Coping with Chronic Pain
A little pain usually is a good thing. It’s our alarm system. It’s our body’s way of saying, “Hey, that’s hot … get away before it hurts you!” But when the pain lingers on and on, it’s no longer helpful. Chronic pain can disrupt your normal lifestyle.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you should know that there are ways to cope. Chronic pain does not need to run, or ruin, your life.
The first step is to learn all you can about your condition. Talk to your doctor and read up on it. Understanding your pain is the first step to reducing it.
Next, take an active role in your recovery. Talk with your doctor about medical treatments that might reduce your pain. But if these treatments can’t completely heal you, don’t give up hope. You can use basic lifestyle choices to control your pain and regain a normal life.
Manage Stress and Your Emotions
Our bodies and minds are connected. Stress, tension and stirred emotions can aggravate pain. Find ways to reduce the stress in your life; deal with your troubling emotions and your pain likely will decrease. Deep breathing, visualization and other relaxation techniques can help you calm your mind and reduce your pain.
Exercise leads to a healthier body, and a healthier body feels less pain. Strong, toned muscles feel less pain than unused muscles. Also, exercise will give you more of the energy you need to overcome the pain. Less tangible is the fact that when you’re more fit, you’ll feel better about yourself — more in control — and that can mean a lot. Be sure to talk to your doctor about exercise that is safe for you.
Control Your Physical Activity
Specific activities or body movements may aggravate your pain more than others. Excluding those movements from your day can reduce your pain a great deal. If the painful movements involve important household, personal or work activities, consider using adaptive equipment that will let you perform the same activity without using the same painful motion.
Chronic pain can make you feel isolated and afraid. You may feel like you’re all alone. That couldn’t be further from the truth. But it’s estimated that one in three people suffer from chronic pain. Contact others who also suffer chronic pain to share what you know, and to learn from them. You’ll learn ways to cope. You’ll learn that the pain you feel, and the emotions that come with it, are not unusual. Chronic pain support groups can be a great way to get this important human contact.
Finally, look beyond the pain. Don’t let your pain consume your life. There are more important things in your life to focus on, such as friends, family, work, and hobbies. Talk to your doctor about the ideas mentioned above, and start taking back control of your life. As you begin to refocus, the pain will decrease, and you will begin to believe more strongly that you can lead a normal life despite the pain.