From arthritis and back pain to fibromyalgia and Lyme disease, chronic pain is one of the most common qualifying conditions that drive patients to consider medical marijuana. If you’ve been dealing with chronic pain that simply won’t go away no matter what over the counter medicines or doctor recommendations you’ve tried, first and foremost, we’re sorry this is happening to you. At Revolutionary Clinics, a lot of our Patient Advocates are fighting the same battle. Many of us have experienced sports injuries, accidents and recurring migraines of our own so we understand the frustration of not being able to enjoy life every bit as we understand the physical discomfort of chronic pain.
We wouldn’t be in this line of work if we didn’t believe cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain but none of us would ever tell you that medical marijuana is a cure-all. What we will tell you is that opening your mind to different health and wellness ideas can present lots of different possibilities. Whenever we’re in pain, we New Englanders are typically told to “suck it up” or “deal with it” and that being proactive with our health is selfish or a sign of weakness. We think it’s time for that to change.
Whether you choose to pursue a regimen of medical marijuana for chronic pain management or not, here are some lifestyle suggestions that we’ve found helpful:
Distract yourself from your chronic pain with fun activities you enjoy
Let’s start with our easiest idea that beats the heck out of suffering in silence. If you’ve never found yourself unable to put a book down because you couldn’t wait to find out what happens, you’re missing out on a great way to forget about your chronic pain for a while. Reading or listening to an audio book gives your brain something else to focus on. Take the distraction even further while improving your value at work by learning a new language or acquiring a new skill. If your chronic pain isn’t in your hands, crafts or hobbies like painting, knitting, crocheting and doing puzzles are also great ways to have fun without dialing up your discomfort.
Heal your mind and your body will follow
Don’t get it twisted, we’re not like those unsympathetic family members or co-workers who have told you your chronic pain is “all in your head”. Positive thinking can do wonders for helping you manage your chronic pain. So can sharing your struggles, fears and anger with a professional counselor. Unburdening yourself from some of mental weight on your shoulders may have physical benefits. At the very least, the simple act of venting with someone who won’t judge you feels good. In addition to listening to your problems, a good counselor can give you the confidence and motivation to take charge of your well-being and be more receptive to lifestyle changes (like meditation or deep breathing exercises) that could put you on a path to better health.
Seek out alternative treatments and holistic wellness advice
Most of us were raised to see our family doctor when we don’t feel well and then take whatever pill or nasty tasting liquid he/she prescribed for us. As new knowledge is discovered about the importance of whole body wellness, it’s up to each and every one of us to explore different options instead of just treating specific symptoms. As many of our staff will tell you, finding a good chiropractor, massage therapist or acupuncturist can be completely life changing. In addition to treating the source of your chronic pain, these practitioners can help you develop a wellness plan and daily routine that may help you avoid future flare ups or minimize the discomfort you experience from them.
Remove foods/drinks from your diet that could be causing or contributing to your chronic pain
While there’s a new diet trend seemingly every few months or so, if you’re suffering from chronic pain you owe it to yourself to find out if any of your favorite foods are contributing to your problems in the form of inflammation. Do you eat or drink any of the following foods daily?
- French fries
- Beef Jerky
- Sugary Cereal
- Deli Meat
If so, try eliminating just one of them for at least two weeks and see if your pain eases. It’s a scientific fact that foods high in trans fats, added sugars and refined carbs can cause inflammation. The same goes for processed red meats. Eating less of any of these foods will almost certainly make you healthier in the short term and if it lowers your chronic pain, you’ll be more motivated to make better food choices in the long-term. One of our patients swears that if he eats too much gluten, he gets chronic pain in his feet. Everyone’s body chemistry is different so create a plan for changing your diet and stick to it!
Add vitamins or other supplements to your diet that reduce inflammation
If you can’t go a day without your morning donut or giving up bread would be like giving up breathing, try working into your diet some foods that doctors often recommend to reduce inflammation. Foods like berries, broccoli, dark chocolate, salmon, avocados, mushrooms and green tea. If those ideas aren’t appetizing, head to your nearest natural food store and ask for capsules of turmeric, fish oil, Vitamin A or Vitamin E. Ask your doctor or chiropractor to advise you on which products are best for your situation and the daily doses he or she recommends.
Once you regain some mobility, keep building on it with regular exercise
Any doctor will tell you that regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Being physically active is our last recommendation because we know how difficult (if not impossible) that can be when you’re in chronic pain. Our “start low and go slow” advice for first time cannabis users applies to exercise as well. Simple stretches in your chair or against a wall can do wonders. Work your way up to more advanced low impact exercise like walking, swimming and yoga and you’re on your way to improving your overall quality of life while fighting back against your chronic pain.
We hope at least one of these ideas helps you better manage your chronic pain so you can do more of the things you enjoy. Just be sure to consult your primary care physician before trying supplements and to exhaust all possible treatments before you consider any of the alternative therapies we’ve mentioned. We’re not doctors, we’re just sharing some ideas that have worked for us and many of our patients.
If you need more ideas or have questions about how cannabis can be a source of relief from both chronic pain and anxiety, check out the new patient page of our website to find answers to the most common questions and learn how to schedule an initial virtual consultation.