“I want to be free of my pain!” When I ask my patients what their goals are for treatment in my office, this is the most common goal they set for themselves. I then proceed to ask well, what does the pain feel like? When does it happen? What aggravates it? What makes it better? Well, most of the time the patients are unsure. And that is not unusual. We try to ignore and avoid pain rather than understand it. However, I am here to tell you to LISTEN to your pain. If your goal is to become pain free, you need to understand more about your pain in order to create a plan.
Starting a plan can be simple: it can be creating a pain journal for a few weeks and tracking your pain characteristics. There is an Instagram reel from last month showing an example of a pain tracking journal (with Thunder in it!). This simple process only requires 2 things: 1- that you pay attention to your pain at its worst and best each day. 2- that you write down those pain levels at the end of the day (with some more details about each situation). Starting here helps you to track what makes your pain better or worse. It also helps you realize what emotions, people, and situations influence your pain experience. All of this information will be invaluable if you seek a physician’s input!
Make the decision that you will NOT make your life decisions based on your pain. You will not let it hold you back. You will set your goal to be pain free and stick to it. That means finishing your pain journal. Then it means seeking a provider for your pain. It means following through with your physician’s instructions and seeking another provider if necessary.
Start small with your pain goals. Recognize what the intensity of your pain is week to week (from 0-10 every day). Recognize the frequency of your pain (0-100%, never to every waking moment). Then, start with goals to decrease your pain in SMALL increments of intensity and SMALL increments of frequency. Celebrate and recognize when either one has a positive change! This will help you to realize you are moving toward your goals of becoming pain free.
Some apps can be helpful in tracking your pain: like Curable, Pain Scale-Pain Diary, SuperBetter to get ya started. (https://mhealth.jmir.org/2019/2/e13080/ )
Reach out and schedule an appointment if you are ready to set and reach your pain free goals!