Pain Management Tools, why stress reduction and relaxation techniques are so important.
Any effective pain management program will highlight the importance of stress reduction and the inclusion of relaxation techniques. Chronic pain can cause chronic stress and chronic stress can be a major cause of chronic pain. Long-term stress is widely known to cause muscle tension, inflammation, and a reduction of natural pain-relieving endorphins. So managing your stress will often help reduce your level of pain.
According to pain management expert Dr. Stanos “The brain is always trying to inhibit pain signals. But if you’re stressed, simply put, the brain’s ability to filter these pain signals is affected in a bad way, and pain can be increased.”…”Because pain [is regulated by] the nervous system, the brain is a key player in how we perceive pain,” …
Pain Management With Relaxation Techniques
Muscle relaxation techniques are highly effective at reducing muscle tension and inflammation. These are some of the most important basics I used to teach students in my certificated relaxation therapy training. Relaxation Techniques are very effective at helping reduce the chronic pain and chronic stress cycle. They are also extremely helpful in the treatment of chronic anxiety and as a support aid for depression.
Muscle relaxation techniques are best used when resting or going to sleep, especially at first. They should be practiced at least daily for at least a minimum of 30 days but my recommendation would be more like 60 days. But if you have chronic long-term pain or a specific long-term health condition you should make muscle relaxation techniques part of your daily routine. You should aim to do a muscle relaxation technique during the day and at night if possible.
Believe me, the reduction in pain can be incredible and even better a dramatic improvement in the quality of your sleep.
Cautions for those with disc problems and spinal injuries:
Muscle relaxation techniques tend to be generally safe. But for those with serious spinal problems or slipped discs, you may not be able to do PMR fully. Autogenic and body scan techniques that don’t involve tightening the muscles are much gentler and safer. But it isn’t just relaxation techniques you should be including in your life.
Learning how to just be is equally important. Learning how to meditate will help you naturally quieten the mind which relaxes the body and emotions. Relaxing hobbies are also fun and therapeutic and encourage more balance into your weekly routine.
Pain Management Involves Reducing Major Stressors
Part of any pain management program includes things that not only directly reduce pain, but reduce stress. If we look at our body’s physiological response to the emotional and mental challenges of life. We see how much our body’s physical reaction and posture hold our emotional pain. In times of trauma or fear we often take on an imprint into our cellular memory. We hold the trauma within the body cells and energetic field. So it is important we face and take action around our life’s stressors.
Pain And Stressors
When we talk about modern-day stressors, we are usually talking about chronic stressors. Not real life physically threatening situations that do require us to “fight or flight”.
Modern-day stress tends to be those things that cause us anxiety or worry on a daily or weekly basis. Things like bills, workplace stress, relationships, children… But it is not the actual situation we are stressing about it is our belief or view and attachment to the situation. It is FEAR and resistance.
How To Deal With Your Biggest Stressors
The most effective ways to deal with our biggest stressors are
- How to be in the moment, have more presence and awareness
- To take action to reduce our stressors when we can
- To change our view or perception of the stressor
When we are fully in the moment, we become less entangled with outside situations, we become more of the witness rather than the engager.
One of the problems of modern society is our need to control everything, the resistance we have to the natural flow of life. Yes, there are certain situations that are best addressed instead of avoided but it is often how see the situation that is the stressor.
Our view around the stressor and view about the pain can increase or reduce the stress and pain. The reason Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is used at times to help those with long-term stress and chronic pain.
Most chronic stress is caused by worrying about what may or may not happen or going over what has already happened. When you let go of your biggest stressors you help bring your mind, body, and emotions back into balance. When it is in balance it can start healing and repairing the body more effectively. Long-term stress causes dis-ease and pain.
Pain Management For Pregnancy Back Pain
Many pregnant women get back pain during pregnancy and some after pregnancy. A study using PMR exercises with music was shown to promising results at helping reduce perceived pain after use. Effects of Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercises Accompanied by Music on Low Back Pain and Quality of Life During Pregnancy. Akmeşe ZB, Oran NT. PMR as also been researched on it’s used to improve the quality of life for those suffering from Endometriosis
Pain Management For Fibromyalgia and M.E. Sufferers
For conditions such as fibromyalgia and M.E. who suffer serious post-exertional malaise. Relaxation therapy strategies have to carefully considered to the level of that client’s exercise and movement tolerance. Sadly in some cases, M.E. sufferers who have been expected to push beyond their level of physical endurance have ended up bedbound or wheelchair-bound. One of the reasons the PACE trial in the UK has been so heavily criticised by scientists world-wide. And why even physiotherapists now approach these conditions with caution.
Choosing Right Relaxation Techniques For M.E. Sufferers
Pain management programs for these types of clients have to be carefully tailored to the client’s individual needs and level of fitness. The Mitchell Method of Relaxation can be a helpful option in many cases where PMR can be too exhausting. Mitchell’s relaxation technique, when practiced at least 3 times a week for 8 weeks, was shown helpful in reducing fatigue and pain levels in some fibromyalgia sufferers by 42.8%. In these conditions, it is important to assess the base level of your client’s physical endurance which can fluctuate. And to not to attempt to push them beyond this level. This can only be properly assessed after checking for any problems a few days of trying the techniques at a moderate level.
As someone who was diagnosed with M.E and then Fibromyalgia in my twenties, I learned the hard way the importance of working within the body’s limits. In my severest stages of illness, I used PMR only on the days, I was able and even then I started very gently. Then I had no awareness of the Mitchell Method of Relaxation.
On many occasions during my twenties, I ended up bed-bound for weeks after the smallest exertion. I remember one of those times when I started to feeling stronger I thinking I attended a very gentle yoga class. Unfortunately, after only one class, I had a very serious relapse that affected me for months. I found out later that at that stage of my illness I should have only started with one or two very small movements from Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra sometimes known as yogic sleep in many ways is a gentle form of relaxation.
Pain Management For Sleep
One of the biggest challenges with chronic pain is getting deep quality sleep. And just like the chronic pain and chronic stress cycle, it can be a vicious cycle. Chronic pain can make it difficult to get good quality sleep. Lack of sleep, fatigue, and exhaustion increases pain. But again like mentioned above muscle relaxation techniques are a key part of sleep programs. It is a key component of my Sleep Therapy Program which includes tools and techniques that will improve sleep and can help reduce pain.
Pain Management With Holistic Aids
We are so lucky today to have access to so many different types of therapeutic approaches, natural alternatives that can help in pain management.
For structural and muscle problems there are osteopaths, physiotherapists, bodyworkers, rolfing, my favorite is Bowen. In many ways, it is extremely gentle but very effective especially for those with complex or more serious conditions.
We also have access to homeopathy, herbalism, and essential oils. Lavender is an easily accessible aromatherapy oil that tends to be extremely versatile and safe for most conditions. It is both relaxing and can help reduce inflammation and bruising. There is also a wide range of herbal tinctures that can help reduce inflammation, I suffer from rare neurological challenges and cranial complications, which include injury and trauma to some nerves. I find lemon balm as a herbal tincture or as a herbal tea useful in nerve pain reduction.
Also ensure you do not consume processed foods that increase inflammation e.g. sugar, artificial sweeteners, and fatty processed foods.
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