Pain Relief

- There is Hope!

Acute vs Chronic Pain
Acute pain is what you feel when you stub your toe or break your leg or cut your finger. The body usually deals with acute pain by going into shock. Blood moves away from your arms and legs and towards your vital organs. Your body is attempting to save your life by keeping blood flowing to your heart and lungs and liver, etc., and lessening the blood flow to the injury site. Shock is a kind of hypnosis in itself, putting you into a trance state so that you cannot feel the pain.

Chronic pain, however, is long-term pain, often due to inflammation in a particular part of the body. Inflammation is characterized by heat, pain, redness and swelling.

What is pain?
Pain is experienced in the brain, from signals sent from the site of the injury.  Because it is experienced in the brain, it is a relatively simple matter to retrain the brain in the way it experiences pain.

How does this work?
Have you ever lain awake at night listening to a dripping tap? After awhile, the sound of that drip seems to fill your mind, even though it is only a tiny sound.  The more attention you pay to that sound, the bigger and more dominant it becomes. Turn your attention away from that drip, however, and the sound fades. As I am writing this, I am doing a “fire watch” in my condo building. A fire alarm is going off every three seconds six feet from where I am sitting. When I got up to make my rounds, I realized that because I had been concentrating on my writing, I hadn’t even noticed the fire alarm.

This same phenomenon is true of experiencing pain.  Pay attention to it, and it gets larger and more dominant.  Pay attention to something else, and the pain disappears. So this is one means of pain relief—distraction. Morphine works this way—you feel so blissful (or whatever) you’re able to ignore the pain.

What are some other methods of pain relief?

Reduction-

What if you could turn your pain down?  Pain is useful only so long as it’s warning you that there’s a problem. Once you’re aware of the problem, you don’t need that pain anymore, or at least you don’t need it to be so loud. It’s not a good idea to get rid of pain completely because then you would never be alerted to any new injuries that might happen.

There are many, many techniques for reducing the “loudness” of pain.

We are Designed to Heal Ourselves-

There are receptors in our brain where drugs such as opiates attach themselves. However, these receptors were developed long before the drugs. This can only mean that we are capable of producing opiate-like substances within our own bodies that can help heal us. “Runner’s high” is one such experience, when athletes (or even average Jo(e)s) produce feel-good endorphins that bring feelings of bliss and peace. These happy endorphins are one of the reasons why exercise is strongly recommended in most recovery programs—you just feel better!

Humour-

Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a very rare, terminal disease, and he was in a great deal of pain all of the time.  He discovered, quite by accident, that a good belly laugh gave him a few minutes of relief from the pain. He then got hold of comedy films. He discovered that the longer he watched, the longer his pain-free periods were.  Through laughter, Mr. Cousins not only rid himself of the pain, he cured his “fatal” disease!

Visualization-

Use your imagination to take control of your pain—be the boss!  You can wrap your pain up in a box, compress it to the size of a TicTac, roll it and pinch it and mark it with B (for boss).  You can turn it up, turn it down, turn it sideways or flip it around.

Think Positive-

Yes, you’ve undoubtedly heard this before, but focus on the things you’d like to do, the person you’d like to be if you could minimize your pain. Setting a goal, however small, or big, can help you change your focus from pain to gain!

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