By: Cyrus Sepahbodi

I’m going to be completely straight with you, my back hurts every day. If I don’t stretch it out or use something to help curb the pain then I can’t function at work, take walks, play sports, or generally enjoy my life. If you do a google image search with the phrase ‘chronic pain’ the typical results are usually images featuring people doubled over with one hand pushing against an area of the body with looks of pain on faces. This may have a visceral effect on some, but it leaves out the human aspect of chronic pain— the emotional burden. Living with chronic pain puts a strain on daily life, and I am no exception. Some days it is more difficult to get out of bed and start my day, and if I’ve tweaked my back to the point where I’m feeling it with every step, my head space begins to go negative very quickly. I’ve lived with this every day for the last thirteen years, but I have picked up a lot of tips and techniques to help fight my pain naturally. If you or a loved one are living with chronic pain, then this article can help as a list of tools to help make daily living better. 

Mental Health & Wellness 

For me, wellness is not about the absence of pain it is about living a life that encourages mental and physical health. Mental health is just as important as your physical health, and the unseen part of living with pain is the mental and emotional struggle that accompanies the physical responses. That is why I recommend getting involved with pain support groups, building a system of support with family and friends, and targeting pain naturally. Pain support groups can provide support for people living with chronic pain. There are numerous types that are pain-specific to more general groups.

No one should be ashamed of asking for or seeking out help. Chronic pain carries a heavy emotional burden, and prioritizing your emotional health is one of the primary ways to combat pain. Find the time to connect with others and share your experiences, it really makes a world of difference. Also, if you have a friend or family member that lives with chronic pain, reach out with understanding and empathy. Many people in pain may feel overwhelmed, anguished, or irritable due to their condition. Remember, kindness is key. 

Physical Health & Wellness

There are several methods and techniques to incorporate wellness and manage your physical health when living with chronic pain. Here are some of my favorites:

Restorative Yoga

Yoga is an increasingly popular method to managing chronic pain. For many people, yoga can provide a retreat from the chaos of daily life while helping to strengthen the body and create much needed mindfulness. Adding a restorative yoga practice can get you in touch with your body and stretch sore muscles. Stop by your local studio today and take a drop in class. Your body will thank you.  

Other physical benefits of yoga include:

  • increased flexibility.
  • increased muscle strength and tone.
  • improved respiration, energy, and vitality.
  • cardio and circulatory health.
  • improved athletic performance.
  • protection from injury.

Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation is another fantastic way to naturally treat the stresses associated with chronic pain. The best part? It is simple to incorporate into your daily life. I meditate twice per day, ten minutes in the morning after I’ve just woken and twenty minutes just before I go to bed. Taking the time to clear your mind and focus on yourself is invaluable. Managing your pain, a career, family time, personal life, and finding the time for self care can become increasingly difficult. Daily stress is a common experience for most people, but for those with chronic pain the added emotional weight can be a struggle. That is why mindful meditation is so valuable, it allows us to disconnect from outside stimulus and really hone in on ourselves and our experience. Start by setting aside ten minutes once or twice a day, the results may surprise you.

Massage Therapy 

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and integrative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. A US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health study showed that “integration of massage therapy into the acute care setting creates overall positive results in the patient’s ability to deal with the challenging physical and psychological aspects of their health condition. The study demonstrated not only significant reduction in pain levels, but also the interrelatedness of pain, relaxation, sleep, emotions, recovery, and finally, the healing process.” Ask your doctor for recommendations on finding a great massage therapist or check out the American Massage Therapy Association to find a massage therapist near you.

Natural Chronic Pain Relief

If you sit and watch cable television at any point during the daytime you are likely to see numerous advertisements for a new prescription medication that fights pain. Now I know that pharmaceuticals have an important place in modern medicine but painkillers are a different animal entirely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Physicians, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have put out numerous studies about the health effects of opioid overuse and the associated risks involved. Even the National Institute On Drug Abuse gives dire warnings, “The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.” 

With all of these scientific-based sources talking about opioid use as so problematic and dangerous, many people have begun turning to alternative and more natural methods to combat their pain. What do you think of… If prescription medication works for you and helps manage your pain then great, modern medicine is a marvel and is needed. But finding relief from chronic pain doesn’t have to mean relying on opioid prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, there are plant-alternatives that are also effective that offer choices. If you are like me, entirely weary of taking pills every day to live a life without pain, then you may want to consider taking a balanced wellness approach to fighting chronic pain. The benefits certainly outweigh the negative side effects, potential addiction, and dependence on prescription opioids and is worth a try if you’re open to trying it.

Plant Powered Medicine

I’ll come right out and say it: I am a cannabis advocate. When I started treating my chronic pain years ago, I wanted to avoid using opioids as much as possible and when I turned to cannabis to treat my pain I was astounded by how well it worked. I am a firm believer in the power of cannabis to manage pain. There is scientific and anecdotal evidence to support that both CBD and THC help manage pain, especially when taken together. Adding CBD into your daily life can have powerful effects on reducing pain, managing inflammation, and reducing stress. In terms of pain specifically, CBD is known to relieve discomfort caused by chronic pain. Instead of using over-the-counter prescriptions, using an alternative—like CBD—can provide an all-natural solution to chronic pain.

CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that work with the Endocannabinoid System receptors in the body to regulate pain and inflammation. CBD binds with the receptors to promote homeostasis in the body, reduce pain sensations and decrease inflammation. But be cautious as not all CBD is created equally. There are many snake oil products on the market that claim high levels of CBD or THC but are manufactured using isolates, distillates, or extracted using harsh and potentially harmful chemicals. Here’s a pro-tip: read the labels of the product and ask the manufacturer for testing, it makes all the difference when choosing the right cannabis product for you.

If you are considering adding CBD into your pain management regimen try Papa & Barkley’s California line of products. They are made with a Whole Plant infusion process, triple-tested, and feature a full spectrum of cannabinoids, phytonutrients, and terpene profile. Don’t live in California? Not a problem, Papa & Barkley has a national line that is derived from Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L) that is available throughout the country made with the same consistent, clean, and whole plant infusion process.

I currently use their CBD tinctures, capsules, and balm. I can’t recommend the balm enough for managing chronic pain. It’s all natural, clean, and really works!

When in Doubt Self Care, Self Care, Self Care…

If you take anything away from this article let it be this: There are natural ways to combat chronic pain and you are not alone! Chronic pain comes with a heavy emotional burden, pain that can reduce mobility, and makes daily life challenging. But if you try using some or all of the techniques above, you can focus on making your life better every day. When in doubt, practice self care, connect with others or even join a pain support group, and try a CBD product for pain management. 

When I first began dealing with my back pain, I tried every method I could that didn’t include prescription painkillers. After I came across cannabis for managing my pain, my life-changed dramatically. I was able to start building a routine that included going to yoga, meditating daily, and focusing on my mental health. I am living proof that you can make changes and better choices about how to manage your chronic pain. If I can do it, you can— don’t give up!

Ready for Relief?