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Do you think setting goals helps pain?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Chronic Pain
I'm new to this forum and looking at many of the posts. I'm recovering from a disc hernia, which happened 1/15/09. Was on crutches, sever pain, in bed pretty much all of the time, etc. Getting better now, though I've exhausted all conservative treatments (hence, that's why I'm poking around here). Still in bed about 15-18 hrs per day, but getting less pain, so things are improving.

But here's my question: what effect do you think setting goals has on pain?

When things were really bad a few months ago I set myself a goal of launching a web site (not going to reveal the name, less you think this is an ad for it) -- and I think having that goal, which was a big goal for me, really helped out.

The one think it did was keep me focused on something else besides laying in bed thinking about my back. True, I was laying in bed most of the day anyway, which sucked (and still does), but tackling the pain was my main objective. And I wanted to do that by focusing on the future on something I could do, and something I cared about.

I'm interested if someone else has had similar relief through focusing on a specific set of goals?


  • focus on something you care deeply about! something you've always wanted to do! don't allow pain to rule you! focus on something BIGGER. Something BEYOND pain! After my surgery...the pain thankfully left after a few months! after six months I was back to physical activity! now I'm hoping to get into the Navy...I'll have a response in 45-90 days. So yes, set those goals!
  • Simple answer.
    Now I will Wramble...it's what I do sometimes.

    Goals can be very helpful if they are realistic and you do not get to caught up in the goal. When the goal is beyond reach and the time has run out you need to not lose yourself in it.

    Sounds like you chose well, the web site was a goal you could do in your current condition.

    Goals that are based on one becoming "well" when that may not happen can just drag us down. I have watched many of my goals go by unscored these last 3 years. I am just now learning to NOT place timelines that my ability will not allow me to complete.

    Now I try to place my goals more on doing the item until it gets done, not setting a when for it to be done!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,837
    Setting goals can help you in the total recovery process which in turn can reduce your discomfort and pain.
    The trick is setting goals that are neither too low or too high. If you reach too high, you may be somewhat disappointed in your progress. On the other hand if you set low goals, then that could have a negative impact on your recovery.
    A good and careful balance is what is needed.
    I would set your goals and then track them, not daily, because you may not see progress, but weekly.
    You will be surprised as each week goes by to see how you have improved.
    Just do not get down if you have a bad week. Anyone that has had spinal surgery will tell you that there are good times and there are bad ones. You can be moving along at a great pace and for no reason that you can think of you slide backwards.
    Dont fret, just keep positive and keep looking ahead.
    You will see that in a short time you will have reached your goal.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Like the others said, keep them within a reasonable limit, and track your progress.

    After my first back surgery I made it one day at a time. Didn't expect much and would not let it get me down if I had a bad day.

    I honestly feel like once you hurt your back even muscle strain, it takes longer to heal than a broken bone. Never know how much you depend on your back until it's injured.

    One thing at a time, one step at a time. Don't loose heart and never ever give up.
  • Setting realistic goals is important to see some progression and bigger long term goal should be broken down into short term elements. The biggest failure of goals setting is to set those achievement too high initially and we see this with exercise where chronic patients with limited current experience become disillusioned in not achieving at the pace you would like and give up as a consequence, extending that small failure to the whole.

    Anyone who manages chronic pain on a daily basis exceeds the necessary tenacity and drive to achieve any reasonably set goal, the key is to monitor and review and not become disheartened from periodic lapse and refocus from what you have learned.

    For me I have sort term and longer term goals, some day I cannot stand at all and as everyone have to use those windows of opportunity that we all have to manage those periods more effective and pace well. If we set goal it empowers us that we are doing something proactive rather than just accepting the circumstance and hoping it will get better without a plan or continual change.

    Take care. John
  • John,

    The goal I set was specifically not tied to anything to do with my back - I wanted something to focus on that I could accomplish no matter what state I was in physically. My goal was to get my mind *off* my back, not make goals to specifically improve it. For me it really worked.

  • I do agree that setting goals are very good. Anything is good that lets you focus on something besides your pain. It's hard to do when your brain is screaming PAIN, PAIN 24/7!!
    All through my ordeal I never gave up hope or lost my sence of humor. We all have good and bad days. Take advantage of the good days.
    Learn to love to read...that is something you can always do. I love to read and it has been a life saver to me.
    Hugssssssss >:D<
    Patsy W
  • I agree that it's not only important to have goals, it's healthy. I'm not talking about recovery goals, I gave those up a long time ago and have learned to live that day by day. I found that in the first year and a half of my chronic pain that I had NO goals and I was quite depressed.

    I recently decided to try to start a chronic pain support group to serve my rural area. I feel a renewed sense of me...I always did volunteer work of some sort when I was whole. It does feel great to think about something besides pain or how much feeling I have in my arms nad legs. I'm also thinkling of going back to volunteer for the "Look Good, Feel Better" program for the American Cancer Society, which I did when I was a hair stylist. The program here is strictly lecture and not hands on and I think that I can do it.

    We often think that we have no ability to reach out to help others when we are in pain. I'm finding that in doing so I can focus on something else besides ME all the time. Boy, am I sick of me at this point LOL!

  • Mkrx,
    Attempting to attain a goal that is underlined by your condition is commendable and our PM also attempted to gets our minds and associated behaviour in a happier place. In reality you would have to acknowledge that aspect of back problems that would diminish the completion of your goal setting.

    Relaxation which I initially determines was of no help has and could proved beneficial, the distinction of living in the pain rather than with it may only be words and what Sterbach crudely called “ making disability a career ” I understand his sentiment if not the harshness of his words, in his book Chronic Pain.

    Encompassing other things may well only be a trick of the mind but it does help, emphasising our self may fan the embers of flames that acknowledge the subconscious of our condition, at our PM residential another patient told three passing strangers his life story in a hundred yards and placed too much content internally, rather than seeing the world around, just because I manage mine more effectively does not mean it hurts any less.

    Take care with your strategy.


  • you and i think alike in regard to getting your mind off your own pain and helping others. when my mind starts thinking of others it's amazing how much more pain i can endure as i'm trying to assist someone else. Even though i can barely move just helping others on this site expands my world.
    best of luck....pete :-C
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