The National Institute of Health (NIH) calls pain “a critical national health problem” because chronic pain is “the most common reason for medical appointments.” In addition, chronic pain accounts for more than $100 billion each year in health care and lost productivity in the U.S. Chronic pain affects more than 50 million Americans per year. Pain often results in disability and, even when not disabling, it has a profound effect on the quality of life (NIH – Program Announcement PA-07-282). Chronic pain can be debilitating, interfere with daily activities and lead to depression. Here are a few tips you can add to your toolbox to combat chronic pain and the limitations it can present in your life:
- Create A Support Team – psychological, emotional and physical. You don’t have go it alone when dealing with chronic pain. Ask for help from your family, friends, support groups and most importantly, from medical professionals. A treatment strategy formed between your medical doctor, acupuncturist, and physical therapist can help you minimize the severity of your pain. Speaking with other individuals who suffer from chronic pain can often help with pain-management.
- Set Reasonable Goals For Yourself – make a list of the activities you currently enjoy, the activities you would like to engage in, and those activities that you can seriously commit to. Baby steps lead to small steps which can eventually lead to giant leaps. Slow and steady wins the race. Understand that you will encounter some setbacks during your journey and be forgiving of any limitations you might have. This will help with any frustrating moments you might experience. Remember….two steps forward one step backward is still one step ahead!
- Motivation Equals Mobilization – staying motivated and keeping your mind on your goals will help you with those rough spots you will experience from time to time. Alleviation of chronic pain requires constant motivation. This is where a support group or pain management specialist can help.
- Adapt An Attitude Of Gratitude – be grateful and appreciate every day. A positive attitude will help you get through an obstacle. Make a list of anything in your life that you are grateful for. As you progress with your combined therapies and you begin to achieve some of your goals, add a few more experiences you are grateful for onto that list. Save the list for a day you might experience a setback and read the list.
- Have Regular Acupuncture Treatments – acupuncture can help relieve your pain. Call or email my office for more information.
Acupuncture is a drug-free modality that can help relieve chronic pain. Chou R, Qaseem A, Snow V, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2007;147(7):478–491.
Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012;172(19):1444–1453.
Train Like A Pro! Monitor Your Maximum and Target Heart Rates
Improve your level of cardiovascular fitness by learning how to determine your maximum and target heart rates. Here’s how:
To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are a 50 year old, that would be 220 minus 50 (170 beats per minute). To determine your target heart rate, you must take your pulse during exercise. It’s easier than it sounds. If you do not have a wearable device, just stop during exercise and take your pulse. You will find your pulse point on the side of your neck or on your wrist. Count the number of beats per second for the first 15 seconds, then multiply this number by 4. If you are a member at a gym, most exercise machines will do this function for you.
What Are The Benefits? Individuals who are normally sedentary can reap the benefits from exercising at 60% of their maximum heart rate! For example, for a 50 year old, this would be 170 times 0.6, or 102 beats per minute. At the onset of your program, you should aspire to maintain your target heart rate for approximately 20 minutes. As you progress and become more fit, this 60% can be increased to 75%. A little bit at a time adds up in no time at all. Just be patient! This is how all those Rio Olympians began their journey…dream big and go far!