Battle Chronic Pain

Do you have regularly occurring pain that is debilitating and you feel that it will last the rest of your life? Or maybe you just have regular or occasional pain that you have accepted and went as far as making friends with?

Personally, I have had a long battle with chronic back pain that caused me to spend 10 to 20 minutes getting out of bed most mornings and being in pain throughout the day. I had accepted this pain and the mistaken fact that I would have to live with this pain for the rest of my life. This thinking was reinforced with a diagnosis from a chiropractor that I had degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my lower lumbar region of my spine based on an x-ray. It wasn’t until after I had an accident riding a quad and hitting a tree (and waiting years later) that I had begun searching for ways to heal beyond what doctors and chiropractors would do. That’s when I finally had enough pain to make changes in my habits that seemed drastic at the time.

It’s easy for us humans to make excuses for why we don’t feel well but the truth is that we may not really know why without trying some changes to our habits.

As a young adult, I worked in construction and ate fast food or restaurant/bar food every working day for years. I drank at least 2 or three sodas every day. I would eat snacks that were seldom fruit or vegetable but mostly chips, candy bars, breakfast pastries, or doughnuts. I thought that I was eating healthy if I ate a microwavable turkey pot pie.

Not to make light of someone’s pain, injury, or illness but in many if not most cases, the way we feel is a product of many small choices that we make…most of them habitual. We can make one educated small change at a time and it doesn’t seem to infringe on our enjoyment of life so much in the short term and often feels like a victory even before the health benefits are realized.

I tried many things in attempt to relieve my back pain including chiropractic adjustments, an inversion table, getting a hot tub, and massage therapy (which all may have helped…especially the massage therapy from a cmt) but it wasn’t until I made changes in my daily habits that I found relief. These changes included becoming extremely selective when dining out, cutting most added sugar out of my diet, learning proper movement and exercise, and eating nutrient dense food including mixed greens. After much research and making some habits (habits that get you called names at work such as “Captain Cabbage” or “The Kale Kid”), my back started to feel better most days and eventually every day with very few exceptions. There were even some other health benefits that were realized that I wasn’t even expecting such as weight loss (I didn’t even know how overweight I was), no more headaches (I used to get terrible headaches at least a couple of times per week), more energy, more strength, better stress management, better focus, less likely to get sick, no more pain in other joints, and the list could keep going.

Sometimes, once we have made a few changes and then try another small change we can notice a big difference in how we feel or perform. And then, once our healthier habits have been in place for a while, we may realize that we have reached the point where we don’t remember the last time we felt so well! Even when it seems hopeless to try anything to put a stop to the misery there are things we can do to improve our condition and possibly feel better than we have in years if not ever.

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