How to Handle Chronic Pain Flare-Ups: Effective Strategies for Holistic Pain Flare-Up Management
Living with chronic pain can be extremely difficult.
Not knowing when the next flare-up will hit, let alone how to handle a flare-up once it starts, can cause paralyzing anxiety.
When a flare-up hits, it feels like the pain is all-consuming and there's nothing you can do to make it go away.
Flare-ups will knock you off your feet and leave you feeling guilty, frustrated, and helpless. Because without many ways to handle flare-ups, your only option is to wait it out with fingers crossed that it resolves quickly.
Unfortunately, it seems like the only way to handle pain when it flares-up is to rely on prescription pain killers paired with heating pads or TENs units - all of which are temporary band-aid solutions that won't make the flare-up end any sooner.
In this article, I'll be discussing 5 chronic pain flare-up strategies that are backed by science and have been proven to be effective in reducing the intensity and duration of flare-ups so you can get back to your life and work faster.
#1: Identify your protectors.
You may have been told that you should try to identify your "triggers", or the things that make your pain worse.
But you should also look for what things make your pain better - these are your protectors.
Protectors may not have a direct impact on your pain per say but they could be things that improve your mood, make your body feel more comfortable, help you relax, or make you feel safe and at ease.
This is by far the most important step to managing flare-ups and it's something you want to spend a good amount of time thinking about.
We tend to find it much easier to identify things that make pain worse, like sitting too long, driving in traffic, or doing laundry - but we struggle to identify the things that make us feel better.
Therefore, its important to take time brainstorming your protectors.
The more you can think of the better you will be at managing your flare-ups.
Need some inspiration on what protectors are? Click HERE to download a free guide!
#2: Use a Flare-up Tool Kit
Any time pain worsens, it makes it harder to think. Memory suffers and brain fog sets in.
You need to make it easy on yourself to use proactive pain management strategies, aka. your protectors, instead of just relying solely on rest and pills.
A flare-up tool kit will make it easy to utilize your protectors at the first sign of a flare.
Plus, despite the brain fog, you'll be more likely to remember all the great proactive ways you can make your body feel more comfortable and safe.
You can use your list of protectors as a checklist to create your own flare-up tool kit.
If you truly want to beat a flare-up as soon as it starts, so you can get back to your life quicker, you have to make the decision to make your flare-up management your number one priority.
Doing so may mean you have to say no to a few things but it can mean you get back on your feet faster.
Therefore, you may need to communicate with your friends and family members what your needs are.
Letting your spouse know what you need and how they can help during this time may be one thing that will make you most successful at beating your flare-up.
When we don't communicate our needs, we have a tendency to minimize our pain and push ourselves too hard, which only prolongs the flare-up.
Tell your spouse and family members about your flare-up, tell them about your protectors, and your flare up tool kit.
Explain to them how you need a bit of time to focus on prioritizing your protectors.
And share with them exactly how they can help you during this recovery time.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people with chronic pain making is pushing themselves physically and mentally despite their pain getting worse.
Pacing is so important because it helps give the body space to calm down instead of continuously adding stress to the system, making the pain problem worse.
When you are in a flare-up, your body is already in a heightened state of stress and if you don't pace yourself, you will only make the situation worse.
The easiest way to effectively pace yourself is to plan ahead, think of how much you're capable of, and stop, modify, or rest once you've reached that limit.
With that being said, the goal during a flare-up is not to do nothing and hibernate in bed. It should be to do as much as you can without pushing through and making the pain worse.
A majority of what you can do to handle flare-ups has to do with what you do when you're not in a flare-up.
Learning ways to handle flare-ups may help you reduce the intensity and duration of a flare but it won't prevent them from coming back.
In order to start having fewer flare-ups, prevention is key.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent chronic pain flare-ups including:
- getting better sleep,
- managing stress,
- using protectors and planning around your triggers,
- incorporating specific stretches and exercises,
- nerve mobility drills, and
- brain based drills to retrain the pain pathways in the nervous system.
In summary, if you are experience flare-ups of your chronic pain, try some of these tips to help lessen the time it takes to recover.
Also, in my 16-week program, the Chronic Pain Breakup Method, you will learn more, science-backed ways to manage and prevent pain and flare-ups so you can live a fearless and fulfilling life. Click HERE to learn more and book a complimentary one-on-one call today.
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