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Pain Management blog by Hope Simpson – Youth Reporter

Posted By HMSA Social Media Coordinator, August 28, 2018

Pain management


Pain has been an unfortunate factor in my life now for many years, in many forms and I know this is a common symptom of any chronic illness, yet one that can sometimes be the hardest and most complicated to treat. The first step for me when I’m particularly struggling with pain, of any kind, is to try and figure out where the root of the discomfort is coming from. Have I been doing too much (exercise, physio or even typing work with my hands) do I have a cold or virus that could be contributing, has the weather temperature drastically changed? All of these help me figure out what I can do indirectly to help my aches, resting, not using my hands and wrists as much as I can and making sure I’m regulating my temperature. My symptoms do get much worse in the middle of summer and winter due to the rapid changes and extreme heat and cold. Once I’ve done this I can move on to “stage two” of my pain management and more directly tackle the problem.


A time when I struggled tremendously with pain was during my GCSE exams last year, while I had many supports in place and was sitting them at home with extra time I still found this a huge strain on my body and had to search around for as many remedies as I could, to get me through. I did type all my exams which was much better than writing, something I never could have managed to do, however this still put a lot of strain on my wrists and hands which led to frequent subluxations and discomfort. To combat this my physio suggested splints for my wrists while typing as this would prevent them from having to work so hard, she also had the idea of positioning a pillow under my arms so I didn’t have to hold them up on my own. This made a huge difference and if I’m having a particularly bad pain day now it’s something I still use. Hot/cold packs have been and still are one of the best inventions for dealing with pain! Simple but effective and something you can just keep in the freezer/pop in the microwave and have them ready when you need them. They’re also great to help warm you up/cool you down and are especially amazing in the summer and winter months during the more extreme temperatures. Having a hot bath can also help in the cold, I’ve started making and using little bath salts which while may not provide much relief (too soon to tell) but definitely smell good and are always prefect to pamper yourself with on a particularly tough day. Finally on my list, a TENS machine, it’s something that while, not for everyone, has helped me a lot with lower back and hip pain. As I’m not the most scientific I’ll attempt to explain it in my own words, for me it’s like a steady pulsing sensation coming through little pads attached to your skin near the affected area. It provides distraction and something other than the pain to focus on, I tend to use it while watching a favourite film to help distract, which indecently brings me to my next point.


Distraction is the biggest one for me, something I used back when struggling with CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) over five and half years ago and that I have used to combat pain connected to other illnesses ever since. Watching a film, talking to a friend, using a TENS machine, music, stroking my dog, working on a project, these are all ways to distract my mind away from the intense pain and into living my life. They don’t always work and for extreme pain attacks I mostly have to just breathe until it’s over, but day-to-day finding the things that take your mind away can be a help.


My final point within this piece is to highlight the fact that all pain is valid and should be treated as such, it isn’t a competition of who suffers the most but rather, what we can do to help one another in our individual journeys. You should never feel as if your being “overdramatic” pain is pain and at the end of the day no one should have to deal with it, but we do and so we find ways of easing it, for ourselves but most importantly for others.


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