Four Tools to Effectively Manage Chronic Pain

Pain is our body’s warning that something is wrong and is a normal reaction to injury or illness. As the body heals, the pain typically goes away, but for some the pain continues even after the cause has gone away. When the pain continues for 3 to 6 months or longer, it is considered chronic. When an individual suffers from chronic pain for an extended length of time, it really takes a toll on a person’s mental and physical health.

In anticipation of an upcoming 6-week community workshop focusing on chronic disease management, we asked Sharon Krispinsky, BSN, RN, CDE, Chronic Health Program Coordinator, Lee Health, to share some information and tools to help manage chronic pain. Pain is a common symptom of any chronic health condition. The Preserve is partnering with Lee Health beginning in January 2020 to host a complimentary community workshop, focusing on tools to manage any chronic health condition. Learn more about how to manage pain and other symptoms resulting from chronic health conditions:

Pain can eat away at you. It can keep you from doing what you love and prevent you from sleeping well. In fact, chronic pain can alter your mental state and turn you into someone no longer recognizable. For some, managing chronic pain is difficult and many people reach for an over-the-counter medication to find relief. But that’s not always the best option – and it’s certainly not something you want to rely on long-term to help you live a better life.

Physical Activity

If you’re in chronic pain, common sense may tell you that physical activity will make it hurt even more. But this isn’t true! In fact, it’s going to hurt even more if you decide to do nothing. Research shows that swimming, pool exercises, biking, Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates help loosen you up and relieve pain. Start slow, do what you’re comfortable with, and ask your doctor what would work for your type of pain.

Healthy Eating

Good health always starts in the gut. Bad eating habits may cause inflammation. It’s simple: A better diet results in overall health improvements, including less pain:

o Try to have six servings of vegetables a day and 1-2 servings of fruit.

o Choose foods with less fat. Eat lean protein sources and consider eating more fish and a combination of plant proteins, such as rice and beans. Foods such as salmon, trout, sardines, and nuts with high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids decrease inflammation.

o Foods full of magnesium such as seeds, nuts, fish, beans, peas, green vegetables, and wheat germ may help with some pain conditions.

o Avoid processed foods and eat foods with only one ingredient.

o If you are overweight, try to lose 5-7 percent of your body weight.

Pacing and Planning

Many patients who suffer from chronic pain may overdo or under-do certain activities such as hobbies, social events, or chores. To avoid either extreme, it is important to pace and plan your daily activities. Take frequent rests and be more time oriented instead of pain oriented. For example, break down an activity into smaller and more manageable steps. You don’t have to do everything all at once! Change an activity completely or learn to prioritize so you can still get stuff done without causing aggravation, according to the Self-Management Resource Center.


We hear it all the time: “Mind over matter.” And it really is true. Practice distraction, mindful breathing, relaxation techniques, meditation, and guided imagery. Don’t know how to start? Download a relaxing app on your phone or talk to a friend or expert about meditation or other forms of relaxation. Once you train your mind, you will be amazed at what you might accomplish.

Would you like to learn more about these tools and others? Lee Health offers complimentary Chronic Disease and Pain Self-Management Education community workshops that were developed by the Self- Management Resource Center. The workshops meet weekly, for six weeks, at a variety of locations in Lee County. A Chronic Disease Self-Management Education workshop will begin in January 2020 at The Preserve. Call Lee Health Solutions at 239-343-9264 for more information and to register.

Sharon Krispinsky, BSN, RN, CDE, is the Chronic Health Program Coordinator for Lee Health. Some Information on this page is adapted from the Chronic Pain Self-Management Education program offered by the Self-Management Resource Center. For more information, log on to