Cognitive Self-regulation to Control Chronic Pain

Cognitive Self-regulation to Control Chronic Pain

One-third of the entire U.S. population struggles with chronic pain.

The physical aspect of pain is not the only part that injures the patient. The emotional impact clinicians say is far greater. This leads to loss of motivation, an inability to cope, high medical costs, lost productivity, lower functionality and a worsening of the condition, all leading into a downward spiral.

Today, physicians recognize that the best way to approach chronic pain is through a multidisciplinary approach, including visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist. These professionals deal specifically with pain patients, helping to alleviate the depression, anxiety, stress and despair that often accompanies and worsens the condition. Pain experts have long realized that the experience of pain is just as individual as those which it inhabits. Oftentimes, the amount of pain professed by the patient does not equate to the damage inflicted on their body. Pain is still something of a mystery to medical science. There is no technological way to observe it.

Doctors must rely on assessments such as the West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory. It asks not only about sensation but the person’s mood, the pains interference in daily life whether or not the patient feels they have control over their own life and more. One approach that mental health professionals teach is cognitive self-regulation techniques. These are strategies that sufferers can use to control their chronic pain. They include biofeedback and relaxation techniques.

Stress and anxiety heighten pain. But relaxation lowers it and puts it into perspective. With biofeedback, pain patients work with a practitioner to control certain body metrics using a machine. Slowly they begin to learn how to do these things themselves. Lowering their heartrate for instance using a mental trick can in turn calm them and dial down their pain. Another psychological method that has shown success is cognitive behavioral therapy. Talk to your doctor if you believe you may benefit from adding psychological treatment to your pain management plan.

Non-prescription Treatment Options for Nerve Pain

Non-prescription Treatment Options for Nerve Pain

Nerve pain can put you out of commission.

No matter the cause, it’s important to address this issue with a physician. Medication can be prescribed, but this may not be enough. An overall management plan is required. For mild neuropathy, alternative treatments could be enough to assuage your symptoms. Even those who are on prescription medication desire some kind of alternative treatment and find more relief when they acquire the right kind for them.

For pain close to the surface, why not pick up a topical painkiller? There are creams or ointments you can purchase at the pharmacy. Applying them directly on the tender spot will help relieve area-specific pain. Some contain capsaicin the active ingredient in hot peppers. Others have botanical oils and other natural ingredients. The best part, they often relieve your pain as soon as they are applied.

Another good option is over-the-counter painkillers. Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help control neuropathic pain that is occasional rather than chronic and not severe. Follow the directions on the bottle carefully, however. You don’t want to become dependent on them for pain relief. Taking too much or taking them too often can have serious side effects. Do not take any of these for longer than 10 days in a row, unless your doctor gives you the go-ahead.

Some neuropathy is caused by a vitamin deficiency. Others are worsened by it. A vitamin B-12 deficiency is one such cause. A supplement may be recommended.

Some neuropathy patients have had good results with acupuncture. This is an ancient Chinese medical technique where needles are inserted in certain nexus points throughout the body. It doesn’t hurt and research has found it effective. Scientists believe it disrupts pain signals and therefore provides relief.

Hypnosis, talk therapy, massage, biofeedback and even physical therapy may be worthwhile. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, dealing with any emotional ramifications from chronic pain such as stress, anxiety and depression, and getting enough sleep are all part and parcel of a proper pain management plan.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Some people have pain but they don’t want to take drugs. Drugs are too expensive for some. Then there are also those who find the medications their doctor has prescribed them to help manage their pain ineffectively. Therefore many people seek alternative treatments for pain management.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Acupuncture is a Chinese art that is thousands of years old. Traditionally, Western doctors scoffed at it. Now they recommend it to patients. Medical science still doesn’t exactly know how it works exactly. Researchers believe the needles places at nexus points interrupt the nerves signal from reaching the brain, and so the pain subsides or is greatly decreased. There have been many studies which confirm acupuncture’s ability to help chronic pain suffers. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists acupuncture as beneficial for managing pain.

Aromatherapy has been practiced by many ancient cultures including the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indians and Egyptians. Today it is used to help with headache, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. It works by using essential oils from various plants and placing them on the skin or inhaling them directly.

Alternative Treatments for Pain

Have you ever thought about being able to consciously control the unconscious goings on of your body such as your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and more? With biofeedback, you can learn to do just that. A technician hooks your body up to electrodes which are then an attached to a machine. You learn then how to control certain body metrics with your thoughts. Medical science is stumped on why biofeedback works. One theory is that it simply allows a patient to relax and feel in control, and this relaxation helps their symptoms go away. Researchers have used an Electromyography (EMG) machine to show that muscles in patients relax when taking part in biofeedback.

Technically, Chiropractics is still considered alternative and complementary medicine. Today, it’s become mainstream. This is a great option for anyone who has carpal tunnel, neck pain, back pain or headaches. It’s good for pain associated with sport’s related injuries too. A visit to the chiropractor usually means realigning the spine. These adjustments that the chiropractor makes is supposed to help promote better functionality and self-healing.

Massages can help with muscle, back, and neck pain. It can also help you relax, making other pains not so bad by increasing circulation, stimulating the nervous system, and operating the lymphatic system.

7 Simple Ways to Reduce Chronic Pain

7 Simple Ways to Reduce Chronic Pain Sometimes pain can be managed, in addition to any necessary medications, with a few lifestyle changes and new habits that generate more positive outcomes for our bodies. And while it may seem like lifestyle changes sounds complex, there are simple ways to reduce chronic pain.

1) Get a Bit of Exercise!

When you are in pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Medical experts often tell us, however, one of the worst things you can do with pain is become sedentary. Muscles atrophy, mobility fades and pain becomes worse. But you don’t need wear yourself out! In fact, just a little exercise can release endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller and mood enhancer. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercises are best for your situation, which kind to avoid, and how you can use movement to improve your condition.

2) Reduce Stress with Meditation and Biofeedback

Pain is often exacerbated by our reaction to it. It fills us with stress and anxiety which actually makes the pain worse.  Deep breathing can help relax the body. Meditation, some practitioners say, can be used to lessen pain, or using biofeedback which is learning how to consciously control body rhythms in order to avoid things that may trigger pain.

7 Simple Ways to Reduce Chronic Pain 3) Avoid Alcohol

Some people use alcohol to numb pain or to help them fall asleep. But doctors say it should be avoided. It only gives you shallow sleep, not the deeper REM sleep one needs to help the body heal. It can even cause you to wake up and have a hard time falling back asleep. A good nights rest is necessary to reduce inflammation and maintain lower pain levels throughout the day.

4) Quit Smoking

Though some people take comfort in smoking, it can actually cause one more pain down the road because it makes blood circulation worse, slows healing, and can even make degenerative disk problems more likely, increasing the risk of back pain. There are many options for those who want to quit. Ask your doctor which cessation method may be best for you.

5) Eat Healthy Foods

Eating healthier is one of the best ways to give your body the nutrients it needs to heal and reduce pain. Low fat proteins, a mix of different colored fruits and vegetables—which should comprise the majority of anyone’s diet—whole grains and an avoidance of sugar, salt, and fat is the best way to maintain optimum health and decrease pain.

6) Lose Weight

Eating healthier will also help you lose weight! Doing so will lower the risk of other diseases, too, such as cardiovascular risk, diabetes, and cancer. If joint pain, knee pain, or back pain are your problems, losing weight can help immensely as it takes more pressure off of these key areas.

7) Keep a Pain Journal

Keeping a pain journal is really important! All conditions have their particulars, but you may find once in the doctor’s office that you can’t elaborate on them. In a pain journal, you can record how intense your pain was, what brought it on, what may have triggered it, and what medications worked and what didn’t. It’s a great way to start forming a patterns, maintaining information, and to give your doctor enough insight so that the right treatment can be prescribed.

Options for Treating Pain

Treatment by acupuncturePain can really make living your regular, day-to-day life impossible. That’s why the goal of pain management is not only to help ease the pain but to improve one’s function so that they can go to work, school or wherever their responsibilities lie.

Pain can lead to depression and lack of movement which can make the body weaker, make the condition worse, and sap motivation even further. Luckily today there are many different treatment options when it comes to managing pain. The right one for you should be decided upon with you and your doctor or pain management specialist. They vary as to what condition, intensity, the type of person you are. There are medications, relaxation techniques, and ancient remedies.

The 2,500 year old Chinese art of acupuncture, once thought of as hogwash, is being embraced now by Western doctors. Muscle pain, headaches, back pain, hip and knee pain and many other ailments are improved by the application of acupuncture, where a series of tiny needles are put painlessly into channels to open up the blocked up chi. Researchers theorize that perhaps the needles block the nerve’s signal to the brain, thereby eliminating or reducing chronic pain. But this hypothesis has yet to be proven.

Biofeedback is another technique, where body systems such as breathing, heart rate and others become consciously controlled in order to limit or curtail pain — another non-drug oriented treatment that helps to cure pain.

Ibuprofen, aspirin and some other painkillers fall in the category of analgesics. For mild to moderate pain, purchase the over the counter variety. For moderate to severe pain, consult a physician regarding which prescription medication if any would improve your situation. Some anticonvulsants are used today to stop pain, particularly neuropathic pain.

The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, and has many over the counter generic options as well. This works great with muscle aches, headaches, and joint pain. There are prescription strength varieties as well as those mixed with codeine.

Carbamazepine is one particular drug that is sometimes prescribed for pain, as is gabapentin. For migraine sufferers there are now several drugs on the market that target these horrendous headaches, available by prescription only.

Remember that pain can be treated. If the first option that you try doesn’t work for you, don’t give up hope. There is something out there that can and will work for you. Talk to your physician about which options you believe you might benefit from.

What Are the Causes of Chronic Pain?

Over 100 million Americans say they suffer from chronic pain. Conditions like migraines, arthritis, a bad back and fibromyalgia are just some of the conditions associated with chronic pain. Pain that is considered chronic is one felt for weeks, months, or even years. Though some people try to tough it out on their own, no matter what level of pain you feel, medical experts agree it’s best to treat it rather than to bare down and try to endure it. The perception of pain is caused by signals being sent to the brain from the nerves in certain areas of the body. These signals can be very helpful in protecting the body.  For example, pulling one’s hand away from a hot stove to avoid a far more severe burn. However, when these signals never cease to fire, the pain hangs on, causing what we call chronic pain.

Make sure to see a physician if you have pain, whether it is mild, moderate, or severe. If the pain interferes with your life, it’s even more crucial that you seek out a doctor. When a particular pain comes on and persists and isn’t treated, it can get worse. If ignored for years it can become a serious condition, even debilitating. Believe it or not, walking helps chronic pain sufferers, studies have shown. Not being active actually increases pain. But endorphins, which are the body’s own pain-fighting substances, are released during exercise and can help you feel better. It’s best to consult your physician about what kinds of exercises and regimens would be good to help manage your condition.

Once thought to be ridiculous, today acupuncture is an accepted form of pain management therapy for so many conditions. Scientists are not sure how this ancient Chinese art works, though they suspect the needles may interrupt the flow of nerve signals to the brain. Back pain sufferers, knee and joint pain sufferers, and more have found relief and improvement at the hands of a acupuncturist. Pain can keep you up, but lack of sleep can exacerbate pain. Take part in good bedtime habits, such as avoiding computer and television screens and establishing a set bedtime.

Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping due to pain. Do you have triggers that set you off? Notice problems or issues in your environment that can make your pain increase and learn how to mitigate them. For instance, some migraine sufferers have cheese or red wine as a trigger and have learned to avoid eating them. Keep a pain journal. Track your pain over time and see if there are any patterns that arise. There are many alternative therapies available today, such as biofeedback which teaches you how to control your own blood pressure, skin temperature, breathing and other bodily functions that were once thought to be uncontrollable. Avoid prolonged bed rest as when you get up, chances are the pain will be worse.

Biofeedback Helps with Chronic Pain

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, being able to consciously control each of your bodily functions in order to help heal yourself and control pain, but it isn’t (Health.com). It’s called biofeedback and it helps to manage chronic pain. These are actually skills you can use to cope with pain at home or wherever you are. During a session a biofeedback practitioner will hook you up to a monitoring device. This device monitors all kinds of body metrics such as breathing, blood pressure, skin temperature, perspiration and more. Patients learn to clear their mind, practice deep breathing and lower their heart rate. When we feel pain, we get stressed, which increases our heart rate, blood pressure, and more; known as the human “flight or fight” response. But this increases stress, anxiety and adds to the pain experience.

Biofeedback helps to relax the person and the body, relieving these harmful emotions and the tense state they cause in the body. One patient said that she could feel her skin temperature dropping when a migraine was coming on. She learned in biofeedback how to raise her skin temperature using her mind. When she did this she could counteract the migraine’s early warning sign and could eliminate the headache entirely, all without using any drugs which can be addictive or have negative side effects.

There are other reasons patients choose to use biofeedback as part of their pain management plans. Many cannot tolerate certain pain medications (Mayo Clinic). Others like that it is a noninvasive way to get the help they need. Lots of people feel liberated to be able to consciously control what were once thought to be only unconscious processes of the body. It may not be appropriate for everyone, however. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.

Biofeedback is safe with no adverse side effects. To find out more, talk to your doctor or primary healthcare professional if you are interested in biofeedback therapy. They will put you in touch with a biofeedback therapist in your area. Understand that state laws on who exactly can become a biofeedback therapist and what the licensing procedures are vary from state to state. Make sure at the consultation that you find out your biofeedback therapist’s background, experience, license and licensing body and so on. Make sure that biofeedback is covered under your insurance. You should ask what training the therapist has had or, if they don’t have a license, ask if  they are under the supervision of a registered healthcare professional. You can also ask for a list of references whom you can follow up with to see how satisfied their customers are.