Chronic pain is basically any pain that has a duration of 3-6 months and could extend much further. A popular alternative definition for chronic pain states: involving no arbitrarily fixed duration. It is “pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing”.
Epidemiological studies have found that 10.1% to 55.2% of people in various countries live their lives trying to manage their chronic pain.
I’ve recently dealt with a 2 year battle of sciatic nerve pain stemming from a pinched nerve caused by my L5/S1 disc herniating out onto my sciatic nerve, sending shooting, searing hot, cripplingly demoralizing pain from my lower back all the way down my right leg, leaving me all but bedridden.
Obviously, there are different levels, degrees, and types of pain. Out of all the different types that I’ve experienced in my life, including birthing labor pains, this was the worst!
Unfortunately, western medicine usually treats the symptoms of the issue but rarely delves into dealing with the root of the issue.
There is a common practice in western medicine to treat pain with opiates, which has caused an opiate epidemic. Opiates are highly addictive, causing internal damage to otherwise healthy organs and they don’t actually fix the root issue. In my experience, I have found one medical professional after the next that wanted to prescribe pain meds but did not have a lot to offer in the way of getting to the root of my issue. While you’re experiencing chronic pain, it can be a daunting and painful challenge just getting to and from doctors offices, having imaging done and getting little to no answers, only to leave with yet another prescription that can only barely alleviate the pain.
This journey took me on an in-depth discovery of myself, the medical community, and ways to effectively manage chronic pain. I’m going to share with you a recipe of practices that I created for myself to manage my pain.
1. Stay Away from Opiates
I myself chose not to take opiates to relieve my pain. I did not want to add insult to injury and create yet even more illness from taking addictive pain meds.
Opiates include a variety of drugs ranging from legal drugs such as fentanyl, codeine, and morphine, to illegal drugs such as heroin. The one thing they all have in common is the ability to depress or slow down the body’s central nervous system.
There are three classifications of opiates:
The first group contains naturally occurring opium derivatives including morphine.
The second group contains partially synthetic derivatives of morphine, called opioid drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.
The third group contains synthetic compounds like Fentanyl, alfentanil, levorphanol, Meperidine, methadone, codeine, and Propoxyphene.
These drugs only mask the root of the issue, they have harmful side effects, and will NOT cure the root cause.
Pain is your bodies way of communicating with you and where you need to focus your attention. It’s an alarm to get you to the root of the problem.
Opiate usage can dull and numb the senses, keep you unaware of your true pain levels and how to manage it.
If you do have to take them, moderate and minimize: use only when the pain is unbearable.
Instead, I chose pharmaceutical grade THC and CBD oils and tinctures that do not have addictive qualities. Thankfully there has been a surge of new information surrounding medical cannabis, CBD oils, and tinctures along with passionate individuals and companies that are creating effective and safe ratios to treat and relieve chronic pain and inflammation.
2. Meditation and Affirmations
Meditation is one of the most important practices that you can learn to assist you in bringing the intensity of your pain down, to calm the nervous system, and to center yourself.
A calm mind is a powerful pain reliever.
For more in-depth information on how to begin your practice of meditation read Katya’s article “Meditations For Beginners: Best Ways To Start Your Practice”
Learning to breathe into your pain, to let go and surrender, will be one of your best tools.
It takes presence, courage, commitment, and consistency to evolve your practice, but you will notice a big difference in your ability to manage your pain.
Daily affirmations of healing are a must.
Visualize and verbalize your vibrant health. Only speak healing words into yourself, speak as if you are already healed. See yourself doing the things you want to do, and adopt a belief that it’s on the way.
Discouragement will come up a lot when you’re feeling awful and experiencing debilitating pain, so you have to be disciplined in your desire to heal.
Allow yourself to feel discouraged as you should, considering the pain, but don’t wallow in it. Be willing to pick yourself back up and move forward.
A wonderful book on healing is “You can Heal your Life” by Louise Hay.
3. Take the Initiative
What exactly does this mean? It means not leaving the responsibility of your healing and health in the hands of medical practitioners. You have to take control of your destiny, of your healing, of your well being. No one is going to come and wave a magic wand and end the misery. You have to dig yourself out.
You are alone with your pain, people can love and be supportive in your journey but it’s you who has to endure and manage your pain. You have to will yourself healthy, you have to do the “work” if that means physical therapy, show up EVERY single time, even when you don’t feel like it. Even if that means minimizing your activity and resting, do it. If that means eating healthy foods to assist your body in healing, give up the junk. And if that means asking and allowing others to care for you, be vulnerable and ask. It’s about balancing your inner will to heal and your outer practical steps towards that healing.
One thing about being in long extended periods of pain with limited mobility, you will have to become comfortable being vulnerable.
Don’t expect anyone to make it better for you, make it better for yourself!
4. Diet, Mobility, and Exercise
Our bodies are divinely created to endure immense levels of trauma and injury. With that being said, it’s vital to feed yourself the proper nutrition to aid in your healing. Hydration is number one, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the cause for the majority of health issues today. Drink at least an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. Make sure you are choosy about your water quality and the container that holds your water. Glass being the ideal receptacle and make sure you are praying into your water. Water has consciousness and responds to your positive intentions. Positive intentions spoken into your food and water changes the molecular makeup.
For more education on this see Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work. Here’s a snippet of an experiment where he proves this.
Eat live, fresh, organically sourced food. Lots of green foods, which are filled with chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is a green pigment present in plants which facilitates the absorbtion of light from the sun. Consuming chlorophyll from vegetal sources can help with blood detoxification, boosts energy naturally, fights fatigue and assists in the prevention of cancer.
Eat foods that will support your vital life force energy: veggies, fruits, live, whole organic foods.
Try to avoid dairy products, which increase inflammation in the body.
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine exhausts the nervous system and can decrease your pain threshold, making the nervous system more alert to pain.
Do the research, expand your knowledge, seek alternative methods and be consistent.
A few really good ones to mention are Curamin: a combination of curcumin (It is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, a member of the ginger family) and boswellia (also known as Indian Frankincense. Resin made from boswellia extract has been used for centuries in Asian and African folk medicine. It’s believed to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses, as well as a number of other health conditions). When curcumin and boswellia are combined, the boswellia increases the absorption rate of the anti-inflammatory compounds in the curcumin.
Most illness and pain is derived from inflammation in the body.
Magnesium is vital even if you are not suffering from chronic pain, but especially when you are experiencing high levels of inflammation. Magnesium is a powerful pain-relieving mineral. In fact, some researchers believe this mineral holds the key to resolving many types of chronic pain and most people are deficient in magnesium.
In the body, magnesium converts vitamin D, which the body needs to take advantage of bone-strengthening calcium – into a form that it can use efficiently.
Be as active as you can be, without adding extra pain to yourself. Movement will be your friend. Even if it’s difficult and painful, movement is a huge step forward from staying stagnant and sedentary.
Even small attempts towards keeping active will be beneficial.
5. Salt Bath’s
I can’t say enough about this wonderful, easy practice. During my intense period of chronic pain, I literally took 2-3 hot, Epsom salt baths a day! First off it takes the weight of gravity off and allows you to relax your muscles. The salt pulls out toxins and the heat aides in pure relaxation and lightens muscle tension. My baths meant everything to me. They help soothe tremendously.
6. Use Alternative, Holistic Pain Therapies
We are so fortunate to have access to alternative health practitioners: massage, essential oils, acupuncture, reiki, sound healing, network spinal analysis (Gentle precise touch to the spine cues the brain to create new wellness promoting strategies).
Create a cocktail of alternative and conventional care that is personalized and geared toward your health condition. Be open to researching and seeking out qualified practitioners that can assist in your journey to healing.
Conventional medicine is a wonderful and life-saving resource, not to be discounted by any means. Using discernment when to move forward in exploring alternative options is key. Or vice versa knowing when to seek conventional medicine when alternative options you’ve sought aren’t providing long-term relief.
We’ve created so much resistance around the word “alternative” because somehow that translates to negating traditional medical practices. I found that it’s vital to be open, educated and willing to explore and experiment with newer therapies available. When you are suffering debilitating chronic pain and illness you have to be willing to try. When you’ve exhausted traditional western medicine and it isn’t helping, you have to be willing to expand your own practice, remove resistances and actively seek those who are truly informed about “alternative” therapy and healing modalities.
There is most certainly a need to use discernment, same thing in the case of exhausting alternative therapies you need to know when it’s time to seek conventional medicine.
I tried to heal myself naturally first through noninvasive practices, but as time went on I sought out a neurosurgeon and turns out I did indeed need surgery to fix my injury. I don’t regret the path I took at all, the organic, alternative therapies I did in the interim were not in vain. It kept me physically strong and prepared me for surgery and allowed me a speedy recovery. I believe surgery should always be a last resort.
7. Be your own Cheerleader
When experiencing day in and day out extreme pain you have to become your own best friend, your own cheerleader and your own voice of encouragement.
It’s wonderful to have family and friends encouraging you and sending beautiful blessings and intentions, but unfortunately, when you’re dealing with chronic pain specifically, you will find that most of your time is spent alone. You’re going to have to find that inner voice that speaks loudly to your healing and well being.
You will cry, you will ache, you will feel like giving up, you will be confused, you will be exhausted, you will be discouraged, you will be in agony and you will be enraged and every single expression is worthy of being felt and heard.
You mustn’t suppress any of it. When you’re done feeling it, let it pass and move into being proactive about healing.
Look at others powerful testimonies of healing to encourage you. Surround yourself with pleasant things, stay as active as you can, fill your time with positive reading, and reflections. Get to know yourself, enjoy your own company. Find healthy outlets to keep your mind occupied: writing, reading, researching, crafts, arts, music, whatever your personal interests are.
8. Practice Gratitude and Compassion towards yourself
Practicing daily gratitude is essential. When you are experiencing intense pain, it’s not going be easy to practice. Even on your worst days it’s more important than ever to stay mindful, and saturate yourself in gratitude, this is going to lift your mood, remind you of all the blessings you still have and that you will eventually heal and it keeps your heart open and content.
Taking a huge dose of gratitude the moment you wake up every morning will affirm your vibration and transmute victim mentality. Be gentle, loving, soft, nurturing and compassionate with yourself, don’t wait for others to give you this, do it for yourself.
9. Get as much quality sleep as possible
Sleeping is essential to healing. When you’re in extreme pain, it’s very difficult to sleep. Drink chamomile tea before bed, take a hot bath with lavender oil, take melatonin, make sure your bedding is always clean and that you have proper pillows and body alignment for sleeping.
Wear comfortable sleepwear or sleep nude for optimal sleep. Do breathing exercises before bed to calm the nervous system. Make sure your room is dark, light can be disruptive. Turn off all gadgets ie: tv, phones, computers, and tablets. Hope for a better tomorrow and be grateful you got through your day.
The Bottom Line
Healing is not linear, some days will be better than others. Try not to get discouraged on the tougher days, know that better days are ahead of you.
You can heal, you can manage your pain without becoming addicted to harmful drugs and you can be your own advocate, it’s all about not giving over your power solely to the medical community. Your healing is your responsibility and that should empower you.
Happy healing, I hope these tips encourage you to start an optimistic approach to overcoming your chronic pain. Remember that information is just information, concepts floating around until you actually put things into practice. No one can do it for you but you!