It fries your nerves. It fogs your brain. It fouls your mood.
That’s the toll of chronic pain: defined as any ache that lasts more than three months, impairs your normal functioning and is no longer useful because it alerts you to an injury you already know about.
According to the American Pain Foundation, 14 percent of us have aches that have persisted three to 12 months, while 42 percent suffer from pain that has lasted more than a year. These stats—and the fact that chronic pain is the leading reason we seek medical care—have prompted health advocates to name September Pain Awareness Month.
What can you do?
1. Communicate clearly to your doctor what issues you are experiencing. There may be more than pain medication that can help. Experts recommend trying a blend of approaches until you find the right mix.
2. Rethink your rituals. Your regular habits may be contributing to your pain.
3. Exercise gently.
4. Get support.
5. Think positive.
6. Don’t give up, and remember to pray.
This message was adapted from “Ouch! Coping with Chronic Pain” written by Molly M. Ginty that first appeared in the September 2008 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.