Chronic pain is a complex condition. Research over the past quarter of a century has shown pain is influenced by a variety of factors, including emotional and social influences. If you’re experiencing problems in these two areas, they need to be addressed along with the physical causes of pain. Chronic stress has been linked as a contributor to chronic pain. To treat stress, people have been using relaxation methods to help promote natural pain relief in their pain-management plans.
The Impact of Stress on Your Body
The body responds to stress much in the same way it responds to pain. With both experiences, your heart rate and blood pressure rises, your breathing increases and becomes shallower, and your muscles tighten. Sometimes, you can even notice when this happens if you experience a sudden scare; for example, if you think you’re about to get into a car crash, your whole body may brace for impact. Once the danger passes, you can feel your body relax again.
Chronic stress can contribute to keeping the body on high alert. If you’re having problems at home or at work, or you feel some financial strain, this condition can take a huge toll on your body. Your stress hormones increase, and your muscles remain in nearly constant tension.
Studies have shown that measured site-specific tension in patients with chronic back pain; even thinking or talking about a stressful event dramatically increases tension in back muscles, which can worsen your chronic pain.
In order to reduce your stress level and encourage your body to relax, there are a few relaxation techniques you could practice. The following exercises can calm your mind and help reduce stress hormones in the blood, relaxing your muscles and allowing your body to recover. Try each of them. If one of them works, continue using that exercise. However, don’t worry about picking the “right” technique. Whatever relaxes you will help, whether it may be reading, music, prayer, gardening, or going for a walk.
Foursquare breathing, for example, is a type of deep breathing you could use to calm your body down. Breathe deeply by inhaling to a count of four, holding for a count of 4, exhaling to a count of four, and again holding for a count of four. Your abdomen should expand and contract like a balloon. Repeat this breathing for ten cycles.
Using guided imagery, you can imagine a tranquil scene in which you feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed. Do this while breathing slowly and deeply. Think about colors, sounds, smells, and your feelings. Performing this exercise five to ten minutes a day can significantly reduce your stress levels.
Sometimes all it takes to reduce your stress level is to change the way you think about your pain and yourself. Instead of berating yourself or your body for being unable to do the things you need to do, change it to thinking along positive lines. If you can’t quite muster up the energy to clean the house, think to yourself that no one will die if the house or apartment isn’t completely spotless.
Hypnotherapists can use their techniques on some people to implant suggestions into their subconscious, such as “You are going to sleep soundly tonight.” Consider recording the session so you can repeat it to yourself at home.
Mindfulness meditation involves sitting or lying quietly and noticing your breathing without controlling it. Don’t linger on any one thought for too long, even if it’s thoughts of your pain. Notice the thoughts and observations, letting them pass by like a cloud on the wind. Continue doing this for about twenty minutes.
If you want to discuss managing your pain with an experienced Orlando pain management physician, call us today. Pain Medicine Group is focused on helping people identify, treat, and alleviate their symptoms. Our doctors have been highly trained to detect and treat sources of pain, rather than just masking the symptoms. Let us take a look at your medical records and do a complete consultation to determine an individualized treatment plan that matches your unique case.
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