My journey with pain: I had a period of time not long ago when pain dominated every aspect of my life. I had days when I was so crippled with pain I could barely walk. To go from sitting to standing I had to have help and support otherwise I couldn’t get up. My family always had to be around to help me and make sure I was safe; I’d lost all my independence. But one year on and my pain is virtually non-existent. I still have flare ups if ever I overdo it or have a bad nights sleep, but it’s nothing in comparison to the pain I used to have. By constantly following these tips daily I would now consider myself pain free! It’s been a long battle, and one that requires a lot of discipline and courage even now, but it’s completely worth it. Although your pain may seem like an impossible battle right now, don’t lose hope. Take it one step at a time. Progress can be slow but just remember, you might be able to look back to this day a year from now and see just how far you’ve come, and be able to thank yourself for not giving up.
When you are in a lot of pain, it can have a severe impact on your quality of life. You might struggle to think of anything other than your pain and find it hard to enjoy day to day life. Managing your pain is something you probably dream of – you might not even be able to remember a time when you weren’t in pain! When it comes to managing pain, apart from drugs, there isn’t much advice out there as to what else you can do.
As someone who suffers from chronic pain, I discovered some very simple but effective ways to help reduce my pain. Each person’s pain is different and individual to them, so what might work for you might not work for others – remember it’s all trial and error. Depending on where the majority of your pain is and what’s causing it, will influence what things might help you. If your pain is variable, this may mean something that helps your pain one day might not be as effective another day, so keep returning to this page and try different things. All these tips are things you can start doing right now, but like taking your medication every day, you need to do these things daily for it to work. Here are some tips on ways to manage your pain:
- Compression socks – If you suffer from poor circulation, spend a lot of time lying down, or have pain in your lower legs, compression socks are worth investing in. Compression socks encourage blood flow to and from the legs and feet, which improves your circulation, and helps prevent conditions like blood pooling, swelling and venous conditions. They also help soothe tired, aching and fatigued legs and make standing for long periods more comfortable (especially useful after the shower).
- Stretches – Stretching is a very easy and effective way to help relieve your pain. When you stretch, you increase the blood flow to areas that have become stagnant (cease to flow or move), which helps alleviate any pain. It also increases your range of movement and oxygen flow, which helps the body to heal. It not only helps to reduce your pain; it is also great for reducing stress levels and to helping you relax more. If you’re very tired and suffer from fatigue, only do stretches that you feel comfortable with. These might be stretches on the floor with your back supported with a pillow against the wall/sofa. You can get some stretching exercises from your physio or health professional. If this isn’t suitable or available to you, a good place to buy stretches from is Elle Fit – https://www.ellefitactive.com/collections/shop – these guides have a full variety of stretches from head to toe and you can pick and choose stretches to suit you.
- Walking – If you suffer from back pain, circulation problems, or stiff muscles and joints, walking can be very beneficial. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and enhances your quality of life. Many people think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, but that’s not the case. It helps keep your muscles and surrounding tissue strong which is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. If you suffer with fatigue, make sure you only do what your energy levels allow – do you not overdo it. If you’re too tired to walk, try to just focus on doing some gentle stretches instead.
- Posture – If you suffer from back pain, it’s very important to make sure your posture is right. To help you, you might want to consider investing in a lower back support cushion, as this will help support your lower back and prevent further back pain. You can take the cushion everywhere with you – home, work, appointments, theatre trips, car journeys or even on the airplane! There are lots of support cushions out there so find the best one for you, an example of the one I use is – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BQWOARU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Amitriptyline – Amitriptyline is classified as an antidepressant, but it is mainly used at a lower dose by health professionals to help relieve chronic pain. It is one of the most common pain prescription medications as it relaxes the muscles and improves sleep. Amitriptyline can be prescribed by your GP, so talk through your options with them.
- Hot water – If you’re someone who suffers from stiff muscles in the morning, having a long hot shower is a great way to help your muscles relax and loosen up. The heat from the hot water helps promote better blood flow and circulation, which helps alleviate the pain.
- Heat Pad – Another effective form of heat is through a heat pad. These transportable heat pads are amazing! You can use it on areas that are especially painful, such as your back, neck, shoulders and abdomen. To buy one click here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BNAEIKE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Epsom salt – Epsom salts are not actually salts but a natural occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate. Having an Epsom salt bath is known to ease pain and relieve inflammation, making it beneficial for the treatment of sore muscles and migraine headaches. The absorption of the magnesium also helps to produce serotonin, which creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. However, just make sure if you’re having a bath you have enough energy for it, because baths can be very exhausting if you suffer with chronic fatigue and you need to make sure you can safely get out of the bath afterwards. You can buy Epsom salts from many places including Amazon, Boots, Asda, lookfantastic and Epsom salt websites.
- Pacing – This is probably one of the most effective ways to help manage your pain. When you over do it, even by the tiniest amount, your pain levels will shoot up. When this happens, it’s tempting to say “I’ve over done it now so I may as well keep going”, but DON’T!! You can still save your pain and fatigue levels from going down even further. As soon as you feel the “over-doing” signs, immediately sit down, put your feet up and rest. Even if you’re in the middle of a task, remember you can finish it later, the severe pain and fatigue you will face tomorrow won’t make it worth it. Pacing take a lot of discipline, but it’s vital to help keep the pain levels manageable.
- Massage oils and massaging – Doing some very gentle massaging can help ease the pain and promote relaxation. It’s better if you massage yourself or get someone very close to you to do it, so if it does hurt you feel comfortable enough to tell them to stop. Just be very careful it’s gentle and doesn’t then cause you further pain.
- Meditation – Increasingly psychologists are using meditation to help their patients cope with pain. Pain is only a sensation, albeit, a very unpleasant one. Meditation exercises can help to change your perception of that sensation and help reduce the pain.
- Mindfulness – You may be surprised but mindfulness can be very effective for pain relief. Many people try to push the pain out of their mind and try to avoid thinking about the pain, but this only makes it worse! When we try not to think about something we end up thinking about it more. For example, if you’re lying on the sofa focusing all your thoughts on your pain and how bad it is, you then might fall into a downward spiral of negative thoughts such as “my pain is so bad”, “what if it never goes away”, “what if I’m in pain forever”. These kinds of thoughts are unhelpful and only make your pain and situation worse. So instead of thinking “my pain is so bad”, recognise these as thoughts of pain and instead think “I’m having feelings of pain”. By accepting and acknowledging your thoughts of pain, it allows you to then move on and direct your attention back to the present moment. By mindfully accepting these thoughts it does not mean your pain will be any less, but it allows you to spend more time and energy on living everyday life in the present rather than ruminating about your pain all day, which will help improve the quality of your life. For more tips of “The Very Basics of Mindfulness” – click here.
- Hydrotherapy – Doing hydrotherapy with a physio can work wonders! It can be amazing for your pain and is a lot gentler on the body doing exercise in water than on land. However, hydrotherapy is only something you can do if your fatigue is at a good level, so make sure you are well enough to do this otherwise it can be very damaging to conditions like M.E..
- Sleep – Sleep is such an important aspect of managing pain, and many of you who do suffer with pain probably struggle to sleep as the two come hand in hand. It can become a vicious cycle – you can’t sleep so your pain becomes worse, then because your pain is worse it’s harder to sleep… Getting a good night sleep is so important for your mood and health. For tips on getting a good night sleep click here, and for tips on sleep routine click here.
- Look after yourself – When you’re tired, hungry, sick or in pain, you’re more susceptible to strong negative thoughts and emotions. So, make sure you take care of your diet, eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, and give yourself extra love and attention for those really bad and difficult days.
It’s important to remember that the pain won’t last for ever. Learning to manage your pain is a big learning curve, but overtime things can improve. Don’t give up hope! If you have any questions or want to share any tips on how you’ve managed your pain, feel free to either comment below or click on “contact me” from the menu to message me privately.
Metta, E xx