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Psychology

 

Chronic pain – the bottom line

Being in pain is rarely a pleasant experience.

Having pain that isn’t going away is particularly hard.

Chronic pain refers to pain that has been around for more than 3 months and isn’t usually curable. The “chronic” part means ongoing, rather than “very bad”, although pain can be both. This means getting your head around the news that you will have to live with a certain amount of pain always. This is a hard message to hear and a big psychological challenge. But it is necessary, because we think around 85% of chronic pain persists in the long term.

Many people experience this news as a kind of loss. Just like when they lose a special person, they grieve for the body they used to have which didn’t have pain. They feel a mixture of denial, anger, sadness, distress and frustration. Some people (around 40-60%) can become depressed for a while. Many people worry about the future and how they and their loved ones will cope.

However, with the right information, guidance and support, most people do cope. There aren’t many good things about chronic pain. One of the few things is that for the vast majority of people, it is not dangerous. And if you learn to cope with it and live FLEXIBLY, it needn’t necessarily get worse in time.

And it can be managed. Learning to manage and cope with pain well can take a while and requires you taking responsibility for your own health. It means working with health professionals and making behaviour and life changes like:

 

  • Be honest about what you can do to pace the way you do everyday things
  • Managing stress and unhelpful thoughts to help your mood
  • Setting small, achievable goals that you value and mean something to you
  • Communicating what you need and what you don’t need
  • Using your medicines for maximum benefit
  • Exercising gently
  • Relaxing regularly

 

These techniques make YOU the expert on your own pain and put you back in control and on the path that you want to travel. People do live well WITH pain and maintain their quality of life. Go well.