It is sometimes difficult to imagine how pain could disturb your daily functioning and ruin your life. Until you experience how it feels like to be sleep disturbed and rise all cranky and lethargic the next morning or until you experience gnawing pain so recurrently that you perform even minor activities and daily interactions as if they were such huge and draining tasks.
Your performance at work is affected, personal relationships strained and you feel trapped in a swirling void of anxiety, low self-esteem and depression.
Mind and body approach
Physical pain as we know it could turn into an emotional hell if symptoms are not managed quickly and effectively. Even health experts advise that because psychological factors contribute to the intensity and incapacity linked to pain, chronic pain and stress are two ends of the same pole of health concern.
To manage chronic pain, a mind and body approach is often utilized to address the issue and deliver a host of benefits to patients undergoing treatment.
When being in pain stresses the patient, and stress aggravates pain, a mind and body healing approach that involves psychological therapies may prove to be a potent arsenal in the patient’s battle against pain.
Pain therapists often utilize hypnosis, meditation and relaxation techniques to help patients achieve a relaxed state of mind so that they may effectively deal with chronic physical pain.
Hypnosis for deep relaxation
Hypnosis alters the consciousness to induce a trance-like and deeply relaxed state so that the conscious or rational part of the brain is temporarily engaged to focus on relaxation and block out distracting thoughts.
When the patient is in a hypnotic trance or a deeply focused state, the mind’s ability to receive therapeutic suggestions is raised and expanded, thus allowing therapists to effectively encourage behavioral changes or relief of pain symptoms.
Hypnotists and pain therapists use different techniques such as talking, imagery and breathing exercises to induce a trance-like state on a patient. When hypnotized, patients become more open to suggestions and goals, such as easing pain.
A woman who is great pain during labor, for example, could be guided during hypnosis to think that pain is tolerable.
A patient living with arthritis, on the other hand, could be taught that reducing chronic pain is akin to turning down the volume of a radio.
During the post-suggestion phase of the hypnotic session, pain therapists can then teach patients how to reinforce their use of techniques to continually manage pain.
Medical hypnosis is a therapeutic practice acknowledged by the scientific community as an effective treatment method that can be used in conjunction with conventional medical practice.
Hypnosis has been used to help treat a variety of psychological and medical problems including chronic pain, migraine, arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, asthma and even addiction to smoking. Patients who suffer from chronic pain can benefit from hypnosis as a veritable pain management technique.
Relaxation and Meditation
Other mind and body approaches to pain management employ relaxation therapies that are different but closely related to hypnosis in so far as its objective of achieving a relaxed state.
Relaxation therapies comprise a wide range of techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation and controlled respiration. These could prove beneficial as well to patients who are dealing with chronic pain.
These relaxation therapies offer relaxed breathing, lowered blood pressure and increase in alpha wave brain activity, or the relaxed state of the brain.
Patients who are able to access alpha wave brain activity are more able to focus and provide the body with more time to heal and regenerate, which in turn impacts positively on a patient’s ability to improve symptoms of chronic and acute conditions, including pain.
Relaxation therapies are also able to reduce muscle tension and anxiety, treat insomnia and increase energy and body’s activity level.
Meanwhile, studies show that individuals who are able to practice meditation on a regular basis also reap the benefits of relaxation on the mind and body, while also developing a higher level of pain tolerance.
Specific types of pain such as headaches, facial pain, shoulder pain, chest pain, lower back pain, and even gastrointestinal pain, are also reported to be effectively managed and reduced with the help of mindfulness meditation.