Chronic pain and acute pain are not the same thing. Acute pain is sudden. It may be the result of a bruise or a sprain. The pain will leave once everything has healed. Chronic pain, on the other hand, doesn’t go away. In fact, chronic pain may progress over time. Another key difference between chronic and acute pain is the fact that chronic pain doesn’t always respond to medical treatment.
Remember, always follow your physician’s directions for managing pain. If you are considering implementing any new strategies into your current pain-management regimen, speak to your doctor first. But that does not mean there is no hope in fighting chronic pain. Below are seven experiments that are worth discussing with your physician to find out if the techniques are right for you.
The first step is to make it worse.
Start by figuring out what makes your chronic pain increase. For most people, it’s one of three things: anxiety, depression, and giving the pain attention. If you take the next two minutes to focus on your pain, it will increase if you truly concentrate on it. This just goes to show that at least some of the pain is psychological. This is important to believe because knowing you can make your pain worse also means you can make your pain better.
To help see the connection, start keeping a pain journal for the next week. Record your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 three times a day. Distinguish what times of day the pain seems to be worse, and how the pain makes you feel. Does it depress, anger, or demoralize you? It may seem silly at first, but knowing your levels of fear, sadness, and fatigue along with their triggers will help you see the connections between particular emotions and the pain. When you know how the pain pulls on your attention, you can see ways to pull attention away from your pain. Chronic pain is often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, allowing the two to be worked on together. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be helped with meditation or “nidra sleep.” Add these strategies if necessary.
When you take your attention away from areas where pain is being experienced, you need to put it somewhere else. Look to concentrate on non-pain areas when redirecting attention. Relaxing is a typical way people try to get rid of chronic pain in the moment, but this approach is passive. You’re essentially leaving yourself vulnerable to the pain, while taking an active role in dissuading the pain from holding your attention allows you to have control over the situation.
This is anger management to the letter. You are managing your anger and directing it to be used as a tool for fighting pain to gain relief. Exercise— think of what really angers you. Maybe it’s a political issue or something personal. Let the anger become outrage and build on it as much as you can. You are building up energy and passion to the highest degree. Once you truly feel the rush associated with that energy, take a moment to notice that your pain has gone down.
It’s time to be somebody else.
When you have chronic pain, everybody around you knows it. Try as you might, you just can’t hide it because virtually everything you do is telegraphing that something is wrong. Being somebody else might seem farfetched, but try to think of it like method acting. Who you are is somebody experiencing chronic pain, and you can’t be that person anymore. To truly hide your pain from others, you can’t be the chronic pain you. Believing your pain doesn’t exist is what it’s going to take. To know if you’re achieving this or not, try talking to some people who know you very well. See if your act gets them to say things like “Wow, you look stronger” or “You look happier, like you have more control.” Get them to see the pain free you. It might be best to start with friends and work up to family members.
You’ll know you’ve succeeded when those close to you no longer associate chronic pain as part of your character. It’s important to realize that the chronic pain you is a version of yourself you’ve created. It’s the relationship we have with ourselves that we project onto others. If pain is on your mind, pain is on your face and in the way you move. Paying less attention to your pain will erode your chronic pain identity away. It’s actually simple behavioral psychology. You’ve been given positive rewards for showing higher amounts of pain in the form of sympathy. By removing these rewards, it’s easier to disassociate chronic pain with beneficial outcomes.
Where you are isn’t right.
Where you are mentally isn’t where you need to be. Chronic pain has taken over parts of your body where it comes and goes almost routinely. It’s stimulated by what’s going on in the mind, body, and the current social situation you are in. Learning how to get into a meditative state is key to placing yourself elsewhere. It will take practice, but stick with it. The first times can seem like eternity to get yourself calm enough to focus on the healthy areas of your body. The more you meditate, the easier it will be to find the pain free you. Concentrate on your breathing and feel your mind travel through your body. If something distracts you, start from the beginning, but don’t start over. Understand the cycle of your mind.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Yoga allows for a person to understand their body through controlled breathing in various poses with the end goal being a meditative state. Yoga is known to help with addiction, and you are addicted to pain. It’s the intense want for attention that keeps you coming back. Think of any addiction you may have struggled with or maybe something a friend or family member has struggled with. Think of the denial and hardships. Until you admit your addiction, there’s little you can do. Mediation can give you insight into the person you can become.
Aspirin – The Ayurvedic Remedy
An Ayurvedic remedy is a holistic approach to good health. The idea is that instead of thinking of the mind, body, and spirit as things that fight off disease, think of them as things to promote good health. Aspirin works very much in this way as you consider it to be something giving health to your body. Discuss enteric-coated aspirin with your physician. As long as you’re not allergic to aspirin or on blood thinners, the healing effects of aspirin go beyond curing headaches. It’s easy to resist taking aspirin, saying that you don’t take drugs for whatever personal reason you may have, but many who go into things with this mindset come out surprised at the effects. Always take enteric-coated aspirin with a meal as to not harm your stomach lining.
External Therapies for the Mind
Directing the mind away from the site of pain is key, and there are many external ways to aid you, including acupuncture, massage, vibration, acupressure, aerobic exercise, hot and cold packs, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) sonar. Everything we’ve gone through in this article should be considered a tool to add to the tool belt. Finding the right strategy for you is important to curing your chronic pain. Remember, though these strategies have worked for others, they’re just there to help. Everything needs to start with you. Chronic pain is more than just physical. Understanding the psychology behind your pain and equipping the right strategies can help you start treating your pain.