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A woman holding her abdomen in pain while a doctor comforts her.

How can I cope with long-lasting pain?

Living with pelvic pain can be difficult. Not only does pain hurt, but it also can limit how well you get around or perform daily tasks. Finding a treatment or treatments that help and getting a diagnosis may be emotionally trying, too. For these reasons, finding healthy coping strategies is an important aspect of living with pain.

These strategies may help you cope with pain:1

  • Counseling or "talk therapy." A mental health professional can help you identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that may contribute to your pain and help you realize how you cope with your pain. A therapist can help you set goals and learn new ways of thinking about and reacting to your pain, and these strategies may improve your outlook and the way you feel about your pain.2 Women with pain seem to have better treatment outcomes when counseling is added to medical treatment.3
  • Pain support groups. Talking to other people who have pain can give you ideas for how to deal with your pain or the problems your pain creates.
  • Physical activity. Pain may make you inactive, and this lack of activity can lead to other health problems and loss of function. Regular physical activity can keep you fit and also prevent weight gain, can lower risk of depression, and may improve sleep quality.4 Talk to your health care provider about physical activities that are good for you to try. Some types of activity may contribute to pain.

Keep in mind that unhealthy coping strategies, such as overeating and smoking, can make pain problems worse.

Citations

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  1. National Institutes of Health. (2012). Halt the hurt! Dealing with chronic pain. NIH News in Health. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Mar2012 [top]
  2. Keefe, F. J., Somers, T. J., & Kothadia, S. M. (2009). Coping with pain. Pain Clinical Updates, XVII, 1–5. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://iasp.files.cms-plus.com/Content/ContentFolders/Publications2/PainClinicalUpdates/
    Archives/Oct_09_PCU_Final_090209_1390261596365_10.pdf
     External Web Site Policy (PDF - 650 KB) [top]
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2004). ACOG practice bulletin no. 51. Chronic pelvic pain. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 103, 589–605. [top]
  4. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS. (2016). 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx#toc [top]

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How can I cope with long-lasting pain?