Flare up in Chronic pain. Symptoms

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  • #47833
    CarolinaHarry
    Participant

    Hello Everyone,

    I am new on the forum, and have been coping with chronic pain for 2 years since having a spinal disc injury. I’ve been pacing all this time and with a number of flare backs along the way had reached my pinnacle of being able to be on my feet/ walking for 45 minutes which was felt amazing…But a week ago I hit another flare up..and I cannot now move around much beyond 5 minutes without feeling a threatening pain increasing. This came along with ( because of)? A huge spike in Tinnitus symptoms. It’s so hard and isolating , and perhaps others agree that it takes almost superhuman strength to get back on the journey forward again.
    I wondered if anyone else has any thoughts on coping with flare ups, and wanted to share. I do a lot of deep breathing and meditation a couple of times a day and try to stay optimistic and hopeful…and try and take one day at a time trusting it will all pass.

    #47834
    Helen H
    Participant

    Hi Carolina
    And welcome 😊

    I can totally relate: flare-ups are really hard to get through, and it can play havoc with your mental health wondering ‘ What did i do wrong?!’ It can feel very isolating, which is a good reason for finding this forum. We are all living with pain, and we understand how difficult it is for you right now we really do.

    I have had chronic pain throughout my body for the last 7 years, and my husband has lived with chronic head pain for much longer, so as far as flare-ups go, we have quite a lot of experience!

    The first thing to say is that I really admire how much you are doing to help yourself with pacing, breathing and Meditation. It has taken me years to do this, so you are doing brilliantly…even on the days when you don’t feel you are.

    It has been really helpful to have a plan in mind for how to get through- a routine that you can lean on on the worst times including some stuff you enjoy. For me planning the day 1 hour at a time is really helpful, as are journaling every morning, and doing some easy activities I enjoy- Podcasts, crafts, colouring, radio plays, whatever helps the time to pass. Keep doing as much breathing etc as you are able, but the most important thing is to treat yourself kindly and gently. Be as kind as you would be to another person who was suffering, and give yourself lots of TLC. You don’t need to plan or force your body out of a flare- up and things will improve faster with more rest and care.

    I hope Jan doesn’ t mind, but I wrote a Blog about Flare- Ups, which you might find useful: https://thechronicelephant.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-elephant-survival-guide-to-flare-up.html

    I hope any of this is useful,
    Take good care
    Helen

    #47835
    CarolinaHarry
    Participant

    Hello Helen,

    Thank you so much for your response, your understanding, and your really great advice. I think the initial feelings of despair are so hard to get out of but so important to do so..I haven’t mastered that yet !

    It’s so true~ even if we try not to ~ to wonder what we did ‘wrong’ to bring on the pain~ can drive us crazy. The likelihood is for me anyway~ it’s usually something emotional at least to begin with~ then gets exacerbated by keeping going rather than recognising the signs and slowing down~ it’s tough learning! There is so much written now about the mind – body connection now which is helpful (and fascinating) so thank goodness we have that knowledge now.

    I too try to engage in things which are distractIng and absorbing ~ like reading, films, art/mosaic work.

    I’m quite surprised there isn’t more on the forum about flare ups as it seems such a huge issue in managing chronic pain. Thanks fo the link to your blog~ I will definitely have a look at it.

    Thank you again so very much for your response ~ It’s good not to feel so isolated.

    Take care, love Caroline x

    #47836
    Jan Sadler
    Keymaster

    Hi Caroline

    I expect you have already read our page about flare-ups on my PainSupport website, but if not, there is a link to it further below.

    Keeping a log on pain and activity/feelings is a great help to keep track of your pain. There are some logs to download towards the end of the same page below.

    Flare-Up Plan

    Good luck and keep in touch.

    Jan at PainSupport 🙂

    #47837
    Helen H
    Participant

    Hi Carolina
    God to hear that you enjoy being creative,as many of us do😊

    If you go to the SEARCH FORUMS box on the right of the Forum, and type in ‘flare up’ you can find all the threads that discuss flare-ups.

    It has possibly been a bit quieter on here of late due to many of us having/ having had flare-ups, but you can always access the archive via searching.

    Take care
    Helen.

    #47839
    Lc
    Participant

    Hi Carolina, Welcome to this site. As already said flare ups are a pain and has negative effects on activity levels ect. but it’s a case of knowing your baseline and improving your pacing technics . it is hard I’ve been in pain for 23+ years and still struggle at times. it is biopsychosocial, basically bio -physiological your physical pain,muscle weakness flexibility ect. psycho – thoughts and emotions involved -anger, frustration, stress guilt ect, ect, then social impact that chronic pain has on your social and financial situation family relationships with others ,work issues and such like, these are all interlinked with each other and having an impact on the next. that is why chronic pain is so hard to deal and cope with but with much practice with things that help you cope like meds and alternative methods Tens, machine art and craft, things that distract, are all help to help you cope and deal with it all ,I understand it is complex and varies from one person to another but we all must find the best methods and meds and alternative medicine to help us best as and individual,anyway take care for now and best wishes, to finding things that help you cope. Lee

    #47841
    CarolinaHarry
    Participant

    Many thanks to you all…Jan, Helen and Lee.

    Yes, thank you Jan~ I did see the information on flare ups and it’s all really helpful. I may be doing something wrong, but I can’t seem to access info on the archive regarding flare up experiences from members ~ but I’ve had really helpful comments from you all which have been so welcome.

    I think even though I know a lot about the psycho~ physiology of pain ~ my thoughts still become hijacked and I find it really difficult to resist being flooded with fearful/ catastrophic thoughts~ my mind is racing as I try and meditate for example ~ it feels like I have to ride that out a bit before starting to calm a little~ maybe that’s something others have experienced?
    As a Professional Counsellor ( very part time now)! it feels like a trauma / PTSD which I guess for me is what it is~ with the Pain / disability of the original injury/ incident being the trigger.

    Really good to have made contact on the forum ~ Thanks again 😊

    #47842
    Lc
    Participant

    Hi Carolina, what I have said above is difficult that is why I practice CBT mindfulness technics which help me to calm and stop mind racing, but it does take a lot of practice daily and takes time to master it. I have been doing it a few years now and it does work. as you know the mind does rush around and flip from one thing to another, that is what minds do. it’s a case of finding something that helps you calm it, like for me mindfulness/relaxation and visualisation technics help me. Take care and best wishes,JUst keep practicing and you will get it all one day. Lee

    #47843
    Helen H
    Participant

    Carolina- it’s the’ search forums’ box a little way down on the right, not ‘search site’ box at the top right. Hx

    #47844
    Jan Sadler
    Keymaster

    Mindfulness is just that, being mindful, being aware.

    We often use the breath as an anchor to focus upon, but it could be anything else, perhaps a part of your body or a candle flame.

    Here’s a short paragraph from my page on Mindfulness, link further below:

    If it’s your breath you’re following, just follow your breath as it flows in and out.
    When your attention wanders, which it will, bring it back to your breath, without fussing about it.
    Do this over and over again.
    Meditation is about letting go, so just observe the thoughts and let them go.
    All you are seeking to control is your attention, your attention to your breath.
    Don’t be judgemental, have an attitude of “let’s see what happens”.

    More information here:

    Meditation

    #47846
    Lc
    Participant

    Hi Carolina, I have suffered depression and PTSD, when doing mindfulness this is the part that I focus on, ask yourself questions,and re-enact the situation if it’s bothering you. I found that over time my mind through mindfulness had sorted it out to a point of I was happy and excepted what went on, and know stopped waking up within my dream of it, It did take time and at first wasn’t happy facing it, but in the end by facing it all in a calm and rational matter had dealt with it all and now happy within myself of how I dealt with it and accepted it all. personally I think you need to do this to move on from it, and let go.Hope all this that Jan, Helen and I have posted helps you in some way,Take care and best wishes, Lee

    #47857
    CarolinaHarry
    Participant

    Hello All,

    I’m afraid my pain flare up has got worse in the last day or so. I’m fighting feelings of desperation…I’m doing relaxing meditations twice a day, resisting catastrophising, and doing relaxing things as best I can~ but it seems to be getting worse ~ I’m having cutting, horrible pain all the time now in my back and legs, and I’m unable to move around for more than 5 / 7 minutes. Hard to believe I was able to walk for 40 minutes without discomfort just over 2 weeks ago having paced gradually over a year to get to that point ( having a few smaller flare ups I managed successfully in that time) ..Have just sent for a tens machine to see if that can help. Also feeling very alone and confused and wanted to reach out to someone who may understand…

    #47861
    Lc
    Participant

    Hi Caroline, I totally empathize with you and understand the feelings you have. it can feel like that at times and can take quite a while to settle down, but if you feel that it is getting worse and not settling maybe give your GP or pain clinic consultant a ring to let them know,how you are and feel they could maybe help a bit or to put your mind at ease. But one thing is sure your not alone on this site and most of us have been through this at times. also sometimes even gentle stretches can aggravate nerves ect, and need to stop everything for a few days just sit, walk to toilet shower. thats it, if at all possible. to see if that helps settle it down a bit. try a Tens ,it helps me get through bad times like this, well masks the pain a bit.Hope it settles soon and your in less pain, but like I said if not then ring GP or pain consultant to see what they say. Take care and best wishes,Lee

    #47862
    Helen H
    Participant

    Hi Carolina,
    Firstly, I agree with all Lee’s great advice- he has helped me through more than one horrendous flare-up over the years! you are not alone- lots of the kind folk on here will be reading your post and sending a virtual hug.

    You are really going through the mill at the moment, and it feels never ending. Great that you are able to walk for a couple of minutes. It might be a help to do less than your maximum, say 4 mins instead of 7 mins walking, until things calm down. If you are constantly pushing your body doesn’t have time to heal. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

    Secondly- it’s not your fault, and your past or present level of activity does not define the future. It can take a while for things to settle down, which is really hard to get through.

    REST and do the minimum of everything. Even the gentlest activity can aggravate when you’re flared up.

    Take care,
    Helen

    #47863
    CarolinaHarry
    Participant

    Hi Lee and Helen,

    Thank you so much for your very helpful advice and your kind thoughts.

    I used the tens machine yesterday and it does seem to have taken the edge off the pain. I’ve stopped trying to push it and have slowed down…but I have to visit my mother today who is 98 with advancing dementia~ need to go as didn’t last week. I will need to go easy I know. I think when our fight/ flight / freeze system is activated it’s difficult to calm and effects the pain as essentially, speaking for myself at least , there is trauma involved…with resulting unconscious panic and nightmares etc even if feeling reasonably calm on the surface. But I’m feeling a little better at least.

    Anyway~ Thank you both for your support ~ Love Caroline x

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