Managing chronic pain
pain” is pain that lasts for 12 weeks or more. The cause is usually
nervous system misfiring, like a faulty car alarm system. Often there is no
specific trigger, which makes treatment difficult.
pain is common, affecting 50%–66% of adults age 50 and older. Opioid drugs are
recommended for pain control in serious illnesses such as cancer. For those
with chronic pain, however, a
mix of pain relief strategies is better.
chronic pain, a full recovery to “no pain” may not be realistic.
Instead, it’s a matter of finding ways to help your loved one adjust so he or
she can continue activities that bring meaning to life despite the pain.
is physical, and the experience of pain can be reduced with physical changes.
Pain is also highly affected by mental perception. In other words, how
negatively we think about it. These two qualities open the door for many
nondrug strategies of pain management. For instance:
- Physical therapy. Exercises to
gain strength and flexibility can improve overall comfort.
- Occupational therapy.
Learning new ways to accomplish daily tasks may reduce pain.
- Exercise. Low-impact physical activity—walking,
swimming—releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer.
- Quality sleep. Lack of sleep
makes pain worse. Good rest supports resilient coping with pain.
- Relaxation techniques.
Special techniques can train the mind and body to interrupt the pain cycle (in
which pain triggers fear and tension, which brings more pain).
- Meditation. Mindfulness
practice can help your loved cope by “seeing” the pain from a new
- Counseling. Counseling can
help your relative identify and change the thoughts, feelings, and actions that
amplify pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often the most helpful. It can
also address depression and anxiety, which then lowers pain.
Looking for pain management strategies?
Of course the first step is to talk with a doctor to get a diagnosis and find out about nonnarcotic, nonaddictive sources of relief. At Debra Levy Eldercare Associates we have seen that a combination of therapies works best. As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we know how difficult it is to care for a loved one in pain. We also understand your concerns about opioids and other drugs. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. Let’s start the conversation. You don’t have to navigate this alone.