Coping better with persistent or chronic pain
Chronic or persistent pain is more than just a biological or physical phenomenon. Both social and psychological factors can change how we experience and perceive pain, these factors can increase pain or be utilised to decrease ‘the volume’ of pain. The role of self-management is to improve a person’s social and psychological environment, with the aim of decreasing pain. Self-management is critical to effective pain reduction, as biologically-based treatments are shown to be less effective if not coupled with good social and psychological conditions. Self-management in a broad sense refers to an individual’s ability to manage their chronic condition on a day-to-day basis. The term self-management is used widely in the world of chronic or persistent pain and can mean a range of different things, but was first used to suggest “that patients are active participants in their own treatments” (Grady and Gough 2014). Shulman Green et al. 2012 suggest that “optimal self-management entails the ability to monitor the illness and to develop and use cognitive, behavioural and emotional strategies to maintain a satisfactory quality of life”. In other words, self-management is about being in touch with your chronic pain needs and developing and using an arsenal of coping strategies to live what you consider to be a good life.
At Metro Pain Group, self-management refers to a set of skills that providers collaborate with their patients to develop, which will assist patients in managing their pain and will facilitate better outcomes from treatments. Common self-management skills are; pain acceptance, self-compassion, addressing the stigma of chronic or persistent pain on a personal level, tracking your pain to assist you in finding patterns in your pain, relaxation techniques (ie. Yoga or meditation), exercise, good sleep, balanced/anti-inflammatory diet, distraction, pacing yourself and time management, so that you can prioritise the things you love.
Within a self-management paradigm, you, the patient, intimately know your condition and are best placed to manage it, when given access to the appropriate resources. These resources might be GPs and other health providers, specialist treatments, psychologists, social workers, online pain communities, pain management programs both online or through a pain clinic, Google (take caution) and support from family and friends. Ultimately, someone who is self-managing their chronic condition has the ability to identify their illness needs, activate available resources and live well with a chronic illness. However, self-management is a process and not an end-goal and set-backs and failures are part of the learning curve and not an indicator that we can’t self-manage effectively. As with most things human, good is better than perfect.
At Metro Pain Group, we have a team of doctors, physiotherapists, nurses and psychologists who can assist you to tap into and build on your existing self-management skills.
If you would like to find out how you can cope better with pain using self-management strategies, please fill out the form below:
Grady PA, Gough LL. Self-management: a comprehensive approach to management of chronic conditions. Am J Public Health. 2014;104(8):e25–e31. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302041
Schulman-Green D, Jaser S, Martin F, et al. Processes of self-management in chronic illness. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2012;44(2):136–144. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2012.01444.x