According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately one in four Americans have suffered from chronic pain.
This type of pain may be linked to a condition like arthritis, a sprain, or another injury.
Though there may be some medications to treat chronic pain, there are a variety of natural remedies that can help ease the issue.
Here are five natural ways to reduce chronic pain at home.
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Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re experiencing chronic pain.
If you don’t exercise, your pain will actually increase, because your body isn’t functioning as best as it can.
Here are some ways that exercise can benefit those who experience chronic pain:
- It maintains your joints—This benefit is especially helpful for people with chronic pain caused by arthritis.
- It keeps your muscles strong—By having strong muscles, your bones are better supported, leading to reduced feelings of discomfort throughout your body.
- It improves your mental health—Those with chronic pain can struggle with mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Staying active can help boost self-esteem and release endorphins to trigger feel-good hormones. To tap into these endorphins, participate in an activity that increases your heart rate, like jogging, swimming, or cycling.
- It helps stabilize weight—Extra weight can add to the current pain you’re dealing with, but by eating healthy and pairing that habit with a good workout routine, you can maintain an appropriate weight.
If you’re in too much pain to participate in a strenuous exercise, work on gentle stretches that can help maintain your mobility and range of motion. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you find stretches and exercises that are appropriate for your situation.
2. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Following an anti-inflammatory diet can be a powerful therapy for chronic pain control.
This type of diet is considered an integrative approach to pain management, along with exercise and stress management.
Because pain is often caused or aggravated by inflammation, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is crucial to helping relieve chronic pain.
There are many benefits that come with pursuing an anti-inflammatory diet, but perhaps the biggest benefit is that the fewer foods you eat that trigger your body’s inflammatory response, the better off you’re likely to feel. Some foods that can reduce the risk of inflammation-related diseases include vegetables, fruits, lean meat, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and fish.
Additionally, foods high in antioxidants like berries, avocados, broccoli, and sweet potatoes, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids appear to possess anti-inflammatory effects.
Remember: an anti-inflammatory diet is a long-term lifestyle approach, and pain relief will be gradual, but if you stick to it, you’ll eventually see (and feel) the benefits.
Try to follow these basic diet guidelines to reduce chronic pain:
- Consume eight to nine servings of vegetables each day (you can make a couple of those servings fruit, if you prefer).
- Limit the amount of dairy and grains you eat and opt for whole grains instead.
- Avoid red meat as much as possible.
3. Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep
Going without an adequate amount of sleep has been proven to actually lower your threshold for pain. Therefore, getting enough sleep is a crucial step in managing pain and promoting healing. To get at least eight hours of sleep every night, make your bedroom a peaceful haven, avoid getting on your electronic devices before bedtime, and establish a consistent sleep schedule.
4. Meditation for Chronic Pain
Researchers who assigned 109 patients with chronic pain to either a mindfulness meditation program or a wait list control, found that those who participated in the meditation reported more pain relief.
They also experienced lower anxiety and depression, than those who didn’t participate in the program.
Meditating can be as simple as choosing a sound that’s pleasing to you, closing your eyes, sitting somewhere comfortable, and repeating the sound in your mind. You could also listen to sounds from a white noise machine and focus on your breathing for a short period of time.
Start with a few minutes of meditation and gradually lengthen this time to 30 minutes to an hour. Additionally, you can also try guided meditation, which could take the form of an online meditation class or a DVD.
To ensure you have a peaceful environment to meditate in, make sure your surrounding stimuli is limited: fix any faulty appliances that produce loud noises, lower light levels, and make sure to remove any other distractions that could disrupt your thoughts.
5. Hot and Cold Compresses for Chronic Pain
Applying heat to painful joints can cause pain to go away by increasing blood flow to the site and suppressing pain signals to the brain. You can use a heat wrap, electric heating pad, or gel-filled pad to deliver heat to your aching body.
On the flipside, if your joints are inflamed, ice is an excellent way to reduce inflammation. It can slow nerve impulses, which can interrupt pain signals.
Kay Carter is a writer from Raleigh, NC. When she isn't writing about home improvement or the latest wellness trend, she enjoys reading, traveling, and practicing photography.