Some Tips on Control of Chronic Pain

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

Chronic pain is a pain which has lasted longer than six months.  Between 10 and 30 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain.

Since chronic pain can go on for months or even years, it has a devastating impact on an individual's quality of life.  Back pain and head pain are the two most common types of pain from which millions of people in America suffer today.  A pain that won't go away makes one feel hopeless and helpless.

Typically, one thinks, 'I am going to my doctor and I am taking my pills.  There is nothing more I can do."  The fact is that there are quite a few things one can do to reduce the severity and frequency of pain episodes.  One can also improve one's ability to function in daily life in spite of pain.

You can help yourself and help your doctor in the treatment of pain.  Set your goals for pain control rather than pain cure and for improvement in the level of daily functioning rather than a perfect level of functioning.  

People ask me, "Do you think my pain is in my head?"  I tell them "Pain is not in your head, it is in your body but your mind is the one that feels the pain."  Therefore, body pain can be controlled by mind training.

Training the mind takes time.  No results can be expected overnight.  Pain control is really "mind over matter."  Patience and steady attention to some of the tips mentioned here have helped people to get a better handle on their pain.

Learning relaxation skills is none of the most effective tools for pain control.  Muscle(s) tension is generally a big factor in pain.  Relaxation techniques help in relaxing muscles.  Workshops, training courses, and self-help tapes are available on relaxation techniques.

Spend less and less time on the "big three friends of pain,"  Fear, Anger, and Sadness.  These three impair pain tolerance and increase the suffering  from pain.  Emotions have a very direct impact on the feeling of pain.  Holding the positive emotions for a longer period would reduce the feeling of pain.  I know it is easier said than done and the person in pain is not in the best mood to hear something like that. Take it as a challenge.

Laugher is an effective pain medicine, it costs very little, and it has no side effects.  Schedule funny videos, joke books, TV sitcoms, and other funny items in your daily routine.  Norman Cousins once said that 15 minutes of belly laugher reduced hiss pain for the next two hours.

Doing too much or too little of any activity including exercise is bad for pain.  Slow and steady always wins the race.  Make a lit of all activities performed and the amount of time you spend on them.  Increase the amount of time or level of difficulty, slowly and gradually.  Pace your activities to avoid too much or too little of exertion at a time.

Build in rest pauses, exercise, and relaxation times in your daily schedule.

Alcohol or marijuana are bad for pain control. These may appear to be pain relievers, but they really impair pain tolerance for future pain episodes.

Join a chronic pain support group.  A support group is the best place to learn what others have tried in order to "ride" their pain and to discuss and share your triumphs and failures with people who know the problem first hand.

Follow the medication as prescribed.  For pain control, it is believed that moderate amount of medication at regular scheduled  intervals is better than taking large amounts at the onset or during a pain episode.  Consult your physician to find out if you would benefit from biofeedback and other forms of body-mind medicine.  Medication, exercise, and work under the guidance of a doctor are compatible with self-help methods.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor