Q: I have had shoulder pain for a couple of years, and the constant, low-level agony is making me nuts. What should I do?
JOHNNY M., Akron, Ohio
A: More than 100 million North Americans live with chronic pain, and, as you indicated, it does a lot more than just make you feel achy. Chronic pain is associated with a three- to fourfold increase in the rate of depression and anxiety, and most folks also have problems with sleep, memory, attention, high blood pressure and resulting cardio problems, not to mention sexual dysfunction.
The most common sources (not related to cancer) are degenerative spine disease, lower-back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (perhaps in your shoulder), fibromyalgia, HIV, migraine, nerve pain and complications of shingles.
The first step is to get the right diagnosis from a specialist (maybe a second opinion, too). If pain medications are suggested, ask about a pain-management specialist who knows how to do nerve-dampening blocks and how to safely put you on (and take you off of) potentially addictive drugs.
But were huge fans of using wellness to control pain!
Try mind-body therapies: guided imagery, cognitive-behavioral therapy, meditation, breath work, massage and acupuncture. They can break the cycle of pain.
Get daily physical activity. Youll dispel stress and build strength.
Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet to help put out the pain fire.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.