with pain that won’t go away can be discouraging at best and unbearable at worst. But it is important to remember that there are treatment
options that can reduce your pain and improve your quality of life. Your doctor
may recommend the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications, in
addition to other therapies like physical therapy or exercise, to manage your
However, if you are living with chronic pain, overcoming the
emotional challenges can be the hardest step in the coping process. The
American Chronic Pain Association has created a list of ten steps for coping
with chronic pain and transitioning from the mentality of a patient to a
1. Accept the Pain
Chronic pain should not be ignored or taken lightly. If you have been living
with chronic pain, it is important to recognize it as a problem, learn about
your condition, and see your doctor to talk through treatment options.
2. Get Involved
Take ownership of your pain relief. Understand your
treatment plan, engage with your doctor, and be an active partner in your own
health care. The accountability will help you overcome emotional challenges and
keep you motivated to continue improving your overall health and quality of
3. Learn to Set
Living with chronic pain can put the rest of your life on
the back burner, as relieving pain becomes your top priority. Make a list of
things in your life that you would like to do, whether it is exercising more
frequently, visiting with family and friends, or traveling. Setting priorities
and goals beyond just pain relief can help you enjoy life a little more, while
also keeping you determined to relieve pain in order to achieve those goals.
4. Set Realistic
Coping with chronic pain can be daunting, particularly as
you try to resume everyday activities that once were easy and normal. Managing
your pain in small steps can give you a sense of accomplishment, and also help
you achieve your larger goals more effectively.
5. Know Your Basic
Many people suffer from chronic pain silently, not wanting to bother others
with their problem. Understand that you may have different needs because of
your chronic pain, and denying those needs can just make the pain worse. The
American Chronic Health Association says the most important basic rights to
remember are, “the right to be treated with respect, to say no without guilt,
to do less than humanly possible, to make mistakes, and to not need to justify
your decisions, with words or pain.”
6. Recognize Emotions
Living with chronic pain is just as much an emotional issue as a physical
one. Recognizing how your emotions affect your pain, and vice versa, can help
relieve your pain and make everyday living more enjoyable.
7. Learn to Relax
Persistent pain is a stressful experience, but it is important to find ways
to relax the mind and body. Not only can stress make the pain worse, but it
also causes other physical and emotional side effects. Find ways to relax in
your own way, whether that means deep breathing exercises, yoga, or just going
outside to play with your dog.
There is no need to fear or avoid exercise, even if you live with chronic
pain. In fact, moderate exercise can actually help you decrease pain by
building and toning muscles, increasing endurance and strength, and improving
attitude and self-esteem.
9. See the Total
Following the steps above will hopefully help you realize that your pain
does not define who you are. Concentrate on what you’re able to do, not what
you aren’t able to do. Chronic pain may be a part of your life, but feeling
confident in your knowledge and management of the pain can help put the rest of
your life back on track.
10. Reach Out
Millions of people suffer from chronic pain and don’t share their
experience with others out of guilt, embarrassment or pride. Sharing what
you’ve learned about successfully managing your pain can help others find their
path to pain relief and encourage them to seek help and much needed support.