30 May 2022
How to manage persistent pain
For those who suffer from persistent pain, daily tasks that most people take for granted become difficult challenges. Chronic pain as the result of disease or injury has a substantial impact on mental health too, affecting your mood and it can even lead to depression. As a result, finding a way to cope with constant pain is imperative. If you are someone who suffers from persistent pain, this guide presents a handful of tips and suggestions for managing this difficult situation.
Prioritise and pace yourself
One helpful way to help manage persistent pain is by planning your daily activities. Chronic pain can make daily tasks difficult to complete, leading to a build-up of chores that become a slog to struggle through. However, by prioritising the things you need to do during a week, breaking them up into bigger and smaller tasks, and spreading them out by level of importance, you might find that your responsibilities are easier to manage. When you prioritise tasks from urgent to non-urgent, you can easily see what can be left for another day should your pain currently prevent you from tackling the activity.
Another helpful tactic is to start pacing yourself throughout the day. If you try to tackle too much, you will inevitably tire yourself out and find it difficult to manage your daily pain. Instead, make attempts to create a more achievable schedule, with fewer tasks on your plate, leaving room for important rest and leisure.
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When you are living with persistent pain, exercise can be the last thing on your mind, especially for those who require mobility equipment like stairlifts. However limited mobility or persistent pain shouldn’t prevent you from engaging in a small amount of exercise as keeping active can be a very helpful pain management approach. Regular exercise not only strengthens muscles and improves your mobility, helping you to better navigate the world around you, but it can also have a positive impact on your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, sending happy feelings throughout your body, and boosting your mood in the process.
The British Pain Society shares this insight into exercise and persistent pain, providing a little advice: “Exercise is vital to help deal with persistent pain but getting started is difficult. Remember that we all ache when we have not exercised for a long time. This is a sign that the body is rebuilding muscles and tendons, not a sign of damage. The advice of a physiotherapist is very helpful in drawing up a specific activity and exercise programme that you are likely to stick with.”
It’s important not to overlook the power and importance of rest when living with persistent pain. While staying active has its many benefits, taking the time to allow your body to recover, heal, and take a break from the tole of daily activity will put you in a better place to tackle the rest of the day refreshed. Living with constant pain is tiring, on the body and the mind, so allow yourself to take breaks when needed.
Sheryl, from the chronic pain blog, A Chronic Voice, knows all about this situation, and shares this important advice about the importance of rest: “It’s hard not to despair when all you can do is… nothing. Simple, everyday chores take colossal effort. Tasks on your to-do list overflow and form a stagnant puddle.
“Yet we need to remember that resting and sleeping are actually highly productive for all dimensions of wellness. Our body shifts into optimal repair and healing mode when we sleep; modes that cannot be activated when we are awake. This ultimately gives us more fuel to keep going. Life is a marathon after all, and not a sprint.”
Physiotherapy can be a tremendously helpful tool at your disposal when it comes to managing pain. The therapy you receive from these experts can help reduce pain, improve your movement levels, and help you learn to cope with those daily activities that can provide so much grief when our pain gets the better of us. Through stretching, manipulation of body parts, and pain-relief exercises, simple tasks like getting out of bed, or doing the weekly food shop, become easier to manage. A few sessions with a physiotherapist can make a big difference and regular therapy could be a game-changer, so reaching out to a qualified practitioner is well worth considering.
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Find ways to distract yourself
While you may never truly forget your pain, finding ways to distract yourself from your discomfort is an important component of your pain management efforts. This can be achieved in a number of ways, depending on your own tastes, personality and situation. For example, making time to enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment and escapism in the form of a TV show, book, film, or music can transport your mind away from the way your body feels. Likewise, work can provide a great distraction if your condition allows you to do so, with your mind focused on your role and the tasks you have to accomplish.
Caz, from a blog about living with an invisible illness, Invisibly Me, shares this insight about how distraction plays a role in pain management: “Distractions can be excellent for improving our attitude and overall mood, which has a knock-on effect to how we handle chronic illness and pain. Distractions aren’t going to rid you of pain by any means, but they can form part of a multi-disciplinary approach to making your day to day a little brighter. They can reduce stress and help give our brains and bodies a break, diverting our attention away from the problems faced and towards something else temporarily.”
Listen to the experts
One of the most important aspects of managing persistent pain effectively is by listening to your doctors and other professionals when it comes to taking medication that can help ease any pain that you are suffering. Having to take tablets multiple times a day, every day can be difficult and unpleasant, but you don’t want to make the pain even more difficult to manage by ignoring expert advice.
Liz, from the blog Despite Pain, has lived with chronic pain for most of her life and offers some advice for those tempted to stop taking medication: “Don’t just stop a med because you’re feeling better. You are probably feeling better because of that med. Consult with your doctor if you really want to stop taking it and follow their instructions.”
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Tips for managing persistent pain
- Prioritise and pace yourself
- Embrace rest
- Find ways to distract yourself
- Listen to the experts
Hopefully, this guide has been helpful and provided some useful suggestions for how you can manage your persistent pain and improve your quality of life.
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