When you have a flare-up, or uptick, in pain, how do you cope? What techniques have you used in the past to deal with your pain? How well have they worked for you? What impact have they had on your happiness, stress, and emotions?

In this article we’ll go over some methods and strategies you can use to cope with persistent pain.

Coping is the way you respond to certain stressors or stressful events in your life. How you cope can affect your pain levels and your physical, emotional, and mental health.

There’s no limit to how many coping methods you can try. Ideally though, you want to find methods that empower you and build resilience.

Adriaan Louw is well-known as a pain educator, researcher, and physical therapist. In his clinical textbook Pain Neuroscience Education: Teaching People About Pain he says, “The ultimate goal of treatment should be independence. Patients should be taught ways to help themselves.” [1]

The active coping methods listed below do just that. They are all techniques that you can use to help you better respond to your pain. They are also techniques that help you create the most space inside your backpack.* They include:

  • Movement and physical activity (remember, you can always reach out to your coach if you’re struggling to find ways to stay active right now)

  • Learning about pain

  • Relaxation techniques (stress management, breathing, yoga, meditation, etc.)

  • Reframing negative thought patterns

  • Problem solving (recognizing how certain things can impact pain)

  • Finding support from friends, relatives, support groups, or even your pet

Passive coping methods can also help relieve pain, but they usually involve other people or things instead of encouraging self-efficacy. The following are all considered passive coping methods:

  • Medication

  • TENS units (a device that delivers small electrical impulses to reduce pain)

  • Acupuncture

  • Massage

  • Chiropractor

  • Ice/heat

  • Epsom salt baths

When used in combination with active methods, passive techniques can help relieve pain and positively impact mental and emotional well-being. [2] Passive techniques do not typically address the root of your pain, so they are not considered long-term solutions. But using cold therapy on your back or getting a massage can help calm your pain system and offer relief and relaxation. Then, you can get back to your exercise therapy and other activities you enjoy.

Remember, the best coping approach is different for everyone. So don’t hesitate to try lots of different strategies!

* We added a video and additional content to the article “Rethink Your Pain,” which you read in a previous playlist. In case you missed it, be sure to take a look at “Rethink Your Pain” in the Library of your Hinge Health app for important background information and context.

Key Takeaways

  1. Coping is the way you respond to stressors or stressful events. Find ways of coping that help you feel empowered and build resilience.

  2. Active coping methods will help you address the root of your pain and empower you to take control.

  3. Combine passive coping methods with more active methods whenever possible. This will help to relieve your pain while also helping you get back to the activities that you enjoy. 

References:

  1. Louw, A. (2018). Pain Neuroscience Education: Teaching People About Pain.

  2. Litt, M. D., & Tennen, H. (2015). What are the Most Effective Coping Strategies for Managing Chronic Pain? Pain Management, 5(6), 403–406.

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