VHA Pain 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.
- • 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
|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
|A mobile application for Veterans, Service members, 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
- 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
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.|
|Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)||Online course that teaches skills to help overcome stressful problems and meet your goals.|
| Patient Education Materials
- Chronic Pain Self-Management
- Five Steps for Managing Intense - Pain Episodes
- Gate Control Theory of Pain
- Monitoring Pain
- True or False? Common Pain Beliefs
- Understanding Chronic Pain
- Before You Go: Additional Information about Chronic Pain Treatment Options
- Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Chronic Pain
- Managing Fibromyalgia
|VA MIRECC CoE - VISN 2 Center for Integrated Healthcare (CIH)||Pain Management informational handouts and self-management materials for patients.|
|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.|
|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|
|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)||PSYCHOLOGYTooLS.org||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.|
|ACI Pain Management Network||This website contains information to enable you to develop skills and knowledge in the self management of your pain|
|VHA Office of Patient Centered Care||Whole health care, designed to help Veterans achieve and maintain their best all-around health and well-being.|
|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||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.|
|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 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
Literature Alerts for VA Staff
The VA Library Network will provide VA staff an index of recent articles related to opioids and many other areas of interest right to your work mailbox. If you are interested in subscribing to this alert click here.
If you have questions or suggestions for pain-related resources, please send an email to VHA Pain Management Webmaster Group. Questions about personal care should be directed to the local VA facility.
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.