UNDERSTANDING PAIN

Factors of Pain

There are factors that can make your pain better or worse. These include:

  • Stress: It’s a proven fact: Stress can make pain worse. Stress may also cause pain in some cases. How does this happen? When you are "stressed out," your muscles tense, causing pain. Your heart rate and body temperature increase. In reaction to stress, your body secretes the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline, which comes from the adrenal glands near the kidneys, is your body’s natural response mechanism to a frightening or dangerous situation. But when you have constant or regular stress, your body continues to pump adrenaline. This stressed-out state can be exhausting and make pain worse.
  • Reducing Stress: Distraction techniques aim to teach your mind to focus on something other than your stress. Identify common causes of your stress. Anticipate the stress and how you will handle it. Create a strategy for what you will do once the stressful situation is over. Or, try imagining something really pleasant during the stressful episode. By thinking of the enjoyable and relaxing things you will do afterward, you can distract your mind from the stress.
  • Overdoing physical activity: While rest is important for people with chronic pain, so is exercise and movement. "Listen" to your body. If your exercise hurts, stop. Ask your doctor to help you tell the difference between normal exercise discomfort and the pain related to too much exercise.
  • See the Treatment Options section for some additional options in managing
    your pain.

Sourced from:
The Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Pain Management, by Susan Bernstein, copyright ©2003, Arthritis Foundation
The Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Good Living with Osteoarthritis, copyright ©2000, Arthritis Foundation
To learn more about these books and for other pain management resources, call (800) 283-7800.