APM Blog

Valentines-Day

Valentines-Day (1)

01 Nov

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day – whether apart or together, with family, friends, kids or that special someone – it should be a day for you to remember, not one you spend in pain. But for many people chronic pain often derails even the best-laid plans. So ditch the pain this Valentine’s Day – and make it one you’ll look back on fondly for years to come.

  1. Replace that box of chocolates with a fruit bouquet.

    Whether you’re getting yourself a little something or giving a hint to your Valentine, consider swapping the traditional sweets for a different kind of sweet treat: fruit. Limiting sugar – including corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltose and sucrose – is a good way to decrease the inflammation that can contribute to chronic pain. If a store-bought fruit bouquet is too pricey, consider making your own – one with pain-fighting properties. Switch up the traditional fruits with additions like cherries, berries and pears, which are high in antioxidants and can help block inflammation and inhibit pain enzymes.
  2. Capitalize on the power of touch with a massage.

    Valentine’s Day is the time to get close, so why not make the most of it with a massage. There is promising initial research suggesting massage may be useful for various conditions, including low back pain, headache pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.[1] Trade massages with your Valentine or splurge for a romantic couple’s massage; your body – and your partner – will thank you.
  3. Make it a point to really talk – and listen.

    One of the most common side effects of chronic pain is a stressed and strained relationship. According to Advanced Pain Management licensed psychologist Mary Papandria, “Oftentimes, people become fixated on their pain. That’s all they talk about, think about, focus on. Their world becomes smaller and smaller … [and] they have little time or attention for other people in their lives.” So take Valentine’s Day as a chance to reconnect –whether that’s with your friends, your spouse or anyone else. Use some of the time to discuss how you’re feeling and what you need from each other, but don’t let pain dominate your conversation. Dedicate the majority of your conversation to positive, non-pain topics, which will help you to get to know each other again and strengthen and reaffirm your bond.
  4. Enjoy some live music.

    According to a study in the Clinical Journal of Pain, actively listening to music may go a long way toward lessening your pain.[2] This may be because listening and processing music require a lot of the same brain pathways that pain does; if the pathways are flooded by music, there’s less brain power dedicated to computing pain sensations. It’s also a great way to reduce stress, spur dopamine production and help distract you from painful sensations. So let yourself go and enjoy the music, whether that means tapping your feet, singing along or sharing a dance with the one you love.
  5. Don’t be afraid to scrap your plans in favor of a night in.

    No matter how well you plan, there’s still a chance that pain will rear its ugly head. It doesn’t mean you should hide and cancel all your plans – but at the same time it doesn’t mean you should push your body into doing things that will hurt it even more. Instead, forgo the stresses and strains of going out in favor of a quiet night in with your loved one – whether it includes takeout and light music or fun appetizers and a night in front of your favorite show. Valentine’s Day is about spending time with those you love – and that, in itself, can oftentimes distract you from the pain.

If pain is getting in the way of your Valentine’s Day – or any other day – consider seeking help from a pain management physician, who can create a multimodal solution for addressing your pain, one that addresses both the  physical and emotional aspects of a chronic pain condition. “If patients have better pain control, then they are going to be less depressed/anxious and less apt to isolate,” says Papandria. “They will also be less focused on the pain and will have the energy and attention to attend to other things and people.” The first step toward healing your relationships might just be healing yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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[1] Tsao, Jennie C. I. "Effectiveness of Massage Therapy for Chronic, Non-Malignant Pain: A Review." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 4, no. 2 (June 2007): 165-79. doi:10.1093/ecam/nel109.

[2] Bradshaw, David H., C. Richard Chapman, Robert C. Jacobson, and Gary W. Donaldson. “Effects of Music Engagement on Responses to Painful Stimulation.” The Clinical Journal of Pain 28, no. 5 (June 1, 2012): 418–27.

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