Coping with Chronic Pain
Whilst it is natural that we will all experience some pain in our lifetime, for one in five Australians, this pain will persist beyond the expecting healing time.
This is chronic pain that can exist without any clear reason, long after the surgery or trauma that caused it. Pharmaceutical products such as codeine and other opioids may be prescribed, although research shows that they may not be sufficient long term, with patients showing a mere 30% decrease in pain.
The unwanted side-effects can add to the struggle, they may include constipation, nausea, drowsiness, brain fog, mood change (dependent on the drugs). Opioids and codeine should only be prescribed short time as a tolerance to the dosage can occur, perpetuating the vicious circle, as higher dosage must be prescribed to achieve the analgesic effect and of course the side effects will also likely increase.
Studies have shown that those people with chronic pain who are actively involved in the management of their pain, have less disability than those that are only reliant on medication or surgery.
MOVEMENT Gentle everyday exercise will keep your muscles conditioned and improve your pain levels. A physiotherapist will be able to assist you with a tailored exercise program, including starting small and increasing gently, as you heal.
PACING is key to pain management. By preparing rest or stretch breaks, and keeping physical activity at an even level throughout the day, you can decrease the risk of flare-ups.
RELAXATION TECHNIQUES While our muscles are tense, they increase pressure on nerves and tissues, which amplifies pain. To decrease muscle tension, you can use simple deep-breathing techniques, or take a yoga or meditation classes, to learn techniques to use at home.
MINDFULNESS is about learning to accept all your feelings, thoughts and emotions, including pain. It can help you adapt to and live with pain more favourably.
DESENSITISATION is a technique that involves learning not to react to the discomfort negatively. This retrains the way your brain thinks about the pain you are experiencing, which can improve the experience of pain and pain levels.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT) CBT is a psychological method to assist people in dealing with the circumstances associated with chronic pain, including depression. Your GP can refer you to a psychologist for help with CBT.
SLEEP IMPROVEMENT A good night’s slumber will aid you to cope better with your pain. It is vital to implement and maintain a bedtime ritual and keep your bedroom peaceful and relaxing. I have many tips to help you achieve this which we can run through, in your consultation with me.
DIET Pain is an inflammatory response. It is critical that we assess your diet, a diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, remove any processed foods, lower sugar & alcohol intake. A personalised nutrition plan will remove any foods that are incompatible with your body.
Most importantly, SEEK SUPPORT; You absolutely do not have to endure this pain in silence. There is so much that we can do to assist you.
I suffered for many years with chronic pain, you do not need to.