In general, the main goal of pain treatment is to decrease pain and improve mobility so we can return to daily activities with little or no discomfort. There are a number of lifestyle changes we can make to help manage pain:
Eat a healthy diet: Researchers have identified specific foods that can help fight inflammation. Many of these are found in the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, among other staples.
Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can add additional stress and pressure on bones and joints which can cause pain. In addition, inflammatory factors that have been associated with weight gain may also contribute to pain. Losing weight can help to decrease this pressure and inflammation.
Decrease stress: Pain can be a source of stress and these 2 conditions can play off of one another. For example, when we are stressed we may react by tensing our muscles and gritting our teeth, which in turn can increase pain. Some techniques to help manage stress levels include relaxation practices such as breathing exercises, visual imagery, meditation and mindfulness.
Be physically active: Exercise decreases levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Physical activity can also help decrease inflammation and increase mobility.
- Participating in a combination of cardiovascular, relaxation, stretching, and strength exercises may help to ease pain over time. You should continue your daily activities as tolerated, but stop activities that increase pain. (Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.)
Get enough sleep: Pain can interfere with sleep quality and quantity. Some people find it difficult to fall asleep and others may wake up often during the night. Getting the proper amount of sleep is vital because it helps our body repair itself and helps us cope with pain by improving our energy levels and mood.
The recommended amount of sleep needed by a person changes with age. Sleep recommendations for adults are as follows:
- 18-60 years of age: 7 or more hours per night
- 61-64 years of age: 7-9 hours
- 65 and older: 7-8 hours
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