When it comes to managing chronic pain, many people rely solely on physical treatments like medications, injections, and physical therapy. But did you know that working with your brain can be an effective tool for pain management?! Our brains play a critical role in how we experience pain and how we deal with it in our every day lives.
There are a number of different ways we can use our brain to transform the way we experience our bodies. We are going to talk about the top three here!
- Pain Reprocessing!!!
- Mindfulness for Pain!!!
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation!!!
So…let’s take a closer look at how working with your brain can make a difference in your life!
What is Pain Reprocessing?
This might be a new concept to you, but it’s a technique that’s gaining popularity in the pain management world. Essentially, pain reprocessing involves rewiring your brain’s response to pain signals. Instead of automatically reacting with fear and stress, you learn to respond in a more relaxed and calm way, which can help reduce the intensity of your pain. Pretty cool, right?!
There are a bunch of benefits of pain reprocessing for chronic pain management. It can help you feel more in control of your pain, which can be HUGE for those of us who feel like our pain is controlling our lives. If you are someone relying on medications, it can help you to be able to reduce the amount of medications you need to take for your pain, which is always a plus!
Pain reprocessing is a set of techniques that you can go through to retrain your brain to process the signals in your body differently. So instead of constantly reacting with fear to the sensations coming from your back or neck, you can learn to interpret those signals differently so that this is no longer sensed as pain. There are different groups promoting different protocols for this right now, all with similar techniques and slight variations. This is the group that is promoting Pain Reprocessing Therapy if you want to learn more from them!
What about Mindfulness for Pain?
Ok so next let’s talk about mindfulness for pain! So, what is mindfulness anyway? Essentially, it’s all about being present in the moment and focusing your attention on what’s happening right now. It can be a really helpful tool when it comes to managing pain.
When we’re in pain, it can be really easy to get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness can help us step back from those thoughts and simply observe them, rather than getting swept up in them. By doing this, we can develop a greater sense of control over our pain and our reactions to it.
There are lots of benefits to practicing mindfulness for chronic pain. For one thing, it can help reduce the intensity of our pain. It can also help us feel more relaxed and less anxious, which can make it easier to deal with our pain. Plus, mindfulness can help us feel more connected to our bodies, which can give us a greater sense of control and help us to move in better ways in our bodies.
So, how can we practice mindfulness for pain management? There are a few different techniques that can be helpful. If you are low on time but want to figure out how to have a mindfulness practice, check out this post!
One way to start working with this is with meditation. This involves sitting quietly and bringing your attention to your breath. Its amazing how we don’t just sit with ourselves and become present with what is going on inside of our bodies. We are always running from one thing to the next, or distracting ourselves with the many screens and devices we have. Our culture has become so busy that just being present even for a second has to be scheduled in.
If you’re interested in incorporating mindfulness into your pain management plan, there are a few tips that can help to get started!
Start small and work your way up – even just a few minutes of meditation can be helpful. Try to make mindfulness a regular part of your routine, so that it becomes a habit. And remember to be gentle with yourself – mindfulness isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being present and accepting what is.
Now, What Was That About Muscle Relaxation?
Muscle relaxation involves using the brain to release tension in the body, which can be a really helpful tool for managing chronic pain. By reducing tension in the body, you can reduce pain and promote relaxation. Much of the pain signals from the body come from muscular tension. And amazingly much of muscle tension is under our conscious control! So we can use our awareness to release tension, we can also reduce our pain at the same time!
So, how does it work? Well, it can involve a variety of techniques, I want to focus on one called progressive muscle relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique where you systematically tense and then relax different muscle groups in the body. This can help to release tension and promote relaxation throughout the body. I like this technique because it brings your conscious awareness back to your body and gets you in tune with where you are holding tension you can release, even when you arn’t actively practicing progressive muscle relaxation.
So, what are the benefits of muscle relaxation for pain management? Well, muscle relaxation can help to reduce pain and promote relaxation, which can help you feel better overall. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which are common in people living with chronic pain.
If you’re interested in incorporating muscle relaxation into your pain management plan, there are a few things you can do. You can try practicing progressive muscle relaxation on your own, or you can seek out a trained professional to help guide you through the process. It’s also important to incorporate muscle relaxation into your daily routine, as it can have cumulative benefits over time!! (THIS IS THE BEST PART!!!)
Remember, managing chronic pain is a journey, and it’s important to find what works best for you. So…if muscle relaxation sounds like a technique that you might be interested in then give it a try!!
Here is a youtube tutorial that guides you through a progressive muscle relaxation.
Why do all of these work to decrease pain?!
All of these different approaches can help you to calm down your nervous system. This can take you out of our fight or flight states and put us into the rest and digest or parasympathetic state that can help us to repair our bodies.
It can use the amazing power of neuroplasticity to change the way our brains fire. Also these technique teaches how to calm down the fear response that tends to amplify the brains pain center.
There are a number of different ways we can access our brains amazing powers to help us retrain the way we react to our bodies. All of this can improve our experience of pain.