This is a wonderful discussion. So many pain sufferers need to know how pain affects people differently. Managing pain is more of an art form than science, but the two go hand in hand.
The four biggest areas of pain management I always look at for myself are:
1) Brain receptors
2) Targeted pain on areas of the body
3) Stress relief
4) Diet and exercise
I mean when it comes to the “science” of pain, we could simply take medications that disrupt pain receptors in the brain limiting neurons from firing, but in my experience (i.e. opiates, and the like) also have a negative affect on the quality of life, giving pain patients what is known as “brain fog”, loss of memory, sleep disorder and so on.
On the flip side, attacking the areas of pain alone is sometimes not enough. So I’m constantly asking people, what’s their “perfect” mix of the two. Being unbalanced with either one can label you as an opiate user, abuser of the system, but not taking the right combination can play a huge role in the quality of life that you have and your mental state as a hole.
Then there’s the debate about over-the-counter vs. prescribed medications. Which ones do you chose when your pain meds don’t work? Is it appropriate to go out and add Tylenol, Aspirin and Aleve to the mix? When is it acceptable behavior or not? What affect will it have on your system, especially your stomach and the increase of acids.
Now one of my favorites and often overlooked is more natural ways to conquer pain, specifically meditation. Since pain is all but managed through the brain, then in my opinion meditation is the method underutilized to “clean up” the junk in the mind that’s coming in. Or another way to put it, when you meditate, it’s like “cleaning up” your computers hard-drive so that the computer itself goes much faster afterwards.
Daily medication doesn’t mean sitting in some spiritual room with candles and scented incense. No, for your it could mean having some quiet time with tea in the morning reflecting on your day, outlining your goals for the day (as the pain allows, or as others would call “the # of spoons), and allowing your mind to filter out the stuff that increases your stress in order to tackle the pain coming in.
Stress I find goes hand in hand with pain as well. Finding “me time” is so important to decrease pain on a daily basis. Less stress = more active, better sleep, and easier to manage pain. Do whatever you need to relax your mind and body on a daily basis (I understand hard to do while in pain, but daily rituals will help eventually).
Most people are shocked when they hear that i’m in chronic pain. I rarely show it to people around me. Sometimes it’s hard not to show it, which can be exhausting depending on the level of pain you have and what’s affected.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve survived multiple blood clots throughout my body. I’ve had massive open wounds for 10 years straight, my legs are constantly wrapped with bandages and compression bandages. Rarely does anyone see me with shorts so I don’t have to explain to them what it is and what they’re for. But over time, I’ve found that by hiding my pain only increases my stress and doesn’t allow my brain to release it, talk about it, or be ok with asking for help.
I hope this peaks more discussions on “daily tips” or “rituals” that you do which helps to decrease pain. I think it’s obvious here that we all have experience with meds and our own pain management, but I’m really interested to hear what else I can try from your own experiences!! 🙂