For Veterans/Public - Self Management - VHA Pain Management
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VHA Pain Management


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For Veterans/Public - Self Management

For Veterans/Public - Self-Management

This section provides links to tools on "Self Management," developed for Veterans/patients.  The most important person in this process of managing pain is YOU!

The most important factor in managing pain is the role of the Veteran/patient. Self-management is the best way to improve your level of activity, reduce disability and keep pain to a minimum. When people take control over their pain, they feel empowered and able to resume normal activities—or even learn something new. There is no better feeling than that, for people who have been controlled by pain.

Self Management

self management

  • •  How you approach your chronic pain will impact how you feel, your quality of life, and potential improvement.
    •  Be active in your own care.
    •  You are the team leader!
    •  Your provider or healthcare team is only a small part of your care.
    •  Take control by making  healthy choices that affect your pain, mood, and daily functioning.
    •  Put effort into making changes you know work.
    •  Manage your pain like other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
    •  Medications, injections, and surgeries, etc. are only one way of dealing with pain.
    •  Be willing to explore many ways to live with chronic pain.

VA Mobile Apps

Mobile phone with app on display  Evidence supports a long-term recovery process for the treatment of chronic pain that highlights various "self-management techniques" addressing the mind and the body. Active therapies such as movement, stretching, relaxation, and mindfulness help those with chronic pain respond in the most helpful way.

The VA has a number of mobile apps that are free. These include relaxation options such as Breathe2Relax and Tactical Breather, Virtual Hope Box, and Mindfulness Coach.  Link to mobile apps site

VA COVID Coach App

COVID Mobile app icon  A mobile application for Veterans, Servicemembers, and anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
   • Learn ways to improve your well-being during this global pandemic
   • Use trackers for mental health and personal goals
   • Find tools for coping and self-care
   • Follow links to additional resources
Learn more about the “new” VA COVID Coach app.

Video: The Power of Exercise - How Movement Can Help You Manage Chronic Pain>

Self-Managing Chronic Pain

Self-management techniques

  • Activity restriction or modification
  • Assistive devices or technologies
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Exercise and strengthening programs
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Support groups
  • Stress reduction techniques, including visualization or body scanning
  • Stretching and mobility programs

If you would like to take charge of your pain management, listed below are some things to help you keep you on track:

• Learn deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help you relax.
• Reduce stress in your life. Stress intensifies chronic pain.
• Boost chronic pain relief with the natural endorphins from exercise.
• Cut back on alcohol, which can worsen sleep problems.
• Don't smoke. It can worsen chronic pain.
• Learn biofeedback or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to decrease pain.
• Get a massage for chronic pain relief.
• Eat a healthy diet if you're living with chronic pain.
• Find ways to distract yourself from pain so you enjoy life more.

Resources - Self Management

Title/Link                                       Source Description

new button Pain and ME: Tamar Pincus talks about chronic pain, acceptance and commitment (video)*

Tamar Pincus, Ph.D., Professor in Health Psychology This video demonstrates a way to think about acceptance that is not the same as giving up. This can help you see how to engage fully in life despite the pain.

 new button Moving Forward Course   web page icon

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Online course that teaches skills to help overcome stressful problems and meet your goals.

new button  Treatment Works for Vets  web page icon

VA - Rocky Mountain MIRECC Public information website for Veterans, family members, and others interested in learning more about evidence-based psychotherapies (or “E-B-Ps”). EBPs can help with depression, insomnia, substance use problems, chronic pain, relationship distress, and other “invisible wounds.”
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) For each area of self-care, there an overview and quick and easy tools you can apply to your own life. Included are Whole Health Tools & Veteran Handouts
Swiss start-up, Sanovation AG App - that includes a pain diary that allows for tracking pain level and location.
Virtual Hope Box - Download for Apple or Android. *
Defense Health Agency
 (DHA) Connected Health
App - Tools for promoting relaxation, coping with difficult situations, engaging in positive thinking, and distracting oneself during difficult times on
Breathe2Relax - Download for Apple or Android *
Defense Health Agency
 (DHA) Connected Health
App - Includes guided breathing and muscle relaxation techniques that are effective for lowering tension and stress.
VA Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain brochure (pdf) VA - Rocky Mountain MIRECC Brochure provides an overview of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain.
Managing Chronic Pain: A Cognitive Behavioral Approach * WebMD Describes the approach to CBT for Chronic Pain and what treatment involves, and what to expect in treatme
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain * Southern Pain Society Describes the steps of CBT for Chronic Pain and the focus of treatment on changing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that contribute to chronic pain
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (CBT-CP) -Veterans VA Pain Management Info about CBT-CP, video, and focus is on Veterans.
Phone-based Meditation Class on Yoga Sleep (iRest®) VA War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) Yoga nidra (yoga sleep) is a spoken word guided meditation that promotes a sense of deep calm while enhancing awareness.
Pacing for Pain-worksheet *(pdf) Gov Western Australla Dpt of Health These guides can help you learn how to pace your activities effectively and appropriately. Energy management is also pain management
Pacing for Pain-formula  *(pdf) Pacing is a skill that enables you to consistently carry out activities without causing extra pain. 
American Chronic Pain Association* American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) This website can provide you with information about chronic pain, management, providers and skills.
Coping Tools - Deep Breathing* Harvard Medical School Deep Breathing information to help with pain management. This can be done on your own, at any time.
Coping Tools - Relaxation Techniques* National Institute of Health (NIH) Relaxation techniques to help with pain management. This can be done on your own at any time. 
Understanding Pain* (video)   Hunter Integrated Pain Service (HIPS) Easy to follow video about pain and how you can approach it effectively.
Flare-Up Management Planning (pdf) Department of Veterans Affairs - attribute Pain Management Network This is a document you can work on with your loved ones and providers. Having a written plan for preventing and coping with a pain flare is essential.

Intro to Neuroplasticity (pdf)

Department of Veterans Affairs - attribute Norman Doidge’s books: The Brain that Changes Itself and The Brains Way of Healing. Learn some basic information about how the brain can change, and also change your pain.

Pain Management Network*

ACI Pain Management Network This website contains information to enable you to develop skills and knowledge in the self management of your pain

VA Patient Centered Care 

VHA Office of Patient Centered Care    Whole health care, designed to help Veterans achieve and maintain their best all-around health and well-being.

VA-Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program (CPRP) 

VHA CARF accredited (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) Inpatient Pain Treatment enter  Inpatient and outpatient chronic pain treatment program established in 1988 to help Veterans with chronic pain.  National referrals welcome.  

US Pain Foundation - Self Management *

US Pain Foundation In conjunction with traditional pain management, there are a number of self-management strategies that can help reduce pain levels and improve your quality of life.

Pain Action - Self Management

painACTION - developed by grants from the National Institutes of Health The goal of painACTION is to help people improve their self-management of their pain condition. Written with the help of health educators, pain experts, and people dealing with pain.

American Chronic Pain Society *

American Chronic Pain Association Tools on this site help you understand pain and how to work more effectively with your health care team toward a higher quality of life.

Veterans/Public Pain Management - Resource Topics

 chronicpain  self management medical treatments Complementary Treatments faqs

Disclaimer: *Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.