Gaining control over your pain may take some time. Don't give up. People who actively take charge of trying to control and manage their pain feel better than those who don't. This section shows some of the ways that you can take charge of your pain control and help yourself to manage the pain.

Pain management programmes
Pain usually has a physical cause and this is what medications aim to treat. However, it also affects people emotionally. It is very distressing to be in pain. A pain management programme aims to reduce the emotional distress caused by chronic pain by teaching physical, psychological and practical techniques to help you to cope. In this way you can regain control of your life in the areas that are affected by the chronic pain. Pain relief is not the primary goal, although patients may experience a degree of pain relief after participating in a programme.

A pain management programme is tailored to suit you personally. You may:

  • learn more about chronic pain and its effects;
  • identify goals and realistic ways of achieving them;
  • be taught how to pace the things that you do, that is, breaking each activity into manageable chunks;
  • be taught stress management;
  • learn relaxation techniques to reduce muscle tension, which can contribute to pain.

Some tips to help you take control of your pain through medication
Here are some tips to help you to take charge:

  • There are a number of medications available to treat your pain. Please speak to your doctor. He or she will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you.
  • Never take someone else's medicine. Medicines that worked for you in the past or that helped a friend or relative may not be right for you now.
  • Pain medicines affect different people in different ways. A very small dose may work for you, while someone else may need to take a much larger dose to obtain pain relief.
  • Don't wait to see your doctor until chronic pain is too severe to treat. Pain is easier to prevent than treat.
  • Talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have.
  • Ask a family member or friend to be your advocate if you cannot speak for yourself. Keep this person informed of your pain.
  • If you're receiving hospice care, identify your pain level for the nurse at each visit.
  • Be sure that each doctor you see knows what medications you are taking.
  • Remember, your pain control plan can be changed.

Some ways to reduce stress 
The following activities can all help to reduce your stress and this may have beneficial effects on your pain levels:

  • Getting regular physical activity.
  • Joining a support group.
  • Going for counselling.
  • Meditation (e.g. yoga or deep breathing techniques) to relax both mind and body.
  • Releasing tension from muscles by practicing a series of quiet movements that involve tensing and relaxing muscle groups in turn (get advice on this from your doctor).
  • Massage.
  • Guided imagery - diverting your thoughts from your actual situation by imagining yourself somewhere else, usually in a peaceful, beautiful setting.
  • Hypnosis.

Some of these methods are considered in more detail in the section on alternative therapies.

More ideas and exercises – downloadable booklet
For many more self-help tips, ideas and exercises, download our special booklet on pain self-help.


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