Welcome to the JK Pain Rehab blog! Today, we're going to delve into a crucial topic for anyone dealing with chronic pain – pacing. Pacing involves two key steps: Step 1, which focuses on distributing tasks effectively, and Step 2, which involves gradual exposure to build tolerance to those tasks. Let's break down these steps and understand how they can help you better manage your chronic pain.
[Step 1: Distributing Tasks]
Living with chronic pain can significantly impact your daily activities and sometimes leave you frustrated when you can't do the things you once enjoyed. At JK Pain Rehab, we believe that the first step in pacing is to measure your baseline. Keep in mind that your baseline may vary from day to day due to the fluctuations in your pain levels.
You can calculate your baseline in a couple of ways. One method is to find the range between your good and bad days. Another approach is to determine the average between your good and bad days. For instance, if you can walk around 5000 steps on a good day and 3000 steps on a bad day, your baseline could be described as 3000-5000 or simply 4000 (the average of the two).
Once you've established your baseline, the primary objective is not to exceed it. For instance, if your baseline is 4000 steps, you should aim not to go beyond 5000 steps on a good day and strive to stay close to 3000 steps on a bad day. It's crucial to avoid significant fluctuations between your good and bad days, as this can lead to flare-ups and increased pain sensitivity over time.
If you prefer an average-based approach, you can start by aiming for 80% of your calculated average and work your way up to that number each day. To make pacing more manageable, you can also categorize tasks into three groups: red, yellow, and green. Red tasks are those that are more likely to trigger flare-ups, yellow tasks fall in the middle, and green tasks are less likely to cause issues. Depending on your social situation and pain sensitivity, you can limit your daily activities. For example, you might decide to engage in no more than two red activities in one day, with at least a one-hour break between tasks.
[Step 2: Graded Exposure]
After mastering Step 1 and effectively distributing your tasks, you can consider moving on to Step 2: graded exposure. It's important to note that Step 2 is entirely optional. If your pain coping skills are not yet adequate, or if you're experiencing a high level of pain or a lack of social support, Step 2 may not be suitable for you. In such cases, it's perfectly acceptable to focus solely on Step 1. Rushing into Step 2 without mastering the first step can potentially lead to more pain flare-ups.
For those ready to proceed with Step 2, start by aiming for 80% of your baseline and gradually increase the duration or frequency of the activities you want to improve. The rate of progress can vary significantly from person to person. While textbooks often recommend a 5% increase every week, it's crucial to tailor this progression to your individual pain sensitivity and social situation. Consulting with a healthcare professional can be immensely helpful in setting and achieving your goals.
Are you ready to put pacing into practice? In our next blog post, we will explore the psychosocial aspects of pacing, offering you a holistic approach to managing chronic pain. Thank you for reading, and if you found this information helpful, please consider subscribing, liking, and sharing this blog. Your support means a lot to us, and remember, managing chronic pain is a journey, and we're here to support you every step of the way. Take care!