Chronic Pain Specialist Bellevue NE
By Matthew Solan
For seven months, Elizabeth Wagner felt constantly on guard. In conversation, she only half listened; the other half of her attention focused fiercely on the intense pain that shot from her hip down to her heel and back up again. When she slept, her body shook itself awake whenever she rolled into a position that triggered the pain. She worked standing up because she could only sit for 20 minutes before the aches would become unbearable. “I could never get a free moment to relax,” says Wagner, 32, a nurse in San Diego. “After the accident, I always waited for the pain to arrive. The pain was in control of me.”
A car accident damaged the nerves in Wagner’s lower back and pelvis and left her with sciatica—a set of symptoms that included sharp, stabbing pain in the low back and fatigue and numbness in one leg. Unlike the acute pain you feel when you burn a finger, break an arm, or sprain an ankle, chronic pain like Wagner’s doesn’t subside and can linger longer than six months—sometimes for years. The pain can strike your nerves, joints, or muscles and feels like a dull, nagging ache, a steady throb, a sharp jab, or any and all of the above.
Like the 76 million other Americans who suffer from chronic pain annually, Wagner could find no simple cure for her anguish. Her doctors prescribed pain medications, of course, but the pills only provided short-term relief and left her feeling drugged and unlike herself.
Because doctors don’t fully understand chronic pain, they often choose to fight the symptom rather than examine its underlying causes. And with so few alternatives presented to them, many people assume they have to live with their suffering. But that’s not the takeaway message. “Pain is your body’s way of telling you what it needs,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw Hill, 2006). “Think of it like your car’s dashboard. When a light flashes—whether it’s the oil, the fuel gauge, or an engine light—it’s a signal your car requires attention. Chronic pain works the same way. It’s your body’s way of saying it needs help.”
So how do you help your body? Attack the pain from different angles, and give your body everything it needs to put up the good fight. This means you need to soothe inflammation, boost energy, increase strength and movement, and support and comfort your body as needed. Here’s a four-step plan to do it right.
Get enough sleep. Easier said than done sometimes, but your body needs a full night of quality shut-eye to fight pain. “Sleep creates growth hormones in your body that stimulate tissue repair and allow you to recover from chronic pain,” says Teitelbaum. “If you don’t get enough sleep, between eight or nine hours, you don’t give your body the chance to heal.” In fact a recent study found that patients with chronic pain who were sleep deprived for two days reported more widespread pain and showed a slower repair cycle than their more rested counterparts.
If your p...
Author: Matthew Solan
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