6 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain as an Athlete : People have a lot of misconceptions when you tell them that you have a chronic pain condition. One of the most frequent assumptions is that people with certain disorders can’t be athletes.
You know better. You understand how physical fitness eases your symptoms and keeps you going strong despite your diagnosis. However, you still have to control your aches. Here are six tips for managing chronic pain as an athlete.
There’s nothing wrong with using medication to treat pain. It doesn’t make you less tough — it can make your condition manageable. However, it’s vital to recognize the different classifications of drugs so that you understand what you’re taking.
Over-the-counter medications fall into three principal categories:
If your chronic pain qualifies as severe enough, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you control it. These drugs fall into the following categories:
Finding the right medication for your condition may take considerable trial and error, so please be patient. You may have to return to your doctor multiple times over several months or years to find an effective treatment regimen. Medicine isn’t an exact science, as multiple factors can contribute to chronic pain conditions — the underlying cause might be something you don’t expect. For example, some people with chronic and severe migraines have an underlying heart defect that wouldn’t show up on an MRI, but which can nevertheless severely impact their quality of life. Also, keep in mind that the political landscape influences your access to certain medications. Many state and local governments limit prescribing certain drugs, meaning you may have to seek alternatives outside of your traditional treatment regimen if the new rules impact it.
Acupuncture is one such alternative treatment that works effectively in many cases. Eastern practitioners explain that the needles manipulate the flow of chi or vital energy throughout the body. Western scientists theorize that the needles activate nerve endings, interrupting pain signals from the body to the brain. It stimulates the nervous system, convincing your brain to release a chemical cocktail that eases pain.A few insurance plans today cover acupuncture, but you may have to pay out of pocket. Expect to shell out $75 to $150 for your average treatment.
However, don’t fear the needles. They’re super-tiny, meaning you barely feel the insertion. Once your practitioner applies the needles, they’ll leave you to rest like a human pincushion for a while before manipulating them some more to ease your pain.
Another treatment beneficial for athletes with chronic pain is massage. Although you may need to pay out of pocket, you could experience enormous relief.Massage therapy works particularly well for athletes who have painful muscle knots and spasms. Your practitioner can manipulate these, getting them to release, instantly easing your pain.
You might notice a mild achiness after your treatment. This sensation may stem from the deep relaxation of deeper-level connective tissues or the release of toxins from your body’s cells. Drink plenty of water after your treatment to help flush your system and hydrate your ligaments and tendons.
You have several options for hot and cold therapy in treating chronic pain as an athlete. It helps to learn the principles of when to use each methodology for maximum effectiveness. Heat increases blood flow to an injured area. It also improves the synovial fluid flow around joints and is often used by those with arthritis and spinal conditions like ankylosing spondylitis for this purpose. It can also help reduce stiffness and muscle spasms, useful if cramps, well, cramp your style. However, you shouldn’t use it for the first 48 hours after injury as your body’s natural defenses will send sufficient heat to the area.
Cold works by numbing the affected area. It’s most often used for acute injuries to reduce the associated pain and inflammation. This treatment works well for conditions like tendonitis and bursitis, where the fluids and connective tissues around your joints become inflamed.
Everything you put in your body influences your chemistry — including food. To ease chronic pain as an athlete, you might find comfort in an anti-inflammatory diet. You don’t have to radically alter your meal plan. You only need to know what to eat and avoid. You should avoid:
What should you eat? Lean proteins, such as nuts, seeds and lentils. If you don’t adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you can include chicken, fish and eggs. Dairy increases inflammation in some people — experiment to see how it affects you.
You should also increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. These provide crucial phytonutrients and antioxidants. If you aren’t limiting your carbohydrate intake, whole grains such as quinoa offer speedy energy to power your workouts.
Sometimes, pain stems from adhesions when nerve fibers get trapped amid your muscle tissue. Much like a tag on the back of your sweater can continually irritate your neck, these entangled threads keep sending pain signals to your brain.
Stretching can help minimize pain from adhesions, gently releasing these fibers back into their natural shape. A regular yoga practice should be a must for all athletes, regardless of chronic pain. Many top trainers now recommend methods like yin on rest days to speed recovery.
Please do ensure you take your rest days. Exercise creates microscopic tears in muscle fibers — you get stronger when these heal. However, recovery and development only occur when you give your body a break.
There’s no need to let your aches keep you off the field or court. Manage chronic pain as an athlete with a few smart tips.
Managing Chronic Pain without Narcotics | UCLA Health
10 tips for managing chronic pain
Managing Chronic Pain
6 Exercises to Kill Chronic Knee, Foot or Hip Pain
when chronic pain becomes too much, pain management techniques pdf, pain management techniques, is life worth living with chronic pain?, how to reduce pain and discomfort, how to control pain mentally, how to live with chronic pain and depression, how to manage pain without medication,