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Your experiences of living with chronic pain

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We know that living with chronic pain isn’t easy, and sometimes you feel alone. That’s why we reached out to a few of you asking for your stories of living with chronic pain and your top tips of how to manage it. Here’s Tamsin, Claire, Fiona and Sarah talking about their experiencing of living with chronic pain.

Tamsin, 48, Colchester

Hi, I’m Tamsin. I first noticed chronic pain in my feet a couple of years ago when I decided to boost my activity levels. Unfortunately, this caused a huge flare-up of ‘plantar fasciitis’ (when the ligament that runs from under the heel along the sole of the foot becomes swollen over time) and highlighted my foot problems.

To manage the pain, I’m receiving physio and podiatry through the NHS. I’m currently waiting for custom insoles to be made, and I may need foot surgery in the future.

My tiredness, caused by chronic pain, means that my weekends with my 11-year old son have tended to be very home-based, rather than going out and doing anything very active.

The impact on my physical and mental health often means I struggle to cope, especially as a single parent. My world has felt like it has shrunk considerably.

There is an upside to it all, though. The health impacts and limited energy have forced me to look after myself better and to prioritise my health. More recently, I’ve started doing lower-impact forms of exercise, such as cycling and yoga, and I’ve also taken up meditation and mindfulness techniques. These have had a very positive affect on my mental health and on relationships in and out of work, as I’ve found better coping strategies.

Claire, 24, West London

Claire stood by a canal

Hi, I’m Claire and chronic pain has changed every aspect of my life  – from the way I get around, to the relationships I have with my boyfriend, friends and family. I first experienced chronic pain two years ago when I was about to move into a flat in London. Since then, I’ve felt pain from my joints, on a day-to-day basis and I also experience chronic migraines.

To manage my chronic pain, I have to self-administer injections on a regular basis and I take four pain-prescribed tablets a day, alongside physiotherapy for my joint pain.

It’s been a long journey trying to find a therapist that gets what I’m going through. I also go to pain management clinics – these include regular seminars and support sessions where family members can come along and understand more about how to help their loved ones.

It’s quite overwhelming how much chronic pain has changed my life, but my family and I are closer than we ever were. Before living with chronic pain I worked in the financial industry – I used to get stressed at work and worry about small things. But chronic pain puts everything into perspective.

My goals and life perspective has changed. I’ve learnt that it’s less about the things you have and more about who you have around you. 

Fiona, 47, Reading

Fiona playing golf in a mountainscape

My name is Fiona and I live with chronic pain caused by bad posture from childhood. It became compounded by a nasty bike accident about 10 years ago and more recently, stress.

Chronic pain affects my life in various ways. It affects my family as I can sometimes become very irritable as the pain begins to creep in. It also has an impact on my work life as I’m now tentative about doing anything too physical in case it sets off my triggers.  Then there’s the way chronic pain impacts my confidence. It can make me very lethargic and unmotivated to join in social activities. To manage my pain I’ve had to develop strategies to cope, including prescribed medicines, going swimming and doing Pilates.

My outlook on life has changed a lot. I’d much rather visit the osteopath than spend money on life’s luxuries – it’s so much more important to look after your body.

Sarah, 33, Colchester

Sarah playing in a rapeseed field

Hi, I’m Sarah and chronic pain has affected me for the last 24 years. In fact, I’m more accustomed to life with, rather than without, chronic pain.

It impacts my life in various ways. I need to consider my chronic pain before I plan or attempt to do anything. I feel that it has limited my ability to exercise or do things I enjoy and it can also be very isolating.

To manage it, I’ve tried several types of SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants, but they haven’t improved my pain levels. I require codeine for the pain, however I do try to avoid painkillers whenever possible. Instead, I use ice packs, heat packs, baths, bed rest when possible and a roll-on menthol stick for headaches.

I’ve tried various psychological therapies such as CBT and talking therapy. These are somewhat beneficial as talking to a therapist is an opportunity to share my thoughts.

I have my own floristry business, which I run part-time and my health conditions can make that extremely challenging. The nature of floral design can be very labour intensive, but it’s my passion and planning for events keeps me sane. It reaffirms that despite the limitations of my body, my brain is active and capable!