Pain is an almost universal part of our experience of hip dysplasia - at one stage or another. Pain is a useful indicator of something we need to attend to – but it can become troublesome if it begins to dominate our lives.
During the Get CreActive project we spent time listening to pelvic health specialist physiotherapist Jilly Bond who explained newer understandings of pain and how it works. Understanding it's the starting place of managing it.
In this video Jilly gives an overview of contemporary understandings of pain before exploring why, for example, sex can be painful.
You’ll have heard in our stories that pain can be both triggered and improved by physical activity so it’s really about choosing the best activity for you at a given time.
Within a group, we’ve tried so many things to help us improve our quality of life by reducing or better managing our pain. What works for one hippy doesn’t necessarily work for another; every mind and body is unique. For many of us, a combination of approaches works best.
Here are some ideas to try:
It can be incredibly frustrating when your pain increases. Sometimes it’s difficult to know why it happens, but you can learn to understand your body better. For example, you could start keeping a diary of your activities and tracking your pain levels. Then look to see if there is a pattern – is a particular activity setting off your pain?
And listen to your body in the moment, too. Try to identify the early warning signs of a pain spike to see if you can head it off before it becomes unmanageable.
If you’re trying to increase your physical activity, such as standing for longer or increasing the distance you walk, don’t rush to try to do a lot more all at once. Build up steadily so you don’t overwhelm your body. For example, plan to increase your distance or time by 10% a week.
You may find working with your physiotherapist may help you manage the pain you experience. Some of the pain you experience might be being contributed to by muscle imbalances or stiff joints. Physiotherapists can help assess this and provide a programme of activities that can help improve your movement and strength.
Some people find 'Complementary therapies' have pain or stress relieving effects. The range of complementary therapies available are vast - and include therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology. In comparison to medicine, the effects of complementary therapies are not as well researched. There is however growing evidence that some complementary therapies can have stress relieving and other positive effects. If you would like to try a complementary therapy but are unsure if it is right for you, ask your GP if the therapy you are thinking about is in any way 'contra-indicated' for you.
It’s worth exploring if there is any kit you can buy or adjustments you can make to your activities or to help reduce your pain.
For example, hippy Jacs’ workplace purchased her a perching stool as her regular desk chair was causing her pain levels to increase. Her manager also allowed her the option to work from home and avoid rush hour when commuting to the office.
Giving your body the chance to relax can make all the difference. For some of us, soaking in a warm bath can help our muscles relax and enables us to sleep better.
Again, everyone’s body is different, but gel heat or cold packs can be brilliant. In the days and weeks post-surgery, cold packs in particular may provide significant welcome relief.
To give yourself the best chance of handling your pain well, focus on giving yourself the best chance at happiness and contentment. Everyone’s route to happiness will be different – see the section below for a number of proven actions that are worth considering.
Do what you can to try to get the sleep your body needs. Research is increasingly indicating that sleep is an incredibly important activity for the body and it’s worth taking seriously.
Practice ‘sleep hygiene’ to improve your chances of a good night’s sleep, for example by:
- Avoiding screens in the hour before bed
- Regular times for going to bed and getting up
- Not exercising and eating big meals directly before going to bed
- Avoiding drinking too much caffeine, particularly in the evening
Mindfulness can be a fantastic tool in your pain management toolbox. Check out our section on mindfulness to see how.
And listen to how Jacs has used mindfulness to manage her pain and improve her wellbeing.
Finally, medication can also help with decreasing pain and maintaining (or returning to) an active, happy life. Unfortunately, taking pain medication long-term is not good for our bodies.
But it’s not uncommon for us hippies to need to take pain medication sometimes alongside the other things we do to manage our pain.
And some of us hippies have been referred by our GP to a specialist pain consultant who has helped with more effective daily pain medication. Specialist pain consultants can prescribe medication that GPs do not have the authority to prescribe.
Throughout this site we’ve talked about many ways we've personally boosted our wellbeing which are part of the Action For Happiness charity’s list of science-backed actions:
Action for Happiness’ ‘10 days of happiness’ program introduces the 10 keys to help you cope and find new ways to boost your wellbeing.