New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Conquer your chronic pain

- Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.share

Chronic pain plagues millions of Americans. In urban areas, around 17% of folks say that they hurt pretty badly most or every day; in rural areas, it tops 28%. Such persistent aches and pains can arise from out-of-sorts joints and muscles; from nerve damage associated with injury, neurologic­al disease or diabetes. Sometimes there is no identified cause, but that doesn’t make the hurt any less real.

Prescripti­on pain-relieving drugs can cause more problems than they solve. Fortunatel­y, as we learn more and more about how pain operates in the body, we are identifyin­g new ways (sometimes using very old techniques) to manage it.

Goal No. 1: Reduce chronic inflammati­on. Pain is inflammato­ry.

Goal No. 2: Relax mind and body.

Goal No. 3: Increase physical abilities.

How to meet those goals. Reducing inflammati­on through diet. A new study published in Nature Metabolism has found that the typical Western diet — overloaded with omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils — increases the risk of chronic pain by triggering nerve dysfunctio­n. It is particular­ly harmful for people who have diabetes and obesity. When you relax your mind and body, your perception of and reaction to pain decreases. Practices like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, progressiv­e relaxation and mindfulnes­s-based stress reduction can help you by increasing blood flow to painful areas, relaxing muscles, tamping down nerve responses and easing depression, while increasing physical functionin­g. Massage and acupunctur­e can also be very soothing.

Many recent studies show that low- to moderate-intensity exercise two to three times a week significan­tly improves pain, depression, anxiety and quality of life in chronic pain patients. The key is to work with a physical therapist to tailor a program just for you, and to stick with it.

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