New year is traditionally the when we think about what we would like for the year ahead. For some of us, it’s a time to make resolutions to tackle areas of our life that are not working well. If you’re living with chronic pain, you may have become resigned to loss of mobility and a deteriorating quality of life.

But, you don’t need to put up with being in pain, even if you have a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis or a sports injury that has kept you away from training for a long time. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as we head into 2020 is to explore the options that could help you to live a more comfortable and fulfilling life. Here are some things to consider…

1. Taking care of your health is one of the best things you can do for yourself

It is no surprise that one of the most commonly cited aspirations for people at new year is to give up smoking or cut back on alcohol. We innately recognise that looking after our health is one of the best things we can do to improve our sense of wellbeing and quality of life.

Making a commitment to do whatever you can to reduce your pain levels in 2020 could have a much greater impact than you realise. Chronic pain is often linked to depression and poorer quality of life. It can affect many different areas of your life, ranging from sleep to your personal relationships.

2. There are many effective techniques for pain relief

While pain killing medication and anti-inflammatories are the most commonly used approaches to relieving pain, they are not the only ones. You may be offered injections of corticosteroids into the affected joint, which can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

PRP injections are injections of platelet-rich plasma, taken from your own body. Referred to a regenerative medicine, this approach to pain relief is based on harnessing the body’s own natural healing abilities and amplifying them. Natural growth factors in platelets help to heal body tissue. By increasing the concentration of these and re-injecting them into the body, orthopaedic consultants can speed up natural healing processes.

3. Joint replacement surgery is now a routine procedure

For some people, fears and anxieties around surgery prevent them from considering joint replacement surgery until the pain has become extreme.

However, joint replacement is now a routine surgical procedure that may help to give a new lease of life to people with arthritis or severe joint injury. It is normally only offered once other less invasive techniques, such as pain-relieving injections and physiotherapy, have ceased to provide effective pain relief. Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about the best time to have joint replacement surgery.

4. Degenerative conditions worsen without treatment

If you have a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis, it will worsen over time. Treatments such as pain-relieving injections, medication and physiotherapy exercises can help you to manage the symptoms. However, if the pain is becoming more severe, you should talk to a specialist about other approaches.

5. Making lifestyle changes could help

While it is important to seek medical help for chronic pain, there are also many different things you can do for yourself to improve the way you are feeling.

If you are overweight, losing weight can help to reduce stress on damaged or diseased joints. Regular exercise can help to maintain flexibility and help you to feel better, while relaxation techniques like meditation can help to relieve muscle tension, lessen pain and improve sleep. Eating a healthy balanced diet and staying well-hydrated is also important.

Whatever is causing your symptoms, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis. Once you know the reason for your pain you can agree a treatment plan that could help you to regain your energy, fitness and quality of life.