Many health advisers have discussed the mistreatment and torture and their negative effects on the patients of chronic pain. Misleading CDC statistics of overdose deaths including fentanyl, heroine & other illicit (not prescribed) drugs and combinations of benzo and alcohol, and fears of DEA have made it impossible for chronic pain patients to find doctors to treat them. Because of this abandonment many are unable to function with complications of uncontrolled persistent pain, depression & other physical problems; others turning to suicide or street drugs. The DEA and others need to differentiate between chronic pain patients with real medical diagnoses, and drug abusers. We must hope that we can find a way to correct this wrong. Chronic pain patients are not criminals, and must be treated as patients who need our help and support. Various studies suggest that about 30 to 40% of United States population are having chronic pain/ illness with ratio of females are higher than males (Johannes et al., 2010). Chronic pain impacts many areas of our lives: relationships, work, hobbies, and physical health among so many other areas. And it is through the interaction of pain and each of these areas that individuals can easily fall into a vicious pain cycle.
Difference between Chronic and Acute Pain
Chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Chronic pain is like an alarm that’s malfunctioning or goes off when it doesn’t need to, like a smoke alarm with a dying battery. We’ve all had that neighbor whose car alarm goes off any time a cat walks by or the wind blows, waking you up in the middle of the night and going on and on. Everyone on the street knows they don’t need to call 911 or come flying up out of bed to chase off a thief, and yet that alarm still has an impact on your life. Chronic pain may arise from an initial injury, such as a back sprain, or there may be an ongoing cause, such as illness, well, chronic. It lasts longer than three months and the pain persists beyond the normal expected healing time or despite some sort of treatment. Whereas cute pain is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, chronic pain is very different. Acute pain is like an alarm system. It tells you your body is being or has recently been damaged so that you can do something about it. The message can be, “The burner is hot, so please stop touching it,” or “The tendon in your ankle is damaged and walking on it will have negative consequences.” It’s information you need and can put to use.
Impact of Human Life
People with chronic pain often stop engaging in their daily activities as much. This may not happen all at once, but little by little. And when one engages in less physical activities, bodies slowly start deconditioning. Sort of like a use it or lose it situation. Usually what goes along with this is negative thoughts, self-defeating thoughts like “I can’t do anything with this pain” or “I’ll never be able to do”. And anyone who is having these thoughts and the myriad of unpleasant emotions (e.g. shame, guilt, sadness) that go along with it will naturally start avoiding people, places, and things that involve movement because of the fear of causing more pain. Over the long term, that just means more pain unfortunately.
Skillfully treating the Chronic Pain
There are treatments which enable us to effectively manage and deal with Chronic Pain like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. But for this we must be clear that even with these tools, it does not mean the pain go away forever, but maybe we can make our lives around the pain a bit more tolerable. So with that said, there are six important skills which are given below, will help us to deal with chronic pain.
Smartness of goal.
Always set smart goals for your life. The goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. When do you want to exercise? How many times per week? Where are you going to do it? For how long? With whom? Ask yourself these types of questions to help you think through the steps you need to take.
It’s hard to move past your chronic pain if you don’t know where your headed, so make a SMART goal for yourself.
Exercise for pain treatment
“Motion is Lotion” as they say. As you age, you do not have as much synovial fluid or lubrication in the joints. This can make movement more difficult, so low-impact exercise can be helpful in maintaining some muscle strength. Just make sure that beginning any sort of exercise regimen, you talk to your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or Medical Doctor first. By exercise we mean starting physical activities slowly and steadily and avoiding overdo themselves when they feel better and then pay the price for the amount they did the next few days. It’s better to have a more consistent, less strenuous exercise routine than one that happens once every few weeks when you feel good. This doesn’t just apply for exercise, but any sort of activity. Take breaks based on how much time you have worked and not how much you have accomplished. Hopefully by resting more, you can actually get more done in the long run and not wear yourself out after one hard day. Remember that exercise always contribute toward your pleasant mood.
Relax and Mediation
People with chronic pain often live in a perpetual “fight or flight” state where their bodies are tense. The tension actually creates more pain, so learning relaxation tools can be really helpful. It is therefore recommended that downloading some meditation apps on your phone and using them once per day. These apps are mostly free and have thousands of free meditations advices.
Keep having fun with care
As mentioned earlier, chronic pain often leads to an isolated life for fear of causing any more emotional or physical pain than is already there. However, the less you engage in pleasant activities, the worse your mood gets and the more your quality of life decreases. Considering this important aspect, it is recommended to search some pleasant activities schedules on google. This will help you to find hundreds of possible things you can do to improve your mood. But keep in mind that for your own life, what might be useful.
Thinking positive in pain lessen your body stress. Research has shown that catastrophizing thoughts (e.g. “I can’t do anything with this pain.”, “This pain will never go away.”) are often more predictive of the pain one experiences than the physical impairment itself or the imaging associated with the impairment. Specifically, those who experienced chronic pain and report catastrophizing thoughts will have more disability and psychological distress. So this means that examine your thoughts.
Always try to have good sleep
Sleep is the body’s time to recharge itself and if you’re not getting good and sound sleep than your pain will be increasing. Now let’s discuss few things which will enable you to improve your sleep:-
Set a consistent sleep/wake schedule so your body can get used to it and begin to recognize cues that it’s time to go to sleep. For this you can create a nighttime ritual or other activities etc.
Adjust your bedroom so that it is free from distractions and unnecessary lights as your trying to fall asleep.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, or alcoholtoo close to bed.
Address any emotional concerns you have during the day rather than letting them fester as you try to fall asleep.
The six skill discussed above, if are followed regularly for longer time will be having long-lasting and powerful effects. And while they are simple skills relatively speaking, they are difficult to implement given how tiring living with chronic pain can be. So while this is not a panacea, maybe implementing just one of these skills can provide a moment of relief.