Chronic pain affects 50 million Americans, 20 million of whom have high-impact chronic issues. It has been linked to increased risk of major mental conditions including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Science understands a painful body continually sends stress signals to the brain, leading to a heightened perception of not only the problem itself but also the perceived level of threat. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break or control.
Sometimes conventional medicine—such as prescription medication—is not effective at treating chronic pain associated with certain medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. But some people living with chronic pain find relief with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
From fibromyalgia to headaches to neck pain, CAM treatments have the potential to help alleviate your pain and other symptoms and to give you a better quality of life.
Exercise is one of the most important ways you can improve your overall health. No matter how much pain you are in, there is almost always some type of exercise you can do–even if it’s just gentle ankle movements or hand squeezes. If you have limited mobility, consider finding small exercises you can do while seat or lying down. Remember to start small and go so slowly. Some good examples of exercise for those with chronic pain include: walking, swimming, Pilates, Tai Chi, Yoga, and strength training. Talk to your doctor, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and/or a personal trainer about what is best for you.
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