by Dee Wacker, MA
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports 1 in 5 adults live with chronic pain, and a total of approximately 8% live with high impact pain. If you fall in this category you are not alone. Your thoughts and your questions might sound something like this: “How do I cope? This is controlling my life and negatively impacting my relationships. Most of all, I never feel good physically or mentally. It is difficult to feel good about life. Close friends and family members get frustrated with me and question if my pain is real since I look fine!”
Chronic pain will control your life if you let it. It can begin to define you and alter how you see yourself. Don’t let it do that to you. Chronic pain is not who you are, rather, it is something you have, something you must live with. Here are a few ideas about how you can learn to live with chronic pain and how you can prevent pain from controlling every aspect of your life and your relationships.
1. Talk with your medical provider about your pain. A good relationship with a primary care doctor is important. You need a physician in your corner who can help you navigate all of the medical options that exist for you.
2. Develop a plan with your doctor related to your activities and limitations. This should include an appropriate exercise plan, weight recommendations, and clarity about what you can do as well as clarity about what not to do.
3. Follow a plan which involves BALANCE. This plan should include physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. Remember balance is important for everyone, but it is especially important for you when you are living with chronic pain. A life out of balance tends to lead to greater pain and therefore greater negative impact. A life in balance tends to reduce pain and therefore reduce negative impact.
4. Finally, remember chronic pain doesn’t have to mean life as you knew it is over. Changes will be necessary, and change, even when it is due to increased pain, can be meaningful and positive. You have the potential to discover life in a new and different way.
Next week I will write about specific ways you can deal with your chronic pain issues.
At River Counseling Services and Sioux Falls Psychological Services we meet you where you are, offering hope. We can help you get better at coping with chronic pain. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office at 605-337-3444, or meet with one of our Sioux Falls Psychological Services therapists from your own computer or smartphone. To schedule an appointment please call 605-334-2696.