Chronic pain is exhausting, both physically and emotionally.

One in five Australians over the age of 45 deal with chronic and persistent pain. Sound familiar?

At Blue Badge Insurance we’re very aware that often someone with chronic pain has tried everything. This article is for those who haven’t yet been made aware of all the options. If it helps even one person who’s trying to manage their pain and live a happier life, then it was worth writing.

Here’s some information on coping with chronic pain. If you have any other suggestions please let us know in the comments area at the end. Your knowledge shared could make a difference to someone.

What counts as chronic pain?

Chronic pain isn’t just normal pain. Pretty much everyone feels pain from an injury or illness from time to time. But most of us can normally take comfort in the fact that it will go away soon. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with chronic pain.  

One person’s definition of what constitutes chronic pain may differ from another. What they’re in agreement about though, is that it refers to a pain which is ongoing over long periods of time.

Over these long periods, chronic pain persists and may even progressively worsen.

Important to know is that, for many sufferers, chronic pain prevents them from completing some (and sometimes all) of their day-to-day activities.

What causes chronic pain, and how can you cope with it?

The causes of chronic pain are varied and sometimes can be hard to pin down.

Many chronic pain sufferers have medical conditions which are related to or are the cause of their pain. These include conditions like diabetes (read about why it’s important to tell your insurer if you’re driving with diabetes), arthritis, Chron’s, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, cancer, or shingles – to name but a few. Other causes could be previous trauma or injuries, following a car crash or sports accident, for example.  

On top of these causal conditions, chronic pain can sometimes worsen as a result of certain environmental or psychological factors. Some people find their pain is worse in cold weather or when sleeping on a certain mattress, for instance.

Chronic pain often affects your mobility, but it may not be obvious to those around you. Especially in the case of chronic pain as an invisible disability. Others might even accuse you of being dramatic or faking things, or not being worthy of accessible parking (we know you jumped through hoops to get a disability parking permit).

All of this can take an emotional toll on top of what you’re already experiencing.

Pain management as a coping mechanism for chronic pain

One of the first ports of call for coping with chronic pain is of course, pain management. While this has to be carefully applied and monitored, good pain management can lessen your pain to some extent.

Pain management mightn’t result in you living pain-free, but it can help to minimise pain as far as possible

Pharmacological pain management

There are a variety of treatment options for people with chronic pain, including pharmacological treatment. By this, we mean medicine and drugs designed to help relieve pain and provide some relief from symptoms.

There are a variety of medications on the market which can be used for the management of chronic pain. The right choice for you will depend on a variety of factors including but not limited to: your type of pain, any other medications you take, what your daily activities entail, and any drug sensitivities. You also need to take on board the experienced advice from your doctor.

Some of the more commonly used drugs include:

  • Over the counter medication such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin, and muscle relaxants
  • Antidepressants
  • Sedatives
  • Opioids
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Acetaminophen
  • Prescription NSAIDs
  • Migraine medications
physical therapy like this man is doing can help with chronic pain

Alternative pain management

Medicine isn’t the only pain management option available to you. You may need to combine pharmacological help with other treatment plans to get the best results.

Or you may decide to head down the alternative-only path. It’s your pain; it’s your decision.

Drug-free pain management options include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical therapy
  • Treatments such as massage or chiropractic
  • Breathing exercises
  • CBD oil
  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutritional and diet changes
  • Exercise
  • Psychological treatment

For each individual, the approach needs to be customised and refined until the best results are found.

It’s best to work with a doctor and/or pain management specialist on this, as they can help to reduce your symptoms and help you manage your daily activities as easily as possible.

Other tips for coping with chronic pain

There’s no doubt that pain management in its various forms is a key component of living with chronic pain.

However, the fact remains that you will have to cope on a daily basis. Step by step….often literally. While this can seem overwhelming, especially on a bad day, there are some strategies you can employ in addition to the above.

While they won’t get rid of your pain, they might help you tackle your condition with an altered outlook. Here are some of our extra tips to help you cope with chronic pain:

  • Track your pain levels daily and “check in” with yourself. On good days, this may help you to feel more positive. On bad days, the realisation that a better day with lower pain is around the corner can help you to cope.

  • Reduce your external stressors as much as possible. Stress can cause poor sleep and exacerbate pain. Trying to alleviate stress where you can should help, whether this means carving out some quiet time for yourself each day or hiring a cleaner to help with household chores. Your budget and lifestyle will determine the best way for you to reduce stress.

  • Join a support group. This could be completely virtual, done via video calls, or in-person (COVID-allowing). Meeting other people in your situation and sharing experiences and advice with one another can help you to cope with your circumstances and feel less alone.

  • Know your limits. You might find that some days you can do more than others, but knowing where your individual limits lie can make a big difference. Sometimes, it’s tempting to go on an extra walk or spend another hour working at your desk but you could end up regretting it the next day. Once you know where your body is happiest, you may find yourself coping better with the hurdles that come with your condition.

Need specialised insurance?

Blue Badge Insurance is Australia’s disability insurance specialist. We know how difficult it can be to get suitable insurance for your converted car or your wheelchair, for instance.

We want to be part of the solution. Not part of the problem! That’s why we offer up to 25% discount on comprehensive car insurance premiums for Disability Parking Permit Users.

Check us out, and while you’re at it read our article for more disability discounts that you mightn’t know about.

Share your tips with us

Have you got any tips for coping better with pain? The more knowledge shared on this topic, the better. Go ahead and leave a comment for us. We’d love to hear your advice.