We all experience pain at some point in our lives.
If you have been in pain for six weeks or less, then we would class this as short-term or new pain. Sometimes we call this acute or recurrent pain.
There may be many different reasons why you are experiencing this pain. It may be due to an injury, condition or a change in your lifestyle, for example after giving birth or starting a more physically demanding job role.
It may feel very frustrating and uncomfortable, but there is every chance that your body will recover and that you will feel better soon.
Here are some steps that you can follow to manage your pain:
1. Take care of yourself
If your pain is due to an injury, operation or condition, then make sure that you follow any guidance you have been given by healthcare professionals and look after the area properly.
If you have a soft-tissue injury such as a muscle sprain or strain, then you can read more about caring for the area at home here.
If you are experiencing pain in your joints then you can read more about how to manage this here.
There isn’t always an obvious reason for pain like an injury or operation, but this doesn’t make it any less frustrating or real.
Following the rest of these steps can help you to manage pain and move forward with your life.
Taking painkillers with the advice of your pharmacist or GP can help you to relax and get comfortable, which can be important for recovery and a good night’s sleep.
3. Ice and heat
Ice and heat can be an effective way to relieve pain and discomfort.
Some people find that ice is more relieving, whereas others may find heat better. It is really down to the individual.
4. Find ways to relax
Your mental health can have a big impact on your physical health and vice versa.
Living with pain can easily lead to additional stress and anxiety, which we know can increase your feeling of pain and turn into a vicious cycle.
Don’t let it get to this stage, read our top ten tips on how to stress less and relax.
5. Avoid bed rest
So-called ‘bed rest’ is an outdated approach to managing pain and injury.
Using your injured body part as normally as your body will allow helps to prevent any loss of strength or coordination in the surrounding muscles.
Moving as much as you can and taking extra steps to look after your physical wellbeing will help you to build up strength and recover faster.
Even if you have a broken bone with a cast, you will still be able to move the rest of your body and complete small tasks within your limitations, for example walking slowly or with assistance.
6. Keep moving and stay active
Whilst your pain may not change when you are being active or moving, this does not mean that you should avoid activity altogether or that it is doing you harm.
Setting yourself goals to complete gentle activities or doing exercise that you enjoy such as walking, swimming or yoga can be a good place to start.
Carrying on physical activity to the point of unbearable pain or exhaustion isn’t helpful, so don’t push through extreme pain or return to sports if you are not ready.
If there is a reason why you should avoid activity, for example following an operation, then healthcare professionals will have given you advice about when you can start becoming more active. You should follow this advice or speak to your GP if you have any concerns.
7. Sleep well
Sleep is an essential part of managing pain.
We know that when you sleep well you can cope better with any discomfort or pain psychologically.
You may be thinking ‘easier said than done’ if pain is keeping you awake at night, but there are a number of practical steps that you can take to greatly improve your chances of getting the rest that you need.
8. Eat well
Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight will help you manage injury and pain.
This is because your body and mind needs the right nutrients to function properly and feel good.
Even if you are within your healthy BMI range, it’s still important that you get the nutrients you need and eat well.
9. Make time to enjoy yourself and socialise
Living with pain or an injury can leave you feeling lonely and low at times, so try to do something that you can enjoy within your limitations each day.
This could be as simple as having a friend visit you or taking a bath with some scented candles, whatever works for you.
10. Seek additional help if you need it
If you are struggling to move forward from pain or an injury then speak to a physiotherapist.
Understanding the pain is an important part of helping you to manage your pain and your physiotherapist will be able to talk to you about this.