How many times have you sat on the sidelines, watching everyone else having fun? Or even worse, just stayed at home because of your chronic pain?
This year, don't let your pain and discomfort get the best of you. We are going to show you ten tried-and-true ways to keep your pain at a minimum, so you can enjoy your 4th of July to the fullest!
It may seem like a no-brainer – it's hot outside, so it's necessary to drink enough to keep your body hydrated. Did you know, though, that being even slightly dehydrated can amp up chronic pain?
This is especially true for those that suffer from arthritic conditions. When you are not drinking enough water, the cartilage between your bones (what protects them from grinding and wearing against one another) can become weak and damage more easily.
Electrolyte imbalances can also occur with dehydration, increasing the pain factor as muscles become stiff and depleted. Add that to the build-up of toxins that happens when there isn't enough fluid to flush them out and you're a hot mess.
Avoid Consuming Too Much Alcohol
It's almost a tradition to come away from 4th of July festivities with a hangover as a souvenir. While it may be tempting to keep pounding those beers, keep in mind that alcohol is one of the worst things those with chronic pain can consume.
Alcohol causes dehydration (which we've already learned is a pretty big bummer). This is what causes that “cottonmouth” feeling the morning after a night of boundless imbibing.
In addition to drying you out like a corn husk, alcohol can also cause chronic pain, such as small fiber peripheral neuropathy.
So, what's the answer if you want to tie a few on this holiday? Obviously, moderation. A good rule of thumb is also to pace yourself – consume at least as much water as you do alcohol. So, for each 12 oz beer be sure to drink at least that much water with or following it before you crack the next cerveza open.
Take a Dip
If you're a water baby, take advantage of the pool at that Independence Day party.
There's something almost magical about submersing yourself in a big body of water. Suddenly, those aching knees are no longer having to support you. Those tight muscles in your back? They seem to instantly relax.
You've probably already learned that low-impact exercise is one of the best ways to combat chronic pain. Add to that equation a near-weightlessness and you have the perfect combination for healing movement.
A 2016 study conducted in a number of rheumatoid clinics found that swimming greatly improved not only functional capacity but also quality of life for the participants.
So, don't be afraid to slip into that Speedo and become the life of the pool party.
Hotdogs. Hamburgers. Potato chips. Baked beans. Macaroni salad. Many of these things are staples of All-American 4th of July fare. While they may taste good (who doesn't love a good chili dog?!?), these traditional Independence Day foods can wreak havoc with your pain levels.
Processed foods, and particularly those containing additives, can exacerbate pain issues. The biggest offender on the list above are hotdogs.
Cured meats such as hotdogs and bratwurst contain nitrates and nitrites and are typically very high in fat. These chemicals are used as preservatives and give meat a salty flavor and pinkish tinge. They're also one of the worst things you can eat if you suffer from pain and inflammation.
Never fear, though – you don't have to give up that childhood favorite. Many companies now offer nitrate-free hotdogs, brats and bacon (and we all must admit, baked beans are elevated to heavenly levels with the addition of bacon).
Those franks may not be as perfectly pink as the ones you're used to, but you won't be able to tell a difference in the flavor. Your body will thank you.
Slather on the Sunscreen
It's so tempting to lay out in the sun and soak up the rays… it's also really, really easy to find yourself baked to a crisp if you're not careful.
Sunburn causes inflammation, which in those that don't experience pain conditions, is just uncomfortable. It serves a purpose in helping to direct healing cells to the damaged areas. In the case of chronic pain, however, the added inflammation can make you utterly miserable.
Be proactive and use a broad-spectrum SPF with a high rating – for good protection, consider at least a 30 SPF. Obviously, the most important aspect of sunscreen is protecting your skin, however, there are some fairly unsavory chemicals in many of the standard sunscreens. Look for those that use natural sun-blocking agents, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
It's also helpful to wear a hat, and if you can stand it, a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt (natural fibers such as cotton and lightweight linen tend to be the coolest).
Have a Plan
Many 4th of July festivities start shortly before lunch and can stretch well into the night. While this might sound like fun, think about the impact this will have on your body.
When you live with chronic pain, you're well-acquainted with the fatigue that can accompany it. You don't have to let it put a damper on the festivities, though!
If you're expecting to spend more than a few hours socializing and living it up, consider taking a hearty nap in the afternoon. Sure, this may pull you away from the party for a little while, but your overall enjoyment (and ability to function the days immediately following) will be well worth it.
Consider letting your hosts know that you will need to rest for a while (go home if the celebration is close to your house). Most people are incredibly understanding and accommodating of the limitations health issues can create. You shouldn't feel shy about asking to lay down if you need to.
Watching the fireworks? Be sure you have a comfortable chair that allows you to recline somewhat without putting stress on your body. We're particularly fond of the Zero Gravity reclining chair. It's portable and allows you to lean back without putting strain on your neck and spine.
Make this the best Independence Day you've had in years. With some simple adjustments, you can enjoy the day without worrying about pain and discomfort putting a damper on your fun.