JOPLIN, Mo. — ‘Tis The Season – for stress, excess, and expectations. No matter what holiday you celebrate, this time of year can be a lot, especially if you’re dealing with chronic pain.
With doctors overwhelmed and some patients not being able to get in to be seen, it can be overwhelming.
So with the help of a pain management specialist, we’ve found some tips, you can do at home, to help with your chronic pain.
Chris Peterson, Clinical Coordinator, Outpatient Therapy, Freeman Health System, says, “So chronic pain just means pain has been going on for longer than what would be expected by the natural progression. So it depends on the tissue. But generally about 3 months is what we would consider to be chronic pain.”
The festivities of the holiday season aren’t always as joyful for people with chronic pain as they are for others, especially when you can’t get in to see your doctor or get your medication.
“We’ve had a lot of doctors get sick themselves, had to cancel a lot of clinic, we’ve had a lot of people who are trying to get in at the end of the year, before their co-pay, so the schedules have been very, very tight.”
But the good news is, there are some strategies you can do at home that could provide you with some relief.
“Things like sleep are really underrated. In the holidays, a lot of us are getting into awkward sleep schedules and the kids are off school, and we’re staying up later and waking up later and an irregular sleep schedule we know increases pain.”
Aside from sleeping habits, your diet, which tends to be unhealthy during this time of year, can play a role in those aches and pains.
“I always think of some way to kind of break the pattern a little bit. So for some people heat works very nice, for some people ice works very nice.”
And once that’s done, Peterson says, it’s time to get moving.
“Almost all pain responds well to movement , because in the past we’ve worried about the wear and tear of the joints and told people to rest and to rest and to rest and it’s turning out that’s really not good information. To stay active is really the way to keep that pain at bay.”
Whether it’s walking on the treadmill, using resistance bands, or trying to relieve back pain, Peterson says self-care is so important for the chronic pain patient.
“I would recommend that someone who’s in a really bad flare to still be active in their day, to not go into complete bed rest, but maybe take about half of what they plan to do. Take the 3 or 4 exercises that they know they tolerate well, that aren’t going to cause them problems.”
But it’s also important to note, these exercises shouldn’t increase your pain.
“I think as a general rule, you should look at your body’s response. Everybody’s response is a little different.”