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Low Back Pain (cont.)

Coping With Chronic Back Pain

Picture of a man

One Man's Story:

"I started feeling sad and angry a lot. I didn't want to do anything. My back was hurting more. I was having trouble focusing on my work. My life just started feeling smaller and smaller."—Ravi

Read more about how Ravi learned he had depression and how he fought back.

Low back pain can take a toll on your mental health. You may feel fear, frustration, and anger or have depression and anxiety because of ongoing pain. Those common reactions can make your pain last even longer. If pain is starting to get you down:

  • Let people know when you need a helping hand. Ask family members or friends to help out with physical tasks you can't do right now.
  • Be honest with your doctor about how pain is affecting you. Ask for a referral to a counselor or pain management specialist. Your doctor may also see a need to prescribe antidepressant or antianxiety medicine.
  • Work with your health professionals and your work supervisor to make a return-to-work plan, if needed. Ask for an ergonomic consultation if you need to learn how to do some of your job duties differently to avoid hurting your back again.

Emotional support is important

Depending on others for emotional support is a normal part of life. You may have to lean on friends and family when facing difficult situations caused by chronic pain or other problems. Your loved ones can play an important role in supporting your recovery. Your doctor and community also may give you extra support.

Asking for support from others is not always easy. It can be hard to tell someone about your problems. But you should not be afraid to ask for help.

Where you can get support
  • Family. Family members can help you cope by giving you comfort and encouragement.
  • Friends. Building strong relationships with others is important for your emotional well-being. Don't be afraid to ask your friends for support. Helping is a big part of friendship. At times you may be the one who encourages a friend.
  • Counseling. Professional counseling can help you cope with situations that interfere with your life and cause stress. Counseling can help you understand and deal with your pain. You can learn ways to think positively and stop negative thoughts. See the topic Positive Thinking With Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
    Click here to view an Actionset.Depression: Using Positive Thinking
    Click here to view an Actionset.Anxiety: Using Positive Thinking
    Click here to view an Actionset.Positive Thinking: Stopping Unwanted Thoughts
  • Your doctor. Find a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with. Be open and honest about your fears and concerns. Your doctor can help you get the right treatments, including treatment for depression or other problems.
  • Religious groups. Religious or spiritual groups may help you meet people and get involved in the community. Some religious organizations can help you get counseling or other social support services.
  • Social groups. Social groups can help you meet new people and get involved in activities you enjoy.
  • Community support groups. In a support group, you can talk to others who have dealt with the same problems or illness as you. You can encourage one another and learn ways of coping with tough emotions.

Picture of a woman

One Woman's Story:

"I really work at finding the good things in my day. It helps me get through the day, and I think it makes my pain not bother me as much."—Patty

Read more about how Patty used positive thinking to help her back pain.

Supportive relationships

Your loved ones can offer support by:

  • Giving encouragement. This can keep you from feeling hopeless or alone.
  • Offering to help. Getting a helping hand can keep you from feeling overwhelmed. This may include helping with small daily tasks or bigger problems.
  • Going to doctor visits. Your loved ones can offer support by being involved in your medical care.
  • Being honest and realistic. Make sure your loved ones understand how serious the problem is. They can help by not setting unreachable goals or by not acting like the problem will just go away.
  • Respecting your wishes. You are responsible for your decisions. Your loved ones can offer support and encouragement without interfering with your major decisions.

Having trouble getting support from friends and family? There are steps you can take to make your social support stronger.

Keep moving

Having chronic back pain can make exercising, even walking, difficult. Being active is often the last thing you want to think about.

But the truth is that easing back into daily activity and physical therapy exercises can help relieve back pain and can lead to long-term improvement for low back pain.11

So be as active as you can. Take short walks as often as you can. Talk to a physical therapist about exercises you can do.

Click here to view an Actionset.Fitness: Increasing Core Stability
Click here to view an Actionset.Low Back Pain: Exercises to Reduce Pain

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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