Taking Control of Chronic Pain: How to Avoid the Boom-and-Bust Cycle


When living with a chronic condition, it’s normal to have “good” days, when symptoms are minimal and manageable, and “bad” days, when symptoms intensify and effect daily activities. For people living with persistent pain, this is a very common experience – some days the pain is mild and other days it’s severe.

In our Digital Joint and Spine program, our members often report severe pain days immediately following a mild pain day. When we ask them to describe their activity levels, we usually find a common theme. On mild pain days, members take advantage of their good day and tend to push themselves too hard while taking care of housework, gardening, exercising, etc.

When you feel good in the moment, it’s easy to get distracted and overdo it, or push through minor pain. However, overexerting yourself on a mild pain day typically leads to worse than normal pain the following day. Sometimes the pain is so severe that pain medication doesn’t help – it may even feel like a new injury. On these types of days, members usually report low productivity because they need to rest, and it’s common for one bad pain day to turn into a few bad days. Then, once the pain decreases, the good day, bad day cycle repeats and eventually becomes a pattern, also known as the “boom-and-bust cycle.”

To learn how to manage the boom-and-bust cycle of pain with pacing, visit our Digital Joint and Spine blog.

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