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Aware-RSD

Managing Pain

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Managing Your Pain

Use the tips below 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?

  • 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 stomach irritation.

  • 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 unknown.

  • 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 (www.nih.gov) 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.

From the National Institutes of Health, Pain Research Consortium website. Available at:   http://www1.od.nih.gov/painresearch/genderandpain/managing.htm

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