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Beacon of HOPE Wellness Committee: Learning to manage your chronic pain

February 21, 2018
By Nancy Buthman, ARNP ( , Pine Island Eagle

Chronic pain what is it? Pain is generally considered to be chronic when it lasts 6 months or more. Some specialists say that it is any pain that lasts longer than it is expected to. The degree of pain may range from mild and irritating to pain that is so severe it limits your ability to live a normal lifestyle. In the United States, nearly 100 million people are dealing with chronic pain with nearly half of them being partially or totally disabled. Chronic pain usually starts with an injury, illness or infection. As we get older, wear and tear on the body can lead to arthritis pains and fibromyalgia, though less common, can cause pain throughout their body.

Regardless of the source, pain can result in other issues that interfere with the things that you need and want to do in your everyday life. These can include fatigue, sleep disturbances, poor appetite, added stress and mood changes. It can lead to frustration, anger, anxiety and depression. It may also lead to an increased use of drugs and alcohol.

While pain can be very challenging, there is hope. No matter the type or how severe it is, there are things you can do to ease the pain, to prevent further damage, and to help you remain active. There are many treatments for chronic pain. The ones people think of first are medications. There are over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol, aspirin and NSAIDs such as Alleve and ibuprofen.

There are stronger prescription drugs to deal with pain such as muscle relaxers and opioids. These can provide much needed short-term relief but they come with significant risks. The latter should only be taken under close supervision by your doctor and for only a limited time. The Journal (JAMA) of Surgery states that long-term use of opioids leads to increased pain and poorer sleep. Six percent of those given them after surgery were still taking them 6 months later.

Medication is not the only solution. There are many other types of holistic or self-managed treatments for chronic pain which have demonstrated success. These include physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, biofeedback, mindfulness stress reduction therapy, tai chi, yoga, certain diets and psychological counseling. Self management of chronic pain holds great promise as a treatment approach.

According to the National Institute of Health, the individual becomes an active participant in his or her pain treatment. Self-management programs have reduced many barriers to effective pain management regardless of the underlying conditions. Individuals who participate in these programs have significantly increased their ability to cope with pain. They improve their ability to be active, healthy and involved members of their communities.

If you or a loved one is dealing with the effects of chronic pain, there is such a program coming up. A free 6-week workshop on chronic pain will be held every Wednesday, from 9-11:30 a.m., starting today, Feb. 21, and continuing through March 28 at the Beacon of HOPE. This workshop, developed at Stanford University and presented by Lee Health, will help you develop strategies and skills that will help you deal with your pain. It will teach you the mind body connection/distraction, the benefits of physical activity, the connection between food and chronic pain, and how to communicate more effectively with your doctor and family.

Join us at the Beacon of HOPE on Feb. 21. Call to register at 239-343-9264.

You can reach us at wellbeacon@gmail or at 239-283-5123 or online at



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