Living with chronic pain

    • Brief

    • Chronic pain may come and go or be there all the time with different intensities. Living with chronic pain, you may face challenges, including physical, emotional or financial challenges.

      Usually, we feel pain due to certain circumstances, such as a cut or a thump, and we recover from it. However, having to live with pain for more than three consecutive months can have significant effects on your daily life.

    • When you get the diagnosis

    • Although some pain is useful, helping to identify a disease or the worsening of a condition, chronic pain is not useful and it may be disturbing. The pain may come and go or it may be there all the time with different intensities. When you are diagnosed with chronic pain take action immediately to get pain relief. If you start treatments early enough, you may have more options and get better outcomes.

    • Work and your health

    • Your chronic pain may have a clear cause, but the cause may also remain unknown. If there is a known cause such as cancer or arthritis, getting treatment for these conditions can reduce the pain. If there is no clear cause, your healthcare provider may prescribe strong pain relief medicine.

      Pushing yourself too much through the pain can make the pain worse. Take breaks in between tasks. This can help you conserve energy and get more work done.

      Try to get enough sleep: 8 hours per night. Sleeping less can make your pain worse and make you irritable. Observing sleep hygiene can help you sleep better, for example, turning off the lights before going to bed or getting a quiet room to sleep in. You may also need to change your bed or mattress to a more comfortable one to make sleeping easier.

    • Diet and nutrition

    • Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you deal with the pain. Eat a healthy mix of carbohydrates (like brown rice and carrots), proteins (like fish and eggs) and fats and oils (from nuts and avocado). You can follow the recommendations for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) or the Mediterranean diet, both of which are very healthy. These diets focus on increasing your intake of lean proteins and getting carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.

      Make sure that you keep yourself hydrated, as it supports your overall health and wellbeing.

    • Physical activity

    • Keeping physically active can help you maintain good health and reduce pain sensitivity. Start with an activity that your can cope with. This may be as simple as exercising while seated. Discussing your exercises with your healthcare provider.

      When you have increased pain, you may be tempted to remain in bed all day, waiting for the pain to pass. This can make your pain worse and may cause bed sores if you stay in bed for days without getting up. Instead, take short walks around your house or street, get your water or food yourself from the kitchen, or do light exercises.

    • Support from family and community

    • Seek support from a family member, your healthcare provider or a neighbour. Having a friend you can talk to about how you feel can help you deal with the pain. You may also seek support from people who have or are going through similar conditions. They are likely to understand your situation and may be able to give you beneficial tips to cope with the pain.

      When you are in pain constantly, it may prevent you from spending time with friends or may mean that you need to visit the hospital often. This may leave you in a low mood or even depressed. Speak with your healthcare provider. They can refer you for the required mental health care.

    • Financial impact

    • Chronic pain can reduce your productivity because you may not do as much work as you used to. This can affect your income or may lead to the loss of your job. The cost of buying medicines or undergoing treatment to reduce your pain can also impact your finances.

      If you have a history of heightened pain sensitivity or have a diagnosis that may likely put you at risk of chronic pain, see about getting health insurance. Your healthcare provider can help you decide on the best option for you.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Living with chronic pain is a daily struggle. From trying to have a pain free moment to just being happy and not having to worry, it can be overwhelming. You can explore treatments like physiotherapy, behavioural cognitive therapy and the use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices with your healthcare provider.

      Seek help and support from your loved ones and those who are also suffering from chronic pain (e.g. a support group). Explore different treatment options with your healthcare provider until you find what works for you.