Chronic pain can impact all aspects of a person’s life - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Pain self-management is the idea that you are in control over how you deal with your pain. You are foremost expert of your own body and play the biggest role managing your pain. Health professionals and researchers agree that self-care and life skills play vital roles in a person's pain management. Research shows that some of the best ways to improve your life is to help you live with your pain instead of masking it. When you accept your pain, you change how you experience pain and begin the process of reducing it.
Therefore, any pain management program needs to broaden its focus to deal not only with the pain but also with improving the individual’s overall quality of life. Research shows that a healthy, well-balanced life can have a huge impact on the experience of chronic pain.
CIRPD has a variety of self-management resources for the following health conditions:
There are many activities you can do to help manage your pain. These activities aim to support overall self-care and lower your stress levels. Some of these activities include:
- Breathing techniques
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
Physical activity helps improve physical and mental health. Exercise plays a vital role in the management of chonic pain. Regular physical activity can keep the muscles Exercise helps:
- Reduce stiffness and pain
- Increase energy and stamina
- Improve sleep quality
- Promote weight loss and long-term weight management
There are many fitness centres and organizations that have exercise programs [insert link to BC Consumer Guide] specifically for arthritis.
Improving your sleep quality helps restore your energy levels and rest your muscles . Sleep also helps reduce stress, which can aggravate chronic pain. Some tips to help your sleep habits:
- Do moderate exercise on a regular basis
- Don't exercise right before bedtime
- Don't drink alcohol and caffeine, especially late in the day.
- Do establish a regular sleep schedule, especially for when you wake up
- Do practice mindfulness
- Do practice guided imagery
- Do speak with your doctor
Heat and Cold Therapy
Using heat and cold treatments can reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Cold packs numb the sore area and reduce inflammation and swelling. They are especially good for joint pain caused by a flare. Heat relaxes your muscles and stimulates blood circulation. You can use dry heat, such as heating pads or heat lamps, or moist heat, such as warm baths or heated wash cloths.
What do you do to self-manage your pain? Do you have a technique that works particularly well? If so, let us know!
Breathing: Chinese Holistic Health Exercises, How to Cope with Pain, Health Hint
Progressive muscle relaxation: Inner Health Studio, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Online Relaxation Exercises
Guided Imagery: Inner Health Studio, Integrative Pain Medicine, Medscape,
Mindfulness: Mindfulness Exercises, Mindfulness skills,
Self-Management: Patient Perspective video, CIRPD video, Effective Coping video
BC based Resources
Last Updated: July 5, 2011
Reviewed by: Marc White PhD, Scientific & Executive Director, CIRPD