Treatment of chronic pain is a special area of interest of mine.
Pain has a profound impact on the quality of life of a person and can have physical, psychological and social consequences. It can lead to reduced mobility, a loss of strength, compromise the immune system and interfere with a person’s ability to eat, concentrate, sleep, or interact with others. People who live with chronic pain have been found to be four times more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. A person’s distress interacts with the pain experience, each exacerbating the other.
Important things to do if you have chronic pain:
- Acceptance. Chronic pain is chronic, which means treatment does not involve finding a cure but learning to manage your pain. If you have chronic pain, you will cope better if you are in the driver’s seat and not a passive recipient of treatment. As hard as it may be, if we don’t accept our diagnosis then we may well be headed for a long journey down struggle street. Here is an interesting clip of a metaphor that explains acceptance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYht-guymF4
- Get informed!! Chronic pain is different to acute pain and so is the treatment. Many people are given advice or treatment that is based on acute pain, make sure you understand the difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do lots of research.. Here are two very different clips that describe chronic pain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6--CMhcCfQ
3. Pacing. No matter what the nature of
your pain, pacing your activity is an important part of pain management. Here
is a link to simple instructions on pacing http://whalespine-pcp.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Activity-pacing-handout.pdf
4. Be as fit as possible. This obviously
depends on the nature of your problem and ability, everyone’s capability will
be different. Regular stretching and exercising actually decreases pain and
discomfort. To get the most out of your body you need to use it and move it as
it was intended. It can help to talk to a physiotherapist with expertise in
chronic pain about daily stretches that you can do to keep you body as
functional as possible.
5. Medication. For many people
medication will play a role. The most important thing to do is get the right
advice. There are medications that are better suited to chronic pain compared
with acute pain. Again, consult an a physician with expertise in chronic pain.
6. Stress Management. Pain and stress interact,
it is important to identify ways that you can relieve stress to break the cycle.
It may be helpful to consult a psychologist with expertise in chronic pain to
help with this. There is plenty of evidence that shows Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
for chronic pain can help reduce suffering. Talk to your psychologist about
7.Desensitisation. Systematic desensitization is a cognitive and behavioral therapy process designed to treat the brain’s fear and avoidance responses. It can be applied to the management of chronic pain to reduce the distress associated with pain and therefore reduce suffering. You will need to consult with a psychologist who has expertise in pain management to learn about this.
8. Get support. Support comes from many places, some of us have a supportive family or partner but many of us do not. Be resourceful and creative, use social media, friends, professionals, anyone that will listen and care! We are human, we all need someone who cares, if you can’t get that at home, try to source it elsewhere. If you can get it at home, use it! Build yourself a team.