Strategies for Self-Management of Chronic Pain

As doctors, we are focused on improving your pain through means such as injections, surgical techniques and medical interventions. However, another major part of our role is to help educate you on things that YOU can do to reduce your pain in your daily life. In fact, some of the best results  are achieved where medical interventions and pain-reducing lifestyle habits go hand-in-hand. 

Each one of us regardless of age, gender etc. have access to an incredible ability to rewire our brains through the process of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the process of growing new neural connections in the brain and pruning old pathways that are no longer serving us. By moving and thinking differently, we can activate these pathways and rewire our brain to experience less pain.

Here are 4 great tips to get you started on this process:

  1. Understand that chronic pain does not mean danger
    “Hurt is not harm” when it comes to chronic pain. Every time you feel pain remember it is not actually causing harm- the more you practice this belief, the more you rewire yourself to feel less pain
  2. Keep moving – motion is lotion
    Although pain may make it feel like movement may cause harm, this is not true. Movement is critical when it comes to chronic pain and can actually reduce symptoms over time. Start gently and. Slowly build up over time.
  3. Manage stress
    Stress gives the body a signal it is in danger, which makes pain worse. Meditation and deep breathing can reduce stress and increase your bodies sense of safety, which can reduce pain and reduce ‘danger signals’ in the body.
  4. Maximise sleep hygiene
    Sleep naturally reboots the nervous system. Good sleep is important in the management of pain. If sleep is something you struggle with, it can help to create a sleep routine,Such as having a regular bedtime, using little to no technology in the hour before bed and maybe including a practice such as journaling or having a hot shower to wind down and relax the nervous system.  

What did you think of these tips and what helpful tips do you have of your own?