People with chronic pain can be incredibly resilient after facing daily discomfort for long periods of time. We quickly build a new kind of tolerance to the typical aches and pains. Plus, we have to get creative with how we do day-to-day activities through or around the pain. Chronic pain survivors are often tough because we have no other choice but to be. But all this said, there’s no hiding the impact that living with chronic pain can have on our lives.
So, what do you do when chronic pain becomes too much? Below, we’ve put together some suggestions on what you can do when chronic pain becomes too much to function as you normally would. From self-care to self-advocacy, there are resources to lean on in the times when the pain goes off the scale.
How Do You Know When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much To Handle?
There are different types of pain that people can experience. Some people might only ever have instances of acute pain while others deal with the long-term effects of chronic pain.
The main difference when it comes to acute pain is that this type of pain usually happens suddenly and does not last longer than four weeks. Acute pain usually is the result of an injury, surgery, illness, or other types of strain. Any type of pain, acute or chronic, can disrupt somebody’s abilities. However, chronic pain usually has a longer impact on somebody’s life because it’s not something that resolves after time.
Those with acute pain might have an action plan to work toward eliminating the discomfort. People with chronic pain might have similar methods, such as:
- Taking pain medication
- Applying heat or ice
- Doing physical therapy or other tolerated, gentle movements
- Using distractions (seeing friends, watching movies, reading books, etc.)
- Eating well/avoiding certain foods
- Stress management
But people living with chronic pain might not always find success in these traditional methods. One sign of when chronic pain becomes too much to handle is when there is no relief from the pain, despite these attempts.
Additionally, an indicator that chronic pain has become too much to handle is when it begins to greatly impact one’s quality of life. This means that the pain is so severe that the person experiencing it is unable to work, socialize, find joy in going out, care for themselves independently, or function in other ways.
When this happens, people living with chronic pain can face a whole new onslaught of challenges. Not only is it incredibly frustrating to have one’s day-to-day life greatly impacted, but the side effects of pain can be detrimental to one’s overall well-being—including physical and mental health.
Chronic Pain and Mental Health Support
One of the most important resources when chronic pain becomes too much to cope with is to get mental health assistance. The physical experiences of chronic pain are a lot to handle on their own, but there is also an emotional component that comes with this as well.
Research shows that people living with chronic pain are at an increased risk of having anxiety and depression as well. When chronic pain becomes too much for a person, it can leave them feeling isolated, stuck, and dependent on others. Sometimes, this leads to a negative self-image.
Even just worrying about when you’ll feel pain next or how you’ll do day-to-day things when the pain flares up can cause a harmful impact on your mental health. Feelings of sadness, helplessness, and loneliness are all common to experience with chronic pain—but nobody should have to deal with these feelings alone.
Attending counseling, practicing mindfulness, and getting help from chronic pain support groups are all useful resources when chronic pain becomes too much. Support groups can be particularly helpful when people living with chronic pain feel as though nobody else understands their struggle. In reality, many people face similar issues when it comes to chronic pain. While this might not make the pain any less severe, it can help lessen the emotional side effects that come with chronic pain.
Advocating for Yourself
Perhaps most importantly, advocating for yourself when chronic pain becomes too much for you to function is absolutely vital to managing your health and happiness. Self-advocacy is the practice of speaking up for your needs. This could mean speaking with your doctor in order to express that the current method of treatment for your pain is not working as effectively as it could be.
Advocating for yourself might also look like asking for accommodations at work. This can be very beneficial to your overall health. Accommodations are very necessary when chronic pain becomes too much to function as you typically would, but they also can help to prevent more pain. For example, if chronic pain makes it challenging for you to take the stairs, having elevator access can reduce the risk of experiencing more pain and might even help you to save the energy that you need to make it through the day.
Moreover, speaking out on the need for digital accessibility can be a useful form of self-advocacy when chronic pain becomes too much to do things physically and leaves you to find other methods of accessing resources or support. Digital access to online support groups, your medical charts, and even using apps to track patterns in your pain are all strategies that might be helpful in better managing the constant discomfort that comes with chronic pain.
When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much, Don’t Sacrifice Yourself
The biggest takeaway here is that chronic pain can have a significant impact on your quality of life. The trick to living with chronic pain is to find ways to make it more tolerable in the hardest of moments so that you can still find joy and wellness in your day-to-day life. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Pain is complex and people living with chronic pain often have to cope with constant discomfort. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to what people should do when chronic pain becomes too much to cope with. While some people might find relief in certain remedies like pain medication or physical therapy, others must take the time to practice self-care and tend to their mental health.
Whatever coping strategies you might turn to when chronic pain becomes too much, just keep in mind that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice yourself or your well-being. Listen to your body’s needs. Sometimes, the different pains can be an indicator that you need to take a break, get those accommodations, or work to advocate for better pain management. Most of all, practice patience and kindness toward yourself.
It’s easy to become frustrated with your body and your abilities when chronic pain becomes too much to handle. Consider making a list of all of the things you can do in spite of the pain. Or use the support of others who understand the struggles of living with chronic pain. You are not alone in this fight—and you are not without hope. Though it may not feel like it, better days are ahead.
What Do You Do When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much?
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