We all know someone who has chronic pain. In fact, 25% of adults suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months. It can be located anywhere in the body and usually occurs when the body has not healed properly after an injury, and also with various medical conditions. Also associated with chronic pain are the emotions surrounding the trauma / injury that can impact recovery and prevent proper healing from taking place. In some cases the emotional component of dealing with chronic pain itself can perpetuate the cycle, making it last years. This blog will dive into details about chronic pain and inform the reader about options for care, and how our lifestyles play a huge impact on managing chronic pain.
Chronic Low Back Pain
We know that chronic pain is pain lasting longer than 3 months. But, it can take many forms and affect various parts of the body. Many people have chronic pain the spine, particularly the low back is a very common area to become painful, and when it does it can easily become chronic. That's because the low back is a primary load bearing part of our body that needs to support our upper body while be bend, twist, lift and sit. It is under tremendous load and is prone to injury because we use our backs to do almost everything.
Most adults will experience back pain at some point in their life, and when they do, they often will wait and see if it goes away on its own. Back pain will often disappear on its own, but it is important to remember that if the back pain was caused by some sort of injury and nothing was done to help that injury heal properly, then the dysfunction will persist, and could lead to further problems down the road.
This is often how the chronic pain cycle begins. Even from a young age, slips falls, injuries or overuse can lead to problems down the road if the spine is not given the chance to heal properly.
What can be done about this?
Well, for starters, taking care of your spine should begin at a young age, however if you are reading this and don't consider yourself to be young, then that's okay. Better late than never.
The key components to a healthy spine include good nutrition, exercise and Chiropractic care.
Our bodies require certain nutrients that we must either get from the food we consume or a supplement. If they don't get what they need and the foods we are eating are high in processed sugars, high in unhealthy fats or highly processed, then our bodies can easily become inflamed.
High levels of inflammation in the body can increase pain, and perpetuate the chronic pain cycle. This is why getting professional help from a Nutritionist or Naturopath can help us on our journey to end pain. If the foods going into us are raising levels of inflammation then it is unlikely that the pain will ever go away.
Our bodies are constantly moving. Even when we are sitting still or sleeping, there is blood flowing through our veins and the cells inside of us are regenerating, dying off, or sending signals to each other.
All of this of course happens without us knowing. Moving our muscles and joints with regular exercise or activity contributes to a health spine and life because our bodies simply require it.
If we don't move it we lose it. And this can happen easily if we don't move our joints through their full ranges of motion.
This is why exercise is so important. It gives our bodies and opportunity to move, especially in a world where we sit more than ever. Find an exercise routine or activity that you enjoy and stick to it. Your body will thank you one day.
Although Chiropractic care is mostly utilized when people are already experiencing chronic pain, it is also a vital part of maintaining a health spine throughout our lives beginning at a young age.
Chiropractors are able to detect and correct areas of injury to the spine or muscles and provide care that will allow the body to health those injuries properly.
If someone has a slip or fall they should see a Chiropractor right away. But it is also the small stressors on our spines from sitting all day or lifting repetitively at work that can lead to overuse and chronic low back pain.
The good news is that regular chiropractic care can help mitigate this and allow people to move with ease again, once the problem is corrected.
But what are those who are already in chronic pain supposed to do?
Perhaps, you have had multiple falls or injuries and there are parts of your body that ache all the time, or flare up when you do certain tasks. Or perhaps the pain is unexplainable and it seems like you shouldn't be in pain, because you haven't had any major injuries in your lifetime.
No one has been able to explain why you hurt and your doctor simply keeps increasing your pain meds that just upset your stomach.
Either way, there is always hope.
And hope is found when you seek the help of a team of professionals who really care. They take the time to diagnose the problem and give you a treatment plan that makes sense.
They took the time to explain their findings and their solution is realistic. They don't make any promises of outcomes but they can help correct the problems they do see and work with you to provide appropriate exercise and nutrition advice to help you on your journey managing chronic pain.
Mental Health and Chronic Pain
The last component of chronic pain, that many do not think of (no pun intended) is our mental health and how that can affect our bodies.
The truth is that mental health plays a huge role in our physical health. If we are constantly stressed or anxious then our bodies operate in overdrive, and can't heal properly. Sometimes these thoughts keep us awake at night, and we all know that getting good rest is a huge part of overcoming chronic pain, or healing from any health problem.
In my practice I have seen many people come in who are in chronic pain and don't know where to turn. They have tried everything and can't seem to live a day without pain.
These people often have tight muscles, poor posture and other problems in their spine that we can address. But in many cases, their pain persists, and while caring for them in my office, they reveal the stresses or anxieties they experiences.
Sometimes this is from current things going on their lives, or it can be from past traumatic events. Either way, the stress is preventing them from getting out of pain, and has clearly taken its toll on their bodies.
In these cases, a referral to a mental health professional is made, where they are able to work through these life events in a safe, non judgmental environment. Finding the right counsellor to help you work through mental health problems can have a huge impact on recovering from pain, especially when it has become chronic.
It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health care, and when someone is in chronic pain, a team of well trained professionals should be hired to help give you the right advice and provide you with the right care so that one day you can experience better health.
At Brant Wellness and Rehab and Brant Mental Health Solutions (www.brantmentalhealth.com), we have the right people who can help. Our team, will be happy to discuss with your case with you so that you can begin in the right spot, with the right person who will journey with you towards better health.