Addressing Physical Pain

The best way out is always through. ~ Robert Frost
If you are going through hell, keep going. ~ Winston Churchill

If you are a chronic pain sufferer, you probably have days that are more of a struggle than others.  Some even seem impossible to get through, but fortunately, those days are getting fewer and fewer for me.

There are many ways to address physical pain, chronic or not, but with helpful guidance from my healers, here are techniques and exercises I have learned.  The exercises are much easier said than done, but practice helps.

  • Meditation – This includes “mindfulness meditation.”  Meditation helps with relaxing which can help decrease pain.
  • Have someone to confide in 100%  – Talking it out or leaning on a compassionate shoulder can be very helpful.  To be effective, that person needs to give you their full attention and genuinely want to listen.
    We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection”. ~ Dalai Lama
  • Body awareness – As explained to me, “sometimes the way out of pain is to go right through it.”
  • Be in the “moment” –  Give yourself a break and be in the present.  For that time, don’t think about what might happen in the future, or think “what if this never goes away”.  Don’t think about how difficult the road to the present has been.
  • Gather Moments – Rewind through the activities of a a particularly bad day to find the good things that happened.  Write it down and  soon you will have a “bouquet of moments” to recall for other challenging days.
  • Celebrate the small successes – It’s important to recognize and reward progress.
  • “Downward Arrow Technique” – Start by recognizing a physical sensation you have.  Say to your self:
    • “what am I feeling?”  (write it down and draw a downward arrow)
    • “what else am I feeling?”  (write it down and draw another downward arrow)
    • “what else am I feeling?”  (write it down and draw another downward arrow)
    • … this until there are no other physical sensations you notice in your body.  At some point you will run out of feelings to write down.
  • Guided Imagery – This can help you learn more about your pain – such as things that may lead you to take a certain action, or follow a different path.
  • Be objective and non-judgmental – This helps decrease emotions associated with pain.  Certain emotions can increase pain; increased pain can then increase emotions; etc., which can result in a constant cycle of emotion and pain.
  • Curious acceptance – Observe what is happening in your body.  Then say this to yourself, “that’s interesting, I wonder what will happen next.”  See what happens.
  • Be patient –Impatience hinders progress.
  • Don’t overdo it – On good days, take it easy.  Overdoing it can lead to more pain.
  • Be gentle and kind to yourself – Instead of getting mad at yourself about the pain, think about how you would console a young child experiencing pain.  Wouldn’t that include gentle, comforting, calming and compassionate talk?
  • Self soothe – Tell your pain it is in a safe place, and invite your pain to relax.  There have been many times when this has worked for me.
  • Journal or blog – write about what your body is feeling…and remember to be non-judgmental.
  • Distraction – Body awareness helps identify what your body is feeling, but at some point, it has diminishing returns.  At this point, get on with things as best you can and distract yourself from the pain.
  • Flow psychology – Do something you enjoy, can get immersed in and become oblivious to the pain.
  • Artwork – Delve into creativity.  Create a picture, draw or take a photo that represents what your body is feeling…or use artwork as a distraction from pain.
  • Music – Get lost in music.  It’s a good distracter.
  • Watch more comedies – Laugh!
  • Bodywork – Massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, etc.
  • Acupuncture
  • Heat and Epsom salt baths – For pain from muscle tightness.  Heat helps tight muscles relax.  The salt helps draw toxins out of the body.
  • Natural anti-inflammatories – This is from Dr. Andrew Weil, who said that three of the top natural anti-inflammatories are turmeric, ginger and sage.  (Combining these can make a great spice rub for meat and fish.)
  • If pain is really bad, sometimes you might have to just “white-knuckle” through it.  Set up intervals and say, “I can get through 10 minutes of this.”
  • I do not (and can not) take medications for pain (prescription or over the counter).  My current doctor agreed that using medications is not a solution for me.

Managing pain is not easy, and I’m sure I will be adding to this list!

What are some treatments and exercises you have used for your pain?


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betty Hayes Albright
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:36:43

    Thank you, I shall print this out! 🙂


  2. granbee
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 03:48:36

    Ichi, the herb boswellia in combination with tumeric is very helpful. Heat and acupuncture and massage and mediatation are also favorite techniques of mine. Guided imagery accompanied by nature sound recordings is just fabulous in my book. And all of these contribute to inspiration and writing success, I have found. This is a wonderfully helpful blog. Very unselfish of you to share in so much detail. Thank you and bless you.


  3. TBM
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 04:16:38

    This is a great list. I don’t have chronic pain but I lived with someone who did. I loved your tips and advice. My favorite is: Be objective and non-judgmental – This helps decrease emotions associated with pain. Certain emotions can increase pain; increased pain can then increase emotions; etc., which can result in a constant cycle of emotion and pain.


  4. mcolmo
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 04:40:40

    I practice yoga and I have found it helps a lot, and not only in dealing with pain.


  5. LediaR
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 05:57:45

    Thank you for sharing. Your wisdom is enlightening and what we need to hear today.


  6. zendictive
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 06:36:50

    I have tried so many things that now, I just make my self get up and go do something, the mind can only focus on one thing at a time, yes, the pan seems to want to be in the spotlight, but while staying busy doing something, the mind tends to flip flop back and forth between what I am doing and the pain. Of course the main thing I want to do is lay down and emerse myself in meditation but the pain seems to win the minds thoughts. It is a battle when it comes to pain and continuing on, but until I am dead, I will keep going forward. My thoughts and prayers are with you!


  7. eof737
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 00:30:35

    Funny thing is that I had not read this post when I wrote mine… I have tried all the techniques you offer and they do work… sometimes. Then one surrenders the need to fix it and simply work/live around it. I’m surprised Zemanta didn’t offer your posts as related… I will add them. 🙂


  8. Trackback: Musings: On Exercise & Pain… | Mirth and Motivation
  9. buddhafulkat
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 07:59:30

    Great advice – nice to see another fan of Flow!


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