The Pain Factor
Pain can be a major reason for not being able to get out and do the things you would like to do. There are different types of pain, some of which are physically based while others are emotionally based. Whatever the reason, pain can reduce your quality of life and limit your opportunities.
“The word “pain” can mean different things to different people and different things to the same person, depending on the context in which the word is used. The pain of a broken bone, or appendicitis, childbirth or persistent low back and leg pain are all different, as is the pain when a loved one dies”
excerpt from Arthritis News Autumn 1995 written by Dr. Roger Goucke
There are many physical chronic conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis of which pain is a contributing factor that can reduce lifestyle options. These conditions especially can limit movement if there is persistent pain present.
This is a very complex process which often lacks an easily identifiable cause. There are many causes of chronic pain hence it is often difficult to treat. One important goal in managing chronic pain is to continue to maintain the functional capacity to the maximum. With pain however, one of the things people often do is reduce the amount of activity and movement to make the pain easier to bear. Unfortunately, with decreased movement, joint stiffness increases with a resultant reduction in muscle strength and thus overall function. This can be overcome by ensuring that as much mobility as possible is maintained and that any modifications are made and appropriate physical aids utilized
N.B. Much chronic pain is not “useful” to the body. The numerous body systems change when a lot of pain is present, to the point that even a slight touch or even unhappy thoughts may “trigger” the pain. This pain is still very real but may not indicate a problem with the part of the body where the pain is being experienced. This type of pain responds well to relaxation, heat and “distraction.” This is the type of pain is more commonly experienced as we get older.
Of course strong, new pain must never be ignored. There are health professionals who are experienced and able to assist you with these special problems and to cope with pain. It is important that you seek appropriate help and utilize these services that are available to you.
Here are some basic, simple self – help ideas that you could do and might find useful to help you cope. They do involve some thought and effort on your part, but if it’s going to make your life easier and more manageable in the long run, it’s worth giving it a go!
- Massage – this can help relieve aches, warm up the area that is causing problems and assist with increasing the circulation
- Relaxation – this can relieve reduce some of the tension and tightness in specific areas or generally help the total body feel more comfortable. Increased muscle tension can be associated with periods of stress and this may stir up any area which is vulnerable and increase the degree of pain experienced.
- Rest – sometimes the body needs to be supported and remain immobile for a certain period of time to allow that part of the body relief from all the stresses put on it which could be increasing the amount of pain present. It may be advisable to take several short breaks during the day. Having sufficient and correct support to the parts affected may be needed with use of resting splints.
- Using your body in the most efficient way eliminating any unnecessary movement and conserving your energy may reduce the amount of pain you have overall.
- Gentle movements to keep the muscles lengthened out prevents any tightness and tension in and around the joint which can make things more uncomfortable. The joints also need to be kept lubricated by gentle activity to keep them working as effectively as possible.
- Keeping the part of the body sufficiently warm can also help tremendously in your campaign to relieve your pain.
- Distraction. – By focusing on something good and positive other than the pain can result in reducing the amount of pain experienced, it can provide temporary relief but will not make the pain go away permanently. It is a strategy certainly worth practicing as it can help you get through a normally painful activity period.
These self-help ideas do not mean that the pain will go away if the condition is chronic but may make the pain easier live with and therefore more manageable.
It is important respect pain as it is the body’s warning sign of things not working quite correctly.
Get to know your own particular issue(s) and keep your body mobile and muscles as strong as possible to protect the joints and help relieve some pain.
Many people with chronic pain develop some degree of depression which is another factor to cope with and seek help for.
There can be days when we can “fire on all cylinders” and then there are other days when it is very hard to get any spark at all going — do you have those days? Things just don’t go right. There are possibly many reasons, and causes, for this happening to us. Sometimes there are things that have happened in the past, or currently, that acts as a trigger which can make us feel very sad, inadequate, lonely and anxious. The many changes and losses which need to be managed can bring on a deep emotional pain/ache making things very hard to cope with at any level. As you know, this can limit your options as well as quality of life.
Some of the ideas suggested here may also help you:
- Memories are made of this: Remember and recall happier times.
- Music: sometimes favourite pieces can lift your mood, albeit temporarily.
- Talking to someone: A problem shared can be a problem halved.
- Writing it out: Writing is knows to assist with grief and other emotions.
- Relaxation / meditation. Well known to ease stress and exhaustion.
- Time out: Giving yourself permission to stop working or worrying.
- Positive thinking: A positive attitude helps the mind and body feel better.
“Take care of your body it’s the only place you have to live”
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”
This article provides you with some basic background on the issue of pain. There will be further and more specific articles on conditions and body parts to assist you with pain. Movement Matters in future newsletters