Terrible backaches when you wake up every morning and wincing pain when standing up from your desk after a long day at work are all signs of chronic back pain. As you continue to age, you are more likely to experience back pain at some point in your life.
However, your age is not the only factor that determines the risk of developing this problem. Your lifestyle, nutrition, weight, and stress levels are also major risk factors to consider. Adjusting your lifestyle can make a difference in managing chronic back pain.
Treatment options such as physiotherapy, medications, and steroid injections can help for a while but these are only short-term solutions. They are not as effective for treating chronic back pain and they also carry some serious side effects.
Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can damage vital organs such as your liver and kidneys. It can also cause leaky gut or GI bleeding. Opioids may help treat back pain, but they have side effects such as anxiety, addiction, and endocrine problems. Skeletal muscle relaxants are short-term solutions for back pain and they are also sedating.
Considering all these negative side effects, we are left with only one viable solution – lifestyle changes. Wellness pain management experts recommend making several lifestyle changes for chronic back pain. These include:
Change your diet
Changing your diet can make a lot of difference as far as managing back pain is concerned. In case you didn’t know, the root cause of many types of pain is inflammation. Eating lots of refined carbohydrates, processed foods and artificial sugars increase inflammation in the body, leading to chronic pain. You should therefore avoid these foods by all means. Instead, focus on natural foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Here are a few healthy suggestions you should consider:
- Eat at least eight portions of vegetables a day
- Avoid simple carbohydrates like flour and sugar. Also, avoid cakes, bread, candies, and pasta.
- Avoid red meat and opt for fish or skinless chicken
- Go for plant-based proteins but eat in moderation
- Go slow on dairy products like cheese and yogurt
- Opt for healthy fats found in wild salmon and smaller fish. Fats derived from nuts, avocado, seeds, and olive oil are all healthy options
Manage stress levels
Stress is another risk factor associated with chronic back pain. High stress levels will release hormones that cause the muscles to tighten up. This, in turn, reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to body tissues. When this happens, you are likely to feel pain.
Even though stress is unavoidable, you can easily manage it via medication or cognitive behavioral therapy. You can use medication to reduce anxiety or opt for therapy to help manage stress levels.
Get plenty of quality sleep
A good night’s sleep is beneficial to your health and wellbeing. It helps you heal faster by inhibiting the release of stress hormones and boosting your pain tolerance. Lack of sleep only worsens existing pain and can lead to more serious health problems.
Ideally, you should avoid watching TV or using your smartphone at least one hour before bedtime. Moreover, you should make sure that you develop a habit of going to bed at the same time every night to keep your clock regular.
Regular exercise is a great way of building your endurance and stamina. It is also a critical path to recovery, especially when dealing with chronic pain. The good news is that your workouts do not have to be strenuous. You can start by walking around your compound, swimming, jogging, or biking.
Acupuncture has been the preferred method of dealing with chronic pain among the Chinese for thousands of years. It has proved to be a successful treatment option for pain relief and stroke rehabilitation. It is therefore not surprising that it has found its way into the United States. A word of caution though – you should avoid acupuncture if you are using blood thinners or if you have a pacemaker.