Tag: chronic pain management

Join the 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photo Project

chronic pain photo projectI am hosting a 21-Day Chronic Pain/Illness Photo Project in a closed Facebook group starting Monday, April 27, 2015. Each day there will be a photo prompt related to chronic pain/illness. Participate as much or as little as you would like. No experience necessary. Just use your phone-camera, snap away and share in the group.

If you are interested in joining the project click on this link.

Follow Chronic Pain Life on Instagram – @chronicpainlife
Hashtag your chronic pain photos with #chronicpaininfocus.

Have your hobbies changed since you have chronic pain?

ChronicpainhobbiesLike most people with chronic pain or illness, I have had to say goodbye to many beloved hobbies. Gone are my world travelling days, my biking adventures, and, often, even my waterfront strolls. So I have had to search out hobbies I can physically manage.

My new hobbies have slowly evolved over the past few years. There are some I tried, like sewing, that ended up not being possible on a regular basis, while others like blogging which continues to be a fun and rewarding endeavour. Most recently, I took up knitting. Knitting had never appealed to me but now the prospect of a hobby that is physically possible was downright exciting! Did I seriously just use knitting and exciting in the same sentence??? Uh yes I did, and may I remind you I am under 40! That is how chronic pain changes your view of things. Now the opportunity to do ANYTHING new or creative (including knitting) is a wonderful discovery.

As human beings, no matter what our physical situation, it is important to stay inspired, productive, and experience enjoyment. So be open to new possibilities and new activities. Go on and try that Sudoku puzzle, pull out that sketchbook and pencil, ask your aunt to teach you to crochet or maybe even take up stargazing…you just never know you might enjoy it!

What new hobbies have you adopted since dealing with chronic pain? 

Affirmations to use during a pain flare-up

Don't Give UpI use affirmations, on a daily basis, to deal with my pain. I seriously couldn’t function without them. In a pain flare-up they prevent me from entering a spiral of negative thoughts that in the past led to depression and even suicidal thoughts. Sometimes I only have to repeat the affirmations a couple of times, while other times I have to read them over and over throughout the day. They have helped me make it through another moment, another hour, another day. I even keep a copy typed up on my IPhone in my notepad app. I can’t tell you how many times I have reached for my phone and read through them forcing myself to try and believe what they are telling me. Affirmations make you focus, make you stay positive and ground you in reality. Otherwise our mind can get taken over by pain demons that are determined to rob one of hope, peace and will.

I hope you will find these affirmations helpful. Feel free to edit them or even just use them as inspiration to make your own. That is the thing, affirmations have to mean something to you, they have to be tailored to your situation. Only you know the messages that you need to hear when you are faced with a bout of pain. Following are the messages I repeat:

  • I am aware I have pain but I observe it with detachment.
  • This flare-up will pass…it always does.
  • I breathe calm and relaxation into the pain.
  • I only focus on the here and now. I am not going to worry about how long the flare-up will last.
  • I am handling this flare-up calmly and positively.
  • I am patiently handling this flare-up.
  • I am grateful for the few things I can do despite the flare-up.
  • During this flare-up I focus on taking one moment at a time.
  • I will make it through this flare-up. The pain will subside. My mobility will increase.

When Pain Flare-ups Cause Panic

Tomorrow my boyfriend arrives to visit me. He lives a 12-hour drive away from me and comes to visit every two to three weeks. Normally I would be very excited but I am in panic because I am having a major pain flare-up.

I am mad that my pain has flared right before he is coming. My mind races about how disappointed he will be that I am essentially immobile. I think about how I won’t feel well enough to go anywhere or do anything.  It amazes me that even though I have been living with chronic pain for the past five years, I still immediately go into a negative panic mode when my pain has a major flare-up. The thoughts race so fast I don’t even realize they are happening…

“oh no, how long is this going to last?”
“am I getting worse?”
“I can’t take this any more?”
and
“why me?”

These panicky questions are then always followed by the never-ending attempt to figure out what exactly caused the flare-up…

“was it that I drove?”
“is it this damp weather we are having?”
“was it from picking up the cat?”

So my mind races through every single action I have done in the past two days trying to figure it out. I know from past experience that I am rarely ever able to pinpoint an exact cause, but nevertheless my brain desperately tries to make sense of what is happening in my body. My mind wants control. That is the thing when you live with chronic pain you lose control. For type-A people like me losing control is VERY hard.

I am learning, however, that if I want to stay calm, at peace and in a positive frame of mind, I need to relinquish my desire to control what is happening inside my body. I have to let go and become a neutral observer of the pain. Instead of worrying about why the pain is there and fearing it will last forever, I remind myself that the flare-up will pass and simply state “for right now this is how my body is feeling.”

Although this counteraction of  “catastrophic thoughts”, as my therapist would call them, feels nearly impossible when my body is screaming in pain and my mind wants to continually yell “why me?”, I have learnt that the “why me?” question, along with all the others, don’t get me anywhere but depressed, anxious, and yes, even suicidal. Furthermore, stressing over the pain and analyzing every detail of it is not going to lessen the pain or make the flare-up end any sooner. 

So tonight as I am faced with this surge of pain, I acknowledge that I may not have control over the pain but I can control my reaction to it.

Eating for Chronic Pain – what to eat and what to avoid

CP Food
Recent research is showing links between certain foods and chronic pain. I have reviewed this research extensively and summarized below, what foods and drinks can ease chronic pain and what ones can increase pain. 

*Please keep in mind that these are general suggestions and should be tailored to your existing health conditions.*

EASE PAIN by eating/drinking:

Ginger – lowers inflammation and muscle pain.
Onions – 
contain phytochemicals that reduce inflammation.
Sea Vegetables (Kelp and Dulse) – contain fucoidans shown to reduce pain and provides trace minerals.
Avocado –  high in Vitamin K can reduce pain and arthritis symptoms.
Tart Cherries or tart cherry juice – contain anthocyanins, which are thought to reduce inflammation.
Pineapple & Papaya – contain enzymes that break down protein that cause pain.
Garlic – contains phytochemicals that reduce inflammation.
Tumeric – lowers enzymes linked to inflammation…Curcumin is the ingredient that likely provides the benefit.
Olive Oil – contains oleocanthal may have the same effect as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Raw Coconut Water – contains potassium aiding in rehydration and thus reduces pain.
Walnuts – they are high in Omega-3 Fatty acids and antioxidants which may assist in reducing pain and inflammation.
Flax seeds – they are high in Omega-3 Fatty acids and antioxidants which may assist in reducing pain and inflammation.
Pumpkin seeds – they are high in Omega-3 Fatty acids and antioxidants which may assist in reducing pain and inflammation.
Fish (Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, halibut, shrimp, snapper) – they are high in Omega-3 Fatty acids and antioxidants which may assist in reducing pain and inflammation.
Dark, leafy greens – these are high in antioxidants and creates alkalinity vs. acidity.
Acai berries – high in antioxidants and Omega 3s.
Blueberries – high in antioxidants.
Green Tea – contains numerous antioxidants.

AVOID eating/drinking:

Monosodium glutamate – found in soy sauce, broths, soy products, processed foods, yeast products, sprayed on food crops. Stimulates pain receptors.
Aspartame –extensive research show numerous dangers from consuming aspartame including chronic pain and fibromyalgia. Activates neurons causing increased sensitivity to pain.
Sugar – can drastically increase pain. Causes mineral loss as it extracts minerals from muscles and bones. Sugar also causes inflammation.
Red meat -corrosive free radicals from iron may promote inflammation. Also contains arachidonic acid, which may worsen inflammation and related pain and swelling.
Egg yolks -contain arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation.

REDUCE eating/drinking:

Yeast/Gluten -gluten can be seen as a foreign pathogen and inflammation is caused to fight it. It is found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats and it is also in processed foods.
Milk products  -contain high levels of casein which is hard for the body to process and can lead to inflammation.
Fried foods -contain Omega 6 fats, which can cause inflammation.
Carbohydrates -often cause inflammation.
Caffeine –increases inflammations and causes loss of minerals, Coffee prevents pain relief by blocking the receptor sites.
Alcohol –depletes minerals, causes inflammation, causes dehydration.

Vitamins and Supplements for Chronic Pain

Although there are no vitamins or supplements to “cure” chronic pain there is increasing research showing some vitamins and supplements may ease pain for some individuals and for some types of pain. I have summarized the research below.

  • Fish Oil (2-4 grams of DHA + EPA/day) – major anti-inflammatory and helps with all types of pain
  • Magnesium Citrate – helps with muscle spasms and weakness
  • Vitamin D – numerous studies have shown Vitamin D reduces pain
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) – naturally occurring compound in some plants and animals, which has been shown in some preliminary research to reduce osteoarthritis pain.
  • Glucosamine Sulfate – mostly used for arthritis pain.
  • Turmeric/Curcumin – lowers enzymes linked to inflammation.

Please remember to review any vitamins and supplements with your doctor before taking them!