Chronic Back Pain can be a debilitating injury and chronic illness. For those living daily lives with moderate to severe Chronic Back Pain, simple daily tasks can be overwhelming. It is important for the individual to learn and practice techniques, communication tactics, exercises, and lifestyle practice that is healing and nourishing.
When managing daily lifestyle with any traumatic injury or chronic illness, patience is key. Tune in to your body and listen to its signals. Do specific tasks, chores, actions, movements, or conversations trigger back pain symptoms? Learn to limit time and energy with these interactions. Begin to set healthyboundaries. Learn to have a loving and honest inner voice. Is your body begging you to stop an action or movement, to exit a conversation, to rest more? Honor it. Once an individual begins listening and learningthe body’s internal warning signs and signals and honors them, the body will begin to relax and to feelsafe again. Pain signals will become less frequent with less sense of urgency over time, and you will feel that you have power or control over your body’s internal signals again.
Sitting for long periods of time, driving, and lifting any object (even only at eight pounds) can be enough to trigger an episode or flare up. Learn what sets off these triggers and begin to develop an action plan. Is there someone who can assist you with these tasks? If not, is there someone you can hire or ask to assist you with these tasks? Friends, family, and loved ones often want to help out but do not know what is needed or where to begin. Allow your loved ones to feel needed and helpful by asking/assigning these tasks to those who wish to help. Make a promise to yourself that you will not put your body in a place to where it has to rely on itself to get main trigger tasks completed, even if you feel like you are a burden you are not. Forcing your body to complete tasks that are its main triggers is doing your body a disservice (burden) and will only prolong the healing time. You also risk further injury. Make peace withthe fact that some daily practices will need to change to suit your lifestyle managing chronic back pain. Itis perfectly alright to have limits and healthy boundaries. People who have chronic back pain often have a tendency to be too self reliant or to do too much. Resting when medically needed is just as efficient asgetting work, chores, and tasks done. It is all a balance.Managing a chronic pain illness myself (chronic hip pain from hip injury and post surgery) hastaught me to make peace with my body, its internal signals, and its limits. Health Insurance and MedicalCare can be very costly. I have a few tips I would like to share with readers on how to manage chronic pain without depleting your finances.
Managing Daily Life with Chronic Pain
- Create a support circle of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, medical team, loved oneswhom express an interest to help or support. Keep them close and in the loop with your triggers, setbacks, victories, and progress. People are more apt to help when they feel appreciated and informed.
- Participate in a Chronic Pain Community. I attend a Chronic Pain Management group with my health provider (Kaiser) which has been a wonderful and healing experience for me. Many health pro-viders offer a free Chronic Pain Group. Some states will even pay you State Disability to sign up forChronic Pain Group as long as you are consistent in attendance and program guidelines (CA is in thisgroup). Community Wellness and Health Centers often host Chronic Pain Management groups aswell. Search “chronic pain management program” with your zip code to find program options in yourarea. Also ask your health provider or doctor. Programs offer communication tactics and languagetactics for chronic pain sufferers, empowering sufferers to feel heard and enabling their support(friends, family, colleagues, partners) to better understand where the sufferer is coming from, naturallydecreasing the frequency of charged arguments, resentment, and misunderstandings.
- Attend Physical Therapy when your doctor clears you to do so. Physical Therapists are thegurus in getting your body to do the things it used to, by mimic-ing movements with smaller micromovements, encouraging the body to trust again within the trauma range. Discuss pain managementoptions with your Physical Therapist as well. All will tell you to ice 20 minutes on 20 minutes off and toalternate with heat pads (for muscle spasms, avoid heat if injury is nerve pain based) to flush out thepain receptors called “glia”. Doing this 3-5 times a day will help the body flush out its pain alert “glia”more efficiently and make pain signals feel less urgent and intense. If you have access to a sauna or hot tub, this helps too but only for muscle related injuries (spasms). Use ice for nerve pain and forswelling.
- If you can have pineapple juice (no allergy to pineapples) juicing pineapple and drinking dailyhelps keep inflammation down and calms pain receptors. I learned this trick from my orthopedic, whoused to be an Olympian Gymnast. My orthopedic also suggested to take one to two ibuprofen a dayto keep swelling at minimal. Only use ibuprofen if you do not have drug allergy and if you use othermeds please consult with your health provider before trying. If you have access to Doctor/Orthopedicask him or her if topical ibuprofen gel “Voltaren Gel” to put on pain trigger spots. It is easier on thestomach when applied to skin because it bypasses the stomach. Using the gel also allows for a moretrigger spot focused application and can bring relief to painful spots on the lower back, hip, groin, etc.
- When sleeping or laying down, sleep/lay down on back with knees up, as if you were to do asit up. You can prop pillows under your knees for more support. Doing so takes pressure off the lowerback and helps the spine and tail bone align.
Stay tuned for more Chronic Pain Lifestyle Management and Back Pain Lifestyle Tips posting soon.