We're using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you're agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more

What can you do to deal with long-term pain?

Nobody else can experience your pain or fully understand what it’s like, so you’re the best person to manage your own experience.

But long-term pain often causes lost confidence, depression, anxiety and fatigue. It can be very difficult to feel motivated to seek help or change your lifestyle. In addition, your local services may not be the same as others around the country or you may not know what type of care or advice you need to help you.

Working out what works for you

You’ll have personal preferences about what works for you. Getting to know what helps you can be very helpful, but sometimes you can develop less helpful patterns of behaviour and beliefs.

You may sometimes spend more time trying to get rid of experiences you don’t want rather than seeking ones you do. This can leave you feeling tired and frustrated. Pain almost always has emotional effects so it’s important to think about your mental and physical health needs.

Professional advice and support from friends and family may help you. Treatments are available that can help you to live a full life despite still experiencing pain. These treatment strategies often need to be tailored to your goals and physical and mental health needs. 

Dealing with the pain bully

In some ways, pain is like a bully. It demands that you pay attention and respond to it. A bully's power is its ability to scare you, and you try to do what it says so it’ll leave you alone. But doing what they say makes it more eager to return.

Another way to deal with bullies is to do what you want instead. To do this, you’ll need to find out what it is you want. Try completing the following statements, thinking about the focusing exercise:

Now that I have pain, I want to spend:

  • more time thinking about…
  • less time thinking about…
  • more time doing…
  • less time doing…

You can download the questions as a Now that I have pain chart (PDF 43.5 KB) if you want to print it off and write down your answers.

See if you can spot activities where you want to focus more of your effort. Identify specific, desirable and realistic goals and consider setting yourself targets.

Think about the steps you need to take to reach your goals, even if the steps are very small at first. Prepare yourself for barriers along the way but give yourself a boost towards your success by telling someone about your goals.

If you’re having difficulty identifying interesting and motivating activities, ask yourself: If my pain and other health problems were taken away, what would I do and how would I spend my time? This is a good way to identify positive, healthy and interesting activities to pursue.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question

We're now

Versus Arthritis.

You're being taken through to our new website in order to finish your donation.

Thank you for your generosity.

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.