Managing Chronic Pain
Do you experience high levels of pain? Has it been persisting for months or maybe years?
Chronic Pain can make simple movements in day-to-day life such as sitting and standing feel unbearable. It can disrupt your sleep, reduce your energy, and in some severe cases, you may experience symptoms of anxiety or depression including increased suicidal thoughts.
Chronic Pain can also have a significant impact on your family. Roll on effects such as a reduction in your earnings, can lead to financial pressures. It can also disrupt your relationships due to increased conflict or feeling poorly understood.
So how do you keep going when the pain tells you to stop?
Medical and surgical interventions can be effective but aren’t always an option. Options such as medication will only offer short-term relief, often with many side effects. Research has consistently shown that taking an active approach to your pain management provides the greatest gains. Psychological interventions provide techniques to manage Chronic Pain and its flow on effects.
You will have noticed your Chronic Pain leading to a lowering of your activity levels. Maybe you can no longer play with your kids for as long, or you can’t do all the housework in an afternoon. You might find due to the pain that you do fewer enjoyable activities and don’t try new things.
Often you go through cycles, as you get caught in a cycle of “good days” where you might push yourself, and bad days where the pain is too great to do anything. But as you push yourself to do too much on a good day, you put a lot of strain on your body as your fitness levels are not what they used to be. Similarly on a bad day, you feel the need to rest more, so your body becomes “deconditioned” with stiffer joints and weaker muscles present. So then the next time you come to do some activity, you’re more likely to exacerbate the pain. It becomes a vicious cycle.
acing yourself is the best way to manage your Chronic Pain. By pacing your activities, you will:
- Increase the amount of activity you can do over time
- Spend less time needing to rest
- Pain will not dictate your activity or control you – you will control you!
Here are some tips to help you with pacing –
- Work out what your tolerances are for an activity. Either time yourself or work out how many times you can do something before you reach your limit.
- Each time you do that activity, gradually increase the amount you do at a steady rate.
- Break up tasks into smaller more manageable parts.
- As you progress, reward yourself with a little something.
- Speak with your doctor about your medication and when you are taking your pain medication and whether your pain medication is effective for at least 4 hours.
- Take small breaks, or change your activity regularly.
- Over-do activity on a “good pain day”.
- Take on a large task all in one go. Break it down into smaller parts.
- Have too high expectations of what your body can tolerate.
Assistance from a Clinical Psychologist includes a variety of techniques targeted to help you manage your Chronic Pain, and improve your quality of life. Contact Us to find out how we can help.
Written by Dr Samanthi Goontilleke – Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au