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Living a more independent and satisfying life

  • Managing your chronic pain does not mean getting rid of all of your pain. Taking too many pain medications or self-medicating with nonprescription pain relievers, herbal supplements or alcohol may cause injury to your body and make your pain worse.
  • Taking too much opioid medication can interfere with independent living.
    • Opioids cause severe constipation that can worsen pain, including back pain, and cause hemorrhoids.
    • Chronic use of opioids can increase the sensitivity of the brain to pain.
    • Opioids make it harder to think clearly, making simple activities both difficult and dangerous (including walking and driving).
    • Some medications mask pain making it easier for you to overdo it.
  • Some activities may temporarily increase your pain, such as exercise or physical therapy, but be beneficial for you.
    • Not all pain is bad.
    • Just because something hurts doesn’t mean it is doing you harm.  
    • Exercise or physical therapy can help you do more with less pain.
  • Fear of pain can be a barrier to a better life. Managing breakthrough pain can really help.
  • Learning to negotiate with your pain means not ignoring it or letting it make all the decisions about what you will do.

Socializing with friends and family

      People with chronic pain may find that friends become distant, leading them to feel isolated from the rest of the world. The reasons for this are many and varied:

  • It may be physically difficult for you to venture out of the comfort of your home.
  • You may suffer from depression, making it more difficult for you to maintain relationships.
  • Your pain medications may limit your ability to share activities with other people.
  • Some people may feel uncomfortable being with people who have chronic pain.
  • You may not want to go out for fear it will make your pain worse or that you will experience an embarrassing medical issue, such as incontinence.
  • You may fear letting people down when unpredictable flares in pain interfere with your ability to participate.

To avoid becoming isolated:

  • Take control by accepting what you can and cannot do; set your priorities, and focus on the things and people most important in your life.
  • Establish boundaries and be prepared to enforce them.
  • Let friends, family, and coworkers know what you need.
  • Think about the challenges that are most draining for you and explore ways to cope with them or manage those situations.