Dealing with chronic pain can be debilitating. It can be disheartening, exhausting, and even seem hopeless at times. The way you feel effects every part of your life – and if you constantly feel pain, this will certainly touch your relationships, your sleep, your nutrition, your mood, your preferences, and really every aspect of your daily life. 

Pain comes in many different forms, and is a different sensation for everyone, but it has been described by those suffering with chronic pain as “walking through a jungle engulfed in fog,” “being encased in quicksand,” or “an unyielding static of discomfort.” For those of us who have never experienced chronic pain, it’s difficult for us to understand feeling like this all of the time. For those who are living with a condition that presents itself in the form of chronic pain, you understand these statements.

Did you know that as you age, your chances for dealing with chronic pain increase? As our bodies change and age, they become more susceptible and vulnerable to feeling pain. Many aging adults are handling painful conditions on their own, wondering if there are better ways to manage chronic pain. Unmanaged painful conditions can result in many different problems, including but not limited to:

  • Anxiety – some begin to wonder when the medicine will kick in, when the pain will let up for a moment, when sleep will come.
  • Depression – this feeling of hopelessness often presents in depression, or feelings of not belonging, and no support.
  • Decreased coordination – the pain present in your body might prevent you from doing the tasks you were once capable of. 
  • Loss of appetite – foods you once enjoyed might now be undesirable. The thought of food might even make you nauseous at times.
  • Increased irritability – when your nerves are constantly aware of pain, you might have little energy for patience with others, and find yourself getting irritated with things that you didn’t use to be bothered by.

Chronic pain is best described as pain that lasts past the period of 6 months. Acute pain would be a painful sensation that lasted 6 months or less.

Because the range and specifics of different painful conditions are so vast, a plan of care must cater to the specific type and intensity of the pain that a person is feeling. This post focuses on non-pharmacological management techniques, which can be used alongside any pain management prescriptions that your doctor has prescribed. Using these methods alongside your medications can assist you in coping with the pain day-to-day, and should the time come that you can remove the medication from your regimen, you still possess coping skills and non-pharmacological mechanisms to manage your pain.

Some common management techniques include:

1. Comfortable Positioning & Environment

Ensure that you are able to find the most comfortable place and position in your home. Test out a few different positions and places. Does dim lighting alleviate symptoms? A quiet, cool room? Does the pain increase when you are sitting upright? Try reclining propped up on a few pillows. Music, scents, and even lighting can all effect the way your pain presents itself, so try changing the ambiance of the room you spend most of your time in.

2. General Wellness Practices

Your sleep patterns, nutrition habits, water intake, and exercise rituals all affect your overall health, and therefore your pain levels. Make sure to talk with your doctor about appropriate levels for all of these factors. Physical therapy, yoga, consuming fruits and vegetables of your choosing, and resting when needed can be helpful to your mental and physical health when handling chronic pain. Food is medicine! Consuming the right types of vitamins and minerals through fresh produce intake can greatly improve one’s quality of life. Challenge yourself to eat more veggies, get moving, and drink more water!

3. Relaxation 

Ensure that your day has a relaxing aspect by incorporating massage, aromatherapy, a comedic show to laugh at, or just a good friend dropping by. How do you like to relax? We all have different preferences. Maybe your favorite TV show airs at noon, and enjoying lunch while relaxing with a show is your way of winding down. Perhaps you pick up a good novel before bed, or you enjoy a phone call with family members in the afternoon. Whatever it may be, make sure to incorporate relaxation and enjoyable moments in your life, they can greatly increase mood and even provide a distraction from the pain!

4. Pharmacological Solutions

If you are dealing with chronic pain, chances are, your doctor has already prescribed a medication to manage the pain along with other measures. Be sure to consult with your doctor frequently about dosage and side-effects. Set reminders on a phone or alarm clock to remind you to take your pills, or have a Caregiver or family member assist you in regularly administering your medication. Be sure to check out the side effects, if you should take the meds with food, and ensure that you are taking the right dosage before starting to take new medication.

5. Therapy

A therapist can help you identify cognitive coping skills to live with your pain and to have plans of action when the pain gets out of hand. The way you mindfully handle pain is an important aspect of living with chronic pain. Processing and discussing the types of pain you’re feeling and how this affects your life can be cathartic, and release you from the feeling of being alone. Joining a support group with members dealing with chronic pain can provide you with others who understand what you might be feeling. Be sure to set up supports in your life including family, friends, trained professionals, and even a Caregiver to be available when you start to forget your coping options and the tactics you have available for you to assist in alleviating the pain.

If you need help managing your chronic pain, call today and let our Caregivers help you manage your medication intake, improve your nutrition, find enjoyable activities, and talk through your journey with chronic pain. You don’t have to do this alone! Call:

(570) 587-4700

Sources:

https://www.managedhealthcareconnect.com/article/managing-chronic-pain-older-adult-long-term-care

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707527/

https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2093070

https://www.healthline.com/health/12-things-only-someone-living-with-chronic-pain-would-understand.

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