Teresa Dews, MD, a Cleveland Clinic pain management specialist, says that patients who expect passive miracles do not improve as much as patients who actively participate in their health and focus on healthy lifestyles. She offers these tips for managing chronic pain:
- Discuss your pain concerns with your doctor.
- Learn as much as you can about your diagnosis and condition.
- Build in rest breaks, exercise and relaxation times into your daily schedule.
- Learn how to relax through deep breathing and other stress management techniques.
- Set achievable goals and don’t overdo it on good days. Pace yourself.
- Engage in positive self-talk (e.g., “I feel energetic and strong”).
- Decrease or eliminate alcohol consumption. Pain often disrupts sleep, and alcohol can further disrupt the sleep cycle. Alcohol should not be taken with most medications prescribed for pain.
- Join a chronic pain support group that focuses on education and advocacy.
- Quit smoking. Cigarettes decrease circulation and can impede healing and are a risk factor in the development of many diseases that are associated with chronic pain.
For more information on coping with pain, please visit the American Pain Society and Cleveland Clinic Health Information.