Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than 3 months. This is after the body has healed the tissue and life should be back to normal, but it’s not, because of the nagging pain. Sometimes chronic pain can be deep enough that no form of therapy seems to take the pain away. Pain management instead of getting rid of the pain becomes the goal. Forms of management are usually activities that are calming, non invasive and feel safe like Tai Chi, Yoga, walking, massage, spending time in nature, singing, meditation, and joining support groups. These are all great activities but in the day to day management of life, what else can one do? Dr. Diane LaChapelle outlines the 5 P’s of pain management:
Pace your tasks
Space your activities out over the day and week to avoid doing too much one day and not being able to do enough the next day.
Plan your tasks
Organize your day by setting small achievable goals. This way, you can manage as much as possible without suffering afterwards. Try to space your activity out over the day and week by breaking big jobs down into smaller tasks and taking periods of rest between each task (pacing). By planning ahead, you can get the job done without straining.
Prioritize your tasks
Figure out what is most important for you to accomplish today and this week. Then plan and pace accordingly. Remember that you have a limited amount of energy and time and that you may not be able to accomplish as much as you once did. Setting priorities is more important than ever. The page in this section entitled “Identifying Your Values” will help you identify your priorities.
Position your body and equipment correctly
For example, bend your knees when lifting and have an ergonomic computer work station. Consider consulting an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for recommendations about useful equipment and appropriate body positioning.
Problem solve to find an easier or different way to do tasks
Do you love to garden but find it too painful to kneel on the ground or to bend down to weed? Try container gardening or raised beds. Do you enjoy camping but find the ground too hard and cold to sleep in a tent? How about renting a cabin? Do you love going to the movies but cannot sit for that long? Arrive early and pick a seat in the back row so you can get up and stretch during the film. With a little creative problem solving, you might be able to continue doing many of the tasks you enjoy.
More information can be found on the Canadian Institute for the relief of pain and disability. http://www.cirpd.org/Pages/Default.aspx