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Coping With Chronic Back Pain

Steps You Can Take


Updated April 19, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Try as you might, it’s true: living day after day with chronic pain can bog you down. Coping with the demands of family life and work is hard enough. When you add chronic back pain to the mix, your life can become pretty challenging. If it starts to get to you, how do you cope?

Finding your own coping strategies is vital to living well with chronic back pain. Here are a few things you can try that may make your day-to-day life a little easier:

Coping With Back Pain – What You Can Do at Home

  • Keep a pain journal. Many people use journals to document their pain, but you can use it any way you want. Write down what you are feeling, and when. This can not only help you notice trends that make your pain better or worse, but can also help you vent your frustrations about pain. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
  • Learn to relax. Relaxation is good for the body and the mind. Stress and anxiety not only take a toll on you: in some cases, they can actually make your pain worse. Stress creates muscle tension, which can intensify pain. Learning to relax may keep your pain from becoming worse.
  • Talk to peers. No one understands you better than someone who has been through the same thing. Talking to peers not only gives you an opportunity to vent, but it exposes you to someone who has been through something similar. Peer advice can be invaluable when you suffer from chronic back pain. Check out local support groups, or post to the chronic pain and back pain forums.
  • Accept Your Pain. It might sound ridiculous, but accepting your pain can go a long way in helping you cope. You don’t have to like being in pain, but you do have to live with it every day. Finding a way to accept this can make daily life a little easier.

Coping With Back Pain - When You Need More Help

Living with chronic back pain is challenging. Sometimes, all the advice in the world is simply not enough. For some people, chronic pain can start to interfere with every aspect of their life, causing their relationships and work performance to suffer. Unfortunately, the nature of chronic back pain can leave almost anyone more prone to depression.

How do you know when you need more help? Ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Are your personal relationships becoming strained?
  • Is it harder to concentrate at work or school?
  • Do you feel hopeless?
  • Have you had less energy recently?
  • Have you lost interest in the things you used to enjoy?

No questionnaire can tell you if you have depression, but if you answered yes to any of the above it might be time to talk to your doctor. In some cases, medication and/or counseling can help.


National Pain Foundation. Living With Chronic Pain. Accessed 4/17/10. http://www.nationalpainfoundation.org/articles/561/living-with-chronic-pain

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