Living with chronic pain is challenging. But, having a toolbox of strategies and techniques can make a significant difference in managing your inevitable flare-ups more effectively. 

What is your chronic pain toolbox or “SOS package” 

Your pain toolbox is a personalized collection of strategies and techniques that you can refer to and rely on during chronic pain flare-ups. 

Your toolbox may include things like heat therapy, prescribed medications, specific movements or exercises, professional therapies like massage or acupuncture and stress reduction techniques. Although seemingly simple, even activities like watching a funny move, having a cry, cancelling some plans, or getting out in nature can also help. 

We suggest that our patients create a physical list of the contents of your pain toolbox. Leave it somewhere that is easily accessible, such as on your fridge. This tangible representation serves as a reminder of the strategies that have been helpful in managing your pain in the past. It prevents you from feeling caught off guard and starting from square one everytime you have a flare-up. 

Using a pain journal: 

A pain journal is a valuable tool for identifying patterns and triggers for your flare-ups. This can capture your sleeping patterns, activities, nutrition, stress levels and other factors that can help you anticipate potential flare-ups. 

Being able to anticipate and prepare for flare-ups is empowering. For example, if you’re a teacher and you’ve been able to identify the end of the year as a common time for flare-ups, you can proactively implement your pain toolbox to lessen the severity or ideally, mitigate a flare-up altogether. This might look like making your nightly walk a non-negotiable, schedule your massage appointments, using TENS machine, deep breathing, etc. Alternatively, maybe travelling is stressful for you, and you need to plan for a toolbox that can fit in your carry-on luggage. 

To sum it up: 

Building a toolbox for managing chronic pain provides you with a sense of control and preparedness during flare-ups. By incorporating a range of strategies and techniques tailored to your specific needs, you can better navigate heightened pain episodes and maintain a better quality of life despite the challenges of living with chronic pain.

Hope this helps, Eryn & Katie – Registered Physiotherapists

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