5 Tips for Non-Medication Chronic Pain ManagementWritten By: Dr. Stephen F. Grinstead, LMFT, ACRPS, CADC-II Date: February 6th, 2009. Topic: Member Blogs.
Below are five classifications of nonpharmacological (non-medication) ways that people have learned to implement in order to manage their chronic pain. You may already be implementing some of the examples listed below. The important thing to remember is you can always improve your ability to intervene in a way that helps you obtain effective pain management. Sometimes the intervention does need to include pain medication or medical procedures, but changing your medication protocols should only be done with your healthcare provider’s knowledge and permission.
- Relaxation: When you are in chronic pain your body’s automatic response often includes a reflexive tensing response. This problem leads to your being unable to relax the locus of the pain problems, which leads to increased muscle tension in these areas. You need to practice to consciously relax the affected muscles, enabling them to modulate your pain levels and bring the pain under your control without needing to increase your medication.
- Increasing Activity and Fitness: Many people experiencing chronic pain become very sedentary, with strong avoidance tendencies for many types of activities. The two primary reasons for this are the pain itself, and your own predictions regarding the negative impact of activity. Therefore, it is crucial to return to more normal levels of activities and slowly increase your stamina for physical activities. The goal is to extinguish conditioned avoidance patterns.
- Reducing Emotional Over-Reactivity: When you are experiencing intense uncomfortable emotions—especially about being in pain—your pain levels actually intensify. Your emotions become like an amplifier circuit that increases the “volume” of your pain. You need to practice specific methods of reducing this automatic process that occurs in the face of stressful triggers. You need to realize that you may not be able to eliminate these problematic emotional triggers but what you can learn are different methods of reacting and managing your feelings.
- External Focusing/Distracting: The more you focus on your pain the more you actually intensify your experience of the pain. You need to learn to shift and manipulate your focus of attention in a positive way, which will minimize your experience of the pain. This can be accomplished by changing how you think and feel about your pain. You can then find pleasant activities or tasks to take your focus off of your pain.
- Using Anything That Works: There are numerous interventions that you can attempt to help manage your chronic pain. In addition to those listed above you can use breathing, muscle relaxation, visual imagery, music, cold/heat, stretching, massage therapy, stress management, acupuncture, acupressure, TENS Unit, journaling, hydrotherapy, etc.
To learn more about using a biopsychosocial approach for chronic pain management please check out my article The Need for Multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are working with people in chronic pain or living with chronic pain yourself and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing the pain and coexisting psychological disorders including PTSD or addiction effectively please go to our Publications page and check out my book the Managing Pain and Coexisting Disorders: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. To purchase this book please Click Here.
To listen to a radio interview I did conducted by Mary Woods for her program One Hour at a Time please Click Here to go to listen to this interview.
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