If you are one of the millions of adults who suffer from chronic pain, you need relief.  Simply put, the better you understand pain, the better equipped you are to gain control over it. This is why I co-authored the book, Living beyond Pain, a holistic approach to manage pain and get your life back with physician, Dr. James Kribs.

Pain can be good and protective, but at other times, it is not protective and the brain changes the way pain is processed. Chronic pain rewires the brain and the central nervous system becomes sensitized. The impact of this is that you feel real pain even after the source of the pain is removed. However, the perception of pain (produced in the brain) can be altered. The goal is to retrain your brain and calm down the nervous system.

To live beyond pain, address all parts of your life including the mind-body connections. There are multiple ways to turn down the volume on pain, reduce pain and improve your functioning.

Since our reactions to pain are both physical and emotional, psychological treatments can help. Here are a few mind-body interventions to decrease the intensity of chronic pain apart from the use of medications:

  • Distraction is highly effective in reducing pain. Attention to pain makes it worse. So, the first tip is to distract yourself from the pain. You can do this by avoiding pain talk, focusing on your blessings, keeping a gratitude journal or using techniques like mindfulness and meditation on the Lord. In other words, the more attention you give to pain, the more pain you will feel. Distracting the mind away from the pain is helpful.
  • Control your negative beliefs and thoughts. How you think about pain can worsen it. If you believe you have the capacity to function and manage pain, you will. Confidence improves functioning. If you believe your future and functioning depends on others, like physicians, this perceived lack of control will worsen your pain. The key is to self-regulate your thoughts and stay positive. Take those negative thoughts captive and replace them with more positive thoughts. Don’t linger on the negative as this will worsen your pain.
  • Keep your expectations positive. Expectations have much to do with how you experience pain. If you expect to recover from pain, you most likely will. But if your expectations are that your pain is serious and debilitating, you can turn mild pain into severe pain. So, look at your expectations and make them positive. Be hopeful. God will help you cope with pain. Call on Him to walk you through the pain. He is an ever-present help in times of trouble. Expect his help and healing.
  • Reduce negative emotions. Negative emotions can reduce the body’s natural painkillers and worsen pain. Thus, hanging on to anger, upset, bitterness, etc. amplifies pain. Depression can also lead to pain and pain can make depression worse. Work on those negative emotions and pain will decrease. If you struggle with negative emotions, get help. The less emotional negativity you have, the less pain. Emotions and pain are connected. They share the same real estate in the brain.
  • Fear not! Fear of pain can be more disabling than pain itself. Fear leads to catastrophic thinking and worsens pain. Fear and avoidance are especially problematic, so stop the cycle of avoidance and gradually re-engage in activities. Don’t be afraid of exercise and movement. They actually help pain. Gradually re-engaging with people and more activities.

The bottom line is this: The perception of pain is in the brain. Change your brain and change your pain! Mind-body treatments are highly effective in calming down the nervous system and managing chronic pain. And there are many more lifestyle and treatments options that can help. Addressing all parts that contribute to chronic pain makes a difference.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad