Get Help Now: (888) 576-0222
Get Help Now: (888) 576-0222

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

When we feel acute pain, it’s a short-term response to something evident, such as an injury, illness, or surgical procedure. This protective mechanism is our body’s way of telling us something needs attention and care. But chronic pain doesn’t have a protective function, significantly impacts your quality of life—and might even be a reason for relapse. Here are some holistic possibilities for managing chronic pain that may help you find relief and support sobriety

Facing Pain Challenges With Proactive Solutions

For many people, chronic pain invades every aspect of daily living. Usually, there’s a cascade effect—if you don’t sleep well, for instance, you don’t have the energy to exercise or the emotional bandwidth to handle other difficulties, which can lead to more lost sleep, more pain, and the cycle continues in this way.

So if you’re struggling, here are six common problems associated with the condition and strategies you may find helpful to combat them. 

  1. Limited Mobility and Physical Function

Problem: Chronic pain restricts physical activities, leading to muscle weakness, reduced flexibility, and overall decreased mobility. 

Strategy: Although it seems counterintuitive, Oregon Pain Guidance indicates that you’ll feel better if you engage in regular, gentle exercise tailored to your condition, such as stretching, walking, or swimming. The organization has a free activity toolkit to show you how. Physical therapy can also be beneficial, as a professional can design a specific exercise program to improve strength, flexibility, and overall function without exacerbating pain.

  1. Sleep Disturbances

Problem: This condition interrupts sleep patterns, often causing insomnia, frequent awakenings, and poor-quality sleep. 

Strategy: Focus on improving your sleep hygiene by establishing a consistent sleep routine: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, create a comfortable sleep environment, and avoid stimulants like caffeine before bedtime. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia can also help by addressing the underlying thoughts and behaviors that affect sleep. The Cleveland Clinic explains sleep hygiene in more detail and provides additional suggestions for creating a better bedtime routine

  1. Emotional Distress

Problem: Emotional challenges, including depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, are typical symptoms of chronic pain.  

Strategy: Seek support from mental health professionals, such as psychologists or counselors, who can provide therapies like CBT to manage emotional distress. This solution is especially important if you’re also managing a dual diagnosis. Joining support groups, such as the national meetings provided by The Pain Connection initiative, might also help you find a sense of community and understanding from other people experiencing similar issues. Mindfulness practices and stress management techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, are also beneficial for handling emotional responses to pain.

  1. Treatment Options Aren’t Effective

Problem: Nothing seems to provide relief, and you feel you’ll never overcome the pain. 

Strategy: Talk with your providers about non-pharmacological options such as acupuncture, biofeedback, cryotherapy, myofascial release therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS unit), and nerve blocking and injections. Some pain management experts might also prescribe people in recovery specialized and monitored doses of over-the-counter pain remedies or site-specific pain pumps.

  1. Impact on Relationships

Problem: When you’re battling all the above, it’s only natural to have strained relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, or to limit social activities and hide away.

Strategy: Openly communicate with loved ones about your pain and its impact on your life. Educating them about your condition can foster understanding and support—DK Therapy offers these tips for creating a conversation. Also, no matter how tempting it is to isolate yourself, choose to prioritize spending quality time with friends and family in ways that accommodate your pain, and seek couples or family therapy if necessary to address relationship challenges.

  1. Work and Financial Difficulties

Problem: When dealing with chronic pain interferes with job performance and attendance, this compounds stress, which makes your condition worse. You might also experience financial difficulties due to reduced income and increased medical expenses. 

Strategy: Discuss your condition with your employer to explore possible accommodations. The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program provides guidelines for what you may be eligible for, such as flexible work hours, remote or modified work options, ergonomic adjustments, and vocational rehabilitation services. Additionally, managing medical expenses through careful budgeting and seeking financial advice or support services can help alleviate financial stress.

Breakthroughs in Chronic Pain Management

The National Institutes of Health recognizes that solving the problem of chronic pain often requires a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach. It’s launched the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative, to help individuals and healthcare providers find new solutions. 

The goal is to “establish evidence-based guidelines for treating pain with non-opioid therapies. HEAL also supports research to ensure that safe and effective pain management therapies are available to all patients, including populations experiencing health disparities.” It has a series of studies that address everything from healthcare inequities within certain populations to understanding why some people experience greater challenges with chronic pain than others. 

NIH offers numerous clinical trials you can participate in across the country.

Discover Individualized Care at Fair Oaks

Just as there’s not one way to resolve chronic pain issues, there’s also no cookie-cutter approach that effectively treats addiction and dual diagnosis disorders. Fair Oaks Recovery Center in Sacramento earned the status of a licensed Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospital, issued by the California Department of Public Health to addiction rehabilitation and dual diagnosis treatment facilities that provide high-level acuity care. Our board-certified professionals design a treatment program customized to address your specific needs. Talk with a member of our admissions team today about why this approach will work for you.

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For more information about programs offered at Fair Oaks Recovery Center, including our intensive outpatient program in Sacramento, please call us today at (888) 576-0222.
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