Managing Chronic Pain


Dealing with pain can be well.. painful. Many people have felt physical pain at one time or another; placing a hand on a hot stove, stubbing a toe on the pesky sidewalk, or biting their tongue while eating. Temporary pain such as these, is often referred to as acute pain. Most of us have experienced acute pain, however, pain becomes chronic when it lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain is a complicating disorder that presents many limitations and strain for those who suffer from it (Kowal, Wilson, McWilliams, Peloquin, Duong, 2012). Research has found that approximately 29% of Canadians suffer from chronic pain (Schopflocher, 2011). Self-Management can be an important component in dealing with chronic pain (Lukewich , Mann, VanDenKerkhof, & Tranmer, 2015). Here are five ways that you can self-manage your experience of chronic pain.

1. Magnesium Supplement

The thought of adding another supplement to your diet may seem like yet just another thing you have to add to your list of things to do, but it may be worth it. Magnesium is a natural salt used by the body to regulate the body’s biochemical reactions including muscle and nerve functions (National Institute of Health, 2016). Research has shown that Magnesium Phosphate can help in the treatment of chronic pain and has been shown to significantly reduce the experience of chronic pain when taken in high concentrations (Shah, 2014). So talk to your doctor about adding Magnesium supplements to your diet.

2. Healthy Diet

Trying to maintain a healthy diet can be a struggle. You go to work, come home exhausted, only to have an hour before you have to get the kids to their soccer game. Although maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult it is important in regulating your chronic pain. Foods that are high in fats, yes those quick pasta meals, can cause inflammation in the body which may result in increased pain (Ding, Chi, Scull, Rigby, Schwerbrock, Magness & Lund, 2010). Learning how to eat a healthy diet and incorporating fat soluble foods into it, can help you in managing your chronic pain.

3. Hydration

Most of us have been told we need to drink more H2O and know the importance of hydration. In their study, Obideen, Wehbi, Hoteit, and Cai (2006) found that individuals who increased their water intake saw a significant reduction in pain as well as a reduction in their pain medication. So go ahead, indulge and drink up.

4. Epsom Salt

Taking a hot bath at the end of a long day is something people often do to help alleviate stress. Adding Epsom (magnesium sulphate heptahydrate) salt to a hot bath can be a way to self-manage pain and reduce aches and pains (Quant, Sandberg, Grzywacz, Alter, and Arcury (2015). So now you have an excuse to take a moment for yourself and soak in a hot bath and some epsom salt.

5. Sleep

We have all felt the effects that lack of sleep can cause; irritability, disorientation, confusion, poor concentration, the list goes on. For individuals who suffer from chronic pain, a good night sleep can be much more difficult to achieve but is none the less just as important. According to Andrews, Strong, Meredith and D’Arrigo (2014) 50% to 90% of individuals with chronic pain report sleep disturbance and studies have shown sleep to be one of the most important outcome factors for managing chronic pain. To learn more on sleep read the following articles: 5 Habits for Better Sleep, 10 Tips for Better Sleep, Importance of Sleep Hygiene.

For more information on managing chronic pain, see our article Coping with Chronic Pain



  • Ding, S., Chi, M. M., Scull, B. P., Rigby, R., Schwerbrock, N. M. J., Magness, S., . . . Lund, P. K. (2010). High-fat diet: Bacteria interactions promote intestinal inflammation which precedes and correlates with obesity and insulin resistance in mouse. PLoS One, 5(8)
  • Kowal, J., Wilson, K. G., McWilliams, L. A., Péloquin, K., & Duong, D. (2012). Self-perceived burden in chronic pain: Relevance, prevalence, and predictors. Pain, 153(8), 1735-1741.
  • Lukewich, J., Mann, E., VanDenKerkhof, E., & Tranmer, J. (2015). Self-management support for chronic pain in primary care: A cross-sectional study of patient experiences and nursing roles. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(11), 2551-2562.
  • National Health Institute (2016, February, 11). Magnesium: Fact sheet for consumers.
  • Quandt, S. A., PhD., Sandberg, J. C., PhD., Grzywacz, J. G., PhD., Altizer, K. P., M.S., & Arcury, T. A., PhD. (2015). Home remedy use among african american and white older adults. Journal of the National Medical Association, 107(2), 121-129.
  • Schopflocher, D., Taenzer, P., & Jovey, R. (2011). The prevalence of chronic pain in canada. Pain Research & Management, 16(6), 445-450.
  • Shah, R. (2015). Potentized, oral preparation of capsaicin alkaloids and magnesium phosphoricum in treatment of chronic pain: A clinical trial. In J. Merrick (Ed.), Pain management yearbook 2014. (pp. 71-84) Nova Biomedical Books, Hauppauge, NY.