7 Important Factors to Overcoming Chronic Pain
Pain is an alarm system designed to alert us of potential danger or damage in our tissues. If pain is not addressed properly in the beginning it can become a serious problem. Pain is considered chronic after being present consistently for at least three months.
You can actually train or program yourself to feel pain.
Your brain and entire nervous system will become conditioned to feel pain. The system gets so sensitized that even stimulus that shouldn’t cause pain, like healthy movement for example, will actually trigger that pathway and you’ll be alerted with pain. The more a pathway in the brain is driven, the easier it is to trigger.
This is similar to learning a new task. At first, it requires more effort and focus. The more you practice, though, the easier it becomes until it is effortless, or second-nature.
So what do we do?
First, as always determine the causative factor. Has it been removed or corrected, have the appropriate changes been made accordingly? This is priority. If the initial problem is still present, it will continue to irritate the tissues triggering the pain response and further conditioning the nervous system. Things like poor posture, repetitive strain, incorrect exercise, overtraining, workstation, prolonged sitting, old trauma, surgery, etc.
Then we must look at the big picture. We must analyze and act on the other major factors that impact not only pain, but all aspects of health:
Movement: Movement is life. Our bodies are designed to move. If we are sedentary, it will lead to a host of health problems. On the other hand, if we are moving incorrectly, with poor exercises, repetitive strain or overtraining, it can be just as problematic.
Diet/Gut health: Unhealthy diet and dysbiosis (imbalance in the gut flora) can lead to inflammation (and countless other problems). This increases the risk of chronic disease and also increases pain sensitivity. Diet that are anti-inflammatory in nature are best. Keep in mind every individual is different and may have specific sensitivities and needs.
Toxic exposure: Unfortunately in the modern world it is inevitable that we will be exposed to toxic chemicals. There are over 80,000 in our environment! Do your best to be aware of where these substances are found and decrease exposure.
Stress: The hormonal and neurological changes that stress create can amplify anything negative going on in the body. It’s a killer not to be underestimated and needs to be addressed.
Mindset: Thoughts are neural impulses and can manifest physical change in the body. Changing thought patterns and attitude can be challenging, but incredibly powerful.
Sleep: This is one of the most underrated aspects of heath. When we sleep is when our cells repair and recover. If we’re not sleeping enough, and if the sleep we are getting is not of good quality, the cells cannot repair and will continue to break down.
These above points may have not been the original cause of the pain but will certainly contribute. The body is one functional unit. Every system works together and affects every other system. Stack the odds in your favor by seeing that all these areas that you have control over are as good as they can be and working for you, not against you.
These can certainly be addressed on your own by educating yourself and taking action. If there are areas that are particularly challenging, there are professionals available who can help.
Passive treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic, soft tissue therapy and massage can help by:
- interrupting the conditioned pain patterns
- calming the nervous system
- rewiring or reprograming healthy neurological pathways
- releasing tension in the fascia and muscles thereby improving movement and nerve communication
- stimulating the movement of blood on a cellular level increasing the supply of nutrients and oxygen and helping to remove waste more efficiently.
This last point of nourishing the cells is so important because if the cells do not have adequate fuel to produce energy, they will not be able to carry out their functions effectively.
If you are suffering with chronic pain and nothing has helped, take a step back and examine these areas. If you feel you need help, there are many resources available. Seek the guidance of a professional who has expertise in the area.
You have the power to change how you feel, but it requires action. The human body is designed to heal. It just needs the right circumstances and materials.