Coping with Pain

Coping with Pain

By Diane LaChapelle Ph.D., LPsyc

Does the graph below look familiar to you? Many people with pain alternate between “good days” and “bad days.” You might fall into this unfortunate pattern of overdoing things on the “good days.” You may think to yourself: “I’m feeling good today. I’d better take advantage of it and clean the whole house, or get all the leaves raked, shovel the driveway, or paint the living room.”

But this type of thinking and behaviour inevitably leads to having a “bad day,” during which your pain level spikes and you end up on the couch or in bed trying to recuperate. You may feel guilty about not getting something done on a “bad day” and this can lead you to overdo it again on your next “good day.” In the long run this means you end up getting less done.

In learning to better self-manage your pain condition, your goal should be to have your pain levels look more like this second graph. You will not eliminate your pain but you can make it more consistent over time and thus more predictable. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Daily Pain Levels

The following pages in this section provide strategies to help you manage your pain:

  • 5 Ps of Pain Management. This page gives five easy tips for controlling your pain.
  • Exercise. Regular physical activity can help improve your pain and overall health.
  • 10% Rule. When you have become accustomed to a certain level of activity and want to do more of it, you should only increase your activity level by about 10%. This page tells you how to go about doing this.
  • Relaxation Techniques. Make sure to practice these daily.