Physical pain is often a very private affair, especially when it is chronic. The impact that chronic pain has on us is often not visible to other people. We each experience chronic pain in idiosyncratic ways and generally do our very best to continue living as normally as possible. However, chronic pain can be relentless and exhausting.
Most people who live with chronic pain have found that a pharmaceutical approach, on its own, does not provide long term relief. Skilful management of chronic pain requires an holistic approach that addresses the physical, mental and emotional aspects of the person.
There are a range of different tools which can all help manage your pain.
THE PAIN SCALE
Using a scale to talk about your pain can be an especially useful tool. This means you ‘measure’ your pain on a scale of 0 to 10.
- ‘0’ means you’re pain free
- 10 means that something needs to be done about your pain RIGHT NOW.
To ‘scale’ pain in this way seems somehow to objectify it. It puts it out there for discussion with your caregiver or family.
After a time, you’ll also learn which number on the scale corresponds with the technique most useful in alleviating it.
- 3 could mean some diversional activity will take care of it. Perhaps a walk in the garden or a game of cards.
- 5 could mean it’s necessary to practice a particular relaxation technique.
- 7 might mean you need to look for assistance in the form of appropriate or additional analgesics.
It will be a highly individual scale and will take a time to become familiar with what helps most.
People’s pain tolerance can vary enormously. Some people have a remarkably high pain threshold while others will experience fear immediately and that will almost ‘lock in’ their pain and make it all-consuming.
Sometimes, when a disease progresses, our tolerance to pain diminishes and we require more effective techniques for its control.
Factors such as the weather, weariness, boredom, fear or anticipation of some unpleasant procedure, or simply the thought of the energy needed to fulfil the day’s tasks can influence how we will experience our pain.
THE BOREDOM FACTOR
Pain often restricts our activities, both mental and physical, and when boredom is added to pain it can become much worse.
If boredom is a facet of pain, it’s helpful to know the activities that stimulate your mind. These could include everything from a walk in the garden, doing a crossword, playing Scrabble or listening to an audiobook or podcast. Other activities like knitting, painting, drawing and other crafts can also be beneficial.
TECHNIQUES OF RELAXATION FOR PAIN RELIEF
Relaxation techniques are extremely valuable in relation to pain relief. When we feel uptight and anxious, it will compound our pain and make even the smallest twinge a cause for fear.
It’s important to communicate with someone about your pain so you address the emotional or psychological components involved. Having done that, regular practice of techniques which help to minimise or eliminate stress is invaluable.
HOW QUEST FOR LIFE CAN HELP
Quest for Life’s programs and services focus on ways to create a healing environment. Our holistic recovery-oriented programs have the potential to change people’s lives in profoundly positive ways. Long-term research on the impact of Quest programs finds that over 90% of participants improve their quality of life and feel more in control of, and able to make changes to, their life.
Taking Control of Chronic Pain is a residential program that focuses on the needs of participants in a compassionate and safe environment. Participants can expect to leave with a clear plan to continue their lifestyle choices and practices, and with the motivation to do so. Over the 5 days of the program, most participants notice changes in their experience of pain. This encourages them to continue what they’ve practiced at Quest during the program.
Through grant funding, Quest can offer full and part subsidies to attend our residential programs. Please call the Programs Team on 1300 941 488 to find out more.
Learn more about Taking Control of Chronic Pain.