Back pain affects millions of people every single day, making it one of the most common types of chronic pain. Though there are many different types of chronic back pain, they typically fall into one of the following four categories:
The severity of chronic back pain can be slightly aggravating to debilitating and those who suffer with it have problems living productive lives. Life is hard enough, but when you add chronic pain to the mix, it can really bring you down- no matter how hard you try to fight it.
Individuals who are suffering with chronic back pain must learn their own ways of coping, but friends and family can offer significant help.
Following are some tips that you can use for yourself or to help your loved one learn to cope with their chronic back pain and make daily life much easier.
Keep a Journal
Many times, people who suffer from chronic pain will use journals to document their pain. However, you can use it however you want. You should definitely record how you’re feeling and when. This will help to reveal things that make your pain worse, or make it better. It can also be a great way to vent frustrations regarding the pain, which sometimes helps a lot.
Learn How to Relax
Relaxation is good for your mind and your body. Not only does stress and anxiety bring you down mentally and emotionally, it can also significantly increase your pain levels. Stress can cause muscle tension, which makes pain much worse. So, learning some relaxation techniques can help to keep pain from getting worse over time.
Talk to Friends and Family
Talk to someone who has been through (or is going through) the same thing you’re experiencing does wonders. It opens up an opportunity for you to vent to someone who will understand and not try to brush you off. Also, they can give you tips on the things that have helped them in the past or things they’re doing now to control their pain. After all, it’s true that no one understands better than someone who has been there, done that.
Learn to Accept Your Pain
Though this may seem silly, learning to accept your pain can help you learn to cope with it. That’s not to say that you should enjoy your pain- but it’s a part of your life, you’re going to have to live with it. Accepting this can make your life- and the life of those around you- so much better.
Stay Physically Active
Though it can be difficult when you’re in pain, it is very important that you stay physically active. Often, when a physician is treating a patient with chronic pain of any kind, they order physical therapy. If you go to a physical therapist, continue your exercises at home. If you have a loved one that is suffering from chronic back pain and has seen a PT, join them in their physical therapy exercises at home. Additionally, make sure that meals are healthy. Showing a loved one this type of support helps hold them accountable.
Offer Emotional Support
Believe it or not, emotional support is just as important as encouraging physical fitness and assisting with household duties for those suffering from chronic back pain. Many times, individuals suffering with chronic back pain feel lonely, frustrated, or worse- depressed. Taking the time to listen to your loved one is a great way to offer them some emotional support. Additionally, spending time with them in activities that don’t cause back pain is a great way to help. Arrange to have get-togethers in their home so that you and other friends/family members can cheer them up. Look for things that can help to keep their mind off of their back pain.
Offer Household Help
Even though your loved one is suffering with chronic back pain, he/she may be embarrassed to ask you to help them with seemingly simple household chores. However, you can offer to help them. Offer to rearrange furniture to make it easier for them to move around. If they have trouble climbing stairs, and they have an upstairs bedroom, offer to move it downstairs for them. Get them a mattress and chair that offers good back support. Move those things that they use on a daily basis into a more accessible location for them. There are lots of things you can do around the house to help make life much easier for someone who is suffering from chronic back pain.
Know When to Get Additional Help
It is true that living with chronic pain- especially chronic back pain- is challenging. In some cases, all of the tips and advice in the world just isn’t enough. Some individuals may find that their chronic pain is interfering with every part of their life, even to the point of causing problems with work performance and personal relationships. Sadly, for many individuals, this results in depression. So, how do you know if you or your loved one needs additional help? Simply ask the following questions:
- Are personal relationships strained?
- Do you (or your loved one) have problems concentrating at school/work?
- Do you (or your loved one) experience feelings of hopelessness?
- Do you (or your loved one) have lowered levels of energy?
- Do you (or your loved one) no longer have interest in things you once enjoyed?
Of course, it’s true that no simple questionnaire like the one above can diagnose depression. However, if you (or your loved one) answered yes to any- or all- of the above, it may be time to have a serious discussion with a physician- medication and/or therapy could help to allay these feelings.