How to Stop Chronic Pain

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

While most people have body pain once in a while (acute), others have it constantly (chronic). But did you know that this pain can come from day-to-day things we do incorrectly without even thinking about it?

When I was a new acupuncturist, a patient came to me with shoulder pain. She was in her early forties and had been in constant pain for about a year. As soon as she walked in, I saw the problem. A heavy purse perched atop her right shoulder, the shoulder where she had the pain. It was something she hadn’t even considered. But as soon as she stopped carrying it, her pain vanished.

This happens more times than I can count so here’s a list of the common things we do that cause pain plus the solutions.

Shoulder pain can be caused by:

  • Carrying a heavy item on your shoulder such as a purse or bag.

Solutions: Carry a light bag on your shoulder and switch shoulders frequently. Carry the bag around your forearm or wrist. Or my favorite: use a backpack. There are plenty of cute ones! Even cross-body bags put uneven pressure on your trapezius muscle.

  • Sleeping on your shoulder.

a) your pillow is too low, putting pressure on your shoulder as you sleep.

b) a hard bed putting pressure on your shoulder.

c) sleeping with your shoulder rolled too far under your body.

d) sleeping with both arms raised overhead.

Solutions: Find the right pillow for you. Don’t sleep on hard surfaces. Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.

Neck pain can be caused by:

Solutions: Stop looking down at your phone. Hold it higher when using it, or better yet, limit your usage. Set your computer up ergonomically.

Solution: Get a better pillow. I currently use two different ones, depending on which feels best on any particular night. One is filled with bits of latex which can be removed to adjust it and another is made of foam (and is also somewhat adjustable). I love them both.

  • Sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to one side.

Solution: Train yourself not to sleep on your stomach but if you must, you have to switch your head to lie for the same amount of time on each side.

Hip pain can be caused by:

  • Sleeping with one leg thrown over the other.

Solution: Sleep with a pillow in between your legs.

  • A hard bed putting pressure on your hip.

Solutions: Get a topper to make your mattress a bit softer. Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.

  • Uneven leg length.

Solution: See a chiropractor if it’s something that can be fixed. If it’s permanently structural, you’ll have to get special shoes made.

Solution: A flexible shoe insert like Superfeet.**

Low back pain can be caused by:

  • Uneven leg length.

Solution: See a chiropractor if it’s something that can be fixed. If it’s permanently structural, you’ll have to get special shoes made.

Solution: A flexible shoe insert like Superfeet.**

  • Sleeping on your back without a pillow under your knees.

Solution: put a pillow under your knees.

Hand pain can be caused by:

  • Sleeping incorrectly.

I have done this several times. I slept with my thumb held tightly in my fist and couldn’t figure out why my thumb was hurting so badly I couldn’t use it. Or I slept for days with my wrist bent at an awkward angle.

Body pain can also be caused by:

  • Inactivity — sitting on the couch for hours at a time.
  • Sitting on the couch with your legs raised (on an ottoman or on the couch itself) for long periods of time.
  • Sitting in any single position for too long.
  • Lack of stretching.

Solutions for all-over Body Pain:

  • Experiment with sitting styles. ie: cross-legged, knees up, legs up, legs down, etc.
  • Get up often to walk around or move from one position to another. Set a timer on your phone or use the pomodoro method to remind you to get up.
  • Stretch daily.
  • Switch between standing and sitting to work.

You can even DIY a standing desk without spending $$$ on a fancy one. Place your computer screen or laptop on some books and place a keyboard (one that plugs in or one that’s wireless) at the correct height below it.

Re: Superfeet, I found the full sizes too large for me and had to cut them in half but I used an old hard plastic shoe insert as the guide. My chiropractor advises against anything rigid and recommends either Superfeet or Birkenstock insoles.

**Superfeet is an amazon affiliate link, you are not required to use it but if you choose to, thank you!

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