Puppy in the Puddle

Puppy in the Puddle

  A few days ago it was very hot here in Tampa, very early in the day. For those of you who are familiar with Tampa’s weather, you know it can be extremely humid—none of this dry heat like they have out West. Instead, our air is completely saturated with water...
Mood & Depression

Mood & Depression

  There is a convenience store near my house where I often stop in to buy something to drink when I am out on my walk. (Full disclosure: If you know me then you know my drink of choice is Diet Coke, but I hesitate to share my poor nutrition habit with the world!)...
Loss

Loss

One of the most difficult aspects of chronic pain management is dealing with the losses that may accompany pain. Your roles may have changed. Your role as spouse or partner, friend, worker, mom or dad, brother or sister, athlete may be modified or lost. You may no...
Building a Resilient Spirit

Building a Resilient Spirit

Let it go, let it go, let it go I think John Lennon said it best when he sang that “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” This has certainly been my experience and has taught me a great deal about resiliency. When I was 25 and busy planning my...
Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

    If you have lived with pain for a while, you may have tried many options. Generally, a combination of different treatments is most effective. Have you asked you doctor about physical therapy? People with chronic pain may be afraid that physical therapy...
Don’t Give Up on Goals

Don’t Give Up on Goals

    Life is richer when you can pursue the things that matter, such as love, work, feelings of competence, being part of a caring social network of family and friends, growing as a person.  Chronic pain makes goal pursuit more difficult. Pain can interfere...
Two Types of Coping

Two Types of Coping

    From birth, we are all faced with two basic questions: “What do I want or need?” and “How do I get it?”  Of course, we start out wanting the same kinds of things: to eat, to sleep, to be safe, to sit up, to crawl, to walk… Throughout life, our goals...
Stop Worrying

Stop Worrying

If you have been living with chronic pain, you may have found that you worry about yourself. What if your future is one of loneliness and isolation? What if you can’t get the help you need? What if your relationships suffer? What if your pain gets so bad that you...
Living with Pain: Lean into it

Living with Pain: Lean into it

    Most of what I write about in this blog is derived from the science of pain management. But, I also find lessons about coping with pain in daily life. Those lessons often correspond to science-based recommendations. Today I want to talk about something I...
Talking About Chronic Pain

Talking About Chronic Pain

    People with chronic pain often say that their partner, family, friends, co-workers, or boss don’t seem to understand their pain problem or what it is like to live with pain. You may wonder if  others understand the impact of chronic pain on daily life,...
Don’t Let Pain Derail You!

Don’t Let Pain Derail You!

    Your chronic pain problem may have knocked you off course. Your personal, family, work, health, and social goals may have been derailed. You may feel as though you are simply stuck, unable to go forward and incapable of going back to your old life....
Living with Pain: Goals Matter

Living with Pain: Goals Matter

    Chronic pain can make your goals seem unimportant or unreachable.  Your pain may interfere with your social goals, career goals, or family goals.  Personal goals like exercise, hobbies, reading, or learning something new may have fallen by the wayside...
Don’t Let Pain Define You

Don’t Let Pain Define You

    Living with severe pain can be a trigger for depression, a sense of loss of who you are and who you will become, and a belief that you can’t manage your pain or your life. It is true that pain often changes people. You may have lost some of the positive...
Pain and Anxiety: Rinse It Out

Pain and Anxiety: Rinse It Out

  In spin class, I have frequently heard instructors say  “rinse it out” after a particularly intense bout of cycling. I have always supposed that they are encouraging us to slow down and recover a bit and get rid of anything “toxic” in the muscles before we...
What Are The Barriers To Sex?

What Are The Barriers To Sex?

    Paul Karoly, Aaron Taylor, and I conducted a study of over 2,000 people with different forms of chronic pain from across the United States and found that 63%reported that pain interfered with sexual functioning. Other researchers have found similar...
Improve Your Sleep

Improve Your Sleep

    Sleep plays a crucial role in the daily experience of people with chronic pain.  Of course, research (and probably your own experience) has demonstrated that pain can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. In a study involving people with...
Notice the Positive

Notice the Positive

    It is not uncommon for chronic pain to be linked to depression. For example,  35% of the participants in one study who reported chronic pain were also depressed. Risk of depression was not associated with any particular pain type or site. Pain and...
Rebuilding Intimacy

Rebuilding Intimacy

    One of my first research studies involved examining the significance of the three most important people in one’s life to psychological well being and distress. I asked study participants to identify the most, 2nd most, and 3rd most important people in...
Anger, Pain & Relationships

Anger, Pain & Relationships

    Living with chronic pain can be very frustrating. Not surprisingly, people with chronic pain tend to report greater levels of anger than those without pain. Expressions of anger differ, with some people being more likely to suppress and hide it, turning...
Helping Family Cope with Your Pain

Helping Family Cope with Your Pain

      Your family lives with your pain too. Although they can’t feel what you feel, they suffer from knowing that you suffer. They may feel helpless and lost at times, not knowing how to help or what the future holds. They may struggle with feelings...
Making a Fresh Start

Making a Fresh Start

    The start of the new year is often a time to reflect on where you have been and where you are headed. You may even have made a resolution or two.  Working towards goals can make a difference in how you feel about living with chronic pain. If you would...
Living with Pain

Living with Pain

    These information structures are called schemas. For example, a toddler learns that a furry, four-legged animal is a dog. Upon seeing a cat, the child might refer to it as a dog, only to be told that it is a cat. So the schema for dogs changes (to...
Relieve Stress Now

Relieve Stress Now

    It is hard to believe that 2012 has nearly come to an end. I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year. I thought this would be a good time to review my blog posts for 2012. Take a look at the most popular posts. What was your favorite? Number...
Finding a New Path

Finding a New Path

Your chronic pain problem may have knocked you off course. Your personal, vocational, and social goals may have been derailed. You may feel as though you are simply stuck, unable to go forward and incapable of going back to your old life. Sometimes it may feel like...
Cultivate Friendship

Cultivate Friendship

Last week I talked about cultivating yourself: rediscovering and building the parts of yourself that you value. This week I want to talk about cultivating friendship. Chronic pain can really get in the way of friendship. Whether you have fibromyalgia, headaches, back...