Guest Blog: Chronic Pain Diagnosis? Here’s How to Cope
February 28, 2017
Living with chronic pain is often a long-term condition that doesn’t come with a coping manual. Medication might only be part of the picture, so what else can you to get through it day by day? Those who have already been dealing with chronic pain have found some strategies that help.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Cristian Newman
Here are a few:
Take time for yourself
The diagnosis of chronic pain can feel like a ton of bricks—physically as well as emotionally—so take some time to process. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions pop up, from denial to grief to anger. Once you wrap your head around it, take a few deep breaths and begin to think positive. Use deep breathing, or take a class on mindfulness meditation to help you when you’re feeling “stuck.” Getting into the right mindset will be crucial for your personal healing journey.
Explore your treatment options
Ask your doctor what your treatment options are. If necessary, get a second opinion. Relying on either over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine to manage your symptoms can potentially be harmful, so consider alternative treatments.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who have a similar diagnosis. They might have some ideas for treatment options or lifestyle enhancements that will work for you, too. Plus, they can be a great source of much needed support and compassion. A chronic pain support group is a great place to start.
Explore holistic treatments
From yoga to massage to acupuncture, there are many Eastern and holistic health treatments that can complement the medicinal treatment options you’ve probably discussed with your doctor. These can aid in your healing process and give you some control over your health.
For example, Leah Atkinson was injured during a near-fatal snowmobile accident in 1996. Atkinson’s doctors told her that she was “a hopeless case” who would never walk again and would live with chronic pain for the rest of her life. For years, she believed them—and sank deeper and deeper into depression—until she discovered the healing benefits of holistic healthcare.
After beginning a strict daily regimen of yoga and vitamin-rich, organic foods, combined with regular therapeutic massage sessions, Atkinson is now a certified yoga teacher herself. She’s enjoying a healthy life, a successful career, and the benefits of getting to travel the world for work and pleasure. “The benefits of yoga are so far reaching, both physically and mentally,” Atkinson says, “I could write volumes on the empowering and healing qualities it has.”
Remember, chronic pain is not a death sentence. Life, as you know it, isn’t over. Release your expectations of what your life “should” look like, and forgive yourself and your body for being human. You didn’t ask to be in long-term pain, but there are things you can do to regain your life and keep moving forward.
Jennifer McGregor is a pre-med student and health improvement nerd. She and a friend developed PublicHealthLibrary.org for a college class. Jennifer’s goal is to turn it into a go-to resource for reliable health information on the Web. When she isn’t working on the site, Jennifer is usually studying or relaxing with her adorable rescue mutt, Sam.