Coping With Pain

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023

Living with chronic pain can have a major impact on your daily life, affecting everything from your ability to go about everyday activities to your emotional well-being. This can be very overwhelming or discouraging.1,2

If you have axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), understanding your condition and learning how to manage it are key to living with chronic pain. Many treatment options are available, ranging from medicines to lifestyle changes to complementary treatments. With the right combination, you can work toward relieving pain and regaining control of your life.1,2

The physical impact of pain

Your body can have a physical response to pain that can last for long periods. This is because your body is in a constant state of fight or flight, which can lead to many different symptoms. These symptoms may include:1

  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping

Over time, these can take a toll on your body and lead to further pain and discomfort. Learning how to manage these symptoms can help you protect your health and well-being.1

Living with chronic pain

Coping with chronic pain can be a daunting task. It is important to remember that managing chronic pain is an ongoing journey, and there will be highs and lows. Fortunately, there are several healthy ways to manage your condition.

Acceptance

Consider accepting that axSpA will not go away overnight. You will need to make adjustments to cope successfully. Doing so allows you to take the focus off trying to get rid of your pain and puts it on figuring out how best to manage it.3

Acceptance does not mean resignation. It means being open to dealing with the reality of your chronic pain and being willing to find solutions.3

Prioritize self-care

Self-care is an integral part of managing chronic pain. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Eat a healthy diet and make time for activities that bring you joy. Healthy habits can help you stay strong and cope with chronic pain better.4

Set reasonable goals

Set goals that are achievable. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Start small, with achievable goals like taking a walk or doing light stretching daily. Setting small, achievable goals can help build confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment. Then, you can build up to larger goals if you want.3

Practice relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques can be very helpful in managing chronic pain. Try one or more of the following to help reduce stress and provide pain relief:4

Develop healthy habits

The following habits can help you better manage your chronic pain when you practice them consistently:1,4

  • Have an exercise routine, but also rest when you need it. Stretching and movement is especially helpful in managing axSpA pain.
  • Eat a balanced diet with reduced processed foods.
  • Practice relaxation activities like meditation or yoga.
  • Prioritize sleep for your overall health.

Find support

Finding support from family and friends, others who have axSpA, or mental health professionals is crucial for coping with pain. Having access to an understanding and compassionate support system can be key in helping to manage the physical and emotional effects of living with this condition.3

Friends and family can provide not only emotional support but practical assistance, like going with you to appointments. And talking to others who are going through similar experiences can help ease feelings of loneliness, provide wisdom, and build confidence that you are not alone.3

Seeing a mental health professional also might help you cope with the emotional effects of pain. Counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can even help manage your perception of the pain itself.1

Coping with axSpA pain is like climbing a mountain. It can be challenging and require patience, but you can reach the summit with hard work and dedication. In this case, your goal can be living a fulfilled and rewarding life while managing the pain that may come your way.

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