Goal Setting and Chronic Pain

Goal Setting and Chronic Pain


Chronic pain is defined as a pain that lasts for more than three months and leads to a significant impairment of activities of daily living and activities.

The primary goal in chronic pain management is that the cause of the pain should be found and cured, enabling the individual to resume with normal activity and daily life.

Goals and Chronic Pain

In pain management, goals involve the complete remediation of the cause and the pain itself. There is usually a need to supplement appropriate goal setting and accomplishment with proper medication, psychological support, marital support and the application of good biomechanics and ergonomics.

Individual goal setting is an extremely important part of self-management of chronic pain. Research strongly indicates that goal setting facilitates effective pain management, especially in the case of chronic pain.

A recent report released in context of pain management in older adults revealed that setting goals led to better and positive outcomes as against the treatment modalities operating without a goal.

Overall, the goal of chronic pain management is to enable the sufferers to live a full and rewarding life in the face of chronic pain.

Setting Goals

For pain management, goals are set by the medical community in a systematic and scientific manner.

To begin with, experts believe that pain management heavily depends on the individual’s desire to get a relief from pain. This understanding is based on the fact that some people are not vocal enough about their pain and hence, do not strive to achieve pain relief.

Physicians generally follow the below listed steps for setting realistic goals for the management of chronic pain. You will be asked to do the following:

On a scale of 0 to 10, rate your current level of pain. This is with the assumption that 0 is a level of no pain, 5 is the moderate level of pain and 10 is the worst imaginable pain.

Once done, you will be again asked to set your pain goal on the same scale .i.e. based on how much pain relief do you want and till what degree do you want to be free from pain (on the scale of 0 to 10)

Reassess the set goal after a fixed period of time and reset the goal, if required.

The Guidelines

There are a certain set of guidelines that should be followed while setting goals for chronic pain management.

The following are the qualities which should be there in each of the goals you set for the management of your chronic pain.

Precise – You should know exactly what do you want to accomplish, how do you plan to do it and by when do you plan to achieve it. It is advisable to make smaller goals and deadlines for better results.

Measurable – The goal you set should be measurable in concrete terms. For instance, instead of ‘Being more active’, it is better to set a goal, like – ‘Increasing the amount of activity by 5 minutes every week’.

Attainable – The goal should be practical and attainable within the scope of your state of health and activity. Consider your potential physical limitations before you set a goal.

Practical – The goals should be viable and you should possess the ability to achieve the same. Do not compare your goals with others in the same condition, as there could be a series of factors which could vary, such as age, profession and overall health.

Trackable – The progress you make towards your goal of chronic pain management should be measurable and trackable. For instance, you should be able to record the amount of activity time increased in a proper sheet and compare the differences.

Useful Tips

Before you set goals for the management of your chronic pain, it is helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

Do I want complete relief from pain? Do I just want to be as comfortable as possible and not totally pain-free? Do I want my goal to enable me to return to a normal working life? Do I want that my goal leads to total independence or do I just want to be a bit pain-free, so that I can live a normal life at least partially? What are the activities I intend to do once I am partially or totally free from pain?