Change your approach to pain: Transform how you feel and handle your pain

Persistent pain can have a huge effect on the lives of many. There is no single miracle cure for most with ongoing pain.

Providing an accurate picture of your pain and its impact on your life from one visit to the next can help your doctor support you better. The tools that will help you profile your pain are the quality of life scale and the pain diary.

The quality of life scale is a measure of function for people with pain where one is asked to rank the quality of life on a scale of 0-10. A score of 0 indicates non-functioning (staying in bed all day and feeling hopeless about life); a score of 7 may mean you can work or volunteer a few hours each day and a score of 10 means normal quality of life (can work every day and carry on a social life). This assessment may be repeated and will help in evaluating how well your treatment plan is working and if at all anything needs to be revised.

The pain diary is where you log where the pain is, the severity of your pain, how it started or worsened, and whether you used any medicine or other treatments. Keeping a diary is handy to note how far you have come and what didn’t work for you.

Good pain management is a combination of approaches. You can now achieve more from life with a wide variety of treatments. It could be exercise, manual therapies, electrotherapy, correct postures, managing activity levels and improving fitness.

Staying in good physical and mental health is the best way to prevent pain or cope with pain.

Approach for better long-term relief from pain

Setting goals / targets for each day can help keep the body and mind active on the long run and help in recovery. It is important to choose the goal that matter like going shopping or driving the car, and although the goals can be challenging, it is important to break them down into small and manageable steps.

You can feel better and can do more by keeping yourself active and improving general fitness. Yoga can ease pain, increase function, improve mood and also reduce the need for pain medication.

Many of the activities can be accomplished by setting goals regularly and pacing them slowly. Taking regular breaks in activities, changing position, resting briefly between activities or doing stretches throughout the day can help. Aim to walk or exercise at least 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes, slowly adding a few minutes a week.

Regular relaxation techniques can help one sleep, get good-quality rest and cope well with stressful and difficult situations. Deep breathing (taking a minute to breathe deeply and slowly) may melt away some of your pain and tension and can be done anywhere, at any time. There are other types of other relaxation techniques that may be available at your pain clinic or you could even refer to books, CDs or videos.

Keeping in touch with friends and family is good for overall health and socializing with people at home, over a cup of tea, within whatever limits you have can help you feel better.

One may forget enjoyable activities at times concentrating on what one must do. In your list of things to do daily try to include at least one enjoyable activity like phoning a friend, going out to the cinema or something else. Getting involved in activities or hobbies that will take the focus of attention away from your pain may be helpful. Other than pain and problems, it can also give you something to talk about to other people.

Although medicines may give valuable relief, it should be used to the minimum allowing one to increase general activity and exercise. One should not do it oneself when it comes to pain treatment. Although over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin and topical medications (directly rubbed or sprayed onto the skin) are good it may be risky to use them for a long time unless supervised by a doctor.

Life can be made more manageable, although it may require a great deal of effort to incorporate these changes into your day-to-day life