Learning to "Live With" Chronic Pain: Lessons From Mrs. Tandy

Paul Arnstein, PhD, APRN, BC

Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2007;7(1) 

In This Article

Lifestyle Modification for Chronic Pain

Through keeping pain and food diaries, Mrs. Tandy was able to see the connection between eating sugared snacks and an increase in pain. That motivated her to modify her diet. Although there is limited research on this matter, many patients find that high consumption of sugar, salt, and aspartame is linked to pain flares:

Mrs. Tandy was instructed that better glycemic control may provide her with long-term benefits of slowing or even reversing some of the nerve damage that is causing the pain.[28] She was very vocal during the skills training sessions, venting her frustration and anger with such statements as "This diary-writing is stupid; my pain is real" and "How do you expect people to pace their activities when you've got to get things done?"

Using the advantage of the group setting, several patients provided examples from their personal experiences of how pacing helped reduce their pain and boost productivity and, conversely, how failing to pace caused overexertion injuries or muscle spasms that increased their pain. Despite her resistance, Mrs. Tandy diligently kept the pain diary and dutifully completed the assigned readings as well as other self-exploration tasks. The use of relaxation techniques helped to alleviate her stress and lessened her frustration and anger levels over the first few weeks.

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