10 ways to cope with a chronic pain flare up.

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You may very well know the feeling. You’re in bed, at work or walking out and about and it hits you. That pain is completely personal. For me it feels like some sod has hold of my left ovary and is twisting it to high heaven. Whatever that feeling is, you will know it as the inkling of a flare up. For me flare ups happen one to two times a month, where my daily chronic pain is replaced by pain that I would describe as at least an 8 on my own pain scale. I’m usually confined to my bed, off my tits on pain killers and usually don’t surface for at least a few days. This sucks, but is (unfortunately) a reality of my illness. I thought I would share with you all some things I’ve found, help me cope.

1.Stop what you’re doing.

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Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

I find this one of the hardest things to do, but it’s so important. Whether you have endo or not, if you suffer from a chronic pain condition and a flare up hits you, it’s important to allow yourself to stop. We are so good at carrying on, pushing through and often doing ourselves more harm. My advice to you (and let’s be real to myself an awful lot of the time) is cancel those plans, call in sick to work and get yourself to bed. This is often this biggest battle but my view is this flare ship is coming all cannons blazing either way, you matters well whether the storm somewhere comfy.

That’s all for the ships and sea analogies I promise.

2. Surround yourself with allies and helpers.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Whether that’s your partner, your friends, your family or your cat. Let someone know things aren’t great. This might not be someone who lives with you, it might not even be someone who lives close by, but it might be someone who can help. If you live with a partner or family member they may know the signs quite well by now, but still let them know whats going on, allow them to help you if you can.

3. Don’t be afraid to use the treatments that YOU know work for YOU.

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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Whether that be prescription painkillers, acupuncture, complementary treatments or just your trusty heating pad, no one has the tight to tell you you shouldn’t use something that works. It can take quite a long time to find a treatment for your symptoms, and sure none of these will stop a flare up BUT they may help. Personally I find strong pain killers and bed are my only saviours, and I try my best to explore other treatments for my chronic pain when I’m able to.

4. Eat well (whatever that means).

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Photo by Rachel Park on Unsplash

When i’m marooned in bed (I’m sorry last sea pun i promise), making a meal is the last thing i think i can achieve. Also eating a meal seems pretty impossible at these times too. You may want to eat, you may not. You may want to eat snacks and junk food, you might want to nibble on a carrot but either way try and stay fuelled. Whatever that means for you. Try making self care packages when you’re doing okay, with some snacks and pre-prepped meals for when times aren’t so good.

5. Don’t forget to take care of your mental well being too.

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Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

When you have a chronic pain condition it sometimes can become all about your physical health, but keep in mind your mental health is important too. When i come out of a flare up i often feel mentally and emotionally drained, so even if my body has recovered i usually try and give my mind some time to heal too. This can include something tiny like having a bath, having a friend over to visit or watching a movie with my boyfriend. These things sound insignificant but there’s very little room for small things that bring joy when you’re in the midst of a flare up, and its important to make time for them when there is.

6. Don’t become a prisoner (If you can help it).

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Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash

You get into a cycle when you experience chronic pain and it’s flare ups. Everything can become about that pain and that flare. You may stop yourself doing the things you once enjoyed for fear of bringing on another. I often tell myself (quite sternly), to stay in bed even if I think i may feel up to sitting in the garden or lying on the sofa or even taking a short walk. Rest, sleep and recover but if your body is telling you it can do something other than lie in bed this afternoon try and make it happen. Sit in your garden with a book, watch TV on the sofa, walk around the corner to the shop to pick yourself a treat or cook yourself something tasty. Seriously this will really help with number 5. 

7. Use social media (wisely). 

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

When I’m stuck in bed, twitter and instagram can be my saving grace, but it can also be my downfall. It can provide me with people who really know what I’m experiencing. Connecting me to people and blogs that know what having a chronic pain condition is truely like. It can uplift me, but it can also do the opposite. Spending hours scrolling through beautiful photos of people doing beautiful things might not always be conducive. So, sure connect with those online friends, read those blogs (if it helps), but don’t be against putting down your phone and remembering that what you’re sometimes seeing on social media just isn’t real.

8. Find (achievable) ways to make yourself feel good. 

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Photo by Aisha Askhadova on Unsplash

It’s all too easy to begin to think that because you’re ill the only thing you should be focusing on is that. Find things that bring you joy when you need it. Don’t wait until you’re better or the flare has past, you deserve joy now. For me? Face masks, baths, cheesy movies and a little retail therapy. It doesnt matter if you have no reason to buy that dress or focus on some skin care, if it makes you happy it is reason enough. 

9. Push people away when you need to. 

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Photo by Andy Tootell on Unsplash

Yes allow people to help you when what they are offering is actually going to be of some use. Don’t feel obliged to text that friend back, have that family member over for a cuppa or listen to your mum on the phone for hours if it’s not what you need. Be selfish. 

10. Lastly and by no means least, be fair to yourself.

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Photo by Mandy von Stahl on Unsplash

Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Those plans can wait, work will carry on without you and the important people in your life will still be there when you return.

 

If you lovely lot have any of your own chronic pain coping tips and tricks comment down below!

20 Comments »

  1. This is such great advice! And much needed. I also enjoy eating poorly when I am out for the count, and that doesn’t help the body heal.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! It always seems my body craves the worst things when I’m going through a flare up, and although this may not be the best for it sometimes you just have to give yourself what you want! x

  2. Love this article!
    I have been having issues with my pelvic floor muscles ( causing a multitude of other problems) and the flare-ups are terrible. Thanks to this article I’m going to try and control everything a little better next time.

  3. I had a laparoscopy to get rid of my endometriosis and it didn’t resolve the issue so I also had depo lupron shots for 6 mos (it was supposed to be 9 but I couldn’t handle the side effects).
    My doctor would never prescribe anything for my pain. I found that my heating pad, lots of ibuprofen, and meditation helped me deal with the pain the best. I haven’t had any issues for several years now, but I feel for you!
    You have a lot of great info in your article. I wish I would have had it available to me years ago. Thank you for sharing.

    • I haven’t tried the depo shots, they have been offered a few times but always scared of the side effects. Glad you’ve found some relief now though! Thank you so much for your comment ❤️

  4. I find that nothing works better than a heated cushion or hot water bottle for me. And obviously staying in bed. Currently going through a flare now, so that means plenty of rest and herbal tea. It’s very true that we should stop being so hard on ourselves. When you’re in pain, you need to rest. It’s as simple as that. Great post

  5. This is fantastic and I don’t wish to derail or minimise the message for chronic pain (because we are not talking about it enough in society and it is stigmatised and we need a societal attitude shift) but all of your points are so relatable for mental pain and chronic mental illness. I need to stop when my depression or anxiety flare badly and I need to reach out and deal with it in the ways that help me and remember my physical health and…these are things that everyone needs to read and know who has a chronic condition.

    Thank you so much for writing this <3

    • This doesn’t minimise my message at all! I think our mental and physical health are so closely linked. Any kind of chronic illness takes its toll and is so difficult to discuss with others that may not understand. Thank you so much for your comment ❤️

  6. Wonderfully informative post.

    Like I briefly mentioned on twitter I was thought to have this for years. Turns out it was a pituitary gland cyst making my periods extremely heavy and painful, and causing sexual issues. This hasn’t been fixed, so I suppose it’s still causing those things. That and the bloating from stressed induced IBS.
    My periods are so bad that I actually vomit with pain sometimes. I look about 8 months pregnant due to bloating, and sex? Forget about it.

    It’s a horrible thing to have to live with.

    Thank you for your tips on managing flare-ups – these will really help me when IBS / period cramps raise their ugly heads.

    – Nyxie

    • I’m happy that found an answer for you, but so terrible they haven’t treated it. I really hope you find some relief soon! I know periods are a bit*h! I’ll be so happy if any of my tips help you xx

  7. Excellent and very helpful post. I do take meds that have worked for me in the past and it indeed is difficult to leave everything and just rest when the pain flares up.

  8. This is fantastic advice! I can’t imagine how awful it must be to live with chronic pain, but I have mental health issues, and physical issues caused by anorexia nervosa. I just need to stop, take a seat and rest. I need to take my medication as prescribed, and when it comes to my joints I just need to get a hot/cold compress and take it easy.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Sending you all my love.

    – Nyxie

    http://www.nyxiesnook.com

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