Pain in the Butte III: Living With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a massive problem for people all over the world.   US society has an interesting view on pain as being something that you’re expected to “push through” exemplified  by the oft-mentioned “no pain, no gain” mantra. We have also become a society where we want instant results from everything, and healthcare is no different.  Opioid prescription rates remain high because so many people deal with recurring pain they don’t know how to fix.  

As a provider who sees patients for pain at least 95% of the time, I understand the desire to find a quick fix.  Unlike other medical problems, pain isn’t caused by one thing. It could be: cancer, nerve-related pain, muscle injury, joint injury, or referred pain from your internal organs, among other things.  And those are just the physical issues that can impact pain.  There are other factors such as stress or diet that influence pain as well.

Pain is an incredibly complex interaction of many different variables.  This video shows some of the science as to how pain is perceived and some different factors that change our perception.  It’s a helpful reminder that there might not be just one thing that we can do to alter our pain. In fact, there’s a lot of things that you can be doing!  

These same reasons are why it is difficult to “fix” chronic pain.  Having a great diet, regular exercise, a fulfilling career, healthy and rewarding relationships, and no significant life stress – all at once – is a pipe dream. All of these areas of a full and satisfying life influence our experience of pain. It’s important to consistently identify what factors are negatively impacting our life and need addressing.  

When you have a cranky knee, back, or shoulder, step back and ask questions.  When your pain started, was it a sudden injury or did it grow gradually? What else was going on at that time in your life?  What do you try when the pain is worse or better? What didn’t you try, and why?  Are you an otherwise healthy person, or has this changed? 

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, there isn’t a finish line.  You’re never “done” being healthy. Getting healthy is a continual process as much as staying healthy is.  A diet that helps you lose weight will need to be adjusted as you continue to lose weight. Pain is the same way.  You don’t become immune to pain; what helps you get out of pain and what keeps you from having pain can be different things.   

Eating well, having a consistent sleep schedule, managing stress, maintaining healthy relationships, and regularly exercising all go a long way in preventing and improving pain as well as other chronic issues.  When those aren’t enough, or if you’re having trouble attaining these, ask for help. Your primary care physician is a great place to start. A physical therapist is a great choice too for getting you headed in the right direction.  

Have questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits.  

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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