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By Maggie Harris, LCSW
Many losses and changes come about in the life of a person living with chronic pain. Loss of employment can occur, as well as increased difficulty playing with children or doing other chores, hobbies, or activities. These changes may occur slowly over time or in the blink of an eye when a life-changing event takes place, such as a motor vehicle accident. This can be sad, frustrating or both all at once. The task, then, becomes to accept what you can and cannot do and to adjust your life accordingly. It’s easy to say, but sometimes very difficult to do.
Sometimes people with pain slow things down a lot and try to do less and less to avoid creating more pain. This makes sense but can backfire. Lack of activity can lead to loss of strength and stamina, as well as lead to increased depression and pain.
Other times, we meet people who are determined to function in the ways they did in the past without adapting to the body’s new needs. Determination is an admirable quality but when it is coupled with lack of acceptance of the reality of your health condition, it can lead to further injury, pain, and break-down.
Often when we ask patients what makes their pain worse, they answer, “standing too long, sitting too long, walking too far, and lying down too long.” I can’t count how many times I have typed up those words. It has led me to think that a task for people with chronic pain is to learn to be fluid, to move as gracefully as possible from activity to rest, sometimes in short increments of time. This may end up being the wisest course of action but does require acceptance of how things are in your life and body right now.
I think as humans we can be somewhat hard-headed about change. So many of us tend to learn things the hard way and move into change kicking and screaming. Unfortunately, when you have pain, there is risk of making things worse if you don’t learn to pace yourself.
So, just for today, take a few deep breaths and cultivate the willingness to accept the things you cannot change and muster the courage to change the things you can. Pacing yourself, knowing when it is wise to push a little harder or wise to wait and rest, is important when you live with chronic pain.
Please let us know if we can support you in this. As my bumper sticker says, “We’re all in this together.”
Center for Spine, Joint and Neuromuscular Rehabilitation is a comprehensive approach to the treatment of pain. We offer nonsurgical pain management treatment for the neck, back, shoulders, hands, hips, knees, and feet by Board Certified physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain medicine physicians. Services include evaluation and treatment of painful conditions including medical management, diagnostic and therapeutic injections, nerve conduction studies, diagnostic imaging, physical and behavioral therapy.
Phone: (615) 872-9966 http://www.sjnmr.com Fax: (615) 872-9967
Brentwood – Hermitage – Murfreesboro – Nashville