reviewed 10/25/2018

Chronic pain: True or false?

Chronic pain is any type of pain that lingers for at least six months. And there's no denying it can interfere with the quality of life and your everyday activities. But many treatments and coping techniques can help. How much do you know about chronic pain?

True or false: Stress can make pain worse.

True. Physical pain can cause stress. And stress, in turn, can make it harder to cope with pain. But reducing your stress may help you manage pain. Exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest and eating a well-balanced diet are some positive stress-busting techniques.

True or false: Positive thinking and self-talk can help make pain more manageable.

True. While good thoughts and optimism won't simply make the pain go away, they can make a difference. That's because, experts say, positive self-talk may help alter your perception of pain. Sometimes it's a matter of reminding yourself that you are moving toward feeling better and regaining a good quality of life.

True or false: Taking powerful narcotic medicines is the only way to treat chronic pain.

False. Other medications—and even nonmedication treatments—can often help people manage their pain. These include things like massage, physical therapy, nerve blocking injections and even surgical procedures. The options available to someone depend on the specific pain condition and other factors.

True or false: Taking part in relaxing pastimes can help you manage pain.

True. A positive distraction, such as a hobby, can help with pain management. Reading or listening to music are other ways to focus away from the pain. Connecting with other people—in person or online—can help too.

True or false: Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and put up with pain.

False. It's important to speak up about your pain. Tell your provider how it feels—and how it affects your life. Does it keep you from sleeping, enjoying activities or doing daily chores? Work together to create a plan to address your pain. You don't have to deal with it in silence.

Chronic pain is a common problem that can pose many challenges. But it is also treatable or manageable. There are many ways to cope with pain—and live your life more fully.

Visit the pain topic center

Sources: American Chronic Pain Association; American Psychological Association

Related stories