If you are in chronic pain there are things you can do to improve your pain and your overall health and wellbeing.
Live Well with Pain offers a range of useful knowledge, skills, tools and resources that you can use.
However the best way to help you live with chronic pain and or reduce your pain is to
- stay in work if you are working
- physical therapy
Choose an exercise that won’t put too much strain on yourself.
Good options include:
- using an exercise bike
- dancing, yoga or pilates
- most daily activities and hobbies
Activity and stretching needs to become part of your lifestyle so you routinely do exercise a little and often.
Try to be active every day instead of only on the good days when you’re not in so much pain. This may reduce the number of bad days you have and help you feel more in control.
But try to avoid overdoing it on good days and paying for this by having more bad days.
Try these flexibility exercises and sitting exercises you can do at home.
Read the beginner’s guide to swimming and beginner’s guide to dancing.
Go to work or do your usual routine despite the pain
It’s important to try to stay in work or carry on with your usual routine even though you’re in pain. Research shows that people become less active and more depressed when they don’t work or don’t remain active.
Being at work will distract you from the pain, and in most cases, won’t make your pain worse. Talk to your supervisor or boss about the parts of your job that may be difficult to begin with, but stress that you want to be at work. If you have to stay off work for a while, try to get back as soon as possible. If you have been off work for 4 to 6 weeks, plan with your doctor, therapist or employer how and when you can return. You could go back to work gradually. For instance, you might start with 1 day a week and gradually increase the time you spend at work.
Pain experts often recommend a short course of physical therapy. This helps you to move better, relieves your pain, and makes daily tasks and activities like walking, going up stairs or getting in and out of bed easier.
Physical therapy for persistent pain can involve manipulation, stretching exercises and pain-relief exercises. Physical therapy is usually delivered by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath, or in some cases, an occupational therapist.
Physiotherapists can give you advice on the right type of exercise and activity. Occupational therapists can support you with environmental changes that can help you remain in work and function better at home.
If you have physical therapy, you should begin to feel the benefits after a few sessions. Your GP may be able to refer you for physical therapy on the NHS, although physical therapy is only available privately in some areas. In others, there’s direct access to NHS physiotherapy without the need for a GP referral.
You can find out more about local NHS physiotherapy services Here
Pain medication for long term pain
It’s safe to use over-the-counter painkillers to reduce your pain so you can be more active. But it’s important to use painkillers carefully, as they have side effects. Paracetamol is the simplest and safest painkiller.
You could also try anti-inflammatory tablets like ibuprofen as long as you don’t have a condition (such as a stomach ulcer) that prevents you using them.
It’s important to take painkillers at the recommended dose and to take them regularly every 4 to 6 hours, preferably to overcome a flare-up of your pain or help get you through an impending activity. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before you start taking painkillers, as they won’t work as well.
If a 2-week course of over-the-counter painkillers does not work, ask for help from your GP or pharmacist. Read more about choosing a painkiller.