Chronic Pain Management Clinic & Self Program
Written by: Tanvi Vinay Gangavali- MA (Psychology)
Last updated date : Fabruary 27, 2023
Pain is an unpleasant feeling. It happens when a part of your body is damaged or could have been damaged. For example, if you sprain your leg, the pain stops you from walking. A chronic pain management clinic is needed to help you. A chronic pain self-management program is designed for self-help purposes.
Chronic pain is pain that’s lasted longer than 3 months after the usual recovery period for any illness. It can also be because of a long-term issue. Pain can start because of a particular reason at a specific time or it can come slowly without any reason. It can even come on some time after an event. You can feel the pain in a specific body part or the whole body. The pain can even come or go.
The sad part is that even with medication or rest, chronic pain might not go away. Pain is meant to help you. It tells you to take it slow and that the damaged body needs time to heal. It’s like an alarm system in your brain. But, with chronic pain, that alarm keeps going off even afterthe danger of further injury is gone.
We do not know why this happens, but we do know that over time it’s possible to manage chronic pain.
Chronic Pain Management Clinic
A chronic pain management clinic focuses on having a chronic pain self-management program. This is because chronic pain is long-term and affects many aspects of the person’s life. Hence, skills help to cope with the pain daily and a chronic pain self-management program aims at providing this.
How Feelings and Thoughts Affect Pain
The way people think and feel about pain affects how they experience the pain. It also affects how they cope with it. If you feel pain when you do a particular task, it’s unlikely that you’ll continue. This exercise helps to know the way you think about pain. It also helps you learn how the way we think about pain affects you. Answer the questions below by thinking about a time you experienced pain, and how you felt about it.
- Describe the situation in detail. You could write where you were, who you were with, and what was happening. (I was eating breakfast in the morning and my hand was having chronic pain.)
- Your thoughts (I always have this pain when I sit to eat breakfast)
- Your feelings (Frustrated and angry)
You can do this exercise every day so that you can track how you feel about chronic pain. This also helps to understand our thoughts. Usually, negative or unhealthy thoughts trigger the way we feel. Hence, learning to replace it with a positive or healthy thought helps us to cope with chronic pain. A chronic pain self-management program helps to learn various coping skills which help to cope with the physical and emotional effects of pain.
Chronic Pain Management Clinic: Managing Your Pain
Active involvement in managing your chronic pain is helpful. This also helps to break the cycle of feeling worse and not being active. Chronic pain is there all or most of the time, and it’s always in the background. It is also difficult to manage when it flares up. It’s important to know the things that make your pain worse – often called chronic pain “triggers. Once you have identified the triggers it is also easier to manage these. For example- sitting for long hours can make you feel stiffer. This can be a trigger for chronic pain also.
Chronic Pain Self – Management Program
A chronic pain management clinic focuses on using ‘Pacing’ as a technique. This also helps to gradually reach the right level of activity for people. The right level is different for every person. Hence, you can use pacing and spacing activities based on your body. Pacing is used to break the pattern of being active only on good days and stopping on bad days. Instead, it aims at maintaining the same level of activity all the time.
How to Pace an Activity
- First, choose an activity. This can be difficult for you but not impossible. You can also choose something that you enjoy doing but is difficult because of chronic pain. For example, going out for a walk.
- Think about how long can you do the activity without the pain flaring up. For example, you can walk for 15 minutes and do not think about the distance.
- Do the activity regularly. The key is consistency and trying to do it both on good and bad days.
- Once you are comfortable doing it for a few weeks, gradually increase the time. For example, if you are walking for 15 minutes you can increase it to 20 minutes. The idea is to be comfortable and not exert oneself. Hence, take it slow.
Chronic Pain Self-Management Program
Chronic pain makes you less active and reduces the number of activities you do. Hence, Spacing is practised. Spacing means breaking an activity into manageable parts. This also means taking a break between doing each one. You can divide the tasks and then also notice how you feel about each task.
How to Space an Activity
- Choose an activity that you find difficult to do at the moment. For example, housework or cooking.
- Write down all steps in doing the task and break the activity down into parts. For example, the first step to cooking could be getting all the material to the kitchen counter, the second is getting all the tools such as pan and knife, the third is chopping the vegetables and finally cooking it.
- Try to think about when you can take breaks. For example, after chopping you can sit down for a while before you finally cook. You need to take breaks to make yourself comfortable while doing the task and not worry about the next step.
- Take the first step. Do as you have planned. Even if you do not feel like taking a break, rest between each task as planned by you. The idea is not to finish the task but to get comfortable doing it.
Chronic pain can be difficult to manage but learning coping skills helps. At Epsychonline, we have designed courses specifically to learn how to manage chronic pain. To know more, enrol for a course on our website.