January is often synonymous with a new year’s resolution to get healthy. There is a noted increase in gym memberships across the nation and commitments are made to eat healthier and drink more water. In general, many people use the beginning of another year for a fresh start at healthier living. Most of us usually feel energetic and excited to start a new year off in a healthier way.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you suffer from chronic pain, the start of another year can be something else entirely.

A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce chronic pain.

A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce chronic pain.

Chronic pain patients may face January with a feeling of dread – you may feel like all you have to look forward to is yet another year of pain. You may feel as though making a goal to live healthier is a wasted effort, as you are often in excruciating pain. While you may feel depressed and as though there will never be any relief to your pain, you can take heart in the fact that changing your lifestyle habits in conjunction with a visit to a pain management physician may be the start of your pain-free lifestyle.

A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids has been recommended for many purposes, and pain relief is now one of them. Consuming foods with a high content of Omega-3 fatty acids has recently been found to decrease inflammation, in addition to other health benefits including lowering bad cholesterol. While there is an array of foods naturally containing Omega-3 fatty acids, the easiest way to add it to your diet is through ground flax seed. The ground seeds have a nutty taste, and can be sprinkled on cereals or salads or mixed into oatmeal or yogurt. The seeds, however, must be ground; if left whole, their dietary benefits will not be absorbed by the body.

Beginning an exercise program may also prove useful to chronic pain patients. Those suffering from chronic pain are often afraid to begin an exercise program, as they feel exercise may make their pain worse. In reality, adding low-impact exercise to your daily routine may be the key to relieving some pain, as long as exercise is done carefully, in moderation and is started slowly.

Low impact exercises can include walking, yoga, water activities and light strength training. If you have not exercised in some time, it is recommended to begin slowly, in five or ten minute increments. While rest is crucial, especially during pain flare-ups, no physical activity whatsoever has been linked to increased muscle weakness and joint stiffness among other painful symptoms. Your exercise program should work your entire body, and not just the area where you experience pain.

For best results, exercise should be consistent and preferably done daily as pain permits. Be sure your exercise program begins at a low intensity and gradually gains intensity. Overexertion can cause symptoms to get worse, rather than improving them. Before each exercise session, be sure to stretch and warm up – by skipping this step, you can cause damage to joints and muscles.

No particular food can cure pain, but studies have shown specific foods may help alleviate at least some of your pain.While most wouldn’t make the connection, there are an increasing number of recent studies showing that what you eat can have an effect on the body’s inflammation response, and therefore on the way the body perceives pain. No particular food can cure pain, but studies have shown specific foods may help alleviate at least some of your pain.

While a healthy diet and regular exercise program is recommended, it is often not enough. Chronic pain sufferers should still talk to their primary care physician to see if a referral to a pain clinic is appropriate. Arizona Pain Specialists has a healthcare team that is dedicated to creating an individualized treatment plan that may include complementary and alternative therapy such as chiropractic care, spinal decompression, acupuncture, physiotherapy, biofeedback and behavioral therapy.

While PainDoctor.com strongly recommends a healthy approach to life, this information is intended as advice. You should never begin a new diet and exercise program without first consulting your doctor.