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Maintaining Your Activity Level

Pre-Medication

If certain activities, like grocery shopping, always cause you pain, talk with your healthcare provider about taking a medication ahead of time to help avoid the pain. This strategy is often employed by physical therapists to help people get through the painful process of physical therapy. Certainly, though, this strategy should not be used to dull the pain of activities that will cause further damage (say, heavy lifting for a person with a back injury), so be sure to ask your healthcare provider for advice.
 

Hard-Working Pain Meds

While pain medications are certainly not the whole answer, an optimal pain regimen can work wonders in helping you maintain your activity level. So if your current pain medications aren't working well for you, or if they are causing intolerable side effects, ask your healthcare provider about other options. This is especially important for people who have been on the same pain medications for years or even decades. 
 
Understand that the pain medications of today are not necessarily the pain medications of the past. While some of the old "tried and true" options (like morphine) will always be a valuable part of the arsenal against pain, newer options can provide real pain relief, sometimes with fewer side effects or less abuse potential.
 
The best way to maximize your medications is to have a candid conversation with your healthcare provider. Explain your fears (perhaps you are afraid of becoming addicted to opioids), your expectations (perhaps you'd like to be able to go grocery shopping without extreme pain), and your past experiences with pain medications (perhaps you hate that "opioid daze" that narcotics can cause).
 

Getting Real

Sometimes, despite careful planning and hard work, chronic pain may still get in the way of maintaining your activity level. In these cases, it's best to face the facts and deal with reality. Perhaps you simply cannot mow your lawn any more due to your chronic pain. Accept it, find a solution (perhaps hiring help), and find a similar replacement activity, such as light gardening or walking. If you find your abilities rapidly declining, though, you'll definitely want to bring it to the attention of your healthcare provider.   
 
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