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Living with chronic pain

Chronic pain is experienced by many people in Canada, and it is a difficult and challenging condition. So what makes pain “chronic”? Chronic pain is defined as pain that continues for longer than three months. Many different conditions can cause chronic pain, but sometimes, the causes for chronic pain can be unknown.

Certain conditions are known to be associated with chronic pain:

  • Arthritis/rheumatitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Back problems

In Canada, women report more chronic pain than men, and older people experience more chronic pain than younger people do.

People with chronic pain often can’t perform daily activities, don’t sleep well or miss work. They can also suffer from depression.

Lifestyle choices that affect chronic pain

Your overall health is very important when dealing with chronic pain. Keeping up a healthy lifestyle means eating well, getting enough exercise and rest, managing stress and avoiding things that will affect your health in a negative way, like drinking too much, smoking or gaining weight.

Exercise may seem difficult, but even if it hurts at first, exercise is central to pain management. It will help you avoid getting worse and guard against depression and weight gain. Start slow and work up to doing more and more as you feel able. Good activities that are gentle on your body include walking, swimming and tai chi. Before starting any exercise program, consult with your doctor.

Chronic pain and sleep

It may be difficult for you to get good sleep when dealing with pain, but there are certain things you can do that may help:

  • Stay active
  • Don’t take naps
  • Go to bed at the same time every night
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Make sure your mattress and bedding are very comfortable
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet
  • Use earplugs if you are sensitive to sound
  • Use window or eye coverings if you are sensitive to light

If you have been diagnosed with chronic pain, don’t give up.

Want more information and support? Search “pain” in Find Support for organizations in your area.

Living with chronic pain