A recent study by BMJ Open has shown that almost half of people in the UK are living in pain, which is much more than previously assumed. From chronic arthritis to nerve and other kinds of pain, this is a worrying figure. Having to cope with pain on a daily basis can be debilitating and can affect carrying out even the most basic of tasks – but there are ways to deal with it which can help ease the symptoms, including talking to your doctor who can help you find a solution.

1. Take up some non-strenuous exercise

Many people suffering with chronic pain find themselves unable to exercise. This can lead to obesity and poor health, which will only exasperate pain symptoms. Keeping active can help to alleviate pain, particularly joint or back pain and make sure that your muscles stay flexible. Exercise also creates endorphins which can help to block pain signals to the brain, providing temporary relief (also recommended for headaches or period pain). Taking up some gentle walking, yoga and especially swimming are great ways to help you exercise without causing further damage. For older people who are less mobile, gardening can help. Exercise will strengthen your muscles and joints but if you have any doubts at all, consult your doctor about the best form of exercise for you.

2. Stay Hydrated

Believe it or not, being dehydrated is responsible for a lot of the pain many experience on a daily basis, including headaches, back pain and other types of pain. Drinking water throughout the day will help to keep you hydrated and you’ll soon notice a difference in your overall health. If you’re a big tea or coffee drinker, you should aim to drink even more water as these drinks act as diuretics, causing you to go to the toilet more frequently and lose hydration.

3. Find Distractions

One way to deal with pain and not let it beat you is to find a way to distract yourself from it. Focusing your attention on something else will help you forget about it, and allows you to channel your energy into something else. Many people enjoy taking up hobbies such as knitting, whilst reading or writing can also be good distractions from the chronic pain you’re suffering. Try not to take up anything too strenuous and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

4. Eat a good diet

A poor diet can contribute to chronic pain, especially if you consume too many fatty or sugary foods that have resulted in obesity. A diet rich in foods with anti-inflammatory properties could help you to reduce your pain, and include foods such as leafy greens, fish and other foods containing omega-3s and fruit with low sugar content such as pineapple, cherries and cranberries. A healthy diet can help your overall wellbeing and you may notice many changes in your health as a result of eating a healthier diet.

5. Improve your posture

For many desk workers, back, neck and shoulder pain can be a daily misery, but not a necessary one. Practicing the right posture can help us to avoid the pain caused by slouching, which can also lead to headaches too. Whether you’re sitting at your desk or watching TV, make sure that you sit up straight and take regular breaks from the screen. Your employer should be able to offer you furniture and equipment which provides the right support to help you boost your posture and you should contact your occupational health nurse or officer for an assessment if pain continues whilst sitting at your desk.

Dealing with chronic pain is tough but in most cases it can be managed either through identifying the underlying cause or by finding ways to cope with it. You should always consult your doctor if you are suffering with chronic pain. They may have some specific recommendations or medication and other therapies to prescribe based on your own individual symptoms. You can find other ways of coping with pain through the NHS Choices website which has some great tips as well as more detailed information.