Chronic Pain Control: Pain Relief Without Pills

0
95

Merck & Co.’s decision to discontinue the pain relief drug Vioxx has left millions of people scrambling for an alternative for pain management. According to the American Pain Foundation, there are more than 50 million Americans suffering from blood thinners, or for those with a bleeding disorder. Risks of the procedure involve dangers inherent in needle use, including spread of an infectious disease, piercing of organs, minor bleeding, and broken or forgotten needles.

Pain Relief With Stress Management

“The reign of pain falls mainly in the brain. With this organ, people make sense out of noxious sensations and determine how bothersome they really are. A host of factors, including psychological ones, can affect how people perceive sensations, what they decide to do about them, and how they interact with their world.

Stress is a big psychological factor that can intensify the perception of pain. When people are distressed, their muscles tend to become tense and may arouse already tender tissues. On an emotional level, the pressure may amplify their perception of pain. “Emotional arousal or stress may lead them to interpret their situation as being more difficult, and may make them avoid certain types of activities, because they’re afraid it’s going to make their pain worse,” says Turk.

To alleviate the pressure, Turk recommends trying to change the source of stress. For instance, if you find yourself always arguing with your spouse, it may help to find a way to communicate with them instead.

If it is not possible to change the source of tension, try distracting yourself with enjoyable activities such as spending time with friends, watching a movie, or listening to music. Participating in something pleasurable may shift focus away from pain.

Another strategy is to unwind. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization, working out your chest muscle. On the other hand, isotonic workouts use the full range of motion. They include dietary supplementsmedication altogether. The ideal goal of pain relief treatment, after all, is not just to alleviate suffering, but also to keep you alive and healthy.

Remember: The simplest — yet often the most challenging — strategy for pain relief involves eating right, sleeping enough, exercising, and managing stress. “If you look at pain management skills, they are nothing more than good living skills,” says Cowan. “If we don’t live our life and really pay attention, the pain overcomes us.”

Originally published October 2004.

Medically updated Aug. 1, 2006.