Let's say you've been to see doctors and specialists, you've had all the tests—only to discover that your pain is chronic.
For many, this is an unfortunate reality thanks to conditions that cannot be easily cured or treated, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. This type of pain often follows a pattern of low level of pain or discomfort with intermittent flare-ups of more intense pain.
See Chiropractic Treatments for Lower Back Pain
Living with pain day-in and day-out is exhausting and frustrating. But you can do a lot personally to help keep the severity of pain—and the effect it has on you—in check. Learning all you can about pain management and maintaining good overall health are great places to begin.
Become an expert at pain managementRemember that certain pain management techniques work for some people while others don't. With this in mind, it's best to be open to trying new methods of pain management. Keeping the pain at a tolerable level will help keep you active, which in turn will help minimize the pain and prevent it from getting worse. Common pain management techniques include:
- Ice packs
- Heating pads
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications
- Epidural steroid injections
Some people find alternative treatments quite helpful, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or massage therapy. Studies have also shown the tremendous effect mindful meditation can have on your perception of chronic pain.
Try a combination of all these pain management suggestions to find out what works for you. Please keep in mind that something that has worked for you in the past may not always work.
Stay healthy overallGood overall health—and the health of the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support your spine—will go a long way to minimizing painful flare-ups. Exercise, sleep, and physical fitness are critical, including stretching and building strength in the core trunk muscles that help support the spine.
Participating in aerobic exercise increases blood flow which is essential to bringing important nutrients to the discs in the low back, as well as helping you lose extra weight that can take a toll on your back. Exercise, eating well, and avoiding smoking or excessive alcohol all help you decrease your risk for other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
There are no guarantees that pain won't continue to affect your life—even when you do everything right. But for many, these lifestyle changes can go a long way toward keeping pain in check.