Ditch Chronic Pain For Good
Several clients and ladies in the WellnessLove Facebook Community (not a member? Check it out here!) have mentioned to me that they have dealt with or are currently dealing with longstanding, painful joints… whether it's knees, low back, neck, heel pain, etc. So, I wanted to take a minute and talk about the myths that are STRONG in our culture surrounding our bodies and pain.
Working as an orthopedic physical therapist for almost a decade, I can't tell you how many times I've heard words of hopelessness from my patients about their bodies.
They would say to me things like:
"Bad backs run in my family, so I just want to do 1 session of PT so my insurance will pay for surgery since that's the only thing that might help."
"I played sports growing up, and the doctor told me I have bad knees, so I'm just waiting until I can get them replaced in 10 years."
"My job makes my pain worse, so unless I quit my job which isn't an option, nothing can be done. I'm only here so I can tell my doctor I tried PT, but I'm not coming back."
"My doctor told me that you could help me, but I've had this pain for 20 years. It's just how I'm made. I've tried everything, and I don't think there's anything to make me feel better."
It blew me away how pervasive these beliefs are.
Seriously, I heard these type of statements daily. (You know that old "If I had a nickel..." quote? Yeah, I'd have a much nicer closet if that were true). And you know what? Most of the people I heard this from, I ultimately helped.
I'm here today to tell you that it's very likely that you DON'T have to accept that pain. You don't have to be reliant on various medicines to get through your day. You DON'T have to believe that there's nothing that will help.
Friends, these are STORIES we are telling ourselves because that's what we have been taught.
We often don't think to question things our doctors or parents or coaches tell us, particularly if they are things we expect to hear or have heard other people say all through our lives.
But all of those people saying it- they're just people, too.
People are always learning. People make mistakes. People can be wrong, no matter how much they know about a subject.
And at the end of the day, who cares who is "right" if something works for YOU???
Here's some things to consider.
Diet has a HUGE impact on pain levels. In fact, for many following an anti-inflammatory eating plan has *eliminated* their arthritis pain or put autoimmune-related pain in remission.
Our lifestyles of sitting most of our days and spending hours on computers, tablets, phones, etc. directly impacts our musculoskeletal system in ways that directly increases our chances of injury. I can't back this up with research, but I can make a science-based hypothesis that these habits contribute to more function-limiting pain than sports participation. Obviously, we can't eliminate these behaviors, but we can control more than we often think by limiting our time on phones, choosing more ergonomic work stations, and taking frequent standing breaks throughout a work day.
Sleep quality and quantity can impact the pain process. If you're not getting enough restorative sleep on a regular basis, inflammation increases. So, put away the phone, tablet, and the TV for an hour or two before you go to sleep. Plan to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If your schedule doesn't allow for that or you're a new parent, find a way to work in a nap as often as you can. Sleep is a building block, so if you're not prioritizing it, you HAVE to start doing so ASAP.
Consider other things you can control that may have varying levels of impact on your pain: - the chemicals you choose to clean your home - the amount of plastic you use in the kitchen (heating plastics can cause estrogen-mimicking chemicals to leach into your food) - the skincare and makeup products you use (pthalates are the #1 thing I personally avoid, but certainly there's a long list of other things worth watching out for as well).
Additionally, I encourage you to fully take ownership over your healthcare. Just as there are bad mechanics, there's bad doctors, PTs, massage therapists, etc.
Along those same lines, there's mechanics who work magic with European brands, but are useless with American-made cars. They may just not advertise themselves as such. The very same thing is true with any person who works on humans. Some folks are great with spines, but not so hot with the foot. Some doctors are awesome at surgery, but outside of the operating room, they don't know what to do. (One time I rehabbed a cardiologist, and he asked me where the hamstring was!)
Everyone has their gifts, and finding the healer who has the gift that matches your problem is the actual challenge we are faced with.
Keep in mind that you don't know what you don't know… meaning, there may be just the thing that works on your particular pain- you just haven't found it yet.
So, if you're not getting the results you're looking for using methods you are 100% on board with, KEEP LOOKING.