Do you suffer from chronic pain? Have you recently received a diagnosis and you’re now wondering what changes you’re going to have to make? In 2020, 3.7 million Australians were reported to be living with chronic pain, but the numbers are likely to be far higher, as many conditions which can cause chronic pain often go undiagnosed for years.
As someone who deals with daily chronic pain, there are many things I’ve learnt over the years, and most of those lessons have been learnt the hard way!
One of the most helpful things that has helped me understand my body has been the Spoon Theory. Christine Miserandino has lupus, and came up with this theory as a way to describe what it’s like to handle her chronic condition to those around her. Click here for the full article!
She began by giving her friend 12 spoons. Christine then asked her friend to describe each activity she did that day. Each time her friend mentioned an activity that would take a toll on Miserandino, a spoon was taken back. As the spoons disappeared, Miserandino’s friend was able to see how daily routine activities that most people take for granted can be extremely difficult for individuals with chronic health conditions.
For myself, learning which activities can exacerbate a flare, or cause more fatigue has been key to managing chronic pain!
Although I’d love to be involved in every activity I want to, I’m aware that what I do today could affect what I need to do tomorrow. So here are a few things I have implemented to help me out:
I make sure I have at least one evening and/or day where I have very little planned. This allows me to rest, sleep, and push through the busier days when I need to, knowing I have allocated weekly downtime. Resting is the quickest way my body recovers, so I try and get enough sleep every night as well.
I make sure I have my prescriptions filled, heat packs on hand, fisiocrem stocked, and supplements ready. There is nothing worse than being in a flare and needing to go to the pharmacy, so stay on top of your scripts. I also schedule physiotherapy and massage treatments on a regular basis to help my mobility and pain levels.
Have a back up!
When I cook, I try to cook an extra portion to put in the freezer. This means that when pain levels are increased, I have healthy balanced meals that just need to be popped in the microwave and they’re good to go!
To ensure I am managing my condition to the best of my ability, I use an app to note my symptoms. This means when I see my GP or specialist I can give them accurate updates, which helps with treatment plans going forward.
Talk about it!
It’s so important to have a support system around you, as chronic illness can have a huge affect on your mental health. Be honest with your friends and family about how you’re doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are also online communities for so many conditions, with people who can offer support, advice, and know how you’re feeling.
Remember, you are not alone in this. For more information and resources have a look at: