The effects of chronic pain 

Chronic pain can have a massive physical and emotional on you. Emotionally you may feel:

  • Stressed
  • Depressed
  • Feeling like you can’t do activities you used to do
  • Anxious 
  • Unable to sleep 

Physically you may adopt abnormal movement patterns. For example, if you believe that bending or lifting is bad for your back you may start to bend in a way that you don’t normally do or avoid doing it all together. This will put strain on other muscles and joints that do not normally have to do this action and other joints may get stiffer due to inactivity. 

All these factors may put you into a pain cycle:

Good news! There is something you can do to help break this cycle!

 

Management

Below are some ways to help you manage your pain. 

Pacing

You may have adopted a ‘boom and bust’ cycle. This is where you have a ‘good day’ so you try to do a lot i.e gardening, hoovering, hanging out washing etc. This is then followed by a bad day when you may feel like you can’t do anything. This cycle may lead to a gradual loss of strength and increase in pain. It can also have an impact on your mental health. 

You can break this cycling by pacing your activities:

  1. Decide on an activity / goal, you want to pace 
  2. Decide how much of this activity you can do on a bad day, this is your baseline 
  3. Do this amount of activity every day, good and bad days, for a week 
  4. Don’t do any more, even if you feel good 5. If you have managed to do this amount of activity every day plan your increase 6. Try to increase the activity by 20% each week.

Don’t try to do too much too quickly as this may cause the cycle to start again. 

 

Medication

Physiotherapists cannot prescribe medication however being on appropriate pain relief is important. Speak to your GP regarding pain relief especially if you are struggling to sleep. 

 

Relaxation

There are various ways of doing relaxation. You prefer mediation or relaxation tapes. There are various videos on youtube that you may find useful.

 

Exercise 

Exercise has numerous benefits:

  • Improvements in range of motion
  • Improved muscle strength 
  • Improved balance
  • Improved fitness
  • Improved mood 

Exercise releases endorphins or ‘feel good’ hormones. This will help to lift your mood and in turn can help to improve your pain. 

Exercise comes in all shapes and sizes and does not need to be strenuous or even take place in a gym! Physiotherapy can help you to start exercising in a safe and healthy way.