25 Jul A holistic approach to pain management?
When it comes to managing pain, whether it be acute or chronic, there is no one single quick fix. A holistic approach to pain management may be the key to helping you move better, sleep sounder, reduce discomfort and get your life back on track.
For those experiencing pain, the impact that is has on day to day living can be widespread; impacting on all facets of life including employment, caring for children, relationships, sleep, mental and physical health and general activities of daily living (ADL). “Pain” is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of uncomfortable sensations felt in the body. No two people will experience the same pain, as each person’s perception of pain will be different. This is why a pain management plan that works for one person may not work for the next.
Finding your own successful pain management plan may take time, trial and error; however engaging with the right multidisciplinary team of health professionals can help you on your way.
It is important to understand the two types of pain:
Although the source of one’s chronic pain may be unknown, it is still very real and can be debilitating.
What is the importance of exercise as part of pain management?
Exercise is a fundamental component of any treatment plan for acute or chronic pain as it promotes a multitude of physical, psychological and lifestyle benefits.
- Increase strength, movement, stability, control, balance, flexibility and circulation. The follow on benefits of this may include assisting with return to work/sport/hobbies and regaining independence of ADL
- Increase energy and endorphins – did you know that endorphins are a natural pain killer?
- Lower risk of chronic disease by helping with weight management, aiding to keep blood pressure and cholesterol within safe ranges and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (just to name a few!)
It would be remiss to not discuss that exercise promotes a host of other benefits beyond those physical benefits already discussed. Let’s not forget that exercise is great for increasing self-esteem and confidence, decreasing stress, improving symptoms of depression and promoting a sense of accomplishment.
For those who experience pain, in particular chronic pain, the thought of exercise can be daunting as movement or activity is often associated with causing more pain. The right type of exercise should never cause pain, however it is very normal and expected to feel tired muscles and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) when starting out with a new exercise program. Finding yourself an Accredited Exercise Physiologist is the first step to starting out with any exercise program, as they will be able to help you find something that you will enjoy, guide you through safe exercises and provide education on appropriate self-management.
Low impact exercise modalities that focus on core stability, control and precision; for example Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates, are just a sample of types of exercise that might work for you. Also, don’t forget the water! Hydrotherapy and water based exercise also boasts a multitude of benefits for those who experience pain.
Top Tips for Holistic Pain Management
There is no quick fix when it comes to managing pain, however taking a holistic approach is the best way to help relieve symptoms and start living your life again. Here are some top tips to get you on your way.
Top 3 exercise tips:
- Find an activity you enjoy
- Take it slow and progress gradually
- Engage in a well-balanced regime by ensuring your program incorporates a mixture of resistance, cardiovascular, core and stretching exercises
Top 3 dietary do’s and don’ts:
- Avoid processed sugars, trans and saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, omega 6 fatty acids and alcohol; which can all promote inflammation
- To reduce inflammation fill up on fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and omega 3 fatty acids
- Make water your drink of choice and have your water bottle with you at all times!
Top 3 mental health management ideas:
- Meditation, relaxation or scheduling of “me time,” examples include colouring or reading
- Counselling or support groups
- Get some fresh air and vitamin D on a daily basis
Top 3 lifestyle factors to consider:
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol
- Pace yourself, break up larger tasks into many smaller tasks
- Be smart when it comes to planning your week, schedule home/rest days if possible and spread tasks over the week
Jadi is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist from Cairns with 7 years of experience in the profession. Currently working in private practise and specialising in the area of musculoskeletal rehabilitation and Pilates.