Living With Chronic Illness – A Post Diagnosis Guide

Living with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is any episode of pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks.

Chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome and endometriosis can all cause long-lasting pain. Furthermore, surgeries and injuries that don’t heal well can also be the underlying cause of chronic pain.

Learning how to deal with constant pain can be one of the most difficult parts of living with a chronic illness. It can affect your mood, mean that you end up missing days at work or just make it feel impossible to get anything done. Luckily, there are ways to manage and live well with chronic pain and illness.  

How to Deal with Chronic Pain

It’s wise to take a holistic approach to pain, and address both mental and physical factors that could be contributing to the condition.

Try meditation

Practising meditation and deep breathing techniques can ease chronic pain. This is because it will help you to fully relax, which will then release tension from painful joints and muscles. It’s been shown that stress can aggravate pain, but meditation can help here too by promoting a general sense of mental wellbeing and calm.


Exercise probably feels like the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain. However, it’s hugely beneficial for many conditions. Exercising releases endorphins which elevate mood and dampen pain. Plus, it also strengthens muscles and improves your health and fitness, which can make you more resilient to further complications or injury. Gentle, low impact exercises such as walking, swimming and yoga can be a good starting point for those with chronic pain.

Get out of bed! 

In years gone by, chronic pain would have landed you several weeks or months of bed rest. However, it’s been shown since that lying down all the time actually makes pain worse as it causes muscles and bones to weaken and stiffen. You’ll actually end up feeling far worse!

Avoid smoking and drinking

You might have to put your vices on hold for a bit. Pain can make it difficult to sleep and drinking alcohol won’t help, as it’ll reduce the overall quality of the sleep you do get. Being tired will lower your mood and make pain worse. Plus who wants a hangover too?

Similarly, although smoking can reduce pain in the short term, over time it can increase your sensitivity to pain and slow down healing. In addition to this, smoking causes degeneration by impairing the delivery of blood and oxygen to your body, which can result in lower back pain and osteoporosis.

Eat healthily 

A balanced diet has a lot of benefits for the body, including improving blood sugar levels (essential for those with diabetes) and reducing pressure on joints by keeping weight under control.

Get a massage

Treat yourself. A massage will soothe your muscles and relax your mind and body.

Try physiotherapy

Physio will reduce your levels of pain and promote flexibility and mobility, making daily activities more manageable. A short course is normally all that’s needed.

Use painkillers

Over the counter pain medication can be used to tackle flare ups so that you can go about your daily life. Paracetamol and ibuprofen are both options; however, the latter should not be used if you have certain medical conditions such as stomach ulcers.

If these don’t work, your doctor may be able to prescribe you a course of stronger painkillers that will make more of a dent in your pain.

Watch your mental health

Chronic pain and mental health conditions often go hand in hand. If you’re finding it difficult to cope, make sure you speak to a medical professional about it. They may be able to suggest counselling or therapy that will help you feel more able to manage your pain.

Make sure to read our next section on chronic illness and mental health too, for more advice on keeping both mind and body healthy. 

** This post was originally published on

Need Help? Chat with us