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Living With Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain management can have physical and emotional benefits. Chronic pain's emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury which may hinder the ability to return to work or once enjoyable activities.

The emotional toll of chronic pain also can make pain worse. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the body's production of natural painkillers; moreover, such negative feelings may increase the level of substances that amplify sensations of pain, causing a vicious cycle of pain.

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If you got up this morning and thought, “Ugh, my back hurts,” you’re not alone. About one in five Americans reports having experienced back pain at least once during the previous month.  So, should you go to the doctor? Not necessarily. Most low back pain resolves on its own within about four to six weeks, with or without medical treatment. In many cases, you can manage your back pain at home.    First, you should know when it’s a bad idea to handle your back pain yourself. If you have significant...

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If you or someone you love suffers from chronic pain it is important to get help. There are many effective treatments available to relieve pain so that you or your loved one can start living again.

Managing Chronic Pain

The ideal treatment for chronic pain is a comprehensive approach that addresses a person's physical, emotional, and cognitive needs. Successful treatment requires choosing a life-long plan of wellness that may include:

  • Physician services
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological counseling
  • Occupational therapy

If you suffer from chronic pain, the first thing to do is to see a doctor and get treated. Other steps that can make living with chronic pain more tolerable include the following:

  • Learn how to relax through deep breathing and other stress management techniques.
  • Set achievable goals and don't over do it on good days; learn to pace yourself.
  • Engage in positive self-talk (statements that reaffirm positive qualities).
  • Build in rest, exercise, and relaxation times in your daily schedule.
  • Join a chronic pain support group and/or find the nearest meeting for the American Pain Society.
  • Know your medications, including expected benefits and side effects. When the "cost" exceeds the benefit, ask your doctor if something else might work better.
  • Decrease or eliminate alcohol consumption. Pain often disrupts sleep and alcohol can further disrupt the sleep cycle.
  • Quit smoking. Cigarettes can impair healing and have been identified as a risk factor in the development of many diseases including degenerative disc disease, a leading cause of low back pain.

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on June 01, 2012

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