Here we will go over how to set goals and develop a pain management plan long-term.
Having chronic pain can be life-altering. You may not be able to do all the activities you used to. Social relationships may suffer, and so may your career and physical health. Setting goals and developing a pain management plan will be the key to maintaining normalcy in your life and improving symptoms.
Let’s jump right in.
Start by assessing your current situation. Determine your pain levels, daily activities, and what pain management is working and what is not. Evaluate your limitations, challenges, and concerns about your chronic pain.
Once you have a starting point, you can begin the process of improving your situation.
Think about what you want your ultimate goals to be.
You may want to increase your ability to go out and enjoy life, decrease the intensity of your pain, feel pain less frequently, improve sleep quality, etc.
Your Ultimate goal must be realistic and specific to your personal circumstances. Setting an unrealistic goal makes it nearly impossible to accomplish it.
Your doctors are going to play a major role in setting goals and creating a pain management plan.
Your primary care provider, physical therapist, and specialists will know the ins and outs of your condition. These doctors will be able to look at the details of your condition and help you determine what you need to do to achieve your ultimate goal.
With the information provided by your doctor, you can set mini goals.
Mini goals are stepping stones along the way to your larger goal. These smaller goals may be examples such as; being able to take a 30-minute walk instead of 10, bringing pain levels down from a 10 to an 8, starting physical therapy, or expanding mobility.
Setting mini-goals is important because it helps avoid becoming overwhelmed, reduces stress, boosts confidence, helps build healthy habits, and tracks progress.
One of the best things about having mini goals is that you receive satisfaction and rewards throughout your journey.
The next thing you want to do is consider your treatment options.
Part of creating a pain management plan will require some type of treatment. This could include anything from lifestyle changes to surgery. The options on the table for you may be vastly different than for someone else with the same condition. Finding the treatment that works best for your personal situation is essential.
While considering your treatment options, you should do some experimenting. Try different medications, exercises, topicals, therapies, and whatever else is presented.
For many, diet and physical activity, and the introduction of cannabis products are life-changers. Cannabis is highly beneficial to chronic pain sufferers, so much so that it is on the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
Living a healthy lifestyle is essential to reducing chronic pain.
Unhealthy habits exacerbate symptoms by interfering with the body’s natural healing abilities and homeostasis. For example, unhealthy foods filled with added sugars and preservatives create inflammation, which significantly increases pain. Not getting enough physical activity will decrease your body’s strength and mobility and ultimately raise your pain levels.
To live a healthier lifestyle, you should limit unhealthy foods, ensure you receive all your daily vitamin requirements, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, spend time outdoors, and avoid drugs and alcohol.
Having treatment options and a pain management plan is not enough.
Individuals that find recovery from chronic pain and improve symptoms strictly follow a pain management routine daily.
Your pain management routine may be simple or complex (depending on your condition and limitations).
A few examples of things that may be included in your routine are:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat healthy meals
- Monitor symptoms frequently
- Take a walk or work out
- Go to work or complete daily tasks
- Take Medication
- Use self-care to relieve pain and stress (hot bath, heating pad, relaxation)
The closer you follow your routine, the more drastic your improvements will be.
As you work toward living a healthier, happier, less painful life, remember to celebrate your progress, accomplishments, and courage.
Celebrating each milestone and the improvements you have made, makes the journey easier and more fulfilling.
Chronic pain is difficult to live with, and keeping the motivation to work toward your pain management goals can be challenging. Each step you take is worth celebrating and recognizing.