Curbing Chronic Pain: 3 Steps You Can Begin Today

Those suffering with chronic pain often get the feeling that medical professionals start to think their pain is in their head.

Pain is a sensation created by the brain in order to protect us from things the brain thinks may harm us. But, all pain is real.

Learning to get better control over how much pain the brain perceives at particular times can allow those enduring pain to live a more fulfilling life.

1. know how your body works
Dealing with chronic pain is oftentimes overwhelming. Current research has revealed that our bodies have a lot more say in pain management than we thought. When our bodies send us pain messages, the signals must pass through our spinal cord up to our brains. There are times when our spinal cords are more and less receptive to receiving these pain signals. There appear to be “gateways” in the process and there are times when these gateways are more open than others permitting the signal to increase our pain level. Though these gateways may never be fully closed, there are things those suffering with chronic pain can do to reduce the frequency and intensity of the pain signals.

2. watch for the triggers
Some factors that open the pain gateways are anxiety, stress, depression, mental focus on the injury, loss of sense of personal control, negative thoughts, social isolation, and lack of exercise. We can learn some tools to combat these states like relaxation techniques, mindfulness, sense of personal control, acceptance strategies, positive self-talk, pacing, and helpful exercise. Working toward closing the pain gateways helps us to begin to reengage in enjoyable activities to further reduce the symptoms of pain.

3. track your progress
A good way to identify patterns in our pain experience is to keep a pain journal. Through monitoring our experience of pain, we can better learn to cope with it and find ways to build meaningful, important activities back into our daily lives. A pain journal can also help identify any emotions and thought patterns that contribute to the worsening of the pain experience. Realizing how our pain experience affects us can assist us in taking the most important step, which is to start implementing some of these tools to begin to figure out what works best. If you would like to learn to use some of these pain reduction strategies, give us a call!