Pain can impact quality of life and rehabilitation. This is detrimental for both physical and mental health . Chronic pain (which is consistent, long-term pain) can keep you from engaging in activities you like and engaging with others.
It can also contribute to sleep problems and impact your emotions. When you’re tired, you may notice that your pain threshold is actually worse, which then again contributes to bad sleep.
By learning to manage pain, you can improve your quality of life, manage other symptoms and focus on your rehabilitation and activities of daily living (ADLs).
- Ask for help
- If you are feeling pain and don’t know what to do about it, ask someone to help you. Your friends and family know you’re going through a lot, and they may be able to help you find specialists or help with other pain management techniques.
- Attend counselling or support groups
- Pain can lead to other issues: for example, depression . Counselling and support groups can be helpful to manage your overall health and well-being. You may also find that there are other people going through something similar to you.
- Avoid stressors
- There are many possible sources of stress. Stress can make your pain worse , which can then lead to more stress.
If something is stressing you out, take a break from it. You should also make sure to keep track of your stressors, and ask for help if necessary.
Avoid substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
Excessive consumption of substances such as alcohol can actually contribute to pain . Any questions about substances should be directed to your medical team.
- Care for yourself through healthy eating
- We feel our best when we eat healthy foods and prioritize our nutrition. While you may be experiencing pain that makes it hard to focus on anything else, nutrition is still important. It can help you combat other potential health issues that may contribute to your pain.
Commit to developing a healthy sleep routine
Pain can interrupt sleep, which in turn leads to feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and more awareness of pain. It’s a cycle that can be incredibly difficult to break unless you start getting proper rest.
One way to work towards better sleep is to develop a healthy sleep routine.
- Exercise (gently)
- Sometimes pain can be related to stiffness or a lack of movement. In those cases, gentle exercises can provide some relief.
- Find distractions
- The more you focus on your pain, the more you may feel it. While you shouldn’t ignore your pain, finding distractions can be a good way to reduce/control your pain. This is because you’re specifically focusing on something else, which takes more of your attention away from the pain.
While this management strategy is often recommended, it may have different levels of effectiveness depending on the kind and severity of the pain  you are experiencing.
- Track your pain
- Pain is difficult for others to understand because everyone experiences pain in their own way. But the more information your treatment and rehabilitation teams have, the more they may be able to help you.
Tracking your pain using a chart or journal will not only help identify instances of pain, but may help identify what influences your pain. For example, you may feel more pain before bed because you’re fatigued. Taking more breaks throughout the day may help with that.
- Work on breathing and meditation
- Many people use breathing and meditation exercises to support both their mental and physical health. This can include pain management.
Two common ways to treat pain are physical therapy and medication. Physical therapy can help with improving mobility, identifying pain points, teaching proper stretching and exercise form and building your endurance for activities. Pacing strategies (strategies that help you move slowly through your day) taught to you by your therapist are also very important for managing chronic pain. It’s a long process but can yield positive results with time and patience.
Doctors may provide prescriptions for medication if appropriate. The prescription could be as simple as an over-the-counter medication. However, in some cases they may prescribe medications targeted to the type of pain that you are experiencing. It’s important for the patient to use prescribed medication correctly, and work with doctors continually for effective pain management.