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Self-Management of Chronic Pain

Self-Management Techniques    |    Exercise    |    Sleep Quality    |    Heat and Cold Therapy    |    Staying Connected

Chronic pain can impact all aspects of a person’s life - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Pain self-management is the idea that you are in control over how you deal with your pain. You are foremost expert of your own body and play the biggest role managing your pain. Health professionals and researchers agree that self-care and life skills play vital roles in a person's pain management. Research shows that some of the best ways to improve your life is to help you live with your pain instead of masking it. When you accept your pain, you change how you experience pain and begin the process of reducing it.

Therefore, any pain management program needs to broaden its focus to deal not only with the pain but also with improving the individual’s overall quality of life. Research shows that a healthy, well-balanced life can have a huge impact on the experience of chronic pain.

WWDPI has a variety of condition-specific, self-management resources for the following health conditions:

Self-Management Techniques  

There are many activities you can do to help manage your pain. These activities aim to support overall self-care and lower your stress levels.   

Some of these activities include:

  • Exercise
  • Breathing techniques
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Social activities with family and friends

Resources & Apps 

Arthritis Care
Chronic Disease Self-Management ProgramUniversity of Victoria, Centre for Aging
Guided Meditation VideoMayo Clinic
Mindfulness Meditation PodcastsUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for people living with cancer- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction - BC Chapter
Self Help for Chronic Pain or
Catch My Pain: Pain Diary App for Youth
Happify: Science-Based Emotional Well-being AppHappify
Pain Squad App for KidsSickKids Hospital
Stop, Breathe, Think Meditation AppTools for Peace


Physical activity helps improve physical and mental health. Exercise plays a vital role in the management of chonic pain. Regular physical activity can keep the muscles Exercise helps:   

  • Reduce stiffness and pain
  • Increase energy and stamina
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Promote weight loss and long-term weight management

There are many centres and organizations that have exercise programs, specifically for arthritis. 
See our BC Consumer Health Resources for more information.


View more tools and resources on Physical Activity and Pain.

Sleep Quality 

Improving your sleep quality helps restore your energy levels and rest your muscles . Sleep also helps reduce stress, which can aggravate chronic pain. Some tips to help your sleep habits:

  • Man asleep at desk Do moderate exercise on a regular basis
  • Don't exercise right before bedtime
  • Don't drink alcohol and caffeine, especially late in the day.
  • Do establish a regular sleep schedule, especially for your wake up
  • Do practice mindfulness
  • Do practice guided imagery
  • Do speak with your doctor


See more tips, tools and resources about sleep and pain.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Using heat and cold treatments can reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Cold packs numb the sore area and reduce inflammation and swelling. They are especially good for joint pain caused by a flare. Heat relaxes your muscles and stimulates blood circulation. You can use dry heat, such as heating pads or heat lamps, or moist heat, such as warm baths or heated wash cloths.

What do you do to self-manage your pain? Do you have a technique that works particularly well? If so, let us know!

Staying Connected   Support Group

An important aspect of managing chronic pain is staying connected with your family and friends as well as connecting with others who share similar experiences with chronic pain.

For services and support groups in British Columbia, check out our BC Consumer Resource Guide


Chronic Disease Self-Management ProgramUniversity of Victoria, Centre for Aging
Chronic Pain Self-Management WorkshopsArthritis Society
Chronic Pain: A burden often sharedNew York Times Article
Lorimer Mosely, PhD, Pain Scientist - Why Things HurtUniversity of South Australia
Surviving a Loved One's PainPractical Pain Management Publication
Ten Tips for Parents of Children or Teens with Chronic PainBC Children's Hospital

Last Modified: 10/4/2017 8:35 PM