DEALING WITH CHRONIC PAIN
What is Chronic Pain?
One in three Americans (and probably Canadians) suffer from some form of chronic pain. CHRONIC PAIN is pain that does not go away despite your efforts. It disrupts your home life and work, affects your emotional and social life, is often misunderstood by others, and can take over your life. Pain tells you what you can do, when to do it, and how much to do. It keeps from living a full life. There are, however, steps that you can take to gain back control of your life.
1. Understand the pain. ACUTE PAIN (short term) tells you there is something wrong and then goes away. It usually starts with an illness or injury. Pain messages are released through pain 'gates' and go to the brain. The brain responds by protecting the injury from further damage by closing down the pain gates to reduce the level of pain. CHRONIC PAIN doesn't go away. It is constant and often difficult to treat because the cause of the pain may be unclear or cannot be removed (i.e. arthritis pain). When the chronic pain bell sounds, it does not necessarily mean you are injuring yourself so you do not need to stop the activity.
2. Learn to manage your pain. Managing pain means making the necessary changes that can help you meet your physical, emotional, and social needs.
3. Assess the role chronic pain plays in your life:
Does the pain make it hard for you
to what you want?
Do you put off doing things until
the pain goes away?
Do you take pain medications even
though they don't seem to help?
Do you often feel angry, depressed,
or frustrated because of your pain?
Do you find it hard to accept
yourself the way you are now?
Do you ever feel that other people
think your pain is not real?
Are you unable to plan or join in
Do you find yourself taking more
time off from work?
Are you alone most of the time,
away from your friends?
4. When you are in pain it is natural to limit activities. This, however, can make the situation worse by leading you into a chronic pain cycle.
a. Chronic pain causes you to rest for long periods of time. This lack of activity cause you to lose strength and flexibility. This leads you to feel less able to do things and you rest even more.
b. This leads to frustration and depression.
c. This leads you to push yourself to catch up on everything, trying to prove to others as well as yourself that you can still do what you did before chronic pain started.
d. Pushing too hard aggravates your symptoms. This causes you to rest more, feel discouraged and depressed, afraid of doing things.
What Can You Do:
Attempting your pain and taking responsibility for controlling it is primary for gaining back your life.
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