Coping With Chronic Pain: A Guide

We all experience pain. Generally, it is a signal from our brain to our body that something is wrong. We normally take a pill or soothe the pain with heat and then move on with our lives. But chronic pain-- the kind that affects more than 100 million people in the United States-- is different.

 Chronic pain is a symptom of a larger problem that causes the discomfort to last for three months or longer. The persistent pain disrupts everyday activities such as working, eating, socializing, and sleeping. The pain is more than a temporary discomfort; it can also lead to stiffness as well as a loss of strength and stamina. Chronic pain affects people both physically and mentally, and people experiencing it often develop feelings of isolation and depression.

 Sometimes doctors can trace the cause behind chronic pain. The persistent discomfort may be residual from surgery, injury, or other trauma. Some conditions, such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis and arthritis, are connected to people’s chronic pain. Those less fortunate never truly get an answer as to why they are hurting. Chronic pain syndrome is the term given to those who experience persistent discomfort and its side effects.

 No matter the cause, it’s important for people experiencing chronic pain to find healthy ways of coping and treating their suffering. While medication is available, it’s also important to implement certain lifestyle changes in order to function regularly. Below are a few ways to cope with chronic pain in order to manage both life and illness.

 

                                        Stress Management for Chronic Pain

Many people suffering from chronic pain find that stress is a huge trigger. Much of this is due to the mind/body connection-- if one isn’t feeling too well, the other will notice and act accordingly. To help reduce pain, reduce the amount of stress in your life:

 

  • Identify the things in your life that stress you out so you can see them coming and take preventative action against them.
  • Cut down on your commitments and schedule time to decompress and relax.
  • Get organized and reduce the amount of clutter in your home.
  • Slow down, but also start practicing being early.
  • Exercise. Not only will this reduce stress, but it can also help relieve your pain.
  • Try meditation or yoga to give yourself a sense of inner calm.
  • Let go of people, places, and things that only add stress to your life.
  • Establish a routine where your body and mind can anticipate what comes next.
  • Practice gratitude.

                                      Managing Chronic Pain on the Road

 As a chronic pain sufferer, you will eventually get into a routine that allows you to prevent triggers and handle stress. The challenge after that is figuring out what to do when your routine shakes up and the pain starts again. For many people, the stress of being on the road for work can severely disrupt their progress. Here are some ways to cope with pain while traveling. 

  • Carry a topical pain relief gel with you to inhibit some of the pain.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid salt to prevent inflammation.
  • Pack lightly.
  • Keep room in your budget to pay for the easiest transportation routes.
  • Don’t over-schedule.

                                              Chronic Pain and Medication

 In the past, doctors prescribed pain relievers including opiates to help with chronic pain. With the rise of addiction in the United States, fewer physicians are inclined to do so. However, if your pain is severe, your doctor may still suggest going on a medicine that will put you at risk of becoming dependent on opioids. To protect yourself, invite a spouse, family member, or friend to be involved in your treatment plan. Talk to your doctor about the warning signs of opioid abuse and how your loved one can spot them before the problem gets out of hand.

  Chronic pain is a serious condition that affects a person physically and mentally. To cope with chronic pain, it’s important to prevent and handle stress in a healthy manner. While a routine can help prevent pain, travel can shake things up and trigger it again. Finally, while medication may be helpful for managing discomfort, it can be addictive and deadly. Have a friend or family member involved in your treatment, and ask them to watch for signs of opioid addiction. 

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