First, we have to address what is chronic pain really is. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than 12 weeks. Chronic pain can be caused by a single event, such as an injury, or it can be the result of a long-term medical condition, such as arthritis, cancer, stress, or nerve damage. Chronic pain can be extremely debilitating, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. There are a number of things you can do to help manage chronic pain.
Chronic pain statistics:
- 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience chronic pain
- 8% of adults have high-impact chronic pain
- 84% of high-impact chronic pain patients can’t work outside of the home
- Chronic pain is the Number 1 cause of disability and disease globally
- 80% of adults in the U.S. will experience back pain at some point in their life
- Approximately 15 million adults say they have severe joint pain from arthritis
- 21% to 29% of patients misuse opioids prescribed for chronic pain
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are studies that have concluded cannabis helps people that have neuropathic pain. There is also compelling evidence that states that legalizing cannabis for medical usage has seen a reduction in the number of opioids prescribed.
A study published in 2019 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, reviewed the data of one thousand people using cannabis to determine efficacy in treating chronic pain. They determined that 65% of the subjects were taking cannabis for pain. Eight out of ten found it to be efficacious for them. 82% of them reduced or stopped ingesting OTC pain medications and a whopping 88% stopped taking opioids altogether.
While chronic pain can be difficult to deal with, there are some things you could do to help manage and reduce the pain during the course of your day. It is important to discuss your options with your doctor first and ask what they recommend would help best with your unique situation.
First, it is important to consult with a doctor to develop a treatment or pain management plan. This may include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
At home, it is important to create a comfortable environment. Invest in a good mattress and pillow, and make sure your sleeping surface is free of any bumps or lumps. You should also avoid any activities that aggravate your pain. Let your family know so they can help you navigate things better.
If you are living with chronic pain, here are some tips to consider to help manage symptoms:
While at home:
- Use heat and/or cold treatments
- Stay active
- Eat a clean diet eliminating foods that cause more inflammation
- Stretch or do Yoga
- Use a sauna
- Swim if you have a pool
- Exercise, lift weights, walk or run
- Raise your legs for 20-30 minutes so they are as high or higher than your hips.
- Take regular breaks from physical tasks
- Try to stand, sit, or walk with good posture
- Eat healthily
- Go for a massage or learn to massage yourself
- Try to drink lots of water. Between half an ounce to an ounce per pound of your total weight. (if you weigh 140 pounds, that would be 70 to 140 ounces of water per day.
- Use comfortable shoes that relieve pressure on your joints.
- Sleep between 7-9 hours a day
- Manage stress levels
- Avoid foods that cause inflammation
At work, it is important to discuss your chronic pain with your boss or supervisor. They may be able to accommodate your needs by modifying your job duties, workstation, or schedule. Talk with your doctor about some of these options:
While at work:
- Make sure your workstation is as ergonomic as possible and take regular breaks
- Consult with a doctor to see if medical cannabis may help you
- Relaxation and breathing techniques may help relax your body and mind.
- Try to stand, sit, or walk with good posture and pay attention to your current posture
- Stand every hour for at least one minute
- Make your computer monitors eye level and try not to keep from bending your neck forward for a prolonged period of time
- Consume adequate amounts of water. Between half an ounce to an ounce per pound of your total weight
- Let your colleagues and boss know so that they can help you navigate the work day better
While it’s usually best to avoid medications sometimes the pain is unbearable and medications might be necessary.
Chronic pain is an approved medical condition in Illinois for an medical marijuana card.
If you are a resident of Illinois have you considered a medical card so that you can purchase cannabis products from a dispensary? Ask your doctor if you would qualify. Want to see a full list of the medical conditions that qualify?
Chronic pain happens to be the leading medical condition that patients get their medical cards for. Most people want to avoid dangerous narcotics that are usually accompanied by some of those dangerous and addicting drugs such as opioids and instead, they are frequently choosing a more natural medicine without those nasty side effects.
Bottom line, If you are suffering from chronic pain, it is important to consult with a medical doctor before you start a new treatment plan. They can help you develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include a medical card to purchase cannabis medications. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best options for you to follow from these tips and you may find some of them really help improve your quality of life.