If you don’t know by now, I suffer from chronic pain caused by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Syringomyelia (SM). I am often asked how I manage to do what I do each day while living with two very debilitating and painful diseases. And in addition, how I manage without the aid of medication.
I will first say that each person with MS and SM are very different patients. The way MS attacks one person can, and usually is, completely different from the way it attacks someone else. Same goes with SM and the severity of the syrinx and the speed of progression.
Part of me believes that I am very lucky to feel the way that I do considering everything, and another part of me would like to believe that the mental and physical fight I put up each day is actually helping me feel better.
There are two very important things that I do to help manage my chronic pain – EXERCISE and Reduce STRESS. I’ll also share below a third and fourth option that I don’t personally use/follow to help with chronic pain but ones that I’ve heard have worked wonders for others with chronic pain.
Try to maintain as much of a stress free life as possible. I know that’s tough in general and even harder when you’re in pain and unable to relax. Stress increases the body’s sensitivity to pain so managing your stress is a natural way to help.
Another option and one that I’ve followed since 2009, is exercise.
When you exercise you’re boosting your endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that help improve your mood while blocking pain signals. I started working out right after my diagnosis in an effort to make my body as physically strong as possible so if/when something neurological were to happen that I couldn’t control, at least my body would be strong and healthy to fight back in the best way possible.
There are so many benefits to exercise and I believe everyone should incorporate some sort of fitness routine into their life, no matter what. I think that’s obvious since I’m a Personal Trainer and live my life helping others feel healthier, happier and stronger through fitness.
I do not follow/use the next two options below but they may help you naturally manage your chronic pain. I have friends who have had great success with each.
I’ve heard really great things about medical marijuana for pain management. Someone very close to me uses medical marijuana for their pain and was able to stop taking all of their pain medication so I think it’s definitely a good option to look into.
THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet involves eating a lot of veggies and fish, some fruits, limited amounts of dairy and whole grains and very little red meat, flour and sugar. I know many people with MS and chronic pain who follow this diet and have had great success.
Bottom line, this is your journey. Find the path that works best for you and don’t let anyone try to tell you that their way is the best way. We are all different, we all respond differently to medications and natural remedies and we all have the right to choose.