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Friday, 20 October 2017
This page aims to answer some of the questions you may have about the Chronic Pain Management Service and coping with your pain. If cannot find the answer you need, you can contact us on 01473 703435 and we will do our best to answer your query.

Chronic Pain Management Service FAQs

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What can I do to help myself?

The Pain Management team can teach you about ways you can manage your pain, but there are also some other good sources of information (see Support, information and resources for people who live with chronic pain).

Pacing: This is one of the most important things you can do to help yourself. This means varying your activities and body positions regularly to stop the over-sensitive pain system increasing your pain level. See I’ve been told I need to pace my activities. What does this actually mean? Am I doing it right?

Relaxation: Relaxation is very important too. When you are stressed, not only is pain harder to cope with, but your muscles also tense, which leads the pain to worsen. Learning a relaxation technique can be very helpful (see How can learning to relax help with pain?)

Stretch: Our bodies automatically react to pain by tightening the muscles around the painful area. When pain goes on for a long time this is unhelpful as tight muscles can cause more pain and stiffness. Stretching helps to undo some of these effects. It is important to stretch slowly and gently to the point where you start to notice some slight tension in the area - do not push on until the stretch becomes painful. Breathe as you stretch, holding each stretch for 2-3 slow breaths. Stretching regularly has beneficial effects which can help reduce pain.

Posture: Your body is designed to be in a ‘neutral’ posture which respects the 3 natural curves in your spine. Having a pain problem can lead to changes in posture which over time can result in increased muscle and joint pain and difficulty resuming ‘normal’ posture. These changes are all reversible with time. Start to correct your posture gently and in small steps. Regularly through the day position yourself in a ‘normal’ posture, hold for a few seconds, and then let go. Over time this will give your body a chance to get used to being in a more normal position. It can help to ask people to remind you or to use prompts (such as coloured stickers around the house).

Medication: Taking your pain medication regularly as prescribed is very important. If you only take it when the pain gets bad it will be a lot less effective. If you want to reduce your medication, you can achieve this gradually with the help of your pain consultant or GP. It is important that you become good at managing your pain using non-drug techniques and methods before reducing / stopping medication.

Manage your mood: Emotions (such as frustration, depression) can actually make pain worse and also make it more difficult to cope with the pain. Getting support with your mood can therefore be key in managing pain. This support can come from professionals (e.g. clinical psychologist or counsellor) or from friends and family. Other things can help your mood too, like learning to manage stress and worry, making time for enjoyable activities and doing things which give you a sense of achievement.

Other techniques: It is important that you learn what affects your pain; such as if you know being cold worsens the pain, then keeping warm is important. If you recognise that when you are stressed pain is worse, then learning stress management and relaxation techniques will be helpful. You could keep a pain diary, each day recording what you did, what was going on, how you felt, and what your pain level was on a 0 – 10 scale. This can help you to think about what factors contribute to good days and bad days, and about ways of influencing your pain.

If you want to find out more about these techniques you might be interested in our Understanding Your Pain Session and Pain Management Information Sessions.