MANAGE YOUR PAIN BEFORE IT MANAGES YOU
When it comes to managing your mild to moderate pain, remember that you are in charge. If things aren’t going well, it’s time to refresh your approach. These steps can help you become the master of your pain domain so you can get back to living your life on your terms. Remember: If your pain gets worse or persists, consult your doctor right away.
BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE
You may have heard "Be your own advocate" before, but what does it really mean? Simply put, it means to take charge of your health — in your case, take charge of your pain. Partner with your doctor and care team by asking questions and describing what you are experiencing.
To be your own advocate, you need to truly understand your pain. Talk to your doctor about your condition. Throw yourself into books, articles and other sources of information about your pain and its possible underlying conditions. Look for pain seminars in your area. Connect with other people living with pain to see what they know and how they're managing.
TRACK YOUR PAIN
Keeping a daily pain journal is a good way to let you and your doctor see how you’re really doing over time and if there’s something more you could be doing together to manage your pain effectively. You can start with a general pain score on a scale from 1–10. Then, make detailed notes about what you did; what you ate; how you felt physically, emotionally and mentally that day; and how you slept the night before — all these factors can affect pain.
ASSESS THE SITUATION
After you’ve tracked your pain for a week or more, take a look at your journal. Do you like what you see? If not, it’s time to hit reset. Write down what you’re currently doing to manage pain. Take that list and your pain journal to your next doctor appointment and work together to see what pain-management strategies are working and which ones might need to be replaced with something else.
Have you considered your stress levels? Stress can make pain worse, so you might want to check out these ways to improve your sense of well-being.
When you’re working to create an individualized pain-management plan, make sure you think about your goals. What physical, personal and life goals do you want to accomplish? Defining these will help shape your pain management plan. If your goals are lofty, that’s awesome! Just keep in mind that this could mean your approach to pain management needs to be a little more aggressive than it has been.
EXPECT BUMPS IN THE ROAD
It’s inevitable. Even the best pain managers encounter challenges along their pain journeys. But if you prepare for them rather than react to them when they happen, you may find that you get through those challenges better and more quickly.
One day, you might find that you can’t do something you’ve been doing forever. If that happens, try to focus on all the other things you CAN do instead of what you can’t. Through challenges and changes, you’ll find strength within yourself and from family, friends and other pain managers like you.