How I Learned To Cope With Chronic Pain
Having tried everything to overcome the persistent after-effects of dengue fever I eventually had to reframe my attitude and learn to accept what I couldnt change
In 2013, I contracted a virus that I thought was the flu. It ended up being dengue, sometimes referred to as breakbone fever. The nickname is a reference to the levels of pain some people experience when they are in dengues throes. I expected my symptoms to subside once the active infection went away. After all, friends who contracted dengue, sometimes multiple years in a row, seemed to return to a sense of normalcy. Instead, the joint pain remained, below the fever pitch of breaking bones but nowhere near my old self. For a long time I waited for that old self to materialize, and for the pain to recede. It took three years to finally surrender to my present and admit that the pain wasnt going anywhere.
How Does My Back Work
To understand your back pain, its helpful to know a little about how your back works.
Your back is a complex structure that provides support for your pelvis, legs, ribcage, arms and skull. The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are stacked together to form a loose S-shaped column.
Each vertebra is cushioned by spongy tissue called intervertebral discs. These discs act as shock absorbers and give your spine its flexibility. Vertebrae are joined by pairs of small joints known as facet joints. A mesh of connective tissue called ligaments holds the spine together.
Complex layers of muscle provide structural support and allow you to move. Your spinal cord runs through the centre of the vertebral column and connects your brain to the rest of your body.
Get Medication For Your Pain
Sometimes, the best treatment for back pain is medication. This is especially true for serious back injuries and many types of chronic back pain.
What kind of medication you need depends on the type of back pain you experience and how frequent and severe it is. Here’s a quick look at which medications work best for different types of back pain.
Drugs for Acute Back Pain
What kind of medication is appropriate for acute back pain depends mostly on how severe it is. Because acute pains tend to get better relatively quickly, you usually only have to take medication for a short time until your discomfort begins to improve.
If the acute back pain is only minor, then simple over-the-counter pain relievers should work well enough that no heavier drugs are needed. Medications like ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, and topical creams can usually to do the trick.
If your pain is more severe or over-the-counter medications aren’t effective, you should see your doctor to get an evaluation. If the cause is muscular, your doctor might prescribe muscle relaxants, which are very effective at relieving back muscle pain.
If you experience severe back pain, your doctor might prescribe you a heavier painkiller like an opiate. Although they can cause side effects and be highly addictive, they can be very effective for short periods to help you get through the worst of the pain.
Drugs for Chronic Back Pain
Drugs for Inflammation and Arthritis-related Back Pain
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Understand Your Risk For Depression
Living with chronic back pain is challenging. Sometimes, all the advice in the world is simply not enough. For some people, chronic pain can start to interfere with every aspect of their life, causing their relationships and work performance to suffer. Unfortunately, the nature of chronic back pain can leave almost anyone more prone to depression. If your personal relationships are becoming strained, you’re finding it harder to concentrate at work, you have less energy, you’ve lost interest in the things you once enjoyed or you feel hopeless, you may be suffering from depression. Talk to your doctor if these apply to you to find out about your treatment options.
Maintain Correct Posture When Sitting
You can avoid lower back pain by maintaining proper posture when sitting. If you have a desk job, keep your feet planted on the floor and use a chair that provides lower back support. Also, avoid hunching forward to see your computer screen and reaching far in front of you to use your mouse or keyboard.
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Seek Professional Helpyoure Not Alone
Up to 90% of patients that have chronic pain fit into the diagnoses of clinical depression and anxiety, yet go untreated. In other words, theyre not seeing a licensed psychiatrist that can help them professionally process and manage their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.
Though these coping mechanisms are powerful, there is a point where seeking professional medical treatment can help you problem-solve and change behavior patterns that are exacerbating your symptoms.
Chronic pain is a multi-faceted condition that requires a multi-faceted plan of care.
From experience, we know that cognitive therapy is an effective and underleveraged pain management technique that can greatly reduce the suffering you may feel.
We pride ourselves on being a multi-modal clinic that provides you with not only pain management specialists but also licensed psychologists to help you treat the mental and emotional side effects of pain.
Find Ways To Get Better Sleep
Often, chronic pain and insomnia go hand-in-hand. Getting enough sleep can help reduce your pain sensitivity, so its vital to find ways to improve your sleep. For example, exercising during the day can lead to better sleep. Additionally, limiting how much alcohol you drink can help you sleep better. Excess drinking can lead to restless sleep and render sleep less restorative. If you want to reduce your back pain, you may want to drink less alcohol.
How To Cope With Chronic Back Pain
When youre suffering from chronic back pain, the condition can affect all aspects of your life. You may have trouble sleeping, you may have to take time away from work, and you may be less likely to engage in social activities. Coping with chronic back pain can be a constant struggle. But there are ways to deal with the pain and to alleviate it too, depending on the type of back pain in question.
Boost Chronic Pain Relief With The Natural Endorphins From Exercise
Endorphins are brain chemicals that help improve your mood while also blocking pain signals. Exercise has another pain-reducing effect — it strengthens muscles, helping prevent re-injury and further pain. Plus, exercise can help keep your weight down, reduce heart disease risk, and control blood sugar levels — especially important if you have diabetes. Ask your doctor for an exercise routine that is right for you. If you have certain health conditions, like diabetic neuropathy, you will need to be careful about the types of activities you engage in your doctor can advise you on the best physical activities for you.
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How Copd Causes Back Pain
Osteoporosis is a common cause of back pain in people with COPD. You can get osteoporis if you don’t eat enough calcium, which impairs your body’s ability to build and repair your bones.
As a result, your bones become very thin, weak, and brittle. They can become so weak, in fact, that a minor bump, fall, or even normal activities and movements can cause your bones to break.
Most people don’t notice any symptoms in the early stages, but osteoporosis can cause severe pain as it progresses and causes invisible injuries. This pain usually stems from tiny cracks, breaks, and compression fractures that patients often don’t even realize they have.
The most common causes of osteoporosis-related back pain are spinal compression fractures, which usually cause a more severe kind of back pain. This type of injury tends to hurt most when you stand, walk, twist, and bend, and tends to lessen when you lie down.
Osteoporosis is particularly common in COPD patients, who often struggle to get enough nutrients from their dietincluding calciumbecause of how the disease affects their bodies. COPD patients also tend to avoid exercise, which weakens your bones and can lead to bone-related back pain.
Maintain Correct Posture During Activities
To protect your lower back from injury, its important to maintain proper posture when performing physical activitiesespecially if you play sports or have a job that requires repetitive motions. Avoid slouching as much as possible and aim to keep your spine erect. When lifting, bend and straighten from the knees, not the waist. And be sure to move your hips when twisting from side to side.
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The Real Difference Maker For Chronic Pain: Active Physical Therapy
Many people with chronic back pain are under the impression that they have two options: live with pain and try to minimize it, or have surgery. But for most back pain sufferers, theres another option a better option for providing long-term relief: active physical therapy.
Active physical therapy or targeted therapy involves exercises aimed at building up the specific muscles that support your back.
Pain Fatigue And My New Normal
Pain is a message to the mind that something is wrong, Anna Altman wrote in a devastating piece about managing her own pain and migraines. To this day I guard a hidden hope that I will receive a new diagnosis, one that clearly explains the severity of my symptoms.
Like Anna, I dont have a definitive answer about what to call the aggregate of pain that has taken up residence. However, I do have an idea of how it got there.
The scene of the crime: Saigon, where I got dengue fever.
I got dengue in Vietnam, while already having celiac disease. It hung out, and wreaked further havoc on my immune system. Doctors have offered up that the dengue triggered post-viral fatigue, which may or may not go away. It also gifted me with Raynauds disease, a disorder of the small blood vessels that reduces blood flow.
When exposed to cold, my blood vessels go into spasms, which causes pain, numbness, aching and tingling. When I touch cold food or I am in cold weather, my hands and feet turn white, then blue. I tried making meatballs this summer, but had to stop because touching the ground meat was so painful that I stood in the kitchen in tears.
And finally, the most debilitating thing after the joint pain itself has been the fatigue. A deep, never-ending bone weariness that makes simple things seem like obstacles. And a restless sleep that does not provide respite from the haze of exhaustion.
In his book Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn notes:
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In Loss There Is Gain
Though my losses to chronic pain over the last decade have been steep, I have also gained much through the experience. I gained a new respect for myself, knowing I am in control of the pain instead of the pain controlling me. I gained new friendships. And I am gaining new purpose in helping others manage their own pain. I have set a new course for my journey.
Tom Bowen oversees the Facebook group Chronic Pain Champions No Whining Allowed. He can be reached at .
Engage In Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do to alleviate back pain. Strengthening your core improves your posture, prevents injuries and assists in injury recovery physical activity will help you rebuild strength and ease back pain. In addition, exercise releases chemicals called endorphins, which boost your mood and inhibit your pain perception. Before you come up with a workout routine, speak with your doctor about which exercises will be safe for you.
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What Causes Back Pain
The causes of back pain are not fully understood. Most people with back pain dont have any significant damage to their spine. The pain comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints.
Common causes of back pain include:
- repetitive or heavy lifting
- sudden awkward movement
There are also a number of things that can make it more likely that the back pain will become persistent, such as:
- already living with, or developing, negative beliefs about your chances of recovery
- already living with, or developing, depression or anxiety
- work-related issues.
In a very small number of people, back problems are caused by a serious condition such as cancer, inflammatory problems, infection, fracture or compression of the nerves in the spine. However this is rare, and your doctor will check for these causes.
Go To Work If You Can
It’s important to try to stay in work even if you’re in pain. Research shows that people become less active and more depressed when they don’t work.
Being at work may distract you from the pain and might not make it worse.
Talk to your supervisor or boss if parts of your job are difficult to begin with, but stress that you want to be at work if that’s the case.
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.
You could also agree changes to your job or pattern of work if it helps a health and safety rep or occupational health department may be useful here.
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Have An Exercise Routine
When suffering from lower back pain, performing any kind of exercise can seem virtually impossible. But, the right exercises can ease discomfort and help you feel better. This is because exercise triggers the release of endorphins which are a feel-good hormone within the human body.
Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise can also prevent adding additional stress to your body. But, sometimes, you may find these methods do not have the desired effect. In this scenario, it might be the right time to seek professional help from a pain management center that employs expert, qualified staff.
Establish A Good Sleep Routine
Sleep deprivation has a major effect on your emotions and your physical health. It can also make your pain worse. While getting to sleep when youre suffering from back pain may prove problematic, you should maximize your chances of getting a full nights sleep. Stick to a regular bedtime routine, get up at the same time each day and avoid falling asleep on the sofa.
The Fourth Skill: Balancing
This skill is a collection of various techniques and skills that revolve around creating a balanced and sustainable lifestyle. Patients with pain who describe themselves as being successful in managing their pain all report that they have developed a pattern of living that works for them, but they also report being adaptable to episodes of pain.
One specific skill within this category is activity pacing. This involves learning not to overdo activities. Patients who are coping well describe how they have learned to do a little bit at a time and not overdo it, while also staying fairly busy. In the pain groups that we lead at our practice, we remind patients of the parable of The Tortoise and the Hare. Sometimes we give out turtle pictures or turtle magnets for the refrigerator as reminders to take it slow and steady. This also involves breaking large tasks into smaller ones that can be performed one at a time. Maintaining movement with gentle exercise and activity while not doing too much is a delicate balance, but it is a very important skill.
How To Combat Back Pain Caused By Copd
Oct 26, 2018 9:15:59 AM / byDuke Reeves
While COPD is usually characterized as a breathing disorder, it is a complex disease that can cause a variety of different ailments besides respiratory decline. One of of these is back pain, a serious ailment that afflicts nearly fifty percent of patients with COPD.
Back pain caused by COPD can be mild or severe, and in extreme cases even debilitating. It can be acute and short-term, or it can be chronic, lasting for days or months at a time.
Besides just being plain painful, back pain can interfere with your daily life and make it difficult to continue your normal routine. If severe, it can even interfere with your COPD treatment and leave you unable to exercise and do other things that are important for your health.
Luckily, back pain is very treatable, and there are many simple things you can do in your daily life to minimize your back pain. In this guide, we’re going to introduce you to a variety of natural techniques and practical methods you can use to get relief.
Whether it’s acute or chronic, most types of back pain can be reduced with healthy habits and lifestyle changes like exercise, posture, and diet. That’s why it’s so important to examine your everyday habits and lifestyle to identify things that might be contributing to your pain.
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Appreciate The Small Things
Living with daily pain can cloud our ability to enjoy things, but theres so much out there to enjoy.
Mindfulness is a technique that helps you to use your senses individually and focus on the smallest of things, from smells to textures. It can help you to appreciate the little pleasures in life and to forget about the pain you are feeling.
Try breathing deeply and isolating all that you can smell around you, or listen to your surroundings and try to pick out separate sounds. The change in concentration can provide temporary relief and remind you of the everyday wonders.