Top 5 ways I successfully manage my chronic neck pain

It’s been about ten years now since I have been suffering from chronic neck pain of varying degrees. It has definitely been an up and down journey, and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Dealing with chronic pain, even if it is not severe, is mentally and physically very difficult. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve found ways of dealing with the pain and managing it, so that for the most part these days I am comfortable.

Still there are always good days and bad days.

So what are some of the things that have helped me the most in managing my neck pain?

  1. Keeping a positive attitude – allowing myself to dwell and focus on the pain only aggravates it.  It’s so important to keep your spirits up, even if sometimes you need to give yourself a little pep talk or even a kick in the pants!
  2. Staying in good physical shape – most importantly I’ve found an exercise routine that works for me.  My routine includes weight training (lighter weights, usually not over 20 pounds) and a core strengthening program that are part of a boot camp or circuit training routine that I have been doing with a trainer about twice a week for the last three and a half years.  I also do some walking and running, and swim whenever I can.
  3. Relaxing and reducing muscle tension – I can’t say by any means that I’ve mastered it yet, but meditation and progressive relaxation exercises have helped immensely with my pain level.  It’s amazing how physical pain is so closely liked to your mind.  Looking back, flare ups in my neck and back pain almost always coincide with going through a particularly stressful period in my life. I learned how to relax my perpetually tense and knotted neck muscles using EMG biofeedback training at home, which taught me how to release muscle tension and become more aware of when I would start to tense up, before it became painful.
  4. Taking care of myself when the pain gets bad – even though I have been very dedicated to maintaining my exercise routine, I know enough to take care and back off if the pain is very bad.  When the pain is more severe, it’s important to rest a little (but stay as active as I comfortably can) and use whatever treatments or therapies are necessary to manage it.  This includes massage therapy, cranio sacral therapy, acupuncture, etc.
  5. Reduce inflammation – chronic inflammation is a very common problem today.  I take a pretty high dose of fish oil on most days to help with this, and if my pain gets bad I will use non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and ice as necessary to bring that inflammation down as soon as possible.  Inflammation is very bad for the body, and leads to degeneration of the joints.

Hopefully this information will help others who are dealing with chronic pain.  If you have any comments on this article or other tips and advice, please share them below.

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