That sentiment, from The Dalai Lama, sums up the gist of a lot of our message board posts. Contrary to what many people think (at least from what surgeons tell me), message boards aren’t just for people hopped up on pain meds or whining. At least on our board, positive thinking is rampant – exactly the kind of support that helps people with back pain deal better and heal better…

Extracts from Spine-health’s discussion forum (minus the epidemic smilies):

Get educated, then keep pushing and don’t give up

  • Joe: “…My advice is to learn as much as you can about what is going on with you. The challenge can be when you’re loaded up with drugs it is hard to know what you need! But keep pushing and don't give up. There are answers, they might not come right away, but they will come."
  • Joe: “…The stages we are all in. bewilderment, denial, depression, anger, and finally acceptance. And when we reach the acceptance part we realize we need to educate ourselves and make the best out of what we have.”

When the pain is bad, focus on other things

  • Cleoscreations: "… My best coping mechanism is ignoring it! In other words, finding other things to do and think about. If it is so bad that I can't ignore it, then I make sure to do what it takes to feel better. Rest, massage, heat, ice, acupuncture. Try them all! I think living with chronic pain is trial and error.”
  • Dilauro: "For the past year, I've been going to a rehab theraputic pool twice a week and having seen other people that have problems, many worse, helps you get by."
  • Baileesmom: “I find that funny movies help, even though it hurts to laugh sometimes it is worth it.”
  • Krazigirl: "I'm with you on the silly movies and ice cream - sometimes when you want to just say screw the meds, screw the pain, forget the world - you just grab a pint of Ben & Jerry's, sit down in front of the TV, and lose yourself."
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Don’t go it alone: ask for help if you need it

  • Manda: “It’s good for you to reach out here and talk about what you are feeling with others who have similar experiences and know that you are not alone in this... I know for me it helps to talk about it and feel my feelings with others who can hear me. I now see a therapist to help me with the emotional aspects of the physical pain as physical pain and emotional are very inter-related... all I can say is that after I have gone into some of my feelings the physical pain often subsides and I feel much better and much clearer.”
  • ErinM: "Just do the best you can do. That is all anyone can ask for… A good support system is a very helpful thing in this position. Don't be ashamed or too proud to ask for help when you need it.”
  • Baileesmom: “Your family just doesn't know what to say to make you feel better. Hopefully you can find support from the people that you meet here who understand EXACTLY where you are and can go along for the ride.”
  • Don: “Hopefully (your family) will give you the support that you need , but when ya need that little extra understanding , visit this site - we here know all too well what you’re going thru. I think this board is one of the best things that I have found for a place to go with understanding people that will listen and offer support as best as they can. It is not easy, but in this site u can get a lot of understanding that is very well needed. The chronic pain is the worst issue I have had to deal with. So just don't ever forget these three words, DONT GIVE UP, there is always someone here to listen to ya, so hang in there ok.”

Me: See, no whining? (Well, precious little). Seriously though, all doctors and clinicians treating chronic pain patients - please ask them if they're getting enough support, and if not give them some resources - online or off - that they can turn to for help. With support, they are likely to do much better.