I’m sure you’re thinking “what the heck is that picture all about?” Well, it describes what happens in someone’s brain that is not in chronic pain, and what happens when you’ve had pain for a long time.
Here’s the idea: When you’re feeling good and you’re healthy but then have an injury, your brain releases a bunch of chemicals to fight things off and address the issue. Chemicals like serotonin, endorphins, etc. BUT, when you’re in chronic pain and you have a new injury or have some danger messages coming in, your brain does not release the same chemicals in the same volumes. So, your body's ability to fend things off and regulate the response diminishes.
So, what do we do with that? Well, knowing this, and knowing what things you can do to increase those chemicals is a good place to start. I’m going to give you 3 things you can do right now to increase your body's production of these positive chemicals.
NUTRITION. Eating foods like turkey and salmon that are high in tryptophan can help increase your serotonin levels. These foods have high concentrations in other amino acids as well, which will help the tryptophan get absorbed.
SUNSHINE. Typically these ‘happy’ chemicals are higher in summer and lower in the winter. Getting outside and enjoying a lot of natural light will help increase your positive chemicals and potentially regulate your pain better.
EXERCISE. Studies show that exercise can have a lasting effect on your endogenous chemicals and help fight chronic pain as a first-line defense. Be sure to find the exercise that you tolerate well, enjoy, and don’t flare up your pain.
Try these few things to begin feeling better and taking control of your chronic pain, but understand that dealing with chronic pain is an exceptionally challenging and complex feat and won’t be fixed with some simple advice. It takes a specialized approach, time, and hard work. Please let us know if you have any questions about your chronic pain.