Commonly asked questions

Coming to terms with having persistent pain is not easy. While you are likely to have lots of questions, it's not all doom and gloom. With the right help and support, there are many ways you can reduce your pain.

Take a look at some of the common questions and answers about pain below.

Q: Isn’t my GP supposed to fix my pain?

Sadly, this is unrealistic as there is no magic ‘cure’. For many of us, pain will be an unwelcome visitor in our lives and we need to accept it and find the best way to deal and live with it. It is important to work with your GP and other healthcare providers to develop a Pain Management Plan (see Explaining some common terms for more information)

Q: Is having both pain and depression usual?

It is quite common to experience depression while suffering with persistent pain, but there are many things you can do to help including:

  • Exercise
  • Talking about it to others - via support groups or talking therapies
  • Medication - speak to your GP about treatment options

Q. Why is it I do too much on good days and less on bad ones?

This is very familiar problem - commonly known as the Boom and Bust cycle - which this video explains. Pacing daily activities is the key to avoid the Boom and Bust cycle.

Q: Are sleep problems and/or feeling tired symptoms of pain?

Yes, because pain can disrupt sleep patterns by making it difficult to fall – and stay - asleep. Coping with pain can also be tiring in itself, while a lack of rest could lead to increased pain.

Some sufferers find relaxation techniques help, as well as avoiding daytime naps and stimulants like tea and coffee in the evening. Other simple ideas are available on pages 18-19 in the Pain Toolkit.

Q: I’m worried about the future, it is normal to feel like that?

It’s natural for many people with pain - and others who don’t - to worry about coping but it is important to be proactive. By developing a personal pain self-management plan, you can feel more confident about yourself and the future.

Watch this video to find out how some people have come to terms with their pain and the future.

Q: Do I need to stretch and exercise?

Keeping active, stretching and regular exercise is important. Many people who feared it found exercise actually reduced their pain.

Watch a cat or dog when it gets up - they stretch their legs and bodies so they are prepared to move around. We can take a massive tip from them, by doing the same.

Have a listen to what others have said about activity and exercise

Q: Will learning relaxation techniques help my pain?

Tense muscles tend to feel more painful, so it’s important to learn relaxation skills. Some people do this by listening to music or reading. Prayer also works for some.

Learning distraction techniques can also help. This could be a hobby such as gardening or DIY. Don’t forget to pace yourself - sometimes we can lose ourselves in the activity and forget about time, so set an alarm to remind you to take a break.

Check out this link to discover how others use relaxation and distraction.

Q: Will I have to take medication for life?

It depends on the condition. Some people may have to because there could be damage to certain parts of the body and medication can help. Discuss any concerns about the medication you are prescribed with your GP who will advise on length of course and likelihood of you being able to stop.

Click on this link to find out more other people’s experiences of medication.

Q: My pain really affects my daily life – could I lose my job?

This is always a tricky one for those who work and have pain. As always, it’s best to be honest with your boss about the difficulties you have and work out an action plan. This may mean altering your duties or how you carry them out. You may need to take regular breaks or work different hours.

If you are unable to work out a flexible approach that accommodates your needs, consider other roles you could do with your skills and which could better suit your lifestyle and condition. Working is good for us - it helps us interact with others, while being alone and unoccupied can make us feel isolated and out of touch.

Watch this video to learn how others tackled work, being unemployed and returning to work.

Q: I feel isolated and don’t feel like socialising, is this usual?

Pain can affect your confidence when it comes to participating in special events, like holidays and birthdays. We need to keep socialising so we don’t retreat into ourselves - which could lead to depression – so keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues.

Try to avoid talking about your pain too much, as you will just reminding yourself of your condition, instead of focusing on more enjoyable distractions.

The importance of keeping in contact with others is outlined in this video.

Q: Do I need to be careful when being intimate with my partner?

Sex is an important part of most relationships and it’s natural for us to want to carry on wanting to be intimate. Talk to your partner about any problems you have or are worried about so you can work out alternatives and avoid increasing your pain.

Click on this link to learn how others tackled their relationship issues.