Coping with acute flare-ups of chronic pain

Coping with acute flare-ups of chronic pain


Chronic pain is typically defined as a pain that lasts for six months or longer. Such pain fails to respond to the standard treatment modalities and ultimately begins to affect the efficiency of the patient in the daily life activities.

Acute flare-ups of pain refer to those episodes when the chronic pain abruptly rises to a greater intensity. For instance, if the intensity of pain was to be measured on a scale of 0 to 10, an acute flare-up would be an episode when the pain is at score 7 or higher.

Such flare-ups are commonly referred to as muscle spasms, jolts of electricity, cramps or sharp and jabbing sensations. These flare-ups could last for varying periods of time, starting at a few seconds and going up to several hours.

Coping Strategies

Experts strongly recommend having a concrete coping plan in place to resort to when you experience acute flare-ups. In this section, we briefly explain each of the steps involved in coping with such flare-ups of chronic pain.

1. Identify triggers

Knowing what has triggered of the flare-up will help you in coping with the pain. These triggers are basically of two types, including physical activity triggers and emotional stress triggers. While physical activity triggers could include performing repetitive actions for too long, emotional stress triggers could include developing a flare-up due to some sudden stressful experience. Adequate remedial action should be taken in each of the situations for coping with the pain flare-up.

2. Pain-relief goal

It is important to set your own pain–relief goal, when experiencing a flare-up. For instance, on a scale of 0 to 10, if you currently rate your pain at a score of 9, set a goal of lowering your pain to a certain level. Settle for a realistic level, instead of directly striving for a total pain-free situation.

3. Distraction

Practice the technique of distracting yourself when you are not having a flare-up of chronic pain. This will prepare you to take your mind off your pain and concentrate on other pleasant things. Externalizing and imagery are two major techniques of distraction you can follow.

4. Psychological aspect

Learn to handle yourself psychologically. It is important that you develop the skill of maintaining a positive attitude and keep your morale high. Remind yourself repeatedly that you are strong enough to pull through this and that such episodes are mostly short-lived. Most of the patients who suffer from such acute flare-ups of chronic pain also find relief in prayers and meditation.

5. Plan ahead

It is most important to have a plan ready ahead of the experience of the flare-up. Once there is an onset of the flare-up, it is not possible for the patient to concentrate on the management of the same, thereby making the experience intolerable. Experts suggest actually listing a concrete action plan for the purpose.

6. Collect your tools

It is also helpful to collect the essential helpful material beforehand, especially for strategies like distraction, For instance, you can keep a collection of your favorite photographs or music to soothe you during the experience.

7. Medication

Lastly, seek your practitioner’s help in listing the medicines you can take in times of emergency. Note down the exact dosage and frequency of these medicines so that you obtain the optimum result within the shortest time.