Pain Risk Factors You May Not Know About
January 9, 2019
Many people think that chronic pain is just something they have to live with, but changing a few simple aspects of your lifestyle may actually decrease the pain you experience. Making a few little changes can add up in reducing the pain you feel tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.
Take a look at these risk factors that can add to your pain. If you eliminate these things from your lifestyle, it may make a difference in your pain levels.
Risk Factors That Can Make Pain Worse
There are many studies that tell us that smoking makes chronic pain worse. People who smoke are almost three times more likely to develop chronic back pain, and it’s associated with many other types of pain as well.
But why does this happen? Tobacco and nicotine use decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles, but oxygen is required for efficient muscle use. Your muscles become starved for oxygen, which in turn, makes them unhappy. This very much adds to the pain you feel. Simply stated, for many reasons, it is best for your body if you quit smoking, especially if you have chronic pain.
Being a couch potato can lead to muscle disuse syndrome, which basically means you lose your muscle strength and endurance. Weak muscles are much less efficient, which means it takes more work to do simple tasks, like taking a shower. This often leads to muscles that just continue getting weaker, and weak muscles can lead to falls. Falls leads to more pain and even less movement. You get the idea. It’s a vicious cycle that starts with doing nothing.
But there is so much you can do even if you do have chronic pain. You can avoid disuse syndrome by learning safe, effective exercises for your condition. Small movements each day can make a huge difference, so consult with your doctors and physical therapists about what is safe for you.
Not Taking Pain Meds As Prescribed
Doctors prescribe pain meds for a reason: to decrease your pain experience. We know what we are doing, and we always have your best interests in mind. Despite this, some people have reasons why they don’t take their medications as prescribed. Taking too much or too little of your medicine, or not taking it as prescribed, can lead to much worse problems. It is very serious, and if you are interested in pursuing other treatment options or changing the course you are on, always talk to your doctor first.
Not Having a Healthy Diet
Refined sugar and saturated fats may taste great, but they don’t give your body the fuel it needs to operate efficiently. We are just beginning to understand the importance of good nutrition in chronic pain, but many are convinced that good nutrition is one of the best approaches to managing chronic pain.
Junk food causes inflammation, which can make pain worse. Fruits and vegetables usually do the opposite. Most people have to admit that when we eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water, we feel better. While this is true in a general sense, it is true for managing pain as well.
Not only does alcohol decrease the rate of transmission of some kinds of nerve impulses in the brain, but it can also interact harmfully with medications, including over-the-counter painkillers. Moderate to heavy drinkers also have a greater risk of heart and lung disease. If you are dealing with chronic pain, alcohol should not be a part of your lifestyle.
When it comes to all of these risk factors, small changes will start adding up to make a big difference in helping control the pain your experience on a daily basis. You will be healthier in general, and that will help control your pain. If you have questions about any of these areas, our doctors are always happy to answer questions and refer you to other specialists, such as dieticians, physical therapists, and more who may be able to help.