More than anything else, those in chronic pain want to stop the hurt. For most, it may become more important than food or sleep, often because pain is a primary obstacle to eating or sleeping. There are many strategies used to help people cope with debilitating pain. These include the more general treatment methods such as physical therapy, medications that range from the mild to the strong, and surgery. Since chronic pain has no single cause or enabling feature, chronic pain treatment methods are extremely varied. We suggest you sample a number of different techniques to see if any are helpful. Unlike taking a pill, these methods take time until you see and feel an effect. You will need to repeat any of these techniques a number of times regularly (at least for a month or two) before you may see an improvement in how you feel. Some things work for some people some of the time. Keep in mind that just because a therapy or treatment works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. After a while, you may find some of these treatments stop working. There is always a need to monitor the effect and modify the plan accordingly if the effect is lost. We suggest you keep track of pain scores before and after trying any of these methods and track changes daily, weekly, and monthly to see if they are helping. One simple way to do this is to “grade” your pain on a one-to-ten scale, with one being little or no pain and ten being the worst pain you’ve ever felt. Some people feel so bad that they report their pain to be at a fifteen, but for the purposes of consistency, it helps to stick to this scale of grading. The following pain scale is used to describe severity, though not necessarily quality, of pain. Remember, whenever a doctor asks you to rate your pain from one to ten, ask for a pain scale so you can be sure you are both speaking the same language.
0—Pain-free. 1—Very minor annoyance; occasional minor twinges. 2—Minor annoyance; occasional strong twinges. 3—Annoying enough to be distracting. 4—Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting. 5—Can’t be ignored for more than thirty minutes. 6—Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities. 7—Makes it difficult to concentrate; interferes with sleep. You can still function with effort. 8—Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain. 9—Unable to speak. Crying out or moaning uncontrollably; near delirium. 10—Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out. © 1995 by Andrea McCallum (formerly Andrea Mankoski) Treatment Modalities You may find that a pill might reduce pain from an eight to a three, but that change might only last fifteen to twenty minutes and leave you feeling “doped up.” These techniques might cause smaller and less noticeable improvement, perhaps from a seven to a five, but the effects increase over time. If something works once, it is only logical that it will work again if you keep at it. Practice will enhance the benefits. Also, it is totally appropriate and recommended to combine many techniques that seem helpful to you. So stick with it. This blog post is an excerpt from A Day Without Pain (Revised) by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP). photo credit: The U.S. Army via photopin cc