Ways to Cope With Chronic Back Pain

Try as you might, it’s true: living day after day with chronic back pain can bog you down. Coping with the demands of family life and work is hard enough, but when you add chronic back pain to the mix, your life can become pretty challenging. Finding your own coping strategies is vital to living well with chronic back pain. Here are five things you can do to make it easier to cope with chronic back pain.

A woman writing in her journal

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Keep a Pain Journal

Many people use journals to document their pain, but you can use a pain journal any way you want. Write down what you are feeling, and when. This will not only help you notice trends that make your pain better or worse but can also help you vent your frustrations about pain. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Learn to Relax

Relaxation is good for the body and the mind. Stress and anxiety not only take a toll on your mood and energy levels: in some cases, they can actually make your pain worse. That's because stress creates muscle tension, which can intensify pain. Learning to relax may keep your pain from becoming worse.

Talk It Out

No one understands you better than someone who has been through the same thing. Talking to peers not only gives you an opportunity to vent, but it exposes you to someone who has been through something similar. Peer advice can be invaluable when you suffer from chronic back pain. Check out local support groups or seek out forums online to connect with others who understand what you're going through.

Accept Your Pain

It might sound counterintuitive, but accepting your pain can go a long way in helping you cope. You don’t have to like being in pain, but you do have to live with it every day. Finding a way to accept this can make daily life a little easier.

Understand Your Risk for Depression

Living with chronic back pain is challenging. Sometimes, all the advice in the world is simply not enough. For some people, chronic pain can start to interfere with every aspect of their life, causing their relationships and work performance to suffer. Unfortunately, the nature of chronic back pain can leave almost anyone more prone to depression. If your personal relationships are becoming strained, you're finding it harder to concentrate at work, you have less energy, you've lost interest in the things you once enjoyed or you feel hopeless, you may be suffering from depression. Talk to your healthcare provider if these apply to you to find out about your treatment options.

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  • National Pain Foundation. Living With Chronic Pain. 

By Erica Jacques
Erica Jacques, OT, is a board-certified occupational therapist at a level one trauma center.