Chronic pain is a serious matter. It causes depression, misery and damage to personal relationships. It can affect your education and goals. Chronic pain, if severe enough, can make it impossible for you to continue with your work. It robs you of sleep. If you have severe arthritis, for example, it might be that you can’t even open a bottle cap or climb a few stairs. Your joints ache all over. No matter the condition causing the pain, it can get to the point where it seems like there is nothing else in your life but pain. If this has happened to you, you need to know that help is available. A pain management specialist can help you reduce or eliminate your pain and get your life back.
The Benefits of Exercise
The human body wasn’t meant to be idle. You may see this for yourself as stiffness when you have sat in one place for too long. Muscles must be used in order to maintain their tone. You can actually see muscle tone decline in someone who is bedridden. Bones weaken when they don’t bear weight. Astronauts who spend extended periods of time in a weightless state will actually demonstrate bone loss. The heart gets stronger with regular activity. If you exercise regularly, you will see this for yourself in the form of a lower resting heart rate.
Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. You don’t have to bench press your own weight or run until you’re gasping for air. In fact, fast walking is an excellent form of exercise. You can do it on a soft surface such as the grass in the park if you need to. The point of effective exercise is to raise your heart rate and increase your circulation. There are also specific stretching type exercises that may help pain in certain body areas, such as the shoulders, knees, neck or back. These are fine to do and if your doctor has prescribed them, you should comply. However, they should be in addition to aerobic, heart-rate raising exercise.
Swimming is another way to raise your heart rate without subjecting your body to a jarring force, such as cement pavement while jogging. Stationary biking is another idea. Aim to raise your heart rate by about 50%. For example, if your resting heart rate is 80, you’d want to get that up to around 120. To determine your heart rate, place your index finger on your wrist until you feel your pulse. Do not use your thumb. Count the beats for 15 seconds, then multiply by four. Speak to your physician before starting any kind of aerobic exercise routine.
Regular exercise will not only strengthen your body, but it can relieve pain and depression by causing the release of natural opiate-like substances in your body known as endorphins. Endorphins attach to certain special receptors located in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal system. There, they activate the receptors to produce feelings of pain relief and well-being. It’s interesting to note that prescription opioids work in much the same way.
The best way to release your own endorphins is through aerobic exercise. You may notice that your pain level is reduced and also that you sleep better at night. Use the information you have learned here today to see if exercise is a natural pain reducer for you.