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How to cope with pain every day

Published On: Dec 04 2013 02:14:26 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 02 2014 02:10:35 PM CST
Alyson Fleming chronic pain

Mayo Clinic News Network

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Pain. Every day. All day.

More than one-fourth of all people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. It can destroy quality of life, and make even the simplest tasks difficult. Sometimes there is no cure for chronic pain. But a program at Mayo Clinic helps give patients the tools they need to get control over their pain and regain a fulfilling life.

"I do have a headache every single day, I wake up with one and I go to sleep with one," said Alyson Fleming.

For ten years Alyson Fleming has endured chronic headaches.

The daily headaches and migraines plus pain from other medical conditions slowly eroded Alyson’s quality of life.

It affected everything. She felt caught. Trapped by unyielding pain.

"I didn’t know how I could possibly manage this amount of pain," Fleming said.

Unwilling to let the pain dictate how she lived, Alyson went to Mayo Clinic where she enrolled in the Pain

Rehabilitation Center: a three-week, out-patient intensive program designed to help people suffering from non-cancerous chronic pain regain control of their lives.

"You can improve your level of physical and emotional functioning. And then when you improve management of

chronic pain, oftentimes pain severity or pain intensity will improve. However, that's not the primary goal," said Dr. Michael Hooten.

Dr. Hooten says there’s sometimes no cure for chronic pain, so the goal of the program is to give people the tools they need to manage it.

Psychologist Dr. Cynthia Townsend and Dr. Hooten team up with physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses and other specialists to help with all aspects chronic pain.

Things like group sessions, exercise, biofeedback and support from others going through the same thing boost confidence.

Patients learn that they can taper off medications. They can craft a plan to help them turn painful days into fulfilling

days. They can stop pain from running their lives.

Alyson still has a headache everyday. But the pain is no longer all-consuming because she’s learned how to manage it.

"I felt like I lost a little bit of myself over the past 10 years and now to be back to where I was is very fulfilling," Fleming said.


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