30 Expert Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain changes lives. It impacts self-image, affects others, and interrupts plans. It's a disease that sometimes the person living with doesn't understand and others don't accept. Being bedridden one day but unimparied the next can be difficult to explain to others. It's normal to feel angry when pain hinders you from activities you enjoy or the ability to take part in routine tasks. 

To help you navigate this difficult terrain, here are some tips, simple lifestyle changes and advice from our own experts. Contributors include Ted Jones, PhD, CPE; Thomas J. Purtzer, MD; Sean Mackey, MD, PhD; Roderick A. Borrie, PhD; and Susan McQuillan, MS, RDN, CDN.

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Moving forward begins with acceptance.

Moving forward begins with acceptance.

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Accepting the chronic nature of your pain isn't easy but can actually lessen the emotional struggle associated with it. As pain psychologist Ted Jones, PhD, points out in The 5 Coping Skills Every Chronic Pain Patient Needs, how patients think about their pain is critical to success. “Catastrophizing”—telling yourself that your pain is the worst pain imaginable and the situation can't possibly get any gloomier—has been shown to be an important predictor of negative pain treatment outcomes.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) have been used to help many patients change their thinking. "Going from 'why me' to 'what now,' is powerful," says Dr. Jones. Try focusing on what you can still do. Gratitude can help you move forward by taking the focus away from the loss.