November is a big month. Although Christmas decorations have been in some stores since September, for many of us, the holiday season begins in earnest on November 1st, bringing with it extra stress and a potential increase in chronic pain. For others, November is the time when men’s health, family health, and diabetes awareness come to the forefront. Pain Doctor’s video library has some informative videos for ways to manage chronic pain this holiday season so you can enjoy the time with family and friends.
First stop is overall chronic pain coping strategies. Most doctors recommend a mix of approaches, including exercise, diet, and a positive attitude. In this video, Dr. Tory McJunkin of Arizona Pain Specialists adds other ways in which chronic pain patients can approach their pain, including identifying the source of pain (not just the symptoms) and targeting treatment.
Another common issue for chronic pain patients is lack of adequate, restful sleep. This can be especially difficult during the holidays when sleep schedules are off due to family, travel, and lack of routine. Physical therapist James Kalenderian has a surprising suggestion for getting adequate sleep during the holidays.
The holiday season can also be challenging for fibromyalgia patients, as diet seems to be closely linked to pain flare-ups. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, the link between caffeine intake and fibromyalgia pain is weak but present. Caffeine can also disrupt sleep patterns, which can amplify pain symptoms.
All of these things – diet, sleep, and activity – are also linked to mental health, and mental health is closely related to chronic pain. Research shows that 85% of chronic back pain sufferers also suffer from depression. The holiday season and the time immediately afterwards can prompt a variety of mental issues, including depression and anxiety. This interview with Dr. Andrew Block highlights the difficulty in identifying the signs of chronic pain and depression, but identifying depression is an important step towards healing.
Pain Doctor’s video library also has informational videos on treatments and procedures for dealing with chronic pain such as:
And many more.
One of the most encouraging videos in the Pain Doctor video library tells the story of Jennifer Spencer. She started her three-year journey with daily pain that rated a seven out of ten. With the help and support of doctors who were willing to work with a variety of treatments, Jennifer now lives most days with no pain. Jennifer has gone back to work, starting her own business. She has also lost 76 pounds and is able to hike, do yoga, and be active in her life. Because of chronic pain treatments that were holistic and addressed not only the symptoms but also the causes of the pain, Jennifer was able to get her life back.
The key to successful chronic pain treatment is to not rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. Indeed, this type of approach has led to an increasing number of doctors who reach for the prescription pad before anything else. But not all doctors focus on opioids for pain management. One of the core beliefs of PainDoctor.com is to strive for pain relief without heavy narcotics.
There are a number of issues related to opioid overprescription, including:
- Opioids prescriptions and a higher rate of psychiatric issues
- The link between opioids and Type 2 diabetes
- Opioid resistance
- Global epidemic of opioid addiction
There is more than one way to address the symptoms of chronic pain, and Pain Doctor’s video library includes promising studies about some of them, including the link between vitamin D and relief from cancer pain. A double-blind research trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology found a promising link between high doses of vitamin D and decreased musculoskeletal pain due to breast cancer.
If the prospect of increasing chronic pain as a response to the stress of the holidays is daunting, consider these ways to help head it off.
Gathering information on pain-fighting treatments and techniques like those highlighted in Pain Doctor’s video library can help you take action before pain hits hard.
Take care of yourself
Get plenty of rest. Don’t let the demands of the holidays take the last bit of your strength. Say “no” when you need to, or cut activities short if you must.
Think quality over quantity
Choose better activities over the holidays instead of more. Can you go to one neighborhood open house instead of every neighbor’s individual party? Can you have one family day instead of three separate family dinners? Choose what works for you and gives your holidays the most meaning.
November has some great ways to think of other things. Movember uses facial hair to bring awareness to men’s health issues, and NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write an entire novel in just 30 days. Thanksgiving Day is also Family Health History Awareness Day. Sometimes thinking of someone else is enough to take your mind off the pain.
With a little preparation, the holidays don’t need to mean an increase in chronic pain. Managing stress and eating well are two more ways to keep ahead of the pain. Combine those with some education, family love, and thoughts of others, and you are ahead of the game!
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Image by plantonicsgermany via Flickr