Coping With Chronic Pain
often causes very painful fractures, which can take many months to heal. In
many cases, the pain starts to go away as the fracture heals. Most new fractures
heal in approximately 3 months. Pain that continues after that is generally
considered chronic pain.
One cause of
chronic pain is vertebral fractures. When a vertebra breaks, some people have
no pain, while others have intense pain and muscle spasms that last long after
the fracture has healed.
Pain is the
body’s way of responding to an injury. When a bone breaks, nerves send pain
messages through the spinal cord to the brain, where they are interpreted. Your response to pain is determined by many
factors, including your emotional outlook.
For example, depression seems to increase pain perception and decrease abilities
to cope with it. Often, treating the depression treats the pain as well.
is pain that lasts beyond the expected time for healing and interferes with
normal life. The injury has healed, but the pain continues. The pain message
may be triggered by:
See Your Doctor
Whatever the cause
of chronic pain, feelings of frustration, anger, and fear can make the pain
more intense. Chronic pain can affect all areas of your life and should be
If you have chronic pain and need help managing it, you may wish to discuss
these coping strategies with your doctor.
Heat / Ice
Heat in the
form of warm showers or hot packs, can relieve chronic pain or stiff muscles.
or ice packs provide pain relief by numbing the pain-sensing nerves in the
affected area. Cold also helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
which feels better, apply heat or cold for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to the
area where you feel the pain. To protect your skin, place a towel between your
skin and the source of the cold or heat.
check with your Dr. re what he/she recommends to help relieve the pain.
Braces / Supports
supports or braces reduce pain and inflammation by restricting movement.
Following a vertebral fracture, a back brace or support will relieve pain and
allow you to resume normal activities while the fracture heals. However,
continuous use of a back support can weaken back muscles. For this reason,
exercises to strengthen the muscles in the back should be started as soon as
possible. Your Dr. will guide you re use of supports as well as ordering
physical therapy for you if he feels you will benefit from therapy.
inactivity increases weakness and causes loss of muscle mass and strength.
Because exercise raises the body’s level of endorphins (natural pain killers
produced by the brain) it may somewhat relieve pain. A regular exercise program
strength and energy
therapists can help you reorganize your home or work environment to avoid
further injuries. Physical therapists also teach proper posture and exercises
to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles without injuring a weakened spine.
Water therapy in a pool, for example, can improve back muscle strength and
Acupuncture / Acupressure
is the use of special needles that are inserted into the body at certain
points. These needles stimulate nerve endings and cause the brain to release
endorphins. It may take several acupuncture sessions before the pain is
is direct pressure applied to areas that trigger pain. Acupressure can be
self-administered after training with an instructor.
therapy can be a light, slow, circular motion with the fingertips or a deep, kneading
motion that moves from the center of the body outward toward the fingers or
toes. Massage relieves pain, relaxes stiff muscles, and smoothes out muscle
knots by increasing the blood supply to the affected area and warming it. The
person doing the massage uses oil or powder so that her or his hands slide
smoothly over the skin.
also include gentle pressure over the affected areas or hard pressure over
trigger points in muscle knots. Note: Deep muscle massage should not be done
near the spine if you have spinal osteoporosis. Light, circular massage with
fingers or the palm of the hand is best in this case
involves concentration and slow, deep breathing to release tension from muscles
and relieve pain. Learning to relax takes practice, but relaxation training can
focus attention away from pain and release tension from all muscles. Relaxation
tapes are widely available to help you learn these skills.
imagery involves concentrating on mental pictures of pleasant scenes or events
or mentally repeating positive words or phrases to reduce pain. Tapes are also
available to help you learn visual imagery skills.
techniques focus your attention away from negative or painful images to
positive mental thoughts. This may include activities as simple as:
•watching television or a favorite movie
•reading a book or listening to a book on tape
•listening to music
•talking to a friend ( reference: Carol Eutice)
"People with osteoarthritis should try to follow a comprehensive plan for managing
their arthritis pain. Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to the successful management of
osteoarthritis--eat right, exercise regularly, lose excess weight, and consider
the use of medications based on your degree of pain."~
Daniel O. Clegg
~~Kitt~~Moderator: Anxiety, Osteoarthritis,
GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease. “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”