What Is Chronic Pain?
Pain can be defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Chronic pain is subtly different as it is pain that has lasted longer than three months after the usual recovery period of an illness or injury despite various treatment attempts such as medication, rest and relaxation, hot baths, chiropractic care, physiotherapy or massage. It is pain that may not ever be relieved completely and may require long-term management. Read also Acute Versus Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain can affect many areas of your life. You may feel that you aren’t able to go places or do the things that you used to enjoy because they may make you feel worse.
Here are 5 tips to help you live through the pain:
Set Goals For Yourself
A goal is something that you would like to achieve. It may be taking the dog for a walk or playing with your children. They can either be a short or long-term goal. Goal setting is a fantastic way to gradually build up the activities that you do. It allows you to get control, rather than letting the pain take over. There are four Golden Rules For Goal Setting:
- The goal must be realistic.
- Should be measurable.
- Your goals should be what you want to do and not what someone else wants you to do.
- Start small. Pick something that is important to you but isn’t impossible.
The first step is to decide what your goal will be considering the golden rules above. Then think about all the things you need to do to achieve that goal. Now look at each of these things in turn – what do you have problems with? Then gradually work on solving any of the problems you might have. This can include getting any tools and equipment that can facilitate the task.
It’s important to review your progress regularly and rethink some of your methods and goals if they aren’t working. Remember that each small step is an achievement and that lots of small steps help you take one big leap.
Often, people suffering from chronic pain will lose their confidence, and find it hard to express their needs. This can increase tension and stress, and in turn, increase their pain. Furthermore, it’s important to communicate well and to be assertive. Here are some simple tips to be more assertive:
- Be firm and say what you mean
- Don’t shout or raise your voice, keep it calm and low
- Make sure your message is clear – no one can read your mind
- Don’t tell people what to do, but explain why you’re asking them to do something
- Ask for help when you need it
- Be precise and to the point
Read also 4 Ways To Help You Be More Assertive
Manage Your Stress
Stress can worsen pain, so it’s important to learn how to cope with and avoid stress. We are all faced with physical and emotional demands from our friends, family, work and so on. Most of the time, we can cope with these demands. However, stress occurs when you find that you are unable to cope. In addition, on top of increasing your pain, stress can make you short-tempered, weepy, angry, and frustrated. There are a few ways of coping with stress.
- Find ways to relax.
- Talk to and confide in someone.
- Look for a practical solution to the problem, rather than worrying about it.
Read also 5 Tips To Reduce Your Stress
Improve Your Sleep
If you have chronic pain, you might also have problems sleeping. It might be difficult to fall asleep, or you might wake up during the night due to pain. Unfortunately, the harder you try to sleep, the harder it becomes. Therefore, this can increase stress and make pain worse, and in turn, make it more difficult to sleep.
Here are a few tips to help you sleep:
- Avoid napping during the day, no matter how tired you feel.
- Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes at least 4 hours before bed.
- Attempt to go to bed at the same time every night
- Do not read, eat, or watch tv in bed
- Make sure that your bed is comfortable – use pillows to support your legs and back.
- Use relaxation and breathing techniques in bed.
- If you can’t fall asleep, get up and do something relaxing. Avoid stimulating activities like watching TV.
- Wake up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much you slept during the night – set your alarm clock if need be.
Read also 5 Tips To Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Do Some Exercise
If you have chronic pain, you may be afraid to exercise, but staying active, within realistic limits, can be beneficial.When a person experiences acute pain rest is needed for healing to take place. For example, if you sprained your wrist, you would stop using it so that it can heal. However, with chronic pain, you might feel pain even without injury. This pain causes you to avoid certain movements and activities, making your muscles and joints stiff, which makes the pain worse. Remember, unused and atrophied muscles feel more pain than toned, flexible ones. Finally, find an exercise that is suitable for you, and as you build up your strength, you’ll be able to do more exercise.
References• Main, C. J., Sullivan, M. J., & Watson, P. J. (2008). Pain management: practical applications of the biopsychosocial perspective in clinical and occupational settings. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
• Warfield, C. A., & Fausett, H. J. (2002). Manual of pain management. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
• Pain Management. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2018, from Pain Management