Managing the pain

Pain is an output of your brain telling it about problems or danger in your body. Those of us who live with chronic pain must find ways of lessening the pain with management and learning to cope with it on a daily basis.

Your doctor may prescribe you medication that helps, but here are some additional strategies that can help you manage and cope with your pain:

Breathing exercises
When you are in pain you tend to hold your breath which worsens the pain. To help with this you can do some simple breathing exercises, the first being to observe your breath. Take notice of the texture, the speed, the shallowness or deepness and where you’re breathing from and into. Try some intentional slow deep breaths. Learn to focus on your breath. Gentle Yoga and meditation can help with this. Learning to be emotionally aware of your thoughts and letting go is helpful. If you focus on the pain, it will be worse, so finding a way that works for you not to focus on it may be helpful. There are some free phone applications that can help.  One application is called calm by calm.com.

Physical Exercise
When you exercise, endorphins are released that help with pain. Do gentle stretching exercises and slow walking. Avoid high impact exercises or extreme stretching. Exercise can prevent further problems and the flare getting worse.  Also reach out to your physiotherapist and get advice from them.

Massage Therapy
Massage increases blood flow to sore, stiff joints and muscles. The brain also release nature pain killers during massages.

Distraction
Finding ways not to focus on the pain to make it worse is always challenging. Find something that you can do that requires your attention to try to distract yourself. Some things that may help are video games, knitting, coloring, exercise, reading, crafts, writing, etc.

Relaxation
Learning to relax will lessen our stress. Stress makes pain worse. Here are some things that may help: floating in a pool, soaking in a tub, reading, watching TV, listening to music, meditation, a slow walk in nature, or lying a beach.

Find support
The pain cycle (lack of sleep, anger, depression, stress, worse pain) is hard to break so finding how others deal with it and talking about it may help. Finding the right pain specialist doctor and getting on the correct medication to help is also important. Please speak to your doctors. Ask for help from family and friends and make suggestions on how they can help you on your bad days. Reach out for suggestions to the Canadian Spondylitis Association.   We have in-person groups in some cities and Facebook online support groups.