Healing at home


No one is more important than you in managing your chronic pain.

What you do every day — at home, at work, at play — can make the biggest difference in your quality of your life. Combine these ideas with treatment from your doctor and alternative therapists to get the best results.

Get moving

Movement helps you reduce pain and stay independent by strengthening muscles and keeping joints loose.

  • Haven't been exercising (or even moving regularly) because of pain? Start slowly. Do a little more every day and you'll start to notice better range of movement and increased strength.
  • Try low-impact exercises like swimming, stretching, gentle weight lifting, yoga, and walking.
  • The regular things you do each day — cleaning the house, gardening, playing actively with your kids — all count as movement. Try to engage in activities you enjoy — we are more likely to do things we like, and when we feel happier we experience less pain.

people hikingPace yourself as you begin moving again. Some days will be better than others. On your better days, try not to push yourself to do too much. On worse days, choose easier activities and give yourself permission to take a break. Consider building in work-rest cycling to your day — try to take breaks or change activity based on how much you know you can usually do. Don’t wait for pain to increase before you stop and take a break. By building in planned rest periods we often can do more over time.

Learn more about getting started with fitness and exercise

Simplify your surroundings

Rearrange your environment — it's one of the easiest ways to reduce daily pain.

  • Move items to avoid climbing stairs or reaching for things on high or low shelves. Place the things you need most at hip level so you don't have to bend.
  • Get assistive devices to help with everything from opening doors to walking. 
  • Work safely to make sure you don't make your pain worse on the job.

Plan ahead

Whether you're at home, traveling, visiting friends, or spending the day at a child's soccer game, planning ahead for pain will help you live more comfortably.

Think about the things that help when you're experiencing pain, and make sure you have them handy. These might include:

  • Ice packs or heating pads
  • Assistive devices, such as a seat cushion, cane, or brace
  • Medication

Care for Pain can help you manage chronic pain and avoid flare-ups with a personalized online program.

Make time for fun

Doing the things you love helps you relax and reduce stress, and distracts you from pain. Making time for fun can also help you avoid depression, a common side effect of pain.

Can't do the things you used to enjoy? Look for low-impact versions of your favorite activities, or try something new. Ask friends and family to join in as you find your new hobby.

Connect mind and body

Your mind can be a powerful way to cope with pain.

  • Think positively. Studies show that keeping a positive outlook can reduce day-to-day pain.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Pain can cause sleepless nights, which can add to your pain. Dream can help you find new ways to get more restful sleep.
  • Relax and breathe deeply. Stress has been shown to make pain even worse. Listen to relaxing guided imagery podcasts or get ideas to help you manage stress with Relax.
  • Reach out to loved ones or professional therapists. Feelings of anger, fear, frustration, or depression can increase pain.

Learn new ways to fight pain

Classes and programs at your local Kaiser Permanente facility offer many ways to cope with pain, including:

  • Pain management techniques
  • Support groups
  • Low-impact fitness classes

Eat well

Give your body the fuel it needs to build strong bones and muscles, protect joints, and reduce chronic pain by eating well.

Making good food choices keeps your weight in check — and managing your weight is one of the best things you can do to relieve pain. Natural, high-fiber foods can also help prevent constipation, a common pain medication side effect.

Some foods are thought to be especially useful in reducing pain and inflammation, including:

If you aren't hungry because of pain or side effects of medication, try to eat small healthy snacks every 4 to 6 hours.

Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any foods that you should not eat while taking certain medications.

Get the facts about eating healthy.

Reviewed by: Benjamin Balderson, MD, January 2019

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