Wouldn't it be nice to prevent chronic pain? If you have low back pain, fibromyalgia or another painful condition, what determines whether or not the pain will be persistent for months or even years? Are there determining factors that can be modified enough to change your likeliness of experiencing chronic pain? Critical steps can march a person towards chronic pain or march a person towards recovery. Here are some simple steps that you can take towards preventing chronic pain and on to the road towards recovery.
- Don't Panic: Don't panic with the first twinge in your back, the first ache in your shoulders, or the first kink in your neck. A fascinating study published in PAIN in 20101 looked at the psychological vulnerability of people with fibromyalgia for developing various stages of chronicity. They determined that rumination was the first step toward of chronic pain. Constantly thinking about the pain is likely to lead towards chronic pain. The next step towards chronic pain was catastrophic thinking and symptom magnification. Thinking about the worst case scenario really does become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And finally, in all those with pain for greater than four years, helplessness was the predominate determining psychological factor. If you can reduce your tendency to have these types of thought patterns, then you are less likely to experience chronic pain and more likely to recover.
- Stay Active: An active mind and an active body can help speed you towards recovery. As you are actively seeking solutions, you also need to remain physically active. A report by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) 2 found that those who avoid activity because of low back pain were more likely to experience higher pain intensity levels and more disability later. This fear-avoidance behavior usually puts a person on the road towards chronic pain. Try to override your natural instinct to stop moving if you are in pain, this will be a big step in the right direction.
- Focus on Your Health: Pain represents your brain's opinion about your health. If your health is threatened, you will likely experience pain in one form or another. A basic step towards improving your physical health would be to eliminate the "s" words from your life: sodas, smoking and sugar. A basic step toward improving your mental health would be to add social connections, hobbies of enjoyment and a belief in yourself. By improving your physical and mental health, you can march yourself towards feeling better.
These simple steps may not seem like much on the surface but the impact on your life can be tremendous. These simple steps can reduce your vulnerability to pain. And even if you have lived with pain for years, you can still take these steps in a different direction because sometimes chronic pain is just a state of prolonged recovery.
1. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010 Oct 27;11:251.
2. Pain. 2012 Jan;153(1):211-7. Epub 2011 Nov 16
Published On: April 09, 2012