Chronic pain is a complex experience with physical, psychological, and social factors.
National Pain Week, July 22 - 28, exists to champion the needs of the many Australians living with some form of chronic pain.
Here are some tips from Painaustralia to help you manage your pain:
Daily stretching and walking: Moderate daily exercise will keep your muscles conditioned and improve your pain levels. If you haven't been active in a while, start small and increase your activity over time. Ask your physiotherapist about a tailored exercise program.
Pacing activities: Pacing is key to pain management. By planning rest or stretch breaks, and keeping physical activity at an even level throughout the day, you can reduce the risk of flare-ups.
Daily relaxation techniques: When our muscles are tense, they increase pressure on nerves and tissues, which increases pain. To reduce muscle tension, you can use simple deep-breathing techniques, or take a yoga or meditation class.
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is about learning to accept all your thoughts and feelings, including pain.
Learn desensitisation: Desensitisation involves learning not to react to your pain in a negative way. This retrains the way your brain thinks about pain, which can improve the experience of pain and pain levels.
Apply distraction: Distraction is focusing on something other than the pain, often something pleasant or something you enjoy doing, such as listening to music.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: CBT is a psychological technique to help people deal with the factors associated with chronic pain, including depression. Your GP can refer you to a psychologist for help.
Improve sleep: A good night's rest will help you cope with your pain. If you are having problems sleeping, try implementing a bedtime ritual, and keep your bedroom peaceful and relaxing.
Diet and exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight can improve symptoms of chronic pain, particularly for people with osteoarthritis or joint pain.
Finding support: Chronic pain can be an isolating experience and you may benefit from joining a support group or online community. You may also consult a counsellor if pain affects your work or home relationships.
For more information visit www.painaustralia.org.au.