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What can you do to help yourself?

As discussed elsewhere in this site, chronic pain is a very complex condition which has been shown to have the largest negative impact on quality of life of any health condition.  It has an interplay of physiological symptoms and changes, lack of physical activity and fitness with resulting muscle weakness and stiffness, and changes in how we think about our pain and cope with it.  The impact of pain on people’s lives is variable and can cause sleeplessness, depression and interfere with normal physical and social functioning. It can be disabling and frustrating for many people to manage. Chronic pain can also affect relationships with family, friends and work colleagues.

It is critically important that the management of peoples' pain is a partnership between things we do to try to reduce the pain and things that people with pain do to change their management of it.  Indeed, you could look at the prime aim of things we do in the clinic being to facilitate this self-management.

There are a lot of different things that people find helpful.  Some of these are detailed from the links in the menu to the right, or below.  Many of these aspects are covered in the Pain Self Management Programmes that we run in our service.

A useful explanatory and introductory video can be found at the YouTube site here.

Understanding how pain works can be very helpful to people with persistent pain.  A very well produced video from Australia gives an excellent five-minute overview of chronic pain and some of its issues.  Two other excellent explanatory videos can be accessed here and here.

How can I manage my chronic pain?

Many people with chronic pain see their health care professional for treatment, help and support.  In addition, there are many ways that you can manage your  condition, to help reduce the impact of pain on your daily life.

These include:

  • Staying active stretching and exercise help to reduce pain and discomfort.  It prepares the body for other activities and can help to build muscle and joint strength as well as your confidence.
  • Goal setting and pacing set realistic goals or action plans to help you manage your condition and pace your daily activities to avoid overdoing things.
  • Relaxationrelaxation can help release tense muscles and unwind the mind.  Distracting yourself with a hobby, dancing, listening to music and deep breathing can help to make a difference.  
  • Many people with chronic pain have difficulties sleeping, and it can be helpful to address this.
  • Losing wieght - a useful booklet on this can be downloaded here.
  • Set back plan – developing a set back plan will help you to understand what triggers your pain condition and how to cope at the most difficult times.
  • Talking– discussing your condition with your GP, practice nurse, family members, friends or someone else living with chronic pain, can help you to understand more about self managing your condition.
  • Self management programmes – attending voluntary or support groups may help you to share your experiences with others in the same or similar position as you.  One potentially useful resource is the Expert Patient Programme.

Further reading

There are a number of very useful sites with information to assist in self management of pain.  These include:

A useful overall information list of services for people with persistent pain in Gloucestershire is linked here.

Mr Pete Moore, who has persistent pain, has produced a very useful Pain Toolkit and associated site which many patients find very useful, and which we would very highly recommend.

An excellent site, Sheffield Aches and Pains, has a considerable amount of very useful information about self-management approaches and other information for people with pain.

The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) have recently produced very detailed guidance for professionals on the assessment and management of chronic pain in primary care, and as part of this have also produced a useful patient and carer information booklet.

The Arthritiscare website has useful advice.  This website has a self-management CD which can be listened to online or downloaded for free. There are several tracks ranging from information on living with chronic pain, medication, sleep, managing negative emotions to relaxation.

One source of excellent advice and resources that is increasingly being used is the Pain Plan and Relaxation CD that can be accessed via the website.  The Pain Plan is also available directly from the Amazon website.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS have produced a useful overview book on pain management and also a version of this in Polish.


A number of useful books and other reading matter, many available from Gloucestershire Libraries, are described on this list.



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Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
email: pain.webmaster[at]

Page updated 4/7/2016