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Pain and Long Term Health Conditions

Commonly known as: chronic pain, health management, cancer, diabetes, long covid, illness, brain fog

Pain and Long Term Health Conditions

Explore pain and long term health conditions by scrolling through the page or simply select an option from the drop down if you wish to jump to the relevant section of the page:

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What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that continues or recurs for 3 months or more. Commonly it is back or joint pain or headaches, caused by illness, injury or surgery.

Anyone who is suffering from chronic pain or a long term condition is at increased risk of suffering low mood, depression or anxiety.
Symptoms/problems may include:

  • Poor diet/ weight gain/weight-loss
  • Pain and fatigue
  • Stress/ anxiety and depression
  • Poor sleep
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor communication
  • Medication side effects
  • Body changes as a result of the condition including complications

Health problems and pain can affect sleep, which can cause tiredness and low mood and make coping with the pain/ illness more difficult. Although pain and fatigue are different symptoms of a condition, ways of managing them are similar. If we can successfully reduce the amount of pain or fatigue we are experiencing, we can help to reduce the impact on our mental wellbeing.


Self-help advice for managing pain and fatigue

Find out more about pain and long term conditions and how they can be managed. See our self-help resources below.

Learn new skills to manage pain and long term conditions. See our self-help courses below. They include courses which support people living with chronic pain, long term conditions, Long COVID, diabetes and cancer.

Other advice includes:

  • Not overdoing things and learning to say ‘no’.
  • Planning your day and making sure you mix up rest periods with activity.
  • Getting a good night’s sleep. See our page on ‘sleep’.
  • Exercising. See our page on ‘being active’ .
  • Relaxation and other enjoyable activities that don’t require a lot of physical energy, but exercise the mind. See our mindfulness resources.
  • Remaining socially active.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. See our ‘healthy eating’ page.
  • You may find it helpful to get involved in activities going on in your local area. There might be a local support group for people experiencing the same conditions as you. Find out what’s going on in your area by visiting our ‘in your area’ page.
  • Proper use of medications.
  • Use of heat, cold and massage for pain.
  • You don’t need to experience difficult feelings alone. Have a look at the information below or visit our ‘helplines’ section below if you need support managing your pain or long term condition.


What is brain fog?

Brain fog or confusion is another common symptom of a number of health conditions. It may lead you to have short-term memory difficulties, an inability to think clearly or understand some information. You may also find it difficult to speak, as you can’t find the words or forget the names of people or places that you were going to say.

It is important to know that brain fog is neither progressive nor associated with declining intellect. However, it can be bewildering, and erode confidence, self-esteem and lead to low mood.


Self-help advice for brain fog

Here are some things you can do which may help you feel better:

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep. See our page on ‘sleep’.
  • Eat and drink water regularly. Eat a regular balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and veg. Drink plenty of water as it is important for brain health. See our ‘healthy eating’ page.
  • Alcohol. If you’re taking medications to manage your pain, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any reactions that may result from mixing them with alcohol. See our ‘alcohol’ page.
  • Do some gentle exercise. Do activities in short bursts of just a few minutes, or whatever you can manage. You don’t need to go to the gym. Start with just standing to do the washing up or ironing, this is all physical activity.
  • Avoid watching TV or using electronic gadgets for long periods. This tends to exacerbate problems with concentration. Take regular breaks. It is recommended no more than 1 hour of TV followed by a break of a couple of hours.
  • Make a list and set reminders. You could keep a diary or have memory prompts such as sticky notes, use a phone alarm to remind you to take medication, take a rest or do some activity etc…
  • Have ‘homes’ for things. Things that you may misplace like glasses, keys, phones, wallets or purses and medication can be found more readily.
  • Focus on 1 activity at a time. Rather than attempting to multitask. You may have been great at this in the past however doing 2 or more tasks at once is likely to increase brain fog.
  • If processing new information is difficult for you, try repeating back any new information to yourself this can make it easier to retain. Or carry a notebook to jot things down.


Last updated: 14.05.2024

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Self-help resources to aid you in chronic pain management

Browse our free self-help resources for pain management, approved by mental health experts.

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Helplines and support for pain management

See below for helplines relevant to pain management. To see our full list of helplines, visit our helplines page.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Psychological Health Practitioners (PHP)

If you feel you need ongoing support to improve your mental health, then you may need professional support from the NHS. This is a free service and you will be able to access this help from within your GP surgery. Ask if there is a Psychological Health Practitioner based in your surgery. If not, then your GP can provide support.

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