Care Plan for Chronic Pain: Pain Management Tips
What is your treatment care plan for chronic pain? I have had migraine my whole life and lived with chronic pain along with them. My head is the main spot for pain, in my case. It changes locations from intense swelling and throbbing in my occipital (back of the head) to face pain consisting of pressure behind my eyes and shooting pain down my jaw. My neck and shoulders hold a ton of tension, making my posture bad while my entire body aches. I often feel clenching my jaw, fists, legs, and muscles when I don’t even know it. It feels like I’m in fight or flight mode, either battling or succumbing to my pain. In this post, I will share my chronic pain tips and ways to manage pain.
There are so many ways to manage pain without medication or added to it. I find that because each migraine attack is different, so is my pain and my management of it. Having various options is helpful since nothing works the same every time.
Care Plan for Chronic Pain
Using the powers of the mind to produce changes in the body can help all types of chronic pain. Reducing stressful and pain-inducing emotions such as panic and fear can refocus attention on subjects other than pain. Have you tried: relaxation training, controlled breathing, meditation, biofeedback, visual Imagery, or hypnosis?
Relaxation training involves concentration and slow, deep breathing to release muscle tension and relieve pain. Learning to relax takes practice, but relaxation training can focus attention away from pain and release tension from all muscles. To learn these skills, relaxation apps and videos are widely available.
I have found this hugely helpful, especially as a migraine attack spikes. Before I knew how to control my breathing, I used to panic, knowing what was coming, and now I focus on breathing; I sit in a relaxed, reclining position in a dark room and close my eyes. Slowing down my breathing and taking deep breaths, using the chest (and not the abdomen), allow me to calm down. I try to focus on deep breaths in and out and repeat for several minutes.
Meditation focuses the mind on something specific (such as breathing or repeating a word or phrase) to quiet it. It requires relaxing the muscles, clearing your mind, and taking slow breaths to help occupy your mind and reduce pain. Practicing “mindfulness” is an excellent way to build mental strength and reduce stress levels that can accelerate pain symptoms.
Biofeedback is taught by a professional who uses special machines to help control bodily functions, such as heart rate and muscle tension, brain activity and skin temperature. It can be used to reinforce relaxation training and, once mastered, can be practiced without using the machine.
Visual Imagery and distraction
Mental Imagery (guided Imagery) involves concentrating on mental pictures of pleasant scenes or events or mentally repeating positive words or phrases to reduce pain. It is a form of mental escape that can help you feel peaceful while involving calming, peaceful images in your mind.
Distraction techniques focus away from negative or painful images on positive thoughts. This technique may include simple activities, such as watching television or a favorite movie, reading a book or listening to a book on tape, listening to music, or talking to a friend.
Has anyone tried this? I haven’t, and I’d love to hear about your experience! This technique can be used in two ways to reduce pain perception. Some people are hypnotized by a therapist and given a post-hypnotic suggestion that reduces the pain they feel. Others are taught self-hypnosis and can hypnotize themselves when pain interrupts their ability to function. Self-hypnosis is a form of relaxation training.
Care Plan from a Professional Therapist
These practices rely on professionals to help manage pain. I find these options to be super helpful but also expensive. Insurance doesn’t cover it or not enough, and I quit because of the cost. It is such a treat for me and really helps, though.
Some examples may be massage (my favorite!!!), reiki, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, or clinical psychology.
Reiki is when the practitioner moves her hands over the energy fields of the client’s body to increase energy flow and restore balance.
Psychologists can help chronic pain sufferers work through daily struggles and offer strategies to help manage pain, improve mood and sleep, and recognize how unhelpful thoughts feed into the pain cycle.
Chronic Pain Tips
- I don’t drink alcohol, which can worsen sleep problems and is triggering, and I don’t smoke.
- Get adequate and consistent sleep the best I can.
- Eat a healthy diet with anti-inflammatory foods, and take supplements like ginger, turmeric, etc.
- Reduce stress by using the techniques we discussed above.
- Exercise raises endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, increasing my pain threshold. Movement and activity will stimulate your circulation, which may also help. I like yoga, Pilates, and walking. I’m interested in Tai chi, a slow-flowing Chinese practice that improves balance but has yet to try it.
Devices and Products
Some examples may be the TENS unit, GammaCore, Cefaly, and Nerivo for migraine treatment. I don’t use any of those anymore. I tried the tens unit years ago and found it sat in my closet among other failed products or drugs. So I tend not to try them, although so many have found relief. I love heat and ice. I use heat to soothe my neck and shoulder muscles and warm my cold toes, fingers, and nose. Sometimes, I use it for sinus pain also. I use ice for my aching heat, freezing trigger points, and numb my head.
I have found CBD and Hemp products to be hit or miss. Cannabis has been studied to be helpful, but it is all a learning process that holds stigma and legality issues.
Support Care Plan Chronic Pain
I see my neurologist, who provides me with medication I may need. I’m the type that needs medication and many different therapies. Support groups (like the Healthline app) allow me to meet others living with chronic pain and feel less alone. I love meeting people there and chatting. It’s a relationship I nurture from the comfort of my home and still feel connected to. Additionally, I connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I now work to have a positive work environment. Having a comfortable workspace and control to reduce stress allows me to have control over pain and work more effectively. This has taken me years to figure out! A toxic work environment makes me VERY sick. Above all, I try to have healthy relationships. I have found that honest and supportive friendships and family relationships ease stress and encourage self-care.
Final Thoughts on Care Plan for Chronic Pain
In conclusion, being in chronic pain is exhausting, frustrating, and often defeating. Mentally, it is as hard as physically dealing with it for me. I get frustrated when all these techniques don’t add to relief—having a preferred care plan for chronic pain gives me control. When it works and feel like I’ve lost everything when nothing works. Living in pain and trying to manage it is not linear. I have good days and bad days. I have days I find relief and days that nothing works. The only thing I can control is how I react to it.