Chronic back and leg pain isn’t just a physical challenge.
It is a mental and emotional experience, and it can also take a toll on your supportive loved ones.
Chronic back and/or leg pain can prevent you from focusing on the positive aspects of your life. It’s common for chronic pain sufferers to take out their frustration and anger on the people doing their best to help–friends and family. Alternately, some chronic pain patients withdraw from human contact and slip into depression1. A few things to keep in mind: Try to stay positive. Never, ever give up. And reach out to a Patient Ambassador–you’ll be amazed at how many people want to help you get your life back, and how many tools they have to do it.
For some patients, the powerful medication often prescribed for chronic pain can create problems with addiction. Be sure that you’re taking the dose prescribed by your doctor. Ask your caregiver for assistance if you need help monitoring your drug intake. If you feel the need to increase the prescribed dosage to help cope with the pain, speak to your doctor for their advice.
Celebrate everything: there are no small achievements
Try to set realistic physical goals for yourself—both now and when you decide to proceed with surgery. Write those goals down, keep them handy, and refer to them often. Keep in mind that, at first, some of your goals may be too ambitious—bungee jumping 3 weeks after surgery is definitely not a good idea. When you realize that, modify or set some new goals that you can achieve. When you achieve a goal, no matter how modest, celebrate! Share your accomplishment with the people around you. Remember, they’re cheering for your success. The Better Way Back community has a special Patient Guide/Notebook to help you with goal setting, staying positive, and other important aspects of your journey. Ask your surgeon for a copy or contact The Better Way Back at 1-800-745-7099.
Stress and sleep disorders
Difficulty sleeping and/or feeling sadness are common symptoms in patients with chronic back or leg pain.1 These are distress signals that you shouldn’t ignore. Over time, emotional stress and fatigue can make it difficult for you to think and function at your best.1 If you have difficulty sleeping or notice a change in your mood, you should talk to your doctor. He/she can recommend an appropriate treatment. Seeking and accepting emotional support can greatly increase your ability to cope, and joining a support group or talking to a therapist experienced with chronic pain issues can be helpful. A Patient Ambassador for The Better Way Back community can also provide emotional support, advice, and inspiration when you need it most.
1Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Center Program Guide [Mayo Clinic Pain Rehabilitation Center Website]. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/documents/mc1459-02-pdf/doc-20078829. Accessed February 17,2017