I was in a car accident about a year ago, and I’ve been battling with chronic pain ever since. I’m trying to avoid opiates because I’m worried about addiction. I'm currently taking medication, but I’m wondering if there’s more that I can do to get some greater relief.
Chronic pain can be debilitating and difficult to manage day-to-day. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your concerns and about any additional things that you’d like to try. For example, if you’re interested in taking herbs or trying different types of exercise, talk to your doctor first to get the green light before moving forward.
Sometimes, when we feel pain – especially intense pain – it can be difficult to focus on anything else. The sensation consumes our mind, which only further intensifies the pain. Taking that focus away from the pain can help minimize it or make more tolerable.
The next time you’re in pain, try switching your attention to a part of the body that isn’t hurting. At first, it may feel like your entire body is in pain, but if you just relax and tune into your body, you’ll find a place that’s pain-free. It may be your face, your toes, or your chest.
Focus all of your attention on that pain-free sensation and allow it to become the predominate sensation – even if only for a few seconds. Repeat this exercise, and eventually, you’ll be able to hang onto those pain-free moments for longer.
The great thing about this focus-shifting technique is that it doesn’t require you to put your body at risk. You’re not taking any medication or physically moving the body. You're simply changing your focus.
Many psychologists recommend using imagery, such as imagining yourself in a peaceful place and focusing your breath. The practice is similar to mediation, but you’re actively focusing on the imagery which takes your attention off of your pain.
Deep breathing and deep relaxation techniques can also help. Mindfulness has also been shown to help with pain because it shifts the focus away from the painful sensation and onto a particular activity or your surroundings. Mindfulness is the art of noticing every detail of what you’re doing and paying attention to how your emotions and senses are responding. It's a practice that can be applied to all aspects of your life.
In recent years, there has been talk about kratom for chronic pain. People who take it claim that it helps alleviate depression pain and anxiety.
Kratom is actually derived from the leaves of a tree that grows in Southeast Asia, and it’s become a popular alternative to opioids. Before you consider this option, do your research (www.lpath.com is a great resource for information on kratom) and talk to your doctor.
If you want to take a more active approach to your pain, you might consider yoga and/or tai chi. These are both mind-body exercises that incorporate meditative movements and breath control to stretch and strengthen your muscles. There are many different free videos and apps out there that can help you get started. You can also find local classes if you prefer to work with an instructor.
Mindset plays a major role in your well-being. When we’re not feeling well, we tend to fixate on those sensations and the things we can’t do. Try changing your mindset to focus on the things that you can do. Positive thinking can go a long way in making you feel better – even if only in short bursts.
Chronic pain can be incredibly difficult to manage, particularly because the mind can play a major role in how debilitating the pain can be. Taking steps to get your pain under control will help you better enjoy the things you love doing in life.