Chronic Pain: The Top 5 Tips

Pain can be... well, a painful subject. And living with chronic pain is never easy. But these tips can offer hope – you can take positive steps to help control or manage your pain.

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What is chronic pain?

Chances are, you’ve experienced the sensation we call “pain” at some point in your life … but if you’re lucky, it won’t have been what’s called chronic pain.
Pain is a natural, normal part of your body’s immune system. It’s the mechanism that tells your brain that something is wrong … so you’ll try to make it right. The experience and memory of pain is how you know to pull your finger away from a flame, or avoid grabbing something that looks sharp.
But when pain doesn’t go away – when it lasts for 3 months or more – it’s called chronic pain. This kind of pain can be intermittent (it comes and goes) or constant (lasts all the time). It can have a known cause, like surgery, an inflammation, or a medical condition like arthritis or shingles. Sometimes the cause of the pain is unknown. But whatever the cause, you’re not alone … it’s been estimated that as many as 1/3 of Canadians may suffer from this kind of pain.
Identifying whether you have chronic pain, and what might be causing it, is a good first step. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor or another health care professional like the Pharmacist at Walmart, and tell them about your pain.

Tip 1: Exercise can help

Perhaps you think of exercise as a cause of pain. It’s true, we’ve all overdone a workout or a run from time to time, and woken up with some lingering discomfort the next morning.
But where chronic pain is concerned, daily, gentle exercise can actually help relieve it. Why?
  • Daily exercise can help keep the body’s muscles and joints strong and flexible, which can help relieve the pain associated with conditions like arthritis.
  • Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and make it easier for you to sleep … all things which can help with pain management.
Remember, if you’re in pain, you should
  • Focus on gentle exercises. Yoga, swimming, walking, or low-impact activities like dancing or gardening are good choices.
  • Start slowly, and gradually build up the amount of exercise you do. This kind of slow increase should help you avoid strains and stresses, and allow your body to gradually build strength. If you find that you’re sore the next day, slow down a bit, to allow your body time to adjust.
Always talk to your doctor or a health care professional before you start any new exercise program, to make sure it’s safe and right for you.

Tip 2: A healthy diet can help, too

Your eating habits are important for your overall health and well-being … and they can help you manage your pain as well.
Eating a well-balanced diet as recommended by Canada’s Food Guide is a good start. This can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor that can worsen many chronic pain conditions, including back pain.
Drinking plenty of water is also a good idea, since the lack of water (called dehydration) is believed to make certain types of chronic pain (like some headaches or lower back pain) worse.

Tip 3: Mind matters

Nobody is about to suggest that pain is “all in your mind”. It’s a very real sensation you’re feeling. But there are things you can do to help train your brain deal with the pain that you feel … and this can help you keep it under control.
  • Chronic pain can cause stress, so learning to lower your stress levels and relax is an obvious way to help with your pain. This can be as simple as trying to do something enjoyable that will take your mind away from your pain … talk to a friend or watch a movie that makes you laugh. Learn how to distract yourself and take your mind off your pain.
  • Meditation is believed to help people handle their pain better. You can learn how to do this on your own, or find a local class that will teach you the techniques
  • Some psychologists specialize in behavioural therapy that’s meant to help you deal with pain. Ask your doctor if a referral to one might be right for you.
Biofeedback training can help teach your body to control your response to pain. It’s often recommended for dealing with pain caused by frequent migraine headaches.

Tip 4: Get a good night’s sleep

This may sound easier said than done. Chronic pain is often the very reason that people have trouble getting a good night’s sleep in the first place. But getting enough sleep is important in helping to lower pain.
How can you help yourself sleep better?
  • Stick to a good sleep routine … go to bed and get up at the same time each day, so as not to disturb your body’s normal rhythms. Napping at odd hours in the day can actually make it more difficult to sleep through the night.
  • Don’t watch TV in the bedroom just before you hit the sack. Studies show that TV or computers engage your brain in ways that make it harder to sleep. If you want to do something before bed, reading is more relaxing.
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime. The same reason a cup of coffee can help you get moving in the morning may deprive you of sleep if you drink it at night.
  • Create a restful sleep environment – a comfortable bed, and a bedroom that’s dark, cool and noise-free.
  • Exercise regularly. A bit of physical activity during the day can help make you more sleepy at night. Avoid exercising just before bedtime, as this can make it harder to sleep.

Tip 5: Don’t suffer alone

You may find that dealing with your pain is a lonely struggle. But it doesn’t have to be. Far from “suffering in silence”, you’ll find that talking about your pain with others can be a good way to help you overcome it.
  • Spend time with friends and family. If your pain is keeping you from getting out and about, talk to them on the phone. Spending time with people you enjoy being around is a key way to distract yourself from the pain.
  • Go for some counselling. There are counsellors who specialize in pain management and can suggest ways to cope. Ask your doctor if he can give you a referral.
  • Join a group. Talking to people who have experienced pain and dealt with it successfully can be a source of inspiration and practical suggestions. You can look for an online pain support group via social media.
Talk to your doctor or the Pharmacist at Walmart about your pain. They know about many pain management options, and can suggest a therapy or a treatment that might work for your situation.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is ready to help you handle your pain. Looking for pain management options? Just ask!

Sponsored by

  • Pfizer Strive
  • OneTouch Verio® Meter
  • Hemovel
  • Mulberry Zuccarin Max

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
Any representation, performance claim, warranty or guarantee in any materials herein is the sole responsibility of the sponsor that has prepared such materials and is not independently verified by Walmart.

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This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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