Meanwhile, health-care providers continue to prescribe opioids — to try to help people suffering from chronic pain.
Prescription of low-dose opioids over the medium-term may be a useful pain management strategy. Nearly one in five adults live with chronic pain in Canada, and the rates are higher among older adults and women. However, uncertainties about the long-term effectiveness of opioids, along with addiction, tolerance and dependency risks, mean that other pain management strategies are urgently needed.
Exercise is one such strategy. Exercise is recommended as an effective non-opioid strategy for non-cancer pain such as fibromyalgia and chronic low back pain. Yet most adults living with chronic pain do not exercise. Or they exercise very little.
As former collegiate athletes, we have experienced chronic pain ourselves. Now, as researchers, we study the psychological factors that may help people with chronic pain exercise daily.
We have found three factors — acceptance of pain, resiliency and the confidence to cope — boost exercise participation for those living with chronic pain.