Coping with flare-ups and Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a pain that persists for an unusually long period of time, which goes beyond the expected time of healing. It can lead to a series of long-term consequences such as loss of physical activity and sleep, a sense of uncertainty and insecurity about the future and feelings of despair and helplessness.
It also disrupts home and professional life, affects the individual’s social and emotional life and disturbs the whole sense of well-being.
Flare-Ups – The Concept
Pain flare-ups typically refer to those times when the chronic pain is more intense than usual.
From a statistical viewpoint, if pain is being measured on a 0 to 10 pain intensity scale, with the zero level implying no pain, a flare-up will mean episodes in which the pain is at level 7 or higher.
Chronic pain flare-ups usually last for varying periods of time, ranging from a few seconds to several hours. Such flare-ups are usually felts in various forms, including muscle spasms, electricity jolts, sharp and jabbing sensations, cramps and the like.
In this section we give you a handy list of a series of techniques to help you cope with the flare-ups of your chronic pain.
Prepare a plan
Analyze the pattern in which flare-ups occur and develop your own coping plan. Make a list of steps you will take the moment you recognize a flare-up. Keep the plan handy and resort to it immediately when you feel a flare-up rising.
Develop and maintain a positive environment during the flare-up. Keep affirming to yourself your will power to sail through the painful episode. Research shows that individuals who retain their self-confidence and positive attitude are able to handle the flare-up episodes much better.
Consult your healthcare provider beforehand and make note of any changes required to your medications during the flare-ups. Generally, short-term changes to the medicines are required in case of intense chronic pain flare-ups.
Monitor your breathing
Tensed muscles and a quickened and shallow breathing immediately precede pain flare-ups. To help control the aggravation of a flare-up, it is important that you concentrate hard on the pace of your breathing and learn to take a deep breath. This will have a calming effect on the overall health and will help in controlling the flare-up.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
One of the best remedies for chronic pain is to keep a healthy lifestyle. It is advisable to eat healthy foods, get sufficient exercise and sleep and drink plenty of water. This keeps you free from stress, which in turn helps in reducing the pain.
It is also quite helpful to get yourself a massage when you feel the onset of a flare-up. You can hire professional services for the same, or request a friend or a family member. A gentle massage of the affected area helps reduce tension and pain.
Set realistic Goals
As you learn to cope with the flare-ups, you should know your exact condition and set only realistic pain goals. You should be able to handle the minimum amount of pain which is inevitable in your particular condition.
One of the most important things to do is to identify and accept your flare-ups and not ignore their presence. Immediately begin the treatment of a flare-up as it happens, else it might worsen.
Individuals afflicted with chronic pain often commit the mistake of stopping all activity and resting immediately once a flare-up sets in. As per experts, it is actually advisable to continue doing some gentle form of activity that does not cause too much of stress. This helps your muscles and joints to remain flexible and also keeps your mind distracted from pain.
Make a diary
It helps to make a diary and make regular notes of your experience with the flare-up. It is worthwhile to note down the activities that preceded the flare-up, the mood-swings, medication taken and any other such information.
Reduce stress levels
It is important to keep the stress levels under control, if you want to minimize the scope of flare-ups. Stress and anxiety aggravate chronic pain and might worsen the situation further.