Chronic Pain and Anxiety
When Chronic Pain Affects Your Emotions
There are many sources of chronic pain. You may, for example, suffer from chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, arthritis, lingering pain from an old injury, or fibromyalgia.
Whatever the source of the chronic pain, it can end up having a deleterious affect on your emotions. The pain can take the joy out of life and make activities you value difficult or even impossible. You might not be able to play a favorite sport anymore, play with your kids as you did before, or pursue the same active social life.
When chronic pain engenders anxiety, it’s time to see your doctor and discuss the situation with him. As the two of you devise a plan to address your anxiety, it’s a good idea to ask about any or all of the therapeutic measures listed below. These are all things the patient can do him- or herself to combat the anxiety attendant on chronic pain.
Chronic Pain and Anxiety Remedy #1: Heat and Cold
Naturally, if you ease the pain, you combat the anxiety, and heat/cold therapy attempts to do precisely that. You’re no doubt aware that applying heat can relieve pain in the muscles and icing can be good for injuries, but you might not know that research indicates targeted temperature therapy helps a variety of specific complaints. For example, one study found that cold therapy provided migraine relief and even cumulative relief with continued use.
Chronic Pain and Anxiety Remedy #2: Yoga
Your pain and thus the anxiety that comes with it may arise from tight muscles or ligaments in particular parts of the body or repetitive improper body alignment. If so, yoga can provide the stretching that loosens the tight areas and help correct improper alignment. Among the conditions it can address are chronic low back pain and plantar fasciitis. (But there is one caveat here. You have to perform yoga stretches and poses correctly to reap the therapeutic benefits, so be sure to see the guidance of a trained instructor.)
Chronic Pain and Anxiety Remedy #3: Self-Massage
Massage from a skilled professional is the massage therapy of choice for relieving pain and the associated anxiety. It may not be practical, however, to have an appointment every time symptoms flare up. You can use tools like trigger point balls and foam rollers to address the symptoms of conditions like fibromyalgia and sciatica. (Here again, though, you need to know what you’re doing to derive any benefit, so consult your physician or physical therapist before embarking on a program of self-massage.)
Chronic Pain and Anxiety Remedy #4: Physical Therapy Exercises
Depending on your specific condition, your doctor may recommend you start seeing a physical therapist. The physical therapist will typically work with you to create a program of physical therapy exercises you do at home. This will help you with your anxiety not only by reducing pain and making you stronger but by making you feel you’re taking control and are an active participant in your own pain management.
Chronic Pain and Anxiety Remedy #5: Oral and Topical Pain Relievers
When you’re experiencing muscle pain, topical ointments can sometimes help, especially when the pain is at its most severe. An over-the-counter NSAID can be useful for addressing muscle pain as well. An oral anti-inflammatory medication can be useful for many sorts of chronic pain since inflammation is a major contributor to pain. All medication, however, carries with it the risks of diminished effect with continued use, dependency, and certain side effects, so if you’re using any medication over an extended period of time, be sure to let your doctor know about it.
Chronic Pain and Anxiety: Control
Whether you’re pursuing yoga, self-massage, or one of the other forms of therapy described above, what they all have in common is that they increase the patient’s sense of control. You’re taking action to reduce or perhaps even eliminate your symptoms, and that active stance in and of itself combats anxiety.
One way to reassert control is to work up a therapeutic plan with the medical experts at the Pain Relief Institute. We provide the full spectrum of cutting-edge pain-relief techniques.