Pain is your body’s signal that something needs fixing, just like the ‘check engine’ light on your dashboard signals something is wrong with your car.
Acute pain comes on suddenly. It will go away as soon as the pain is treated. Chronic pain can persist for months or years.
The over 65 group is the fastest growing demographic in Canada. With advances in medical science and technology our aging population can expect to maintain healthy and productive lives, increasingly longer. As we age, our chances of experiencing chronic pain increase. The most common causes of chronic pain are arthritis, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular and neurologic diseases.
Chronic pain can be debilitating because it decreases your ability to function as you want to. Pain can limit your ability to focus, disrupt your sleep, prevent you from travelling, socializing, enjoying recreation and other activities you enjoy. The daily burden of chronic pain can lead to isolation, anxiety, anger and depression.
The good news is that there are many treatment options available to help you manage pain. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, surgery and psychological counselling.
There are a few things you can do to help yourself manage the pain you are experiencing.
See Your Doctor
This may seem self-evident but many older people may not have any extended medical coverage and don’t want to spend the money on the prescriptions that they suspect will be prescribed for their condition. Additionally, people often don’t want to be sent for rounds of testing that may be a likely outcome of a visit to the doctor. We encourage you to get in and see your doctor anyway because you don’t want acute pain to turn into chronic pain. If you’re dealing with chronic pain, your doctor can help you manage it.
Watch Your Diet
The food you eat can alleviate the inflammation that is causing your pain. Choose leafy greens, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, asparagus, low sugar fruits and soy products. Limit your intake of red meat, dairy, eggs, chocolate, citrus fruits, processed foods and wheat products.
Dehydration can aggravate the symptoms of many chronic conditions like headaches and back pain. Limit your intake of tea, coffee and sodas. Drink water regularly throughout the day. Leave a glass at the kitchen sink to remind yourself to do this.
The practice of yoga will improve your strength and flexibility. Practicing yoga postures will train your body to relax. If getting to a class is difficult, you can find many yoga classes online and on TV.
Meditation will relax you and train your mind to focus away from the pain you are experiencing. All you have to do is create a quiet space, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Do this for ten minutes in the morning and in the evening.
Listen to music, read a book, watch a movie or take up a new hobby that interests you.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is critical for pain relief. It will strengthen your muscles, increase your joint mobility, improve your sleep and release all those good endorphins. Take a walk, go for a swim, get outside, enjoy some fresh air and reap the benefits.
We’ve got a huge selection of over-the-counter pain medications. Come on in to one of our Heart locations and talk to our pharmacists. We’d be happy to help you select the one that is right for you and we’ll make sure it doesn’t interact adversely with anything else you may be taking.
All the very best to you and your family in 2016, from all of us at Heart Pharmacy.