Pain Care Tips
Pain Care Tips
There are many ways to open the medicine cabinet inside you. Gentle movement, no matter how small, is a pain care treatment. Maybe your systems are so sensitized you need to start with imagining movement. Maybe you need to spend time finding more peace first. Maybe you need to find someone to guide you. And maybe the First 5 Steps of Pain Care for Life will be an effective guide for you. Movement is not the only answer, but it is one of the most important ones.
Any treatment or pain care strategy that decreases pain but does not improve ease of movement is less likely to be more and more effective over time.
Knowledge about pain and how pain interacts with our body's functioning is an effective pain care path - often new information guides us to make different decisions about the way we should be managing the pain and recovering ease of movement. We learned this from research, and can see powerful positive effects clinically, when the education is provided well. Some of us need to become experts - to understand everything we can about pain before we can find a path to recovery. Others just need the knowledge that pain is changeable, and that there is hope, followed by a little guidance in techniques in order to recover. Which would work best for you? Step 1 of the First 5 Steps of Pain Care for Life provides you with videos - to learn information that is just starting to make its way into health professional education. And Steps 2-4 provide guidance in how to put this into practice. Give it a try.
Laughter truly is medicine. It will not fix everything up, but finding ways to smile and laugh more will change your body’s chemistry in many positive ways. This is not just distraction – it is an effective way to find some respite from your pain. If you don't think it is okay to have fun when you are in pain, or you think it is not possible to smile or laugh at all when you are in pain, think about this some more. It is difficult, and it is okay, and it is possible. Keep trying. Find ways to be around the people you know who are able to smile more easily, the people who make others laugh, and whose hearts flow out of their smiling eyes. Pain pushes us so far away from joy. Yet finding a glimmer of a smile, and then more and more joy, is one way to influence your pain and help yourself live well again. To get you started, try this and this
Pain changes your brain. You have the ability to change your brain. This is not wishful thinking. It is science, and we know people can do it even in the most difficult times when the pain is at its most severe. You can use your body, your breath, your thoughts, your emotions, and your spirit. And research says that different techniques change your brain in different ways. You need to try them all, and find the best combination for you.
- Moving with ease
- Breathing longer smoother and softer
- Self compassion, acceptance and love
- Mindfulness meditation
- Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong
- Imagined movement and visualization
Most pain medicine, and many pain control products use language that promotes the idea of instant, immediate pain relief. This is what we want. Yet, this is not the common experience for lasting improvements. Techniques that improve ease of movement and turn down the intensity of the pain are the best long-term answer, especially those that you can repeat. When receiving treatments from others, remember that the most important benefit is that the treatment allows you to move with more ease. Every time you can do this, you will make more changes that will last, and in time those apparently small changes will add up. To learn more about greater success to move with more ease, try out the First 5 Steps of Pain Care for Life, for free.
Health practitioners must endeavor to teach us what we can do in life when pain persists. The treatments we are given are best considered as boosts to the ‘real treatments’ – what we do over the long-term, to move with more ease, and live well again.
Traditionally, and even today in some yoga therapy, there is an idea that if you have a problem with your body, that you use your body to fix it, and if there is a mental health issue, you use your psyche to fix this. We are not a body, mind and spirit, but rather an integrated human. This means that there are so many more possibilities for improvement – such as, we can influence depression, anxiety, fear and grief through what we do with our body, and we can use our spirit, thoughts and emotions to change our body.
One of the benefits of mindful practices and awareness techniques are that they give us a chance to watch how much pain and all sensations from our body change from moment to moment. When we experience that pain changes, this can offer hope, as well as opening the door to the idea that maybe we can find a way to influence these changes.
The pain we experience is so many things – a symptom, an experience, a warning, …, and it is also a story. The story can be one of shame, of blame, of fear, regrets, loss, or never being able to move with ease, feel confident, think clearly, stop thinking about pain all the time, ..., or to be yourself again. As much as we need to calm down our hyper vigilant systems, and do what is possible for the health of our physical body, our heart and spirit, we also need to listen to the story. This can be tremendously difficult and unpleasant. Yet how can we rewrite it, if we have not yet accepted it. The story can keep playing in our head, and this can make it harder to change - harder to live well again. When we spend time every day imagining ourselves moving towards living well again, we weaken the story, and give rise to opportunities to write a new story. Similar to an athlete who needs to mentally rehearse success, or a musician afraid of failure, practising a story in which we move with more ease, enjoy life more, and suffer less, is one path towards our goals of change. Many of the techniques and practices within Pain Care for Life help us with awareness of the story - how the pain has changed our body, breath, thoughts, emotions, automatic reactions, purpose in life, ... And experiences that create change - that help us rewrite our story.
The reason you have pain is not because you are weak, or not tough enough. Being able to grit your teeth and push through it is often not the full solution. Sure, the social stigma of pain makes you feel this way about yourself, but it is not true for the vast majority of people. There is the possibility that struggling too hard will keep your fight-flight automatic systems on high alert. There is the possibility that pushing through the pain will teach your sophisticated pain and protection systems that you will not listen unless they are really very loud. So give this a try when you can - stop sooner. Stop when your body or mind or breath or the pain tell you that you are pushing the edge, that you are not safe anymore, or that you are going to regret this later. Do your best to limit how much you experience the 'endure the pain - flare it up - crash until it calms down' cycle. If you are not certain how to do this, sign up for Pain Care for Life for free and try the Movement Guidelines/Recovery of Ease of Movement process in Step Four of Pain Care for Life
For example – you know that the pain of hitting your thumb with a hammer can be different depending on who is with you, and whether you are happy or angry when you do it. This of course means that pain intensity depends on what is happening in your body, and how your systems are responding to it.
Regaining ease of movement and living well again might require more compassion, more effort or both.
The first step for you might be to perform a loving self assessment (of all those things from which the pain has disconnected you), before you find the best ways to care for yourself.
The treatments we receive are best considered as boosts to the real treatments – which are what we do to move with more ease, and live well again.
The changes we experience when pain persists - in our body, breath, thought, emotions and spirit – start to look similar regardless the original source of the pain, and sometimes the best answers come from doing what is best for all aspects of our self, rather than only focusing on the source of the pain.
Grief is one of the most commonly overlooked parts of pain care.
It sounds like and odd idea, but consider this - your brain can’t really tell the difference between a thought and reality. This is why athletes visualize success - to improve success with difficult to attain movements. Practice vivid visualizations of the movements you want to recover. Really use our imagination - see yourself moving with less pain or more ease. Start with what you think is possible, and shoot for the moon as you get better at this. The more you practice, the better your skill. And once you succeed with imagining 'seeing' yourself doing it with more ease, then try imagining the feelings and the sensations of your body and breath as you imagine moving the way you want. Some of the science behind this is discussed in videos in Step 1 of the First 5 Steps of Pain Care for Life. Try it out for free.
Pain disconnects us form our body. Regardless of your pain, your body is one of the most powerful ways to change pain.
These turn pain care practices into self-efficacy practices.
Experiences remind us that we often need to listen many times before we hear the message clearly or understand.