Learning to Live with Chronic Pain
Chronic pain comes in a wide variety of forms, and the causes are many. Recent studies show that nearly one third of us — more than 100 million Americans each year, suffer from back pain, joint pain, arthritis; neck and muscle pain, headache and other types of recurrent pain.
People who suffer from chronic pain often fall into a downward spiral of self-pity, depression, and inaction. They feel like they are being drowned in a whirlpool that saps all their strength.
But Dr. Liza Leal, a physician in Houston and one of the nation’s leading experts on managing chronic pain, says it doesn’t have to be that way.
“You are not powerless,” says Leal, the author of Live Well with Chronic Pain. “You must realize that you have a series of major choices to make and first and foremost is that YOU have to choose to live well. And once you realize the power of choice, you can start addressing the real facts and the many viable options that are available to you.”
Leal stresses a three-tiered approach that she has refined over many years of clinical practice:
Improve Your Knowledge of General Health Principles – Learn all you can about matters such as proper nutrition, nutritional supplements, exercise, sleep, and how to motivate yourself and keep a positive mental outlook.
Identify and Learn About Your Particular Condition – Sit down with your doctor and figure out what condition may be causing your chronic pain. Then learn all you can about how you can deal with that condition. Read, take seminars, do a ton of Internet research, talk with other people, join a support group – get out there and learn all you can.
Create Your Individual Action Plan – Create a plan that identifies a series of steps you can take every day. You might realize that you need to do something about your weight. You might want to start exercising or stretching every day. You might want to go on a reasonable diet and develop an exercise plan. Learn what factors affect your pain and what pain management methods work best for you.
Leal says that the people who are most successful at reducing pain level do so after focusing on improving important bodily functions such as circulation and overall cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and mobility.
“These are the most important first steps,” she says. “You draw a line for yourself, and then learn effective techniques to keep you walking that line.”
Dr. Liza Leal knows first-hand the devastation of chronic pain and that restoration is possible. While in medical school she developed rheumatoid arthritis, causing her to be wheelchair bound, potentially derailing her medical career. Today, Leal is out of the wheelchair—thanks to her unique comprehensive approach to pain management. To learn more about her work, visit http://livewellwithchronicpain.com.