Managing Pain

The Team Approach to Treatment

Chronic pain is managed differently to acute pain. To successfully treat chronic pain, we need to look at many different aspects of your life, and involve different types of healthcare professionals.

Key Points:
  • Many different aspects of your life may be contributing to your chronic pain. We need to look at all of them in order to best treat your pain.
  • Chronic pain is treated using a combination of physical therapy, psychological treatments and medications.
  • You can help your recovery by taking an active role in your care and treatment plan.

Paced, Practiced and Increasing Activities

A paced, practiced and increasing activity program will help you regain movement and fitness. This video will help you learn how to do pacing how to pace yourself.

Key Points:
  • Pacing helps you keep your activity steady and consistent and at a level that will not worsen your pain on both good and bad pain days.
  • Your tolerance is the amount of time you can do an activity without worsening your pain.
  • Your baseline is half of your tolerance; it is the starting point for your pacing program.
  • Slowly and steadily increase the amount of activity you do, even if it is only by 1 minute every 3 sessions.
  • Flare-ups can happen. Making a plan for how you’ll deal with them is important for keeping momentum. After a flare-up, pull back a little but keep going, don’t start back at the beginning.
  • With practice, you can apply pacing to many other areas of your life.

The Mind-Body Connection

Learning mind-body techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness, can help you to relax and manage your pain.

Key points:
  • The mind and body constantly "talk" to each other.
  • Body symptoms (e.g. rapid heart rate, tense neck muscles) can be a message that there is an emotional concern that needs our attention.
  • Somatization is the word used to describe when stress or distress (positive or negative) is expressed bodily.
  • We can relax our bodies by relaxing our minds, and vice versa.
  • Mind-body techniques, such as belly-breathing, can be useful for helping our minds (and our bodies) relax.


Medications are sometimes, but not always, used to treat chronic pain. This section will explain how your doctor decides if medications are right for you.

Key Points:
  • The goal of medication in chronic pain is to restore function, improve sleep and balance mood.
  • Medications are not for everyone: They may - or may not – be right for you. Your doctor will consider a number of factors before prescribing you medication.
  • Medications are not always the best way to treat chronic pain. Sometimes physiotherapy and psychological treatments will give the same benefits.
  • Medications don’t always have the exact same effect on everyone. You may have to try different drugs and dosages before you find what works for you.