|Use the tips below, from NIDR Gender and Pain conference
speakers, to help curb pain's impact on your life and to communicate better with your
doctor about your pain.
- Keep a pain diary. Does your pain change at different times of day? Before or
after meals? With exercise? Does it keep you from falling asleep or wake you up? What
makes it better or worse? Women: does your pain vary across your menstrual cycle?
- Describe your pain. Write down all the words that come to mind. Is it
throbbing, sharp, dull, tingling, shooting, burning, or cold? Your list may help your
doctor better determine the pain's cause.
- Use pain rating scales. Rate your pain from 1 to 10. Rank your pain
from day to day, or from episode to episode.
- Discuss medications with your doctor, even
those you buy without a prescription. Some
common pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs, should not be used at the same time, as the combination increases the risk of
- Be cautious about using food supplements
alleged to have "natural" pain-relieving properties. While food supplements are promoted as having low potential for
harm, they may vary considerably from batch to batch, site of origin, and in manner of
processing, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not
regulate such products for safety and efficacy. The safety of most food supplements is
- Explore non-drug treatments. These include visualization, relaxation techniques
such as yoga and meditation, biofeedback, and hypnosis. You may discover if you are
comfortable with such strategies by trying them once or twice. They work best, however,
with everyday practice.
- Inform yourself. Start with the NIH Institutes that
support research on your type of pain.
- Exercise regularly. Whatever your age, and even if your mobility is
limited, you can benefit from simple stretching and other exercise. Activity increases
flexibility, range of motion, and stamina.
- Join a support group. Share feelings and coping strategies with others facing similar problems.
Ask your doctor for names of groups in your community. Or look for organizations serving
persons with your illness under "Social Services" in the yellow pages of your
local phone directory. You also can find support groups on the Internet. Use any search
engine, and type in the name of your illness. Home pages of many national organizations
provide information on joining support groups in your community or online.