Living with constant pain is never easy: not only is it a significant physical discomfort but also it leads to a lot of frustration when treatment doesn’t work. Every person is different, and while some medications and approaches are right for one, they might not help another. Nevertheless, what you need to remember is to never give up: the best therapy option is somewhere out there, you just have to keep looking. And to help you find the best solution, we have created a short checklist — take a look at our 6 tips for managing chronic pain:
Talk to Your Doctor
Being able to talk to a good doctor is a major step forward. They will advise on medication, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques. Additionally, most GP practices now have a social prescriber/link worker who can refer people to a range of community-based support projects and allied health professionals with experience of helping people manage chronic pain. Also, if your condition gets worse or changes dramatically in any way, you will always know where to seek help.
Consider Complementary Therapies
There are many complementary therapies that people find helpful in managing chronic pain. Your doctor or link worker may be able to suggest some options. However, doctors do vary considerably in their approach to complementary therapies. If you find that to be the case with your GP, it might be worth seeking an alternative view.
Kelly Swain suffered from chronic pain for many years and came close to killing herself with lethal concoctions of medication and alcohol. It was not until she embraced the power of the mind and also starting to use complementary therapies for managing chronic pain that she started to get her life back under control. You can read her story here.
Find the Right Medication
Even though trying different prescriptions can be frustrating, and you may be concerned about taking the pills for the rest of your life, painkillers might still be vital components of chronic pain management. However, it is important to ensure you are not taking addictive medications as GPs have been advised by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) not to prescribe opioids, and a range of other medications including paracetamol, for managing chronic pain.
Don’t be afraid to consult your doctor about any concerns and, if necessary, ask to speak to the clinical pharmacist attached to the GP practice. This is particularly important if you have several health conditions and therefore multiple prescriptions as the clinical pharmacist is best placed to ensure patients with complex needs get the best from their medication by reducing, when possible, the different types of medications prescribed: research shows that patients taking five or more different medications have a 50% chance of an adverse drug interaction.
A clinical pharmacist will prescribe medications but cannot dispense them. If you can, use your local pharmacist as they provide wonderful advice and support as well as dispensing prescriptions. However, that isn’t always practical for everyone and you might prefer to use an online pharmacy such as Medicine Direct
Exercise is on our list for a good reason — natural endorphins obtained during a workout are a great boost for pain relief. Exercise will also help you retain flexibility and mobility.
You do not have to go to the gym — just talk to your health professional about a safe exercise program that you can either do on your own or with support from a specialist. A link worker may be able to help you find a rehabilitative exercise class in your area.
The NHS suggests a range of exercise options such as walking, swimming and yoga, plus a range of other advice, to help you manage chronic pain
Learn Relaxing Techniques
There are many relaxing methods to help you cope with chronic pain: breathing and muscle relaxation techniques, listening to calming music, meditation, or yoga. It will also help you reduce stress, which negatively affects pain levels, and improve your overall mental health.
Listen to Yourself
Nobody knows your body better than you, so you should listen to it. Don’t ignore your emotions, feel free to say “no” to an activity or treatment you are not comfortable with, and treat yourself with compassion.
Read Toni Bernhard’s How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide for some practical advice on dealing with emotions when living with chronic pain.