The pursuit of a cure for ongoing pain can feel like a never-ending marathon. It's draining, both emotionally and financially, to hop from one doctor to another, each offering a different "solution." Despite high hopes, the outcomes often range from partial relief to utter disappointment.
There's no shortage of healthcare providers promising quick fixes:
However, these claims rarely hold up, leading to a cycle of soaring hopes, followed by plummeting despair—a roller coaster that takes a considerable emotional toll.
Chronic pain is rarely solved with a single intervention. Modern pain science suggests that the most effective coping strategies often come from within you. This isn't to say that your pain is your fault—it absolutely isn't. However, you are empowered to change your future experience of pain through various self-help strategies.
While healthcare providers can offer some relief, no single treatment is a panacea. It's often a blend of multiple approaches that brings the most relief. You are the only one living with your pain day in and day out, making you the best judge of which combinations work for you.
A comprehensive pain management plan is usually multi-faceted. The right mixture of therapies, medical interventions, lifestyle changes, and self-help techniques requires experimentation to identify what works best for you.
“After failing physical therapy and injections and surgery and more physical therapy I continued to search for the Holy Grail. I continued to search for that one thing that was going to fix me, that one therapist, modality, or surgery. I just wanted so desperately to be fixed.
When I learned that pain didn’t equal damage, that ongoing pain is complex and has many contributing factors, helped me to make sense of my pain and find a path forward.
It wasn’t overnight, of course. I didn’t suddenly not have pain. What I had was possibilities. I had hope. Realistic hope that my pain could change.
And I knew there were things I could do myself that would change it. I felt empowered.”
Understanding the complexity of ongoing pain and acknowledging that there's rarely a single cure is the first step toward meaningful relief. It's empowering to know that you have within you the tools and resilience to make a significant difference in your own journey towards a better life.
TrainPain is the Grand Prize winner in the 2023 innovation competition of the American Academy of Pain Medicine & MIT Hacking Medicine