Perspective: A Vital Element of a Chronic Pain Patient’s Self-Management

“Life is like a string of beads, and as we pass through them,

they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world

their own hue…”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

According to the Cambridge Dictionary perspective is –

  • the ability to consider things in relation to one another accurately and fairly
  • a particular way of viewing things that depends on one’s experience and personality

Perspective is an essential part of pain management,

as self-monitoring…

must be at the core of any pain management plan that is going to work; we must be our own best pilot’s to chart this course.

A 2015 Columbia University meta-analysis of current research however found that few theoretical frameworks exist to help individuals learn to collect, come to understand and ultimately make connections and use self-monitoring data to effect. In other words, there are very few disease/pain management guides/plans/programs available to help those living with chronic conditions actually get perspective and manage their conditions in a manner that affords them life-enhancing results.

According to the Columbia researchers Mamykina, Smaldone and Bakken “sense-making involves three essential inter-dependent activities:

  • Perception of new information and experience
  • Development of inferences on these perceptions
  • And using these inferences to guide action.”

The American Chronic Pain Association has developed and on-line “Pain Log” that is outstanding in that it helps you to track your activities and pain-levels over the course of time. They also have more condition-specific logs (including migraine, back pain and fibromyalgia) that may prove helpful.

It remains a part of our individual self-monitoring process to derive potential patterns and connections between our pain and life’s events, test our theories, by altering our activities (taking into consideration issues such as diet, specific stress factors, medications, etc.), ferret out our pain triggers and learn to manage and lessen our pain.

The researchers at Columbia developed a Self-Monitoring Framework/Plan with that exact idea at its core. But, as they state, although they have a stong background in “biomedical informatics”, it remains untested.

The graphic below is fairly overwhelming but is based upon straight-forward premises:

  • Perception reveals information that either conforms or represents a “gap” (i.e. an unanticipated pain flare) to our known information
  • We then go through a process off sense-making and take action (in other words we look for connections and then conduct our own experiment(s) to test our hypothesis)
  • And finally we make inferences- where we actively attempt to construct new methods, the adoption of new life-style habits, to address the pain.
A state of routine where by habitual methods and ways of being can be instilled, that lessen or at least don’t trigger our pain, is the desirable state.

Keeping track of our efforts and connections- perceptions, actions and inferences- is key so whether you keep a journal, use graphic organizers (like the one below) or great an Excel-spreadsheet, documentation is important, as with any science experiment or research study.

The process is laborious and mentally taxing.

Attempting to figure out the puzzle of chronic pain can be stressful and exhausting so it is a good idea to balance periods of personnel research with times of simple acceptance, gentle kindness towards one’s self. That too is a vital part of pain management.







Author: ChronicPainDailyReflections

I manage a web-site, Chronic Pain Daily, created for and in support of those living in chronic pain. The site helps with the day-to-day spiritual, mental, emotional and physical needs of those with constant pain, whatever its source.