Download resources from the video below:
Your pain is real. You are not alone.
While chronic pain often has no cure, there are things you can do every day to help lower the severity of your pain enough to get back to the things you want to do. Watch the video on the left and check out our tips below.
Mental health and physical health are deeply connected. Your thinking affects how you feel pain. Counseling or medicine for your mental health can help with your physical pain. If you are looking for a mental health provider or other services, Mental Health America has a list of resources available. Or try mindfulness meditation – a way to relax your mind and change how you feel sensations, even pain. Check out a guide from the New York Times, which is full of meditation resources.
Traumatic events (emotional, physical, and social) can increase your chance of having chronic pain. However, spending time with supportive friends and others can make a real difference in how you feel. Think about those specific people who make you feel good and healthy.
Gentle movement, like walking or stretching, can help relieve tension and stiffness in your muscles and lower the intensity of your pain.
Try taking a walk with a friend a couple of times a week! Find a St. Louis City park or a St. Louis County park in your area. The YMCA also has group classes, like yoga, water aerobics, and tai-chi. Find a YMCA in your area. Financial help for membership is available! Some yoga studios also provide free classes. Check out The Collective STL or Yoga Buzz. Remember to ask your doctor about what exercises are safe for you.
Eat healthy foods
Some foods can help lower inflammation in your body, which is a common cause of chronic pain. Try adding leafy greens like spinach, fruits like berries and pineapples, nuts, and fatty fish to your diet. If you’re looking for financial help to access healthy foods, check out a list of food pantries or reach out the St. Louis Foodbank for more information on SNAP (or food stamps).
Getting enough sleep can lessen the intensity of pain. 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night is best. If you have trouble sleeping, try drinking less caffeine and alcohol, and turning off electronics an hour before bed. All of those can interfere with sleep. Get more tips about how to improve your sleep. Talk to your doctor if your pain is disturbing your sleep. Learn more about the connection between pain and sleep here.
Get physical therapy and chiropractic
Did you know that more insurers are now covering physical therapy, chiropractors, and acupuncture? All of these can help with chronic pain. Ask your insurer what services are covered. SLU Health Resource Center also offers free physical therapy with a doctor prescription.
Advocate for your community
In addition to health care services, social factors like access to healthy food and safe neighborhoods affect how likely people are to have chronic pain. Ask your representatives in local government to work for better access to health care and other services throughout our region.
Advocate for yourself
You need and deserve quality medical care, but remember that you are the true expert of your body, your pain, and your experience. You know what healthy habits make you feel more functional, and you know what makes you feel worse. Take charge of your own body by embracing this knowledge and sharing it with your providers. Get tips on how to talk to your doctor and prepare for your visit.
Many individuals with chronic pain may have been prescribed or choose to self-medicate with opioids. Opioid use carries a risk of addiction, opioid-relate overdose, and death. Visit our webpage to learn more about available treatment resources, like Medication-Assisted Treatment and emergency Naloxone (Narcan) for opioid overdoses.
Get crisis help
Individuals with chronic pain are two to three times more at risk to experience thoughts of suicide, attempt suicide, or die by suicide. There is help available! Call BHR at 314.469.6644 if you are in crisis. Read more about the connection between chronic pain and suicide.
Staying active is helpful. Having strategies, like pacing and setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, and time-bound), can help us lead an active lifestyle despite the pain. Visit our webpage to learn more about how to set SMART goals and pace yourself.
With chronic pain, often hurt does NOT mean harm. Fear of making the pain worse is a common reason people avoid activities, but staying active can make us feel better and even decrease levels of pain. Learn more about how fear can impact chronic pain on our webpage.