Toolkit to manage Chronic Pain

Toolkit to manage chronic pain

How pain and understanding pain work together
Pain can be very confusing. The worry and stress of trying to find solutions can increase chronic pain. The more we understand pain, the more hopeful we become about our ability to change the pain we experience.

How medications impact pain
Managing chronic pain is an ongoing process and successful strategies will involve multiple different strategies. Medications may be one part of a care plan for chronic pain, but they should never be the only solution. While medications can be a helpful tool for managing pain, they can also carry significant risks. Discuss the risks and benefits of different types of medications with your prescriber to get a full understanding of which medications may be right for you.

How understanding medications can help
Understanding the risks and benefits of medications you may be taking can help you set realistic expectations for managing your pain. Some important considerations to discuss with your prescriber are:

Is this a medication I take every day, or do I take it as needed?”
“Can this medication be taken for a long time (chronically), or is this to be taken on a short-term basis (acutely)?”
“Will this medication affect my ability to drive, work, take care of my children, or any other activity that is essential to my day-to-day life?”
“Can I stop this medication whenever I want, or will I need your help to come off it?”
“Are there any significant side effects I should know about?”

How pain and activity work together
When you move less and less, your brain becomes accustomed to that decrease in activity. As the brain learns pain, more and more activity becomes connected with the pain response even when you are doing things that aren’t harmful.

How activity can make things better
Gradually increasing your activity helps your brain rewire itself so that you can move more easily. It’s normal to have some pain or discomfort as you get moving again. You may be a little sore, but you are safe. Over time, you will become more active and healthy and your pain will likely improve.

How pain and mood work together
Pain and mood are closely linked. Pain can make you feel stressed, down, and worried. You may feel isolated or alone. These things can make pain worse. With some guidance and practice, you can make small changes that will gradually lift your mood and improve your pain over time.

How to help with stress
Stress has a direct impact on our bodies. When we reduce our stress response, we release the body’s natural chemicals that calm the brain and body and decrease pain. When you slow your breathing and relax your muscles, you slow your heart rate and reduce the stress response, which decreases your pain.

How pain and sleep work together
Poor sleep can increase pain, lower your ability to fight infection, and increase inflammation. Restful sleep can help decrease chronic pain and improve your mood, which helps you feel more energized, active, and social. Good sleep can also reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods.

How sleep can make things better
Sleep often improves over time when you change your sleep habits, create a restful environment, and reduce your stress. Good quality sleep improves your health and can boost your immune system.

How pain is impacted by our social connections
When people live with pain, they can become isolated. Isolation can amplify pain in the brain. When people are not socially connected, they tend to do less and focus more on pain.

How social connections can help
We can begin to rewire the brain and reduce pain by changing a few habits. Connecting with others helps us be more active, happier, and focused on what matters to us. You can decide what activities make the most sense to you.

Nutrition, stress and pain are directly related
When our brain and body are stressed, we do not digest food very well, even with a healthy diet. This can cause diarrhea or constipation and add to pain. Good nutrition will improve your gut health and change your experience with pain.

A healthy lifestyle helps your pain
If we make healthy food choices, prepare food at home, and eat with friends and family in a relaxed environment, many of our digestion problems are likely to improve. Restful sleep, regular activity, and a good social life can also help..

Can a Nerve Ablation help pain?
Nerve ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that can help and complement the holistic approach to pain management. Nerve fibres are responsible for carrying pain signals from inflamed or injured joints to the brain. Nerve ablation uses radio waves to destroy specific nerves to alleviate chronic pain. Most commonly, nerve ablation is used to treat pain associated with the joints of the spine, also known as facet joints. Facet joints are small joints located between the vertebrae of the spine and are responsible for allowing movement and stability in the spine.

The benefits of Nerve Ablation
First and foremost, it can provide significant pain relief for patients suffering from chronic pain associated with the facet joints. Nerve ablation can improve their quality of life and allow them to engage in activities that they may have previously avoided due to pain, such as exercising. 

Additionally, nerve ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require a lengthy hospital stay or recovery period, which can be appealing to patients who are looking to get back to doing valued activities sooner. 

How long does Nerve Ablation last?
It is important to note that nerve ablation is not a permanent solution to chronic pain. While the procedure can provide significant pain relief for several months to a year or more, the nerves that were destroyed will eventually regenerate, and the pain may return. Hence, the importance of engaging in an active physical therapy program following the ablation is to have the maximum benefit.  Talk to your pain specialist around options for treatment.

Oregon Pain Guidance
Pain Treatment Centers of America 

Dr Poshitha De Silva
Dr Poshi De Silva

Specialist Pain Medicine Physician
Locations: Sunnybank Private Hospital, Brisbane Private Hospital