Spring clean bad habits to help chronic pain

April 2, 2020

A sign pointing in two directions, to 'old habits' and to 'change'Many of us naturally feel a desire for spring cleaning when the weather warms up. Inside and outside our homes, it’s a great time to catch up on seasonal tasks. But have you thought about the fact that it’s also a great time to clean up or clean out bad habits? 

Spring is an excellent time to think about any bad habits you’ve been hanging onto, especially those that might be making your chronic pain worse. In addition to recommitting to a more active lifestyle to help with pain, here are a few other ideas to consider. 

Spring clean bad habits

Changing just a few aspects of your lifestyle can put you in better control of your chronic pain. Are you doing any of these things that might be making your chronic pain worse?

  1. Sitting for too long — When you sit for a prolonged period, the discs in your lower back are under a lot of pressure. This can build up tension and stress in your back that creates aches and pains. Commit to getting up at regular intervals throughout the day. Do chores around the house, go for a walk, take a yoga break, or do some other type of physical activity. Even if all you do is walk to the mailbox and back, it will help.
  2. Smoking — Not only is smoking terrible for your heart, lungs, and increasing your risk of cancer, it can also cause chronic pain to be worse. Quitting smoking may be one of the most significant things you can do to both improve your overall health and manage your pain.
  3. Not getting enough sleep — This one is tricky since chronic pain and sleeplessness often occur in a cycle. Sleep is so important because it gives your body time to rest and renew, which is crucial if you experience chronic pain. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have time to do this. There are few things you can do to help yourself sleep better, such as limiting caffeine consumption, limiting alcohol consumption, practicing relaxation techniques, and avoiding bright lights right before bed.
  4. Avoiding exercise — A sedentary lifestyle can lead to worsened muscle stiffness and increased strain on the joints. Regular exercise helps naturally reduce inflammation and keeps muscles and joints flexible. Exercise will also help keep you fit, which is great for pain since being overweight can worsen it.
  5. Eating too much junk food — We are just beginning to understand the importance of good nutrition in relation to chronic pain, but most pain physicians believe that good nutrition may be one of the most effective approaches to managing chronic pain. We know that junk food causes inflammation in the body, so the anti-inflammatory diet is a good way to combat this for many people. Plus, whether you have chronic pain or not, most of us feel better when we eat plenty of vegetables and drink more water. 
  6. Drinking alcoholDrinking alcohol chronically can actually make pain more severe. Excessive use of alcohol can cause a small fiber peripheral neuropathy that can cause increased sensations of pain. Alcohol exacerbates this condition. Alcohol combined with over-the-counter or prescription medications can be extremely dangerous. If you experience chronic pain, it’s best to avoid alcohol completely.
  7. Stressing out about everything — Stress increases your heart rate, which makes you breathe faster and tightens your muscles. It can also cause agitation and anxiety, which is known to intensify feelings of pain. There are many ways to manage stress and anxiety caused by chronic pain. 
  8. Avoiding your doctor — You won’t have to see your doctor at Southside Pain every week, but we do want to see you regularly to discuss your case. Please keep these appointments and don’t assume that there’s no reason for your visit. Advances in research are always increasing our knowledge about disorders and medications, and we are your best resource to learn about new methods that may help you. Your treatment plan is fluid, and we are always happy to adjust however necessary. 

When it comes to spring cleaning, consider modifying these bad habits. Whether you choose one, two, or more to focus on, small changes can make a big difference for your pain management.

Southside Pain Specialists 

At Southside Pain Specialists, we work hard to provide patients with comprehensive pain relief when they need it most. Explore our pain treatment options or contact us today at 205.332.3155 to learn more.