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Living With Chronic Pain

Optimize Meds

For many people with chronic pain, medications can be a blessing or a curse. But careful and thoughtful treatment with appropriate medications can make living with chronic pain so much easier, and with minimal side effects. The best way to maximize your medications is to have a candid conversation with your healthcare provider. Explain your fears (perhaps you are afraid of becoming addicted to opioids), your expectations (perhaps you'd like to be able to go grocery shopping without extreme pain), and your past experiences with pain medications.
Don't accept a pain medication regimen that is ineffective or that has intolerable side effects that reduce your quality of life. Understand that the pain medications of today are not necessarily the pain medications of the past. While some of the old "tried and true" options (like morphine) will always be a valuable part of the arsenal against pain, newer options can provide real pain relief, sometimes with fewer side effects or less abuse potential.

…But Pain Meds Aren't the Whole Answer

You probably already know this. Most people with chronic pain realize after trying one or two different pain medications, that pain meds will probably never provide complete relief. So explore other, complementary therapies to add to your existing pain treatment regimen. A few options to explore include:
  • Physical activity, perhaps even physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Stretching
  • Relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing) or meditation
  • Electrotherapy
  • Acupuncture.
This is obviously only a partial list. Talk with your healthcare provider about alternative therapies that are safe and that may be beneficial in your situation.

Get Healthy

Although your pain may make you feel like lounging around and eating your favorite unhealthy comfort food all day long, don't underestimate the wonderful feeling and life-changing effects of getting healthier. Make small, smart changes, and reap the benefits. Explore new foods that are both delicious and healthy. Find physical activities you love (as your pain level can tolerate). These changes just might help improve your pain, but even if they don't, they'll give you the unmistakable satisfaction of a healthier life. 
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