Friday, July 9, 2010

Healthy Living with Chronic Pain

Through Conemaugh Health Systems at the John P Murtha Center for Pain, I have the good fortune to be taking a 6 week class called "Healthy Living with Chronic Pain." I am taking the class for my own benefit and to also train to be a facilitator of this course. As many know, I have been living with chronic pain in my lower back and pelvis region for 12 years since a rough horseback riding incident. It took me almost three years to stop walking with a limp. Any high impact activity is simply not possible for me anymore. On top of that, I have since developed 4 auto immune disorders including Hypothyroidism. So along with no end to pain, I also suffer from fatigue and depression. It is my hope and ultimate goal to derive as much as possible from this course to gain a better management of my pain and to live a better life.

Since this was our first class, 17 people are participating with a range of chronic pain and illnesses. The beginning of the class is an overview of Self-Management. Some of the biggest problems we all encounter are:
Limited mobility
Rewiring Emotions
Pacing Self
Not able to do everything we want to do
Losing balance
Trouble walking
Anger at self
Trouble sleeping
Adaptation of lifestyle

There is a difference between Acute and Chronic pain. The simplest way to differentiate is that Acute pain is limited to a brief amount of time. For instance, Strep throat or the flu. Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than 3-6 months. Some causes for Chronic pain are Hereditary, Lifestyle and Control of Symptoms. With Chronic pain and diseases it is sometimes not a definitive answer of what is the problem. Often it is a matter of ruling out other conditions to ascertain the problem.

Some basic Self-Management tasks include the following:
1) Take care of health
2) Carrying out normal activities
3) Managing your emotional needs

Be PROACTIVE and SHARE in the planning. Typical Symptom Cycles are Pain-Fatigue-Depression-Difficult Emotions-Stress/Anxiety-Ineffective Breathing-Restricted Movement-Tense Muscles. One way to tackle some of this is with a Self-Management Tool Box:

manage Fatigue
Working with health care professionals
Problem solving
Using your mind
Understanding Emotions
Finding Resources

There are so many ways to Shorten the sense of Pain through Distraction. We brainstormed and came up with some of the following:

Listening to Music
Imaginary Journey
Find something beautiful

Our goal this week is to create an ACTION PLAN. This can be a short task that is NOT overwhelming:
1) Something you want to do
2) Achievable
3) Action specific
4) Answer the questions: WHAT, HOW MUCH, WHEN, HOW OFTEN
5) Confidence Level of 7 or more

My personal ACTION PLAN this week is related to after I get this cast off my right arm. I want to go back to walking my two mile walk, 4 times a week, in the early confidence Level is a 9 that I will be able to do this.

I will continue posting what I am deriving from this class each week. If anyone wants to add or ask questions, please feel free to find me on Facebook under Martha Murphy or e mail me at: I hope others find this helpful as we work within our chronic pain and diseases!

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