Controlling chronic pain is an important part of improving one’s quality of life. There are several alternative options to help ease the suffering. Before trying any new type of pain relief approach it is always important to consult with a doctor. Though many pain control alternatives exist; this article is only going to touch on a few; and remember, you are in control of your health care. Document your pain by using a scale method, keep those records in your personal health file (we discussed that in an earlier post), document the methods you tried for pain control and how they worked, and document the time of day. Always give this information to your doctor. You may end up helping others with your own research trials and errors.
One important point to consider when dealing with chronic pain is your stress levels. Stress will play an important role psychologically in your perception of pain. It’s easy to become depressed or feel listless when you experience pain and your focus then revolves around the pain making you less likely to indulge in activity. Inactivity and stress build and your muscles will tense in response, thereby increasing your levels of pain. Remember to manage your stress levels to help manage your pain. Distracting yourself with things you enjoy can help; such as watching a movie or talking with a friend. Yoga or Tai Chi are excellent ways to relax the mind and body. Sometimes support groups also help manage stress levels by allowing a person to connect with others who share similar feelings and thoughts.
For thousands of years; Chinese, through traditional practice, use acupuncture as a method of pain control and general well-being. It is thought that the piercing of several tiny needles into very specific areas of skin improve the flow of energy in the body. Science has long believed that the needles induce a reaction within the body; such as the release of certain chemicals that trigger the bodies natural healing responses.
The mind is a powerful tool. Visualization is a type of meditation that is a proven tool to over ride the body-brain connection in some cases. We are all familiar with the reverse affect of this. How often do high blood pressure patients see a spike in their blood pressure when they enter a clinical setting? It happens so often, they gave it a name; it’s called “white coat syndrome”. We are also familiar with this phenomenon in sports when teams visualize how they are going to win and then actually winning before a big game. Visualization can be effective in managing our pain in different ways. One can visualize a calming place they would rather be such as a tranquil beach. The goal is to go deep into the visualization by imagining the sites, sounds, textures and smells. Draw on real life experiences to bring it to life. Another type of visualization technique to reduce pain is to imagine yourself in a pain-free healthy state and yet another type of visualization is to visualize a healer. If you are Christian, you might visualize Jesus, if you are Buddhist you might visualize the great Master of Healing, Baishajyaguru, also known as the Medicine Buddha. Whatever you believe; there is apt to be a healing presence that you may focus on. The act of visualization may help to stimulate the mind into triggering the bodies healing responses.
Other types of meditation are quite beneficial to some with pain management. Livestrong.com offers terrific explanations of Mindfulness Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Visualization Meditation.
Pain medication is not a viable alternative for many who suffer with chronic pain, as they try to maintain employment or take care of children and run their day to day lives. As we continue to seek other solutions, your input is very valuable. If you have a technique that works for you that is not listed above please add your comments.