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Managing Chronic Pain

Managing Chronic Pain 

Being in pain can be exhausting. You may find you have trouble working, sleeping, or just doing day-to-day tasks. But you can learn to manage pain, feel better, and regain control of your life. 

Understanding chronic pain

Chronic pain is a serious medical problem. It is defined as pain that lasts longer than 3 months. Chronic pain includes pain that you feel regularly, even if it comes and goes. The pain may be from an ongoing injury or health problem. Or it may be because of a chronic pain syndrome, such as fibromyalgia. Sometimes pain persists when no cause can be found. 

Your role in treatment

Your healthcare provider will work closely with you on a plan to manage your pain. But it’s up to you to put this plan into action. Control of chronic pain is done mainly through self-management. This means that you take an active role in your care. Getting support from family and friends is important too. 

Complementary therapies

These are treatments that can be used along with medical care to help relieve pain. Look for a licensed practitioner with experience treating chronic pain. Talk with your healthcare provider about using complementary therapies such as:

  • Massage

  • Acupuncture and acupressure

  • Chiropractic

  • Vitamins or herbal supplements 

Mind/body therapies

The brain and the body are both part of the pain response. The brain reads the pain signals from the body. This means that your mind has some control over how pain signals are processed. Mind/body therapies may help change how your brain reads pain signals. They may be learned with the help of a trained therapist or in a class. They include:

  • Deep breathing

  • Distraction

  • Visualization

  • Meditation

  • Biofeedback 

                                                     

Getting physical activity

Being physically active has many benefits. It can improve your ability to cope with pain. It may also help improve your mood, sleep, and overall health. Your healthcare provider can help you plan an exercise program that’s right for your needs. This may include:

  • Stretching and range-of-motion exercises

  • Low-impact exercise such as walking, biking, swimming, and other water exercise

  • Strength training using light weights

  • Walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator

  • Riding a bike instead of driving

  • Parking your car farther from your destination 

You may need to not do high-impact activities. These involve jumping, running, or sudden starts, stops, or changes of direction. If you haven’t exercised in a long time or you have physical limitations, your healthcare provider may refer you to a physical therapist. He or she can teach you stretches and exercises that fit your condition and fitness level. 

Being active and healthy

A healthier lifestyle makes it easier to cope with pain and function better. Follow these tips:

  • Choose a balance of healthy foods and drinks.

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine.

  • Go to bed at about the same time each day.

  • Don’t let pain keep you from others. Spend time with friends and family.

  • Keep your mind active. Read books or take classes.

  • If you’re not working, volunteer or join a club or social group. 

Getting support 

A support group lets you talk with others who also have chronic pain. Chronic pain support groups can help you feel less isolated. They can also give you tips for coping with pain. Your may also want to seek the help of a counselor.

 

 

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