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How To Take Personal Responsibility For Chronic Pain


Updated May 06, 2011

Chronic pain does not behave according to the same rules as acute pain. Finding the cause of chronic back pain can be difficult or impossible.

Because chronic pain is elusive, often the patient is discounted or compromised in the process of diagnosis and treatment. It might take a patient months, if not years of doctors' visits to get a definitive diagnosis. Worse, the patient may be told that the pain is "all in your head", and be advised to "just deal with it".

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Ongoing

Here's How:

  1. Understanding is where it all begins.

    Research your condition and chronic pain in general. Resolve to take personal responsibility for your pain.

  2. Know the difference between the two forms of pain: Acute and Chronic.

    Chronic pain is defined as pain that "outlasts the usual healing process", according to Neuropathy-Trust.org. If pain persists beyond 3-6 months, chances are it is chronic.

    Unlike acute pain, which is pain that responds to an actual event of the body, chronic pain can be caused by an injury or illness, or it might appear out-of-the-blue. This is one of the reasons chronic pain is difficult to diagnose.

  3. Understand how chronic pain works in your body.

    To others chronic pain may seem like it is all in your head, but there are acutal physiological processes that are happening. Either:

    • The way your nervous system processes the information associated with pain has been amplified. This might be due to:
      • injury
      • illness
      • other factors
      • cause unknown, or
    • Your nervous system just normally processes pain in such a way that pain is amplified.

  4. Mobilize personal resources by learning to relax.

    Many pain management specialists prescribe relaxation techniques for their patients. Just because your body works in a more high strung way, doesn't mean you have to.

  5. Keep a pain journa.

    By keeping track of:

    • where and when you feel pain
    • the quality of the pain
    • what triggers it and what makes it go away
    you will have a basis of communication with your medical professionals.

    You may also wish to write record your food and water intake, hours of sleep, meds taken and exercise activity.

  6. Resolve to find medical professionals with whom you are comfortable. Stand firm in that resolve as you look for them.

    You, in your pain have a right to be taken seriously. A good doctor, therapist, etc. will listen to you and be willing ot work with you as a partner in healing.

  7. Drink plenty of pure water

    Studies have shown that drinking enough water decreases the body's inflammatory response. Inflammation is at the root of many diseases and conditions in our society.

  8. Seek counseling and share your feelings.

    People who live with chronic pain are prone to a feeling of isolation. Isolation is a powerless place to be. Sharing your feelings and concerns can be an effective release, and can even add to your ability to relax.

  9. Give a face and a meaning to your pain.

    If you are creative, is there a way you can express your pain as a work of art? For inspiration, you may wish to view the Chronic Pain Visual Art Project. If you are not creative, writing about your feelings and pain may provide you with new perspective.

What You Need

  • A Positive Attitude
  • Willingness to take Personal Responsibility
  • Courage
  • Assertiveness
  • An Open Mind - Especially to New Experiences and Information
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