The statistics of chronic pain and health in America are frightening. In 2004, we spent $16.6 billion to relieve pain, most of it to purchase over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Almost half of us seek care for pain each year. About 133 million Americans—nearly 1 in 2 adults—live with at least one chronic illness.

Our healthcare system is the costliest in the world, costing us as almost twice as the runner-up, but the results of it are dismal. We were ranked 51st in health worldwide in 2012, even behind some emerging economies.

Professor Harald Breivik, co-editor of Clinical Pain Management, has called chronic pain “one of the most underestimated health care problems in the world today, causing major consequences for the quality of life of the sufferer and a major burden on the health care system in the Western world.”

Chronic Pain Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Life

Here’s the solution.

Improving chronic pain requires some simple strategies. They’re cheaper to adopt than paying for prescription drugs and procedures at hospital. They also work.

6 Strategies for Reducing Chronic Pain

1. Nutrition

2. Exercise 

3. Sleep 

4. Stress management (our own or others) 

5. Work life balance

6. Supplementation

We don’t hear this advice from our medical professionals. Unfortunately, our system pays doctors well for seeing large numbers of patients and performing procedures. It’s piecework. With rushed schedules and the push from insurance companies for doctors to see as many patients as they can, patients are often rushed through the system. The fastest way to ‘treat’ a patient is to write a prescription. Patients often don’t receive the lifestyle guidance – nutrition, exercise, and stress management – that will have actual impact in the long term.

Chew on this

You can take back control of your health. The strategies are simple, make sense, and will cost much less. 

Start slowly. Take one step at a time to make the important changes that can help your pain and change your health.