Dealing With Chronic Pain. Healthwise explains chronic pain as "a long-term, persistent pain" that afflicts many people, especially middle-aged and older adults. Chronic pain is associated with fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, stress, depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from daily activities.
Arthritis, back problems, recurring sports injuries, nerve damage, cancer, and many other conditions, according to Healthwise, can result in chronic pain. In many cases the cause of pain is not known. A variety of factors can contribute to it.
Your mind and body are important allies in your efforts to manage chronic pain. Pain often has an emotional as well as a physical component. Your thoughts and feelings can affect how much pain you feel. Feeling anxious, angry, frustrated about your pain may make it worse. If you put your mind to work against the pain, you can manage it better and that it interferes less with your life.
You can deal with chronic pain, no matter what the cause, by following Healthwise's tips in dealing with its emotional and physical aspects:
- Take control of the pain. Accept that the pain is not going away, so take active steps towards managing it and keeping it from affecting your life too much.
- Practise positive thinking. Recognize unhelpful or self-defeating thoughts, such as "This pain will never get better." Your thoughts can affect your perception of pain.
- Track how your moods, thoughts, and activities affect your pain. Record your pain level in relation to these factors several times a day for several days. You may find that your pain is worse during or after certain activities or when you are feeling a certain emotion.
- Try to relax. Chronic pain causes stress and tension which may make the pain worse
- Take any medication your health professional has recommended or prescribed on schedule and in the correct dose.
- Exercise regularly. Try gentle, low-impact exercises that don't aggravate your pain, such as swimming, water aerobics, walking, or stationary cycling. Ask your health professional about physical therapy, too. Therapeutic massage maybe helpful. Experiment with heat, cold, and massage. Find out what works best for you.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. If pain frequently disrupts your sleep, talk to your health professional.
- Consider complementary therapies such as biofeedback, acupuncture, or yoga in addition to your regular medical care (not as a substitute for it).
- Change the way you do daily activities so you can do them with less pain. Some people find assistive devices (such as canes, foot supports, or specially designed household tools) helpful.
- Join a support group. By being around others who share your problem, you and your family can learn skills for accepting and coping with pain. You may also feel less isolated. To find a group near you, Healthwise suggests you contact the American Chronic Pain Association at (916) 632-0922.