Is it just a pain in the neck…or it is more than that?
Did you know that women are more likely to deal with chronic pain 10% more often than men? According to the Jacob’s Institute of Women’s Health, 34% of women report dealing with chronic pain and this number puts the issue on the radar as a public health issue.
So, where do you fall in these statistics? Are you one who suffers quietly with chronic pain or do you spend hundreds on pharmaceuticals to get mediocre relief at best? The landscape of pharmaceuticals and pain meds is changing rapidly. Opioids that are often prescribed for chronic pain, are under fire for being addictive, expensive and less than effective. Doctors are thinking twice before prescribing so it’s important we find other ways to manage pain in addition to medications.
Why do women suffer more than men? Women often have overlapping conditions that create a unique pain experience. We deal with chronic migraines, pain associated with monthly cycles and hormone changes, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, auto immune disorders and mental health issues that can contribute to pain levels and tolerance such as depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Let’s face it, women typically don’t do a very good job of taking care of themselves, we are usually the first responders when care is needed in our families or in the community but put ourselves dead last in the area of self care. At the end of the day, if there is time, energy and resources left, we may do something small for our own health and care. We tend to have fewer support systems in place and keep our suffering to ourselves in lieu of preserving our perceived image to those around us.
Ladies, how can we manage this chronic pain better and increase the quality of life we currently experience?
- Establish a support system. It doesn’t need to be elaborate and extensive. A few solid people who have your back. People you can trust to share your day with, the good and the bad and the frustrating. Often, clearing out the worries that can take on a life of their own, if kept in your own head, will alleviate pain that can be exacerbated by exhaustion, both physical and mental fatigue. It’s often easier, we think, to isolate ourselves when it comes to the pain we experience or the struggles we face but that will only increase our problems. Connection is the answer to so many social issues today and that includes how we manage our health.
- Get your heart pumping. Cardiovascular activity may not be considered your first line of defense when you are in pain but there are many studies that have proven its effectiveness. Low to moderate activity that raises your heart rate, minimizes pain, depression and disability. The more vigorous you can work out, the greater the benefits.
- Mind-Body therapies like Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong are also shown to reduce pain and increase mobility and strength. When your joints ache, often, strengthening the muscles around the joint is the answer to decreased pain.
- Find the best provider for you. Pain is a team sport! You can’t manage your pain alone. You need to work with your healthcare provider and develop a multi modal plan for your care. This means, you have to have a good working patient/provider relationship. At Madison Women’s Clinic, each of our providers offer a unique approach to caring for their patients. We have been selective and precise in the providers we have hired to represent our clinic, they are the best in their selected areas of expertise and we know you will find a good match here. Let us be a part of your care plan.
- Be an educated patient. Have a solid understanding of the health issues you face. Study for yourself how nutrition, exercise and other methods of care can impact and lessen your pain. Take the necessary steps through being proactive. If possible, find other women who deal with similar issues and gather support through their experience. We live in an age of technology when support groups are just a click away. It’s a powerful thing to know you aren’t alone in your pain.
Pain is part of life but you don’t have to live with it in silence and you don’t have feel alone. These ideas may not manage your pain 100% but they will certainly be tools to support you as find medications that you can safely take to alleviate the suffering. Let us know how we can help you! We are just a phone call away and offer appointments in Rigby and Rexburg.