When chronic pain subsides, it's an immediate sigh of relief. Unfortunately, many sufferers deal with pain for so long that they almost don't know what to do when it's gone. Unfortunately, flare-ups often happen rapidly, leading to more chronic pain. However, if you learn proper management techniques, you can avoid flare-ups and work to lessen chronic pain. We're going to outline tips and techniques we recommend for anyone trying to avoid chronic pain flare-ups.
Avoid Chronic Pain Flare-ups with These 6 Tips
1. Learn Your Triggers
Everyone has their own pain triggers that they must identify and avoid. If you don't know your triggers, one of the best learning methods is creating a pain journal. Many people ignore the importance of journaling because they don't think it will really work for them.
But journaling is so effective that most pain experts recommend it.
One study found that when a person wrote in a journal over an eight-week period, they experienced:
- Awareness of pain improvements
- Insights into dealing with pain
- Tools to adapt to avoid pain
You should write down the events that led to your pain, too. For example, let's assume that you woke up today with a terrible back pain flare-up. You might want to sit down and write the following in your journal:
- Activities carried out the day before
- Foods that were eaten the day before
- Anything that may have led to the flare-up
If you want to take it a step further, write in your journal daily. You can write down everything from the food you eat to the activities you engage in. Using your journal, you'll start learning about potential triggers and then can correlate them to the activities you perform.
You also want to journal about the pain level you experience each day so that you have a pain data point to follow.
For example, perhaps you notice that when you go on a hike, you experience back pain the next day. Write down the pain level you experience and where you're feeling pain. You can then find ways to lower pain, such as not going for a hike or trying an easier trail.
2. Avoid Overexerting Yourself
Pain is often associated with overexertion. It's crucial to be aware of the activities that trigger pain. For example, you may be fine in your normal everyday life, but when you do deadlifts, the pain in your back – or anywhere – comes back.
In this scenario, you may want to avoid deadlifts.
If you want to keep performing the activities that cause pain, one idea is to cut the activity in half. You may try and deadlift 50% of the weight you do normally or go on a hike for 30 minutes rather than 60 minutes at a time.
3. Break Up Activities to Make Them Manageable
Chronic pain isn't considerate. When you have to perform certain activities, pain doesn't consider them and say, "I won't hurt today." You have to adapt to the pain you experience because of some tasks you must complete.
So, what can you do?
Break up activities that usually cause you pain. If you know that walking around for 2 hours on Saturday because that's your errand day causes you pain, it may be worthwhile to break your errand into two days.
Perhaps you go for an hour on Saturday and an hour on Sunday.
You can, and should, follow this same method with any activities that trigger your pain. Even if the tasks take longer to complete because you break them into chunks, you may avoid your pain triggers, which is one step closer to a pain-free life.
4. Continue Taking Any Prescribed Pain Medications
Are you on medication for pain? If so, you may be making a crucial mistake that far too many people do which is to stop taking your meds when you don't have pain. Instead, you should:
- Listen to the advice of your doctor
- Continue taking the medication until the doctor says to stop or you run out
Pain medications take time to work. If you stop taking them because you suddenly feel relief, you're allowing pain to creep back in, and it will take time to control it again.
Doctors will provide you with a treatment plan that must be followed precisely for pain relief. If you don't find relief from the pain, go back to the doctor and ask them to tweak the treatment plan for you. Together, you can work to find a way to control your pain and start feeling more like yourself.
5. Know When to Stop
Are you the type of person that doesn't know when to stop? You might feel a tinge of pain, but unless the pain is truly extreme, you'll continue doing the same aggravating task repeatedly.
While it may be very difficult for you and easier said than done, you must know when to stop.
Ideally, once you feel even the slightest bit of pain, stop and rest. Often, if you rest and allow enough time to pass, the pain will disappear, and you can complete the task without causing yourself chronic pain.
6. Create a Flare-up Plan
You can do everything properly and pain can creep back into your life. Instead of ignoring this fact, it's imperative to create a flare-up plan, which will allow you to address pain when it does occur.
A few things to consider for your plan:
- Outline when to see a doctor, such as a new accident or injury causing the flare-up
- When pain is mild, take pain medication to alleviate symptoms before they worsen
- Maintain a kit with oral and topic pain medication
- Plan to rest
One quick note on pain medication is that after you reach a certain pain threshold, these medications are unlikely to be effective. Taking medications early on may help prevent your pain from increasing to this point.
Flare-ups and chronic pain are never fun to deal with. However, if you can avoid flare-ups from the start, you can spend more time enjoying life and less trying to battle pain.
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