Chronic pain isn’t something to be taken lightly. So many of our own patients deal with chronic pain every single day, which is why chronic pain management techniques and exploring different ways to manage chronic pain are so crucial. Chronic pain is a common symptom found within the chronic illness or rare disease community, affecting those with diseases such as Fabry disease, cancer and more.
In this article, we go into chronic pain management techniques and tips submitted by our own PSI community, as well as a personal chronic pain testimony by PSI’s own Gunnar Simonsen.
Although chronic pain is many times a symptom of chronic illness, chronic pain can stem elsewhere, such as a serious injury or surgery recovery. As of 2016, an estimated 20.4% of American adults had chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months and stands alone from the original illness or injury that may have started it. This is an important difference when comparing chronic pain with other types of pain, such as acute pain.
This constant, debilitating pain can be life-restricting and altering in many ways. Sometimes, activities that one might not think twice about can be a serious struggle for someone battling chronic pain, such as taking a shower or brushing your teeth.
Ways to Manage Chronic Pain from PSI Patients
Dealing with chronic pain is something that is individual to each affected person. For example, one relaxation method that helps one person may cause pain for another.
This is why we asked our PSI community for their input on dealing with chronic pain, to get a variety of coping techniques and methods that chronic pain warriors use.
Our PSI family responded with the below tips on how they battle their chronic pain – if you deal with chronic pain, hopefully some of these techniques may be helpful to you.
Chronic Pain Management Techniques from PSI Patients
*Note: patients are following the treatment plan prescribed by their physician*
From our Facebook Community:
“Meditation and breathing exercises” – Charles McCray
“I have tried everything except acupuncture. (My) doctor feels that could bring on attacks of another medical condition. So I have done physical therapy, pain clinics, meditation, saunas, heating pad, music, reading — my pets bring comfort and I take scheduled pain meds to ease what they can. Keeping your mind busy lessens the hurt.” – Cathy Klunk
“Epsom salt hydrotherapy, massage, cannabis and acupuncture. I equate this with insulin for diabetes, necessary treatment.” – Barbara Ann
From our Instagram Community:
“For me, I am still learning how to best manage, but I have learned what a big role stress plays in it for me. So managing my stress is a big part of me. Also, being okay slowing down and resting when I need to and not overdoing myself has been a big help. Knowing that I can’t go 110% all the time like I did when I was younger, and knowing that is okay.” – @onceuponad.r.e.m
“Cannabis helps a lot now. I just need something for when I almost blackout from pain. Cannabis takes the edge off for the everyday pain not for the over the top, crazy pain.” – @c.h.a.r.e.l
“I have several methods I’ve incorporated over the last year and a half. Anti-inflammatory diet, tens unit, essential oils, supplements and kinesiology tape. I have just started using CBD/THC tinctures over the last month as I received my card. I believe it is helping minimize the pain and inflammation but I know it is also helping me keep my seizures at bay.” – @bendylikebex
Chronic Pain Management: My Chronic Pain Story
For nearly a decade, I suffered from chronic pain. Having had back surgery at the age of 31 and nearly a second surgery at 35, life after was never the same. Increasingly, over time, I didn’t sleep well, I was constantly fatigued, and in this, I became depressed.
Sadly, because of who I was, I was too embarrassed to admit that I had a problem. I didn’t want others to think I was weak. I didn’t want to be a burden. So, I kept to myself. It’s no wonder that according to a Harvard study on depression and pain, ‘people with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop depression and anxiety than those without chronic pain.’
I was always the outgoing person who spent most of my time trying to make others laugh or smile or feel good. In retrospect, I think a lot of that was due to me wanting to keep others at arm’s length. You can’t allow others to get too close and see you for who you really are.
On the outside, I was perceived as this successful businessman who had run businesses and traveled the world as a speaker and consultant inspiring others. But what I had quickly become was a mere shadow of myself. It was paralyzing. Rarely could I even motivate myself.
All of this played right into my battle with chronic pain.
Everyday was always the same. It was like the movie “Groundhog Day” where life is pretty much rinse and repeat. Each morning, I would lay there in bed as my body would just throb. I knew I needed to get up. I had to be productive. I had to pay the bills. But, in time, my only victories were just making it through another day unnoticed by others of what was really going on with me.
Is there any hope? Or, will this just be how life is going to be? I didn’t want to spend my life on medications just to make it through another day. I had lost my will to even begin to see if there was a better life that lied in wait. I had become resigned.
Chronic pain can be a lonely place for the one in five adults in the U.S. who suffer from it. Although prescription medications can offer much relief to chronic pain, it wasn’t until I found myself in the ER and began to find the strength to get active that things began to turn around for me.
At 47, I found myself in the ER. When I entered the emergency room, I was resigned that this was just how life was going to be. But something happened to me. When I left the ER, I had found a resolve that maybe just maybe my life didn’t have to be this way.
A study from Duquesne University found that exercise can reduce pain sensitivity by upwards of 60 percent. With that, and from the scare a trip to the ER can give you, I suddenly found myself as a man on a mission. It wasn’t the chronic pain that was keeping me down, it was the depression that came from it that was keeping me from being active.
I’m now 50 years old and for the most part, pain free. I’ve lost 100 pounds from the spring of my 47th year. I’m running. I’m working out. I’m eating healthier. I get over 10,000 steps a day. I’m living life like never before. Of course, all of this ‘post-ER visit’ activity has been in concert with consultation from my physician. But, I never thought any of this would be possible.
There is not a day that goes by though that I don’t remember how dark it got. That was a very lonely time in my life. Now, I use it as both motivation and appreciation.
I have come a long way. I am humbled, thankful and blessed to be where I am today. My season of battling chronic pain has helped inform the person I am today. It has also caused me to become more empathetic to the plight of others and what they may be facing. Whether known to the world or not.
Is there hope? I believe there is always hope. It’s just a matter of perspective and how we view the things that truly do matter in life. Too often, we take for granted all that which was never guaranteed, like that next breath. For me, I’m now giving thanks with every breath, and in this, living a life filled with appreciation.
Feel free to submit your own testimony, whether that be your story, your chronic pain management techniques, ways you deal with chronic pain or illness, or anything else.