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Everyday tips & tricks to help manage pain

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Did you know that one in five Canadians experiences chronic pain? Chronic pain comes about for many reasons, and everyone’s situation is different. However, there are many similarities in terms of strategies that help people improve their pain control – no matter where their pain is or how it came about.


1. Pacing: Has anyone ever told you, “no pain, no gain?” Sometimes this is true in rehabilitation – for example, when pushing a stiff knee to bend further after knee replacement surgery. However, for people with chronic pain, doing things that worsen pain typically doesn’t lead to gains – it more often just leads to increased pain, which makes them feel worse and do less. Out of all the pain management strategies I recommend to clients, I find that pacing is the thing that turns their lives around. Pacing your activities (learn how at https://tapmipain.ca/patient/managing-my-pain/pain-u-online/pacing-module.html) means breaking them up into small chunks, and doing a little bit, then taking a rest or changing what you’re doing. When you’re pacing yourself, you’re stopping what you’re doing before your pain gets out of control, rather than doing as much as you can and stopping when your body tells you it can’t take it any more. When people pace their activities, they tend to find that they can do a lot more, and keep their pain under much better control, then when they do as much as they can before stopping. Physios & OT’s know lots about pacing strategies, and can help you figure out pacing strategies that work for your pain, your life, and your activities.


2. Heat & Ice: Most people know that using either heat or ice (it’s different for each person – if you’re not sure which one to use, choose the one that brings you the most comfort, or talk to a physio about the pros and cons of each) helps improve their pain control, but despite this knowledge, most people don’t use them regularly! Many people find that using heat or ice for 20 minutes regularly throughout the day keeps their pain under much better control than just using it once a day, or not using it at all.


3. Regular Movement & Position Changes: When we’re in pain, the last thing we want to do is move around. We’re exhausted! We’re in pain! It hurts to get up! Well, it also hurts to sit around. Most people with chronic pain find that their pain significantly increases if they stay in the same position for more than 20 minutes. The good news is that people also tend to find that they feel a lot better if they get up every 20 minutes and move around briefly. We also know that regular physical activity can be hugely beneficial to people with chronic pain. It can be really challenging to find ways of moving comfortably when we’re in a lot of pain, and this is where professional advice from a physiotherapist with training in chronic pain management can be key. Finding ways of moving regularly that feel good and actually ease the pain in your body has been shown to significantly improve pain, mood, fatigue, sleep, and overall health.


You may have noticed a common theme among these tips: pain management strategies are all about doing things regularly to keep pain under control. We all know we feel great after a massage, but when we do that once a month and do little to manage our pain in between, the great pain control we got from the massage often doesn’t last. Working with a healthcare provider to develop a daily routine of pain management strategies that works for you and your everyday life can be very valuable. We all know that if we’re taking medication for pain management, we need to take it regularly for it to keep our pain controlled. The same is true for all other pain management strategies – using pain management strategies regularly is the key to effective pain control.


For more tips and tricks, check out the pain management resources on my website: www.livewellphysiotherapy.com/resources.

Person with sore neck and back

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