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Coping strategies for chronic pain

Coping strategies for chronic pain
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Chronic pain affects millions of people in the UK. It can have a hugely detrimental effect on the patient’s life as well as that of their family.

What is chronic pain?

Everyone experiences pain now and again. It’s an important signal that something isn’t quite right with the body. It alerts is to disease or injury and prevents us from hurting ourselves further or making an injury worse. However, these pains usually disappear once a wound has healed or a disease has been cured. Chronic pain is a term used to describe pain that lasts for six months or more, or that continues for three months or more after the typical healing time. The pain itself can come and go or may be persistent. Likewise, it can be mild, excruciating or anything in between.

Living with chronic pain

Chronic pain can take its toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as physical state. It can leave patients feeling anxious and depressed about what is causing the pain in addition to how the pain is affecting everyday life. Running a household, bringing up a family and holding down a job can be stressful enough without adding chronic pain into the mix.

Dealing with stress

Chronic pain can lead to stress, which in turn leads to tension. Tension is no good for your body and can actually make pain worse so it’s important to learn how to deal with stress and anxiety. Make some time each day to relax without feeling guilty that you’re not getting on with something else. Take a long bath, go for a walk if you’re able or read a book. Chat to someone who understands so that you don’t find yourself bottling things up and use deep breathing techniques to relax the muscles and relieve pain.

Balance activities

Coping strategies for chronic painTrying to push past the pain barrier and carry on with activities can leave you feeling burnt out and the pain even worse. Equally, reducing your level of activity to just the bare minimum will leave you feeling bored with a poor quality of life. Ideally you should aim to balance periods of activity and rest. Plan your day so that the most important tasks are completed first and take note of anything that seems to make your pain worsen. Pace yourself and set realistic goals for what you’d like to achieve.

Distraction techniques

Chronic pain isn’t all in the head but part of it is to do with the brain. For this reason many people find that distraction techniques work to at least take the edge off the pain. Distraction techniques don’t need to be learned but you may need an element of trial and error to find what works for you. You might want to try watching a film, calling a friend, playing a game or indulging in your favourite food. The idea is that the brain can only focus on so many things at once so by doing something else to occupy your mind your brain will be distracted from the pain.

Speak up

One significant complaint of chronic pain sufferers is that others don’t seem to notice. Indeed, chronic pain is often invisible to those who don’t know to look for it so make sure your employers and colleagues are aware of what you have to deal with. You may feel resentment or frustration towards people who don’t understand what chronic pain means for you. The only way to get round this is to try and explain your situation to them. Until people know about your condition, they can’t be expected to lend a hand or be sympathetic to your pain.

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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