I have managed chronic back pain for more than four years. The pain is a dull ache that occurs just above my left hip. I manage it with exercise, massage, stretches, and hot baths and showers. I don’t take medicine for the pain because I am afraid of becoming dependent on it to get through the day. I take ibuprofen when I have a headache or period pain, but it’s not part of my pain management for my back. That changed this morning at work: my back pain flared viciously – to the point that it interfered with my concentration – and I asked my supervisor if she had any painkillers. She gave me a blister pack and I swallowed two with flat Coke. I felt better, but I knew I wouldn’t use the painkillers every day.
I understand that some people manage pain with drug treatments and I don’t see it as weakness (especially when it’s necessary) but I would prefer to manage my pain with physical activity, relaxation massages, stretches, and showers. The pain also isn’t strong enough or sharp enough for me to justify the use of painkillers. It’s a chronic ache with which I contend, but the frustration I experience has more to do with its continual presence than its severity. I might turn to drug therapy if the pain ever becomes more intense, but I have found treatments that work, even if the relief I experience is only temporary.