Chronic pain can severely impact quality of life. Many people who suffer from chronic pain think that nothing can be done to help them. This is especially true if you have been in pain for months or years with no relief.
What you may not know is that the sensation of pain is not only the result of injury. The experience of pain can cause a cycle of tension that makes pain feel worse. Our brains can become “over-loaded” from pain signals, and get stuck in the experience of pain. And pain, often caused by traumatic injury, can itself cause trauma; in other words, we can end up feeling “triggered” by the experience of pain, which causes more pain, and results in an endless cycle.
None of the above means that “your pain is all in your head”. Pain is a real, measurable physiological event. But pain can be made worse by how we perceive, and that is very good news. It means that we can learn skills that change our perception of pain, and therefore our quality of life can markedly improve.
Counseling for pain management can include:
- Relaxation techniques — to help reduce physical and emotional tension
- Guided imagery — a directed relaxation technique, to help change the focus on, and perception of, pain
- Hypnosis — a way of focusing your attention on the pain in a different way, which can also facilitate your body’s healing. (Skeptical? Sit quietly, relax, and focus on your hands. It’s very likely you can make them warmer, or colder, just by thinking about it. Imagine the implications for circulation in other areas of your body.)
- EMDR — a specialized technique to help with post-traumatic stress. If your pain is now causing separate emotional distress, EMDR may be helpful in significantly reducing that distress.
These are just a few of the techniques that can help you reduce your pain levels, and improve your quality of life. Our website has a page on pain management, with links that explain some of these techniques more fully, and a link to a local medical doctor who specializes in this area.
If you like the idea of using mindfulness to work with your chronic pain, here’s a book that may prove helpful. The forward is written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is world-reknowned in the area of mindfulness.
For some other ideas, here’s a great website called PainAction.com . It has lots of information, interactive tools, and ideas to help with back, migraine and cancer pain.