The Struggle of Living with Chronic Pain
It’s difficult to understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain unless you’ve experienced it. Unless you’ve lived with it, it’s impossible to really understand what it feels like to be in pain every minute of every day… with no respite and no escape. It is inescapable, and it can be torturous. Sadly, it is also a fact of life for far too many of us.
Those of us living with chronic pain have to find own ways to exist with the constant pain while continuing to live our lives without letting the pain take over. It’s an individual journey that we each must negotiate in our own way. It is often a personal solo journey, because what helps one person cope with pain may not work as well for someone else.
If you are living with chronic pain, please know you are not alone and please do not stop trying to find effective ways to continue living well and enjoying life despite living with constant pain.
Here are a few tips from folks living with chronic pain. We hope you find them helpful.
A few helpful tips..
- Find a medical professional specially trained in pain management. As much as your primary care doctor may want to help, he or she might not have the understanding, experience, or “know how” necessary to make a positive difference in your life as a victim of chronic pain. Chronic pain can’t be measured in a lab or identified on a scan. There are intricacies to pain that are puzzling and perplexing to physicians who are not familiar with chronic pain issues. That’s why there are doctors who are pain management specialists and highly-trained experts in the field.
- Don’t stop moving. It’s normal and natural to want to sit still when you’re in pain, but that may not be the best thing for you. In fact, it could make your pain worse. It’s vital to speak with your pain management specialist (doctor) about any activities and actions you should avoid and which ones might actually help. Simply incorporating some gentle exercise into your life might be beneficial. Many studies suggest that chemicals released in the body during exercise can influence pain signals to the brain. Any everyday activities that involve some type of movement are actually forms of exercise, like walking, gardening, dusting, and gardening. Dancing is a fun way to move the body and it is something we can do in our own way and at our own speed. Just make sure not to overdo it in a way that may amplify your pain issues.
- Avoid repetitive motions. Tasks that involve the same action over and over can worsen or ignite pain. Typing is a good example of something many of us do that involves repetitive motions. There are plenty of others you might not think of… like the repetitive motions of painting a wall or cleaning the kitchen counter. Think about some of the tasks in your daily life that may involve the same action again and again. Try to avoid or limit them as much as possible, and make sure to take frequent breaks while engaged in repetitive activities.
- Change positions often. Sitting or standing for long periods without moving can exacerbate pain. Make sure to move around every now and then. If you are sitting watching television, get up during commercials and walk around the room. If you spend long periods typing on your computer keyboard, make yourself take a break at least once every hour and do some gentle stretching.
- Accept that some people may not “get it.” If someone has never lived with constant pain, that person has no idea what it is like and may not be able to imagine, comprehend, or relate to what you go through on a daily basis. Remember, pain is not something people can see. It is invisible to other. If you look healthy, other people tend to assume you feel fine… even if they know you suffer with chronic pain. They may say something like “You must be feeling better, you look great” simply because you do not look like you are suffering. These folks mean well. They really want you to “feel better.” They don’t realize how much effort it takes to “appear normal” when you are living with constant pain. They don’t know that “appearing normal” probably means you had to “lay low,” restrict your activities, and perhaps take medication just to appear normal or to show up at whatever event the two of you be attending. For someone living with chronic pain, there may be days when something as simple as lunch out with friends is impossible.