Alternative Options for Managing Chronic Pain
Psoriasis can cause significant pain in and throughout the body. This leads many people with psoriasis to seek out ways to manage their pain. While doctors may prescribe pain medicines, not everyone wants to take these in the long term. Some do not like the side effects. Others worry that these medicines are habit-forming. Fortunately, there are many other options to help manage chronic pain.
What are some of the alternative approaches for managing pain?
No solution works for everyone. But there are many different approaches and strategies for managing pain.
When you are in pain, it may feel like exercise is the last thing you want to do. However, limiting your activity can make the pain worse. This is because muscles weaken from lack of exercise. Weak muscles can make joint problems worse.
Activity has been shown to reduce the pain you feel right now. It also prevents worsening chronic pain over time. Gentle stretching and low-impact activities like walking or swimming are usually safe. You may have been inactive for a while. You may also have restricted movement due to your PsA. If this is the case, you should talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about therapeutic exercises.1,2
With biofeedback, you learn how to control body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. Biofeedback can be helpful for reducing pain. There are different methods and devices available, including some for home use. Others are used in a physical therapy clinic or medical center.3
Mindfulness practices include a variety of meditation and relaxation strategies. The goal of these practices is to relax the body. This allows the mind to observe what is happening in a detached, calm manner. Many mindfulness strategies begin with breathing exercises. With these exercises, you focus on controlling how you inhale and exhale. This leads to more relaxation and less stress. Studies have found that mindfulness can improve pain and depression symptoms.4,5
Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine. An acupuncturist places thin needles in certain areas to balance your body's energy, known as chi or qi. Acupuncture can have positive effects on many aspects of well-being. It has been shown to help mood and alleviate anxiety, sleep problems, and pain. Not everyone benefits from acupuncture. But it has been proven to be safe, well-tolerated, and effective for many who have chronic pain.6
The anti-inflammatory diet is meant to reduce inflammation by controlling which foods you eat. Since inflammation itself can cause pain, taking steps to reduce the inflammation can reduce pain. You will have to avoid foods that increase inflammation. Some of these are dairy, sugars, and grains. Eating a variety of vegetables can help reduce inflammation.7
Sleeping is 1 of the most important things you can do to reduce chronic pain. When you do not get enough sleep, it can make your body more sensitive to pain. Lack of sleep can also increase depression, which can make pain symptoms worse. To sleep better, experts recommend following good sleep hygiene practices, including:8
- Going to bed at the same time each day
- Avoiding long naps
- Stopping exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime
- Limiting liquids so you do not need to urinate at night
- Following bedtime rituals
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially late in the day
Hot and cold treatments are 2 of the simplest approaches for joint pain. Heat, whether from heating pads or warm baths, can increase circulation and soothe muscles and joints. Cold can ease acute pain by reducing swelling and numbing nerve endings.9
Who can I talk to about my pain?
Pain management specialists are doctors who have special training in treating pain. This includes acute pain, chronic pain, and even pain due to cancer. Treating pain often requires a combination of approaches. It can be helpful to talk with a pain management specialist so you can understand all your options. You may need a referral to a pain management specialist from your primary care doctor.10
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