doing, and they can handle both general pain and chronic pain, plus anything else in between. If you’re in pain, they’ve got you covered.
But between now and the time you have your appointment, take some time to follow the steps listed here. Who knows, it might just help you get out of a bind.