Here is what I am doing to bring this part of my life back within my reach of “control”.
1)Find the best pain medication regimen that will allow you to deal with most of the pain while having the least amount of health side effects. I have found that what once worked two years ago or even one year doesn’t work in the same way now. Right now, I am trying to avoid resorting to bio-logics (which are the ones that have very serious side effects like possible cancers and tubercolis. I want those to be the very last measure I take.
2) Guided relaxation, meditation and biofeedback. I can not emphasize how important this “overlooked” area is in handling ongoing and chronic pain. I try to spend at least 1 hour per day first thing in the morning doing relaxation and biofeedback techniques.
3)Find an exercise program that will allow you work “through” the pain as you cope with it. Although I have learned how to work “around” specific injuries, I have never really tried to work “through” pain. I am now learning that with yoga. I had heard about yoga being the “key” for the “lock” of arthritis a few years ago but having done yoga when I was a teen (and a hippie) I figured that my aging body would not be able to do the poses. I was so wrong! There are several excellent dvds and books out now for the older people so that, with props, we too can do yoga and receive the benefits of increased strength, endurance and flexibility; all which arthritis specifically is robbing me of in my body.
4)There are many “therapies” that you can do at home or have a professional do as well that are very beneficial for immediate relief of chronic pain: hydrotherapy (plain English: a hot bath or shower calms and sooths the nerves that scream for attention when in pain), deep tissue massage therapy (believe it or not, we can even learn to massage our own selves when we can’t grab someone else who will—I took a class on this long ago), chiropractors and even acupuncturists are skilled in dealing with sources of pain and ceasing their impact on our daily lives. Do not underestimate a good night’s sleep either. Granted, it is hard when you are in pain to sleep but when it has subsided make sure you get quality sleep. Having a rested body helps to deal with pain more effectively because it is stronger from the added rest stored in your tissues.
5) It goes without saying that “You are what you eat”. Although there is a lot of discussion and debate about the importance of the role food has regarding inflammation, there is one “truth” out there: our body is a living, breathing entity and it needs the proper nutrients for it to remain healthy and to repair itself when it is injured. So, it goes without saying, that you need to “feed your body” the kind of “fuel” that will make for “optimal performance”. You don’t see a hospital feeding its patients Twinkies and Ho-Hos to “get well” so neither should we think we can do that for very long and expect to have anything but disastrous results. I have found that significantly reducing added sodium and sugar in my food plan does impact the degree of my inflammation and therefore the pain I feel. This is still a theory in the medical community but more and more studies back this claim. I have found it to be personally true.
I hope that these 5 points will help all of you deal more effectively with the pain that you do experience so you don’t have to turn to extra food for a distraction and short term relief because we all know by now, food is not the answer. It never was and it never will be.