5 tips to manage pain… with a difference!
Here are my top 5 tips to manage pain…with a difference.
1) Swear a lot: it has been scientifically proven that swearing increases our ability to manage pain. Check out this link!
2) Cause pain somewhere else! E.g put your hand in a bucket of ice! The pain gate theory is real people!
3) Watch a clip of Donald Trump (this is really just the pain gate theory but just as efficient if you don’t have any ice handy)
4) In cases where you have, say dislocated a hand/foot: simply lie on/cross that limb until it loses sensation. Instant local anaesthesia!**
5) Sleep! Can’t feel anything if you’re unconscious!
** Hypermobility Connect doesn’t endorse this activity
Ok, so I may joke about it, but I can only do that because I do experience acute and chronic pain. While pain is not funny and I hate to be in pain myself and to see people I know in pain, the first thing in my real list of tips for managing pain is to be able to keep a sense of humour and perspective about things.
1) Surround yourself with people and things that bring laughter, perspective and purpose. You may be in pain, but you aren’t just your pain. Laughter releases endorphins which are powerful natural feel-good chemicals. They don’t say that laughter is the best medicine for nothing. Read an article on it here. Just as laughter can diffuse a tense situation, it can also be a wonderful tool in diffusing physical tension. Not just laughter, though, perspective too. If you are in pain that is both intense and lasting, it is easy to find it difficult to see beyond the pain and separate the pain from your view of the world, and yourself. It’s just like wearing glasses or blinders. Connecting with who we are and what we are passionate about, is powerful in maintaining an identity beyond pain and ill health.
2) Distractions! It’s as simple as this…if you are thinking about something other than pain, then although the actual pain doesn’t disappear, it does fade to the back. When I’m watching television, it doesn’t act as enough of a distraction usually. However, if I am crocheting or colouring or something like that along with watching something, I find myself pleasantly distracted. Work is often even better! I’m often so immersed that it isn’t until I get home that I crumble. Still, a few hours away from complete immersion is better than none. The important thing to remember with this though is that pacing is essential. Sometimes I go too far, ignoring and pushing through pain only to crumble in a heap and end up struggling in coming days due to overdoing it. It’s all about balance.
3) Carrots. No, not the food, what I mean is that having “carrots” dangling in front of you is so helpful. Find little things that bring you joy (and big things!) and make sure you always have some of those things to look forward to… dangling just in reach so you can push through the pain to get to the reward. These might be as simple as nice food that you can enjoy at the end of the day. Or perhaps a TV show you like to watch. Sometimes having a holiday or even a day trip to a place you love coming up is a great thing to which you can look forward. I make sure I have a great variety of things to look forward to spaced out in front of me. Whatever your carrots are, just remember the power of rewards in giving that motivation to push through.
4) Hot and cold packs! On a more pragmatic level, heat and ice (depending on the source of pain) can be a great source of relief that is free, accessible and non-medicinal. I can’t remember a day in the last 10-15 years that I haven’t used heat and/or ice packs to soothe my aches.
5) Swimming/hydrotherapy. It’s important to keep your body in the best possible condition and water is an excellent way to do some exercise without harsh impact. It is also so magical floating and experiencing the weightlessness that we can’t experience anywhere else (unless we become astronauts, that is!).
Obviously, these tips are from my perspective, and what works for me may not work for you, but what I wish for you is relief. Even if that relief is not in the form of a cure or quick fix, you can still seek ways to feel relief and happiness within your situations because there is life to live and fun to be had, and we don’t have to be a prisoner to pain.
I’m Jo, an adult living with a severe connective tissue dysplasia. My condition means I permanently rely on a wheelchair to move about. I’m a qualified Social Worker and work for Fighting Chance running LifeX, a social and mentorship initiative. I’m passionate about writing, blogging and motivational speaking and I am a ‘Don’t DIS my ABILITY Ambassador’ You can read more of my writing on my blog.