Pain is something you'll unfortunately know more about than most of your friends.
It's very personal and individual. The way your brain interprets pain and how you react to it depends on many factors, including:
- how you're feeling, for example if you're worried or scared
- previous experiences of pain
- other people's reactions
- how well you sleep.
Many people often find it difficult to explain exactly how they're feeling when they're in pain. There are things you can do to help you better explain how you're feeling. If you’d like to know more about this, talk to your rheumatology department.
Pain doesn’t have to dictate how you live. Even if you experience a significant amount of pain, you can lead a fulfilling life. There are steps you can take to reduce the impact of pain and to make yourself feel better.
How can I fight pain?
Keeping up with your medication routine is very important but if you're still experiencing pain, you can ask your doctor for extra or alternative forms of pain relief.
It's really important to try to gain a sense of control and to not let pain rule your life. The tips below might be helpful.
Keep doing things you enjoy
Even if you’re in pain, it’s important to try to keep doing the things you enjoy and need to do as much as possible. This might seem tough at times, but it will help.
Doing the things you enjoy, such as seeing friends, can help prevent you feeling sad and can distract you, which can prevent you focusing on pain as much.
Be as independent as you possibly can at all times. Ask your occupational therapist about handy gadgets.
Keeping warm can be a useful way to ease pain. Try having warm baths or doing some gentle stretches in warm water – ask your rheumatology team about this.
Warm your bed with a hot-water bottle, microwaveable wheat pack or electric blanket, and try putting your clothes on a radiator before you get dressed.
Doing some exercises recommended by your physiotherapist will help. Try a hot pack over your joints before exercising; if this doesn’t work try a cold pack.
Exercise is important to keep you moving. If you become inactive and then unfit, stresses and strains of everyday life can become harder to deal with and you might find it harder to get to sleep.
Talk about it
Don’t bottle up your worries – talk to family or friends, or your rheumatology nurse/consultant. Sharing ideas about coping with pain with other people in the same situation can also help.
Having a good posture is important. Try not to be in a position where you are bent over and try not to remain in one position for too long – keep mobile.
Below are some other steps you can take to help yourself feel better:
- Ask the physiotherapists about splints to help relieve joint pain.
- Ask your parents or friends to give you a gentle massage.
- Try to get a good night's sleep.
Concentrate on your breathing
Pain may affect your breathing. It can make you take short and frequent breaths and this can make you feel a little dizzy.
It’s important to concentrate on how you're breathing. Try to take slow, deep breaths and get into a gentle rhythm.
You might find it helpful to put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach while you practice. As you breathe in, your stomach should rise a little and as you breathe out it should fall.
Once you've controlled your breathing, listen to your favourite music and let your mind relax.
One relaxation tip is to visualise your favourite place. This could be a warm beach, or a beautiful lake by a mountain. It might be somewhere you know that makes you feel happy and safe, such as your grandparents’ living room or your favourite cafe.
Try to picture yourself there and think of the sights, sounds and smells.
For more information about pain management, read treatments and therapies for long-term pain