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How to stop yourself from panicking when you’re in pain

Dr Matthew Jakovljevic - Osteopath

We’ve all been in this scenario, you’ve just bent down to tie your shoes, you feel that all too familiar twinge in your back and the next thing you know your whole back seizes up. Panic sets in. How did I manage to do that? How am I going to work tomorrow? What is the boss going to think? Who is going to cook dinner for the kids tonight? When will I be able to see my osteopath? What about if they are not available today?

What I’ve found, both through clinical experience and from the latest scientific evidence, is that if my patients have a plan for when things go wrong, they can not only stop themselves from panicking, they regain control of their condition. This is known as self-efficacy, or the ability to help yourself when you’re in trouble. This stops people's pain from interfering so much with their lives.

Some ideas for helping you deal with a flare up, to help you make your own step by step plan.
Put this somewhere you can access is easily (for example in your wallet, on the fridge or with a support person). Pick at least 3 or 4 of the strategies below:

  • Calming self statement ''I can get through this flare up''
  • Do some mindfulness meditation (I will be writing another blog post on this soon if you don’t know what it is) 
  • Do some gentle stretches that you have been shown
  • Do a productive exercise therapy, that doesn’t aggravate your pain too much (walking, swimming etc)
  • Use a heat pack or have a hot shower.
  • Phone a friend
  • Do an enjoyable activity.
  • Avoid pain medication as often as you can, but have a clear plan of when you really need it (for example, ‘If I tried ….. and my pain is still there I can take … tablets of …. Medication'

Here’s a template to make your own flare up management card: 

My steps for dealing with a flare up.

 

 

During a flare up I need to remember….

 

 

 

My step by step plan

 

 

 

 

 

One of our osteopaths will be able to help you if you need assistance with any of these steps or need your stretches/ exercises updated. One of the most important things when we know there isn’t any serious damage, is to be able to continue to move, stretch and get on with your daily activities, despite your pain.


We also run a chronic pain program at Western Region Health if you suffer from ongoing pain that isn’t responding to traditional management.


Please note, the advice above is generalised and may not be specific to your situation. If in doubt please contact one of our osteopaths or another health care provider to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment of your condition.

Chronic pain - Posted on 27th October 2016

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